History: Ereẓ Israel – Second Temple
EreẒ ISRAEL – SECOND TEMPLEPtolemaic Rule
The Hasmonean Revolt
the roman province
Under the Procurators
The Revolt (The First Roman War)
In the last third of the fourth century b.c.e. decisive changes and developments took place in Ereẓ Israel. Prior to that time the country had been under the rule and influence of the great Oriental powers and civilizations. Thereafter, and until the Arab conquests in the seventh century c.e., Ereẓ Israel and allits neighbors fell under the influence of kingdoms and cultures whose main source of inspiration derived from the Greek and later also from the Roman world (see *Hellenism). *Alexander the Great's subjection of Ereẓ Israel in 332 b.c.e. encountered no serious opposition; only in Gaza did the Persian garrison defend itself heroically against the conqueror. Jerusalem and Judea reached a settlement with Alexander according to which they continued to enjoy the rights granted to them under Persian rule. However, relations between the Samaritans and the Macedonian conquerors soon deteriorated. Alexander the Great did not remain long in Ereẓ Israel, and its conquest was completed by his commanders who laid the foundations of the Hellenistic regime in the country.
After Alexander's death (323) Ereẓ Israel was caught up in the vortex of wars fought among themselves by his successors, the Diadochi, among whom control of the country changed hands several times, in consequence of which the population suffered greatly. In 301 the country was finally conquered by *Ptolemy i, the ruler of Egypt, and was included in the Ptolemaic kingdom until 200, its history during this period being bound up with that of the Ptolemaic state. In the third century Ptolemaic rule in Ereẓ Israel was on the defensive against the *Seleucid kingdom which governed Syria and which also laid claim to Ereẓ Israel. For most of that century the Ptolemies generally had the upper hand and only with the accession of*Antiochus iii (223–187) to the throne of the Seleucid kingdom did the initiative pass to the rival dynasty. Already at the beginning of his reign Antiochus succeeded in conquering the greater part of Ereẓ Israel but was defeated by the Ptolemaic army at Rafa in 217. After an interval he renewed the war and in 200 his forces gained a notable victory near the sources of the Jordan, as a result of which, despite repeated efforts by the Ptolemies to regain control of Ereẓ Israel by war or political means, its rule passed to the Seleucid dynasty. Nevertheless, in terms of duration, the Ptolemaic sway over Ereẓ Israel lasted longer than that of any other foreign power in the period between the downfall of Persia and the rise of Rome. Moreover, the administrative patterns as well as the social and economic institutions and influences which appeared under the Ptolemies persisted in the country until the Roman period. In the days of Ptolemaic rule, Ereẓ Israel did not constitute a distinct administrative region, its territory being an inseparable part of the region known officially as Syria and Phoenicia. The borders of this district were not permanent but liable to changes resulting from the ascendancy now of the Ptolemaic, now of the Seleucid kingdom. In any event, it is clear that Ptolemaic Syria and Phoenicia included the whole of Ereẓ Israel and Transjordan. Among the most conspicuous results of Greek rule in Ereẓ Israel was the transformation that took place in the ethnic composition and organizational forms of its population. An extensive Greek settlement developed, Greek military colonies were established, and the character of the ancient cities underwent a change. In fact the vast majority of the Hellenistic cities were ancient ones which were now organized according to the politico-social pattern of the Greek cities. Within a short time the members of the upper classes among the local population joined the ranks of the settlers who had come from Greece, particularly prominent in this respect being the Phoenicians who became the standard bearers in Ereẓ Israel of Hellenism. Among its most notable centers were Gaza and Ashkelon on the southern coast and Ptolemais (Acre) to the north. Cities bearing a Hellenistic stamp were also established in the vicinity of the Sea of Galilee and in Transjordan. The process of Hellenization was extremely slow in the interior of Ereẓ Israel. There the original Semitic character was preserved – except for Samaria, where Macedonians settled already at the beginning of the period. Hellenism also made deep inroads in the Idumean city of Marisa, the Ptolemaic administrative center in southern Ereẓ Israel. Under the Ptolemies and later under the Seleucids, Judea was one of their many administrative units. The Hellenistic period witnessed the continuation of the state of Yahud which dated from the days of Persian rule. To the Hellenistic rulers Judea represented a nation – an ethnos – whose center was in Jerusalem and whose autonomous leadership was entrusted to the high priest and the Gerousia, the council of elders. In this way there were preserved in Hellenistic Judea the patterns of Jewish administration in the form it had assumed under Persian rule. The high priests belonged to the house of Zadok and the division of Jedaiah, and were descendants of Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest at the time of the Return. The high priesthood passed by inheritance from father to son. To the Jews and non-Jews alike the high priest was the head of the nation, its religious as well as its political leader. He presided over the council of elders and was charged with the supreme supervision of the Temple, with the security of Jerusalem and the provision of its regular water supply. Supporting the high priest was the Gerousia, which was, it seems, officially even superior to him. The Hellenistic kingdom confirmed the Jewish "ancestral laws" as the constitution binding on the entire territory of semiautonomous Judea. This constitution was identical with the Pentateuch as interpreted and shaped by Jewish tradition throughout the generations. Recognized as they were by the ruling kingdom, the Jewish authorities were permitted to impose the commandments of the Torah on all the inhabitants of Judea and to eradicate idolatry from its soil.
