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Jerusalem  

Avner Ecker

After the Babylonian exile, Jews returned to their city under Cyrus I and rebuilt their temple in Jerusalem in 539 bce. Jerusalem eventually became the only monotheistic centre within the Greco-Roman world. Most Jews regarded their temple as the only temple to Yahweh. Three annual pilgrimages from the entire Mediterranean basin marked the city’s life cycle. The temple grew rich through donations, tithes, and a voluntary tax given by Jews. The city of the Second Temple Period was run according to a set of Jewish religious laws. Antiochus IV attempted to mould it into a Greek-style polis and instigated the Maccabean revolt (167–160 bce). The riches of the temple allured Hellenistic and Roman rulers alike, whereas the unique religious character of Jewish Jerusalem posed continuous political challenges. Indeed, the city was besieged, and the temple occasionally plundered by a succession of Hellenistic and Roman conquerors. Jerusalem and the temple flourished under Herod and his dynasts (Plin. HN 5.

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Ben-Hur, reception of  

Jon Solomon

Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, a historical romance novel set in 1st-century Judea and Antioch, was written by Lew Wallace (1827–1905) and published by Harper & Brothers in 1880. It has generated more successful popular artistic by-products and had a larger commercial impact than any other modern literary property within the Greco-Roman tradition. The novel’s protagonist, Judah Ben-Hur, is a wealthy Jewish teenager betrayed by his Roman friend Messala and enslaved in a naval galley, where he rescues the tribune Quintus Arrius, who in turn adopts him. Judah returns to Judea, defeats Messala in a chariot race in Antioch, and then raises three legions to support the new “King of the Jews,” whose message of peace he ultimately realizes.The novel did not become a bestseller until 1885, when Wallace, a retired Civil War major-general turned Indiana attorney and literary businessman, wrote a prequel for one of Harper’s magazines and then embarked on lecture tours, most notably reading aloud the chariot race passage to several thousand enthusiasts at Chautauqua in 1886.

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Alexander Jannaeus  

Katell Berthelot

Alexander Jannaeus was a member of the Hasmonean dynasty, a priestly family that ruled Judea from 152 to 63 bce. He became high priest and king in 104/3 bce and waged numerous wars that were both defensive and meant to enlarge Judea’s borders. It was under his rule that Judea’s territory reached its maximum extension. Yet both Josephus’s works and rabbinic writings convey a rather negative record of his rule, mainly because of the violent suppression of his Judean opponents. He ruled for roughly twenty-eight years (from 104 to 76 bce) and left his kingdom to his wife, Salome Alexandra, who became the first Judean queen.Alexander Jannaeus was a member of the Hasmonean dynasty, a priestly family that ruled Judea from 152 to 63bce—from 63 to 37bce they remained in charge to some extent, but under Roman supervision.1 Jannaeus was the son of John Hyrcanus.

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John Hyrcanus  

Katell Berthelot

John Hyrcanus was a member of the Hasmonean dynasty, a priestly family that ruled Judea from 152 to 63 bce. He became high priest in 135 bce and succeeded, after Antiochus VII Sidete’s death, in establishing an independent Judean state thanks to the growing dissensions among the members of the Seleucid dynasty. In the last years of his rule, between 111 and 105 bce, he enlarged Judea’s borders through a series of military campaigns in Idumea, Samaria, and the Transjordan area. He destroyed the Samaritan temple on Mount Gerizim and imposed Jewish laws and circumcision upon the Idumeans. Josephus’s work and rabbinic writings convey a generally positive record of his rule.John Hyrcanus was a member of the Hasmonean dynasty, a priestly family that ruled Judea from 152 to 63bce—from 63 to 37bce they remained in charge to some extent, but under Roman supervision.1 John Hyrcanus was the son of Simon, the nephew of Judas Maccabeus, and the grandson of Mattathias, who started the “Maccabean revolt” against the Seleucid king .