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Rome and Judea in Transition

Hasmonean Relations with the Roman Republic and the Evolution of the High Priesthood

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Chris Seeman

Rome and Judea in Transition is the first English-language book to study exclusively the first century and a half of Roman-Judean political relations (164–37 B.C.). It presents a comprehensive reassessment of the Late Republic's involvement in the Levant, the motives of Hasmonean diplomacy, and the development of the Jewish high priesthood. Therefore, it is of interest to classicists, ancient historians, biblical scholars, and students of Judaica alike.
Previous studies have often mischaracterized this period as a consistent unfolding of Rome’s hegemonic will at Jewish expense. By contrast, this book argues that the Republic harbored no imperial designs on Judea prior to Pompey’s opportunistic intervention in 63 B.C., and that Rome’s subsequent intermittent meddling in the region’s governance did not significantly alter the dynamics of the Hasmonean state. Only with the Parthian invasion of Syria in 40 B.C. – and because of it – did the Republic unilaterally reshape Judean politics by its elevation of Herod the Great as «King of the Jews.»
Judea’s alliance with Rome began in the context of Judas Maccabeus’ revolt against Seleucid rule. Scholars have therefore understandably assumed that the primary hope of Judas’ successors was that Roman recognition would secure and extend Judean sovereignty. This book argues that the main motive for Hasmonean diplomacy was domestic: to advertise the legitimacy of the Maccabees against their Jewish rivals. For this reason, the documentary record of relations with the Republic is of great value for studying the ideology and institutional growth of high priestly power during this period.

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Preface .......................................................................................................... xi Introduction .................................................................................................. 1 Relations before Pompey ............................................................................... 2 The Motives of Hasmonean Diplomacy ......................................................... 4 Hasmoneans and the High Priesthood ............................................................ 6 The Cessation of Diplomatic Relations .......................................................... 8 Relations after Pompey ................................................................................ 10 Chapter One: The International Background ......................................... 13 The Seleucid-Ptolemaic Conflict (300-198) ................................................ 15 The Age of the Diadochoi (323-281) ..................................................... 15 The Early Syrian Wars (274-198) .......................................................... 20 The Coming of Rome ................................................................................... 25 Rome vs. Philip V .................................................................................. 25 Rome vs. Antiochus III .......................................................................... 29 Apamea and After .................................................................................. 32 The Sixth Syrian War (170-168) ........................................................... 39 Eleusis and After ................................................................................... 47 Conclusions .................................................................................................. 52 Chapter Two: The Judean Background .................................................. 54 Hellenistic Judea .......................................................................................... 55 Judea and Coele Syria ............................................................................ 55 Judea under the Diadochoi .................................................................... 58 Judea under the Ptolemies ..................................................................... 59 The High Priesthood .................................................................................... 60 The Tobiad Romance ............................................................................. 61 The Letter of Aristeas ............................................................................ 63 The Spartan Correspondence ................................................................. 64 The Praise of Simon .............................................................................. 64 Early Seleucid Rule ...................................................................................... 67 Antiochus III .......................................................................................... 67 Seleucus IV ............................................................................................ 70 Antiochus IV ................................................................................................ 74 Jason and Menelaus ............................................................................... 74 Repression ............................................................................................. 79 Conclusions .................................................................................................. 86 vi Rome and Judea in Transition Chapter Three: The Maccabean Revolt ................................................... 88 The Antiochene Persecution ........................................................................ 89 The Revolt under Antiochus IV ................................................................... 93 Origin and Support Base ........................................................................ 94 Seleucid Military Response ................................................................... 95 Seleucid Negotiation .............................................................................. 96 The Revolt under Antiochus V .................................................................. 102 Resumption of Hostilities .................................................................... 103 Seleucid Military Response ................................................................. 103 Seleucid Negotiation ............................................................................ 104 The Revolt under Demetrius I .................................................................... 106 Resumption of Hostilities .................................................................... 106 Seleucid Military Response ................................................................. 107 Seleucid Negotiation ............................................................................ 108 Conclusions ................................................................................................ 110 Chapter Four: Judas Turns to Rome ..................................................... 113 1 Maccabees 8 ............................................................................................ 114 The Eulogy .......................................................................................... 116 The Narrative ....................................................................................... 116 The Document ..................................................................................... 117 Other Witnesses ......................................................................................... 119 Jason of Cyrene ................................................................................... 120 Diodorus...

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