Judea's religious and social life centered round the Temple. The Greek historian Polybius even described the Jews as a nation that dwells around its famed Temple in Jerusalem. Associated with the Temple were the priests who represented the aristocratic class in Judea which included not only the high priest, the recognized head of the nation, but also many members of the Gerousia and those in leading positions. To the non-Jews, Judea was a land governed by a hierarchy. In addition to the dynasty of the high priests there were several notable priestly houses who fulfilled important functions in Jewish society and in its political life. Among these were, for example, the sons of Hakkoz (Accos). Johanan son of Hakkoz conducted negotiations with Antiochus iii in order to obtain privileges for Jerusalem after its conquest by the Seleucids; his son Eupolemus led the delegation to Rome on behalf of Judah Maccabee. Conspicuous among the lay houses which attained positions of great influence in Judea in the third century b.c.e. was that of the *Tobiads, whose roots went back to First Temple times and the basis of whose power was in southern Gilead where the family estates, famous as "the land of Tobiah," weresituated. The influence of the Tobiads increased under Persian rule. The Tobiah who lived in the days of Nehemiah was connected by marriage with important personages in Jerusalem and was among those who organized the opposition to the policy and decrees of Ezra and Nehemiah. One of his descendants, Tobiah who lived in the days of Ptolemy Philadelphus, was the head of the military colony in the "province of Ammon" which was composed both of Jews and non-Jews. Joseph b. Tobiah, following in the ways of his father, established close ties with the royal court and transferred the center of his activities from Transjordan to Ereẓ Israel. A temporary deterioration in the relations between the high priest and the Ptolemaic kingdom presented Joseph with new opportunities. Appointed tax-collector by that kingdom, he collected the taxes on an unprecedented scale and felt at home in Samaria no less than in Judea, to which his operations brought great wealth. With him there entered into Jewish life ways and customs alien to the Jewish tradition. His path was followed by his sons, and the Tobiads and their circle became the chief disseminators of Hellenism in Jewish Ereẓ Israel. In their way of life the upper Jewish classes, both priestly and lay, drew increasingly closer to the non-Jewish sections of the population, and there was a revival of tendencies which had not entirely ceased even in earlier generations: opposition to the emphasis on the uniqueness of the Jews and a desire to merge with the upper strata of the general society of Ereẓ Israel. Hellenistic influence in Judea was chiefly evident in the sphere of material civilization. As early as in the Persian period the coins of Yahud had imitated those of Athens, and the Hellenistic financial system gradually conquered Jerusalem too. In the spheres of building and of art, the influence of Hellenism also made itself felt. A notable outward indication of the Hellenization of Judea was the widespread use of Greek names, for which Jews, and not only those estranged from Jewish tradition, felt a need. Yet it must be emphasized that shortly before 200 b.c.e. Greek culture had in general not succeeded in striking deep roots in Judea. Due to the practical requirements of life, Jews learnt to speak Greek, but it is doubtful whether there were as yet many Jews in Ereẓ Israel who learnt the language in order to study Greek classical works and thought.
Antiochus iii's conquest of the country did not greatly change the pattern of the administration and the habits prevalent in Ptolemaic Judea. The Seleucid king confirmed the existing regime there and even gave its inhabitants additional privileges: the Judean population was exempted from all taxation for three years and thereafter granted a reduction of a third in its taxes. The priests, the freedmen, and the members of the Gerousia were given complete exemption from taxes. Similar relations continued also under Antiochus' son, Seleucus iv (187–175). However, the political and financial crisis which came upon the Seleucid kingdom led to changed relations between it and the Jews. As a result of Antiochus iii's defeat by the Romans and the peace treaty of Apamea (188), a heavy financial burden was imposed on the Seleucid kingdom which was obliged to pay an indemnity to the victorious Roman republic. The kings of the Seleucid dynasty now found themselves compelled to raise money from every source. Nor did they overlook the treasures kept in the wealthy temples throughout their kingdom. This explains the attempt of Seleucus iv to plunder the Temple treasuries, an act which, though not directly aimed at the Jewish religion, must be regarded as the first stage in the conflict between the Jews and the Seleucid kingdom.
The reign of his brother *Antiochus iv Epiphanes (175–164) proved to be a turning point in the history of the Jewish nation. During the first seven years after his accession his military and political activities centered on his kingdom's southern border – on Ptolemaic Egypt – and hence the importance he attached to Judea. Already at the beginning of his reign he intervened in the internal affairs of Jerusalem, deposed the high priest *Onias iii and replaced him by the latter's brother *Jason who had Hellenizing tendencies and had promised the king to raise more taxes than his predecessor. With the Seleucid kingdom's approval, Jason introduced far-reaching changes in the administration of Jerusalem, whose purpose was to transform that city into a polis, named Antiochia, by establishing in it institutions characteristic of the Hellenistic polis. Notable among these was the gymnasium, which soon superseded the Temple as the focus of social life, to the deep dismay of those loyal to the Jewish tradition. After a few years Antiochus also deposed Jason and appointed *Menelaus in his stead (171). Henceforward a new chapter opened in the relations between the Seleucid kingdom and Judea. Against the background of Antiochus' Egyptian wars, significant events took place in Judea. Already in 169 b.c.e., on his return from his first invasion of Egypt, the king with the help of Menelaus plundered the Temple treasuries, and, a year later, during his last expedition to the Nile Valley, rumors of Antiochus' death spread in Judea. Returning to Jerusalem, Jason seized power in the city. But when Antiochus was on his way back from Egypt after Roman intervention against him, he captured the city and punished its inhabitants. To ensure his future control of Jerusalem he stationed in its citadel, the Acra, non-Jewish settlers who were joined by extreme Hellenists from Menelaus' party. Through their domination of the capital of Judea, the Jewish character of the city became obscured. Antiochus went a step further. He totally prohibited the fulfillment of the mitzvot of the Jewish religion and any Jew found observing the Sabbath or circumcising his son was put to death. He likewise forced upon the Jewish population idolatrous rites and prohibited food, chiefly the eating of swine's flesh. The Temple was desecrated and henceforward called after Olympian Zeus (167). Contrary to Antiochus' expectations, the majority of the nation remained faithful to its religion and members of its various classes showed a readiness to undergo martyrdom. The unlimited devotion of the Jewish masses to their religion was in any event deep-rooted but on this occasion there unfolded, for the first time in the history of mankind, an epic chapter of martyrdom on a large scale that served, in the resistance of the martyrs and the *Hassideans during the religious persecutions, as a symbol and an example throughout all succeeding generations to both Jews and non-Jews. Associated with this martyrdom was an eschatological expectation. There was a growing belief that a period of unprecedented suffering was approaching, heralding the downfall of the evil kingdom and the fulfillment of the visions of the "end of days" (see *Eschatology).
Against Antiochus' policy there arose a large movement of rebellion which was speedily forged into a powerful fighting force by the Hasmonean dynasty, a priestly house from Modi'in in the district of Lydda. Henceforward, for a period of about 130 years, the Hasmonean dynasty was at the center of Jewish life. The revolt was led first by *Mattathias. Under him the rebels refrained from fighting pitched battles against the Seleucid army, contenting themselves with guerrilla warfare, Mattathias' activities being directed at consolidating the organization of the rebel groups and at ending Seleucid rule in the villages and country towns of Judea. His strategy gradually reduced the area in Judea under Seleucid control and in effect isolated Jerusalem from the other military bases of the enemy. After Mattathias' death the leadership passed to his sons, of whom *Judah, known as Maccabee, was distinguished for his military talents. Gaining four decisive victories over the Seleucid armies, Judah used his military superiority to liberate Jerusalem, except for the Acra, in Kislev 164. The Temple was purified of idolatry and the sacred service in it entrusted to priests from among the ranks of the rebels. To commemorate the purification of the Temple a festival, that of *Hanukkah, was instituted to be observed for all generations. The Seleucid kingdom could not long remain indifferent to the operations of the Hasmoneans. There was also a growing fear that Judah would take the Acra. *Lysias, who acted as regent on behalf of the youthful king Antiochus v, attempted once more to invade Judea and subdue the rebels. The invasion ended in a peace settlement. The Seleucid kingdom unequivocally revoked Antiochus Epiphanes' policy of religious persecution, and, with the aim of appeasing the Jews, Menelaus, now made the scapegoat for the failure of that policy, was executed, and Alcimus, a moderate Hellenist, appointed high priest. The Seleucid kingdom did not recognize Judah Maccabee as the head of the Jewish nation, although he continued to be the leader of troops of Jewish fighters loyal to him. The principal achievement of the Jews was the Seleucid kingdom's recognition of their complete religious freedom, although militarily and politically the treaty bore the character of an armistice only. Tension increased in Judea with the appearance in Syria of a new king, *Demetrius i (162), who supported Alcimus and sought to put an end to Hasmonean supremacy in Judea. In the encounter between Judah Maccabee and the Seleucid commander *Nicanor, the former gained his last victory (the Day of Nicanor, Adar 13, 161). Henceforward political independence became Judah's ardent purpose, and to this end, ties with Rome seemed an important step. The treaty concluded between them marked the Roman republic's official recognition of Judea. While it is not clear whether the treaty had any immediate results, since it did not deter Demetrius from again sending his forces against the Jews, the Hasmoneans nevertheless set great store by it since it admitted Judea into the ambit of international relations. Judah Maccabee did not long enjoy the results of his victory over Nicanor, for Demetrius' defeat of his enemies in the east enabled him to send large forces to Judea, and Judah fell in battle (160 b.c.e.) *Jonathan and *Simeon, Judah's brothers, gathered around themselves the remnants of the fighters but failed to regain Jerusalem, and were compelled to adopt the earlier tactics of guerrilla warfare. Rallying after several years, the Hasmoneans took up their residence at *Michmas (Mukhmās). When a rival to Demetrius i arose in the person of *Alexander Balas, new opportunities presented themselves to Jonathan the Hasmonean. Appointed high priest by Alexander, he first served in that capacity on Tabernacles 152, and during the next 115 years the high priesthood continued to be held by the Hasmonean dynasty. Jonathan went from strength to strength and was able to take advantage of the Seleucid kingdom's internal difficulties for the advancement of Judea. The country now filled a role of prime importance throughout southern Syria. Among the territorial achievements under Jonathan was the annexation of southern Samaria and the region of Ekron; the southern coastal cities, too, came under Jewish influence.
Jonathan was treacherously murdered by *Tryphon, the Syrian commander. His successor and brother, Simeon, followed in his footsteps and even obtained recognition of the freedom of Judea from the Seleucid king *Demetrius ii who agreed to exempt the country from paying taxes to the kingdom (142 b.c.e). This official recognition was regarded by the Jews as the beginning of the freedom of Ereẓ Israel ("Then the people of Israel began to write in their instruments and contracts: 'In the first year of Simeon the high priest, the commander and leader of the Jews'" – i Macc. 13:42). Simeon continued in various ways the work of Jonathan. In foreign affairs he adopted a hostile attitude toward those forces in the Seleucid kingdom that were inimical to the independence of Judea. To make Judea militarily secure he eradicated the last cells of opposition from its soil, and obtained for it access to the sea. As early as the beginning of his rule he dispatched an armed force to Jaffa, and, driving out the non-Jews, secured the harbor for Judea. He also took Gezer, which dominated the road leading from Judea to the coastal plain and captured the Acra, the conquest of these places having been made possible by thespeedy progress of the Jewish army in the technique of subjugating cities. The inhabitants of Gezer were expelled, the city was cleansed of idolatry, and Jews loyal to their religion were settled in it. There Simeon built a palace for himself, and the city, of which Simeon's son, John *Hyrcanus was appointed governor, became one of Judea's administrative centers. The capture of the Acra (Iyyar 23, 141) made an even greater impression on that generation, for as long as it was occupied by the Hellenists the independence of Judea did not seem assured. The day on which the Acra was taken was appointed a festival. During Simeon's final years, relations deteriorated between him and *Antiochus vii Sidetes, the last great king of the Seleucid dynasty, who sought to curtail the influence of Simeon and bring him once more under the yoke of the Seleucid kingdom. Demanding in particular the return of Jaffa, Gezer, and the citadel of Jerusalem, Antiochus ordered his governor of the coastal plain to launch an attack on Judea from the base at Jabneh. A large Jewish force under the command of Simeon's sons set out against the king's army and put it to flight, pursuing it beyond Ashdod. Never again in the days of Simeon was there any open Seleucid intervention in Judea.
Simeon was anxious to obtain Jewish sanction for his rule and to secure for his house the status of a hereditary dynasty in Judea. In 140 b.c.e. a great assembly took place in Jerusalem which confirmed both Simeon and his sons after him "until there should arise a faithful prophet" as ethnarch, high priest, and commander-in-chief of the Jewish nation. This decision of the Great Assembly became the cornerstone of the Hasmonean regime and correctly reflected the union, in the hands of that dynasty's representatives, of the functions of the high priesthood, the civil rule, and the military command, a union of functions which was characteristic of the Jewish state's entire development under Hasmonean rule. Simeon endeavored to attract to himself circles that were at first opposed to the policy of the Hasmoneans, among these being men of local influence in various parts of the country, such as Ptolemy, Simeon's son-in-law, whom he appointed governor of Jericho. Resolved apparently, with the support of Antiochus Sidetes, to supplant Simeon in Judea, Ptolemy murdered him and two of his sons. But the murder (134 b.c.e.) failed in its political purpose. Affection for the Hasmonean dynasty was deep-seated in the nation and Simeon's surviving son, John Hyrcanus, succeeded him as the ruler of Judea. The growth and expansion of the Hasmonean state of Judea were influenced by the processes which led to the increasing disintegration of the Seleucid kingdom. At the beginning of his rule, after he had overcome his internal enemies, John Hyrcanus was still faced with a threat from the central Seleucid government in the person of Antiochus Sidetes. The fighting was protracted (134–132 b.c.e.) and several of the king's advisors even tried to give it the character of a new religious war. After a drawn-out siege of Jerusalem, the sides came to terms. Antiochus accorded official recognition to John Hyrcanus' rule of Judea, while the latter undertook to pay him an indemnity for the cities which his predecessors had taken outside the confines of Judea. He also undertook to assist Antiochus in his campaign against the Parthians, thus renewing for a time the relations between Judea and the Seleucid kingdom. But after Antiochus vii's death during his expedition against the Parthians (129 b.c.e.), the entire structure of the Seleucid kingdom collapsed, whereupon John Hyrcanus, having succeeded in regaining the complete political independence of Judea, initiated a policy of expansion in Ereẓ Israel. His conquests were in effect a continuation of the war upon which his Hasmonean predecessors had embarked, his basic approach being that the country as a whole was the ancestral heritage of the Jewish nation. Under him the expansion, which took place in various directions – southward, northward, and eastward – had decisive consequences for the country's future.
Already in the 20s of the second century b.c.e. John Hyrcanus succeeded in annexing to Judea most of the territory of Ereẓ Israel and especially what was outside the limits of Hellenistic cities. In terms of its results for subsequent generations, particular importance attached to the expansion southward to Idumea (see *Edom), which, together with its two principal centers, Adora and Marisa, was annexed to Judea. Its inhabitants were converted to Judaism. The proselytization of the Idumeans was the first of its kind in that it was one of an entire race and not merely of a single or more individuals. The Idu-means soon became an inseparable part of the Jewish nation and their upper classes began to occupy important positions in the government and society of the Hasmonean kingdom. Henceforward the proselytization of the whole of Ereẓ Israelassumed the character of a fixed aim of Jewish policy.
John Hyrcanus also undertook military operations in Transjordan and captured Madaba and Samoga; he attacked the Samaritans, took their capital Shechem, and destroyed their temple on Mount Gerizim. During his last years, his conquests reached their zenith in the capture of the large Hellenistic cities of Samaria and Scythopolis (Beth-Shean), thereby opening to the Hasmoneans the way to Galilee, parts of which were, it seems, annexed to Judea already in his days.
His son and successor, *Aristobulus i (104–103), completed the conquest of Galilee and defeated the Itureans who apparently ruled over part of Upper Galilee. As a result of theconquests of John Hyrcanus and Aristobulus, the area of Judea was enlarged several fold. Almost all the population outside the confines of some Hellenistic cities now fell under Jewish rule and became part of the Jewish nation, and even some Hellenistic cities were captured.
This expansionist policy was continued chiefly by Alexander *Yannai (103–76 b.c.e.) under whom all the foreign cities of Ereẓ Israel, except Ashkelon, were taken. The Jews also made an onslaught on the cities of the Decapolis, and, among other places, took Gadara.
The Hasmonean conquests eradicated the main political impact of Hellenism from the territory of Ereẓ Israel and transformed most of the country's non-Jewish inhabitants into an integral part of the Jewish nation. Judea now became the accepted designation of the country as a whole and continued as its official name until the days of the emperor Hadrian, thereby reflecting the ethnic and power changes engendered at the time of the Hasmonean rulers' conquests. Facts of great significance were established, and, even after the downfall of the Hasmonean dynasty, Ereẓ Israel remained for centuries a country with a Jewish majority, a fact that had many implications for the future.
At the basis of the constitutional development of Hasmonean Judea lay the decision of the Great Assembly of 140 b.c.e. which sanctioned the position of the Hasmoneans as the rulers of the Jewish state and established the connection between the Hasmonean dynasty and the high priesthood. The status of the Hasmonean ruler as regards the outside world was at first expressed in the title of ethnarch, but a decisive change occurred in the days of Aristobulus i, who assumed the title of king in order to enhance the prestige of the Hasmonean ruler, since that of ethnarch no longer reflected his status as compared to that of other rulers in the region.
Judea's transformation into a monarchy enlarged the importance of the Hasmonean king as far as the traditional institutions that directed the nation during the preceding period were concerned. Yet, despite the enhanced status of the rulers of the Hasmonean dynasty, they did not officially regard themselves as absolute rulers, with the possible exception of Alexander Yannai at a certain period during his reign. At least internally they emphasized that, in the state, the entire nation was sovereign alongside the ruler, as clearly indicated in Hebrew inscriptions on Judean coins.
At the outset of its career, the Hasmonean dynasty was borne along on a tide of religious-national enthusiasm. For the Jewish masses it was the dynasty to which the deliverance of Israel had been entrusted. But, already at an early stage of the accession of the Hasmonean dynasty, it was evident that its supporters were not all of one complexion. Only with difficulty was a common language found between the leaders of the priestly aristocracy that joined the Hasmonean dynasty and the Hassideans. At first the Hasmoneans were the natural leaders of the circles which were under the influence of the *Pharisees, but, during John Hyrcanus' rule, a breach occurred between the Hasmoneans and the Pharisees which widened in the days of his sons. Several of the factors that marred the relations between the Hasmonean dynasty and the Pharisees may be conjectured. The atmosphere prevailing in the royal court and its external Hellenization, as also that of the kingdom, were incompatible with the outlook of the Pharisees. The gradual basing, too, of the Hasmonean dynasty on various social elements throughout the country which in part had nothing in common with the ideals of the holy war increased the tension. Some rejected the transformation of Judea into a monarchy. Among the opponents of the Hasmonean dynasty were also those who wanted to leave it in the possession only of the secular government, on condition that the high priesthood was given to others. There were circles, too, that repudiated especially the assumption of the royal crown by the Hasmoneans, grounding their opposition on the outlook that this crown was reserved for the House of David only (see also *Sadducees; *Essenes).
Nonetheless, the nation greatly honored the Hasmonean dynasty and even its leading opponents showed a willingness for an accommodation. The gravest crisis in relations took place during the reign of Alexander Yannai, who came, however, to realize that a compromise had to be reached at least with a section of the hostile elements among the Jews. His last victories in his wars against the enemies of Judea in Transjordan likewise earned him great popularity among the masses of the nation.
The reign of his widow *Salome Alexandra (76–67) was a period of close cooperation between the Pharisees and the throne. In her days the leaders of the Pharisees were given the direction of the state, and their traditions and ordinances, abolished under John Hyrcanus, became once more obligatory.
Alexandra's death (67 b.c.e.) left Judea in a state of civil war. Her elder son *Hyrcanus, deposed by his brother *Aristobulus from the kingship and the high priesthood, tried after a short time to realize his legitimate claims to them, and through one of his supporters, *Antipater ii, conspired with *Aretas iii king of the *Nabateans. Their combined armies defeated Aristobulus and besieged him in Jerusalem. Meanwhile the Romans, having arrived in Syria, compelled the Nabateans to withdraw from Judea. The decision with regard to the succession to the Hasmonean throne was left to *Pompey, the Roman commander, who was disposed to entrust the rule to Hyrcanus. After some hesitation Aristobulus surrendered to Pompey, and the Roman army advanced against Jerusalem, whereupon Hyrcanus' adherents opened the gates of the city to it. It was only on the Temple Mount that the Romans encountered any strong opposition. After a three-month siege the Temple Mount, too, was taken and thousands of its defenders were killed (63). An end had come to the independence of Hasmonean Judea, which had lasted for some 80 years and had achieved the political consolidation of Ereẓ Israel under Jewish rule.
The Roman conquest led to decisive political changes in the country. Syria became a Roman province, while Judea, reduced in area, was granted limited autonomy and made dependent on the Roman governor of Syria. Judea was deprived of the whole coastal plain and of access to the sea. Part of Idumea (Marisa) and of Samaria was severed from Judea. In this manner the territorial continuity of Jewish settlement in western Ereẓ Israel was destroyed, the only road linking Galilee and Jerusalem being now by way of the Jordan Valley. Pompey naturally freed from Jewish rule the large Hellenistic cities in Transjordan as well as Scythopolis, which were joined to the Decapolis and recovered their autonomous city life. The Greek cities on the coast also regained their freedom. The territory remaining under Hyrcanus ii's rule thus comprised Judea and southern Samaria, most of Idumea, the areas of Jewish settlement on the eastern bank of the Jordan, and Galilee. Hyrcanus was divested of his royal title, and the obligation to pay taxes to the foreign government reimposed. The Jews in the country did not willingly accept the new regime and the following years witnessed frequent insurrections usually led by men who represented Aristobulus' branch of the Hasmoneans.
A notable change for the better took place under *Julius Caesar who was well disposed to the Jews and even regarded them as allies. After his victory over Pompey, Hyrcanus and Antipater went over to his side and helped him when he was in danger in Alexandria. The fact that Hyrcanus had joined Caesar's camp influenced the attitude of the Jews of Egypt, who dominated key positions at the gateways to the country. When the danger threatening him had passed, Caesar took several decisions in favor of Hyrcanus ii and the Jews in Ereẓ Israel. Hyrcanus and his sons after him were confirmed as high priests and as ethnarchs of Judea, the walls of Jerusalem demolished in the days of Pompey were rebuilt, and the harbor of Jaffa was restored to the Jews. Under the new arrangements instituted by Caesar, Antipater rose to greater power, and his sons were given influential positions in the government, *Phasael, the elder, being appointed governor of Jerusalem and *Herod governor of Galilee.
The assassination of Caesar (44 b.c.e.) drew Judea, too, into the vortex of the Roman civil war. Cassius, one of the leaders of the pro-republican forces, went to the east and gained control of Syria and Ereẓ Israel. Antipater and his sons now sided with Cassius who tried to extort as much money as possible from the population of Judea. While Antipater fell victim in the internal struggle then taking place in Judea, his sons extended their influence.
Following the Parthian invasion in 40 b.c.e. of Rome's eastern provinces, momentous changes occurred. Mattathias Antigonus (*Antigonus ii), Aristobulus' younger son, now considered the time opportune for entering into a compact with the Parthians and in this way regaining his ancestral throne. As the Parthian forces advanced along the coast, the Jews in the neighborhood of Carmel and in the vicinity of Apollonia (Arsuf) flocked to join Antigonus. Hyrcanus and Phasael, who went out to negotiate with the Parthians, were taken prisoner by them, while Herod escaped from Jerusalem and made his way to Rome to obtain military and political assistance.
With the aid of the Parthians, Antigonus now became king of Judea, thus reestablishing the Hasmonean kingdom brought to an end 23 years earlier by Pompey. In the meantime Herod, the sole ally of the Romans in Ereẓ Israel, was received with great honors in Rome by its rulers Antony and Octavian. To raise Herod's prestige above that of Antigonus, he was given the title of king. Returning to Ereẓ Israel, he succeeded with the help of the Roman legions in capturing Idumea, Samaria, and Galilee. After the defeat of the Parthian armies in the east, large Roman forces became available for the war in Judea and the fate of Antigonus was in effect sealed. Following a siege of five months Jerusalem fell to the Roman army (37 b.c.e.) and Antigonus, the last king of the Hasmonean dynasty, was executed, ushering in Herod's rule in Judea.
Herod's reign was chiefly the creation of Rome's eastern policy. The Romans supported him as the ruler of Judea, seeing in him a powerful personality capable of preserving the existing order in the country and one whose loyalty to them was not in doubt. Since the Jews constituted the overwhelming majority of the population of Ereẓ Israel, it also seemed proper from the Roman viewpoint that its king should be a Jew. However, in order to include within the borders of Judea a large non-Jewish population, it was necessary that the character of the regime should not be theocratic, as had been the case with the Hasmoneans when the ruler combined the functions both of king and high priest. Herod thus fulfilled the demands of Roman policy in Ereẓ Israel, and was a commander and politician who throughout his life cooperated fully with Rome's representatives in the east.
Herod's foreign policy faithfully mirrored that of Rome. He loyally carried out Antony's policy when the latter still enjoyed great power, and, against the background of the policy of Antony and Cleopatra, he became involved in a military struggle with the Nabatean kingdom (31 b.c.e.). After the fortunes of war had gone first to Herod and then to the Arabs, his considerable military talents enabled him to gain a decisive victory over the Nabateans, thus proving to Rome's rulers his value as a leader capable of sustaining security and order in the region.
After Octavian's victory over Antony (30 b.c.e.), the former confirmed Herod as king of Judea and even extended the area under his rule. In the days of *Augustus' principate in the 20s of the first century b.c.e., Herod's kingdom comprised almost the whole of Ereẓ Israel, except for the enclave of Ashkelon and the coastal strip north of Carmel which were at no time during the Second Temple period incorporated within the Jewish state. In 23 b.c.e. Herod's kingdom was considerably enlarged when Trachonitis, Batanea (Bashan), and Auranitis (Hauran) were included under his rule. Further areas near the sources of the Jordan were annexed to his kingdom in 20 b.c.e. Rather than being based on official arrangements, Herod's political status in the Roman Empire was grounded on personal relations which he had prudently cultivated with the leaders of the Roman state and on the ties he had established with Augustus himself and with Agrippa, the greatest contemporary Roman commander and the princeps' right hand.
Herod's great influence with the Roman politicians enabled him to help Jewish communities in the Diaspora. When a serious dispute broke out about the rights of the Jews in the cities of Asia Minor, Agrippa, to whom the decision was entrusted, decided in favor of the Jews. Over his subjects in Ereẓ Israel itself Herod exercised unlimited sway. Generally he succeeded in maintaining peace within the borders of his kingdom, nor did embitterment against him lead during his reign to open rebellion. With an iron hand and timely concessions, with rigorous police supervision and the promotion of social elements dependent on him for their status, he succeeded in sustaining his regime until the day of his death.
Herod's conquest of Jerusalem spelled the end of the institutions of the old Hasmonean regime. He established a royal council which was not rooted in the Hasmonean past and which dealt with all important matters. The traditional Jewish *Sanhedrin was divested of political power. Another notable Jewish institution whose prestige was curtailed was the high priesthood. Since Herod himself did not belong to the priestly class and was accordingly unable to serve as the high priest, he was constrained to appoint others to that office but took care that they should be his loyal supporters and not too deeply involved in the Hasmonean past. He also abolished the custom whereby the high priest was appointed for life.
The external splendor of Herod's reign found expression in his court, which was in every respect identical with those of other Hellenistic kings in the east. Many of his important ministers were Greeks and among his intimate friends were several luminaries of contemporary Greek literature. The tutors of his sons as well as his bodyguard were non-Jews. Herod's fame and extensive international ties attracted to his court visitors from various places in the Greek world who even played a certain part in the events that took place in the royal court. Herod married many wives who bore him sons and daughters. By his first wife he had a son, *Antipater; by his second, *Mariamne the Hasmonean, he had *Alexander and *Aristobulus. After he executed Mariamne he married various women, among whom were an Alexandrian Jewess, a Samaritan woman, and a native of Jerusalem. The presence of different wives' sons, all of whom entertained the ambition to succeed their father, vitiated the royal court. Herod executed three of his sons, the two born to his Hasmonean wife and his eldest son Antipater, on the charge of conspiring against him. These deeds, the outcome of an atmosphere of suspicion, clouded the success generally enjoyed by Herod during most of his reign.
More than all Jewish rulers during the period of the Second Temple, Herod devoted himself to building new cities and erecting magnificent edifices, as was customary among the rulers of *Rome. In this sphere his most important achievements were the establishment of Caesarea (on the site of Strato's Tower) and Sebaste (on the site of Samaria). At Caesarea he also built the largest harbor in Ereẓ Israel which soon played a very significant part in the country's economic life. In Sebaste he settled many of his demobilized soldiers to whom he gave fertile allotments, and beautified the city. These two cities he organized on the pattern of the Hellenistic cities in the east and their establishment to some extent upset the balance of power that had existed in Ereẓ Israel between the Jewish and the non-Jewish populations. He also built the fortress of Herodium to the southeast of the capital, as well as Phasaelis in the Valley of Jericho, and Antipatris, improved and embellished Masada, and built the fortress of Machaerus. As a result of Herod's activities Jerusalem became one of the most resplendent capitals in the entire east. In it he erected a palace, rebuilt the Temple, and constructed the impressive towers of the Upper City, the fortifications of the stronghold of Antonia, as well as a theater and an amphitheater. He also built magnificent palaces in Jericho and in other places.
Herod's kingdom did not survive his death (4 b.c.e.). In his last will, subsequently confirmed by Augustus, he bequeathed Judea, Idumea, and Samaria to his son *Archelaus; Galilee and Perea to another son Herod *Antipas; and the northeastern parts of the kingdom to a third son *Philip. For the nation, Herod's death was the signal to demand an alleviation of the burden of taxation and a change in the nature of the regime. When their demands were not met, a dangerous rebellion broke out which was only suppressed by the vigorous intervention of Varus, the governor of Syria. Augustus did not bestow the title of king on Archelaus who had to be content with that of ethnarch. He failed to win the support of his Jewish and Samaritan subjects, and they complained of him to the emperor, who ordered that he be deposed and that his inheritance, Judea, be organized as a Roman province (6 c.e.). Believing that there was no need to send Roman legions to Judea and that an auxilium would be enough to maintain order and security and to suppress disturbances, Augustus laid down that the governors of the province of Judea were to be of equestrian rank. At first the governors of Judea bore the title of praefectus and only after Agrippa i's death were they officially referred to as *procurators.
Something is known of the origin of several procurators of Judea. One of them, Julius Alexander *Tiberius, of Jewish parentage, was an apostate. Felix was a Greek and a freedman. The last procurator, Florus, came from a city in Asia Minor. Procurators of eastern-Hellenistic origin were naturally more disposed toward the Hellenized urban population than to the Jews.
The governors of Syria intervened in the affairs of Judea. In several instances this intervention may be explained as resulting from the special authority granted by the emperor to the governor of Syria. At any rate, it is clear that the auxiliary forces stationed in Judea were not enough to suppress serious revolts, and the procurator of Judea was in effect dependent on the help given to him by the governor of Syria, who was not merely governor of an ordinary province but the most distinguished of the Roman Empire's governors, the supreme commander of the Roman east, and responsible for the Parthian border. Accordingly, he regarded himself as responsible, to some extent, for the security of the province of Judea as well, even though he was assigned no special authority over that territory.
As a rule the Roman administration granted a large measure of autonomy to the local Jewish institutions, which were charged with preserving peace and order and which assisted the Romans in collecting the direct taxes. Foremost among the Jewish institutions was the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem, the Great Bet Din, which met in the Chamber of Hewn Stone. Whereas administratively its jurisdiction was restricted to the limits of Judea, its authority in the sphere of religion and as regards its enactments extended beyond these circumscribed territorial borders. Its functions were varied. It was the supreme institution of the Jewish nation in matters of religion and worship, issued regulations in the religious and juridical spheres, and supervised religious life both in Ereẓ Israel and beyond its borders.
Under the earlier procurators relations between the Jewish nation and the Roman Empire had not yet become acute. Before the time of *Pontius Pilate (26–36 c.e.), there is no mention of bloodshed in Judea. But from his days and onward there are increasing references to a messianic ferment, to disturbances, and to a gradual disappointment in the Roman administration, which had at first tried to find a suitable way of preserving order in Judea by respecting the religious feelings of the Jews, for example, by prohibiting the entry into Jerusalem of representations and images. But it was not often that the two sides reached agreement. The stationing in Jerusalem of part of the auxiliary army, usually inimical to the Jewish population, in itself led to clashes. There were also the heavy taxes and the inflexibility of several procurators which contributed to increasing the tension between the Roman administration and the Jews.
The first open breach between the Jews and the Roman Empire occurred during the reign of Gaius *Caligula (37–41 c.e.). After the emperor's death, peace was indeed outwardly restored but there nevertheless remained murky sediment that clouded the relations between the two sides. It had suddenly become clear to the Jews what evil lay in store from the rule of an omnipotent ruler. The renewal of Antiochus Epiphanes' decrees had become a present reality. Taking advantage of the dangerous mood of Caligula who, sincerely believing in his own divinity, demanded divine honors from his subjects, the non-Jewish inhabitants of Ereẓ Israel erected in Jabneh an altar which the Jews demolished, thereby arousing the anger of the emperor, who ordered that a massive golden image be set up in the Temple in Jerusalem, and delegated the task to Petronius, the governor of Syria. The implacable opposition of the entire Jewish nation and *Agrippa i's intervention with the emperor prevented the execution of the order and only Caligula's death averted a yet graver situation.
The death of Caligula and the accession of *Claudius (41 c.e.), ushered in great prospects for the advancement of Agrippa i, the grandson of Herod and of Mariamne the Hasmonean, who was appointed king of the whole of Ereẓ Israel. For three years (41–44) the status of Judea as a province was annulled. Nor did Agrippa conform to the traditional policy of the Herodian kings who were always Rome's faithful servants. His personal ties with the emperor encouraged in him the hope that he would be permitted to do what others had not succeeded in doing. Of all the leaders of the Herodian dynasty, he alone in all his strivings gave primacy to the Jewish nation and its future, and became the most illustrious Jewish politician of his generation. The last years of his life were marked by a complete identification with the Jewish nation and with its needs as he saw them, and to this end he cooperated with the greater majority of the Jews of Ereẓ Israel who regarded him as in every respect a Jewish king and the heir to the Hasmonean rather than the Herodian dynasty. The non-Jews in Ereẓ Israel, however, looked upon him as their enemy.
The death of Agrippa (44 c.e.), led to the reimposition of direct Roman rule in Judea. But the last 20 years of existence of the Second Temple were marked by a complete deterioration of the Roman administration, by a growing tension between the procurators and those under their rule, and by a breakdown of order and security throughout Judea. Typical in this respect was the procuratorship of Felix (52–60 c.e.). At first his rule was animated by a conciliatory attitude toward the Jews – whose leaders and especially the former high priest Jonathan b. Anan even strove for his appointment as procurator – but it eventually ended in an open crisis between the Roman regime and the Jews. In his days there was an increase in the activities of the extremist freedom fighters, now a permanent feature of life in Judea. At the outset of his procuratorship Felix tried to arrest the spread of the movement and acted energetically against those who inspired messianic hopes among the Jews. He suppressed, among others, a movement which arose under the inspiration of an Egyptian Jew's prophecies who promised to overthrow the walls of Jerusalem with the breath of his mouth. Outside the limits of Judea, too, the procuratorship of Felix was distinguished by disturbances and bloody clashes. The main focus of tension was at Caesarea, where the cause of the conflict was the struggle for civic rights between the Syrian-Greek majority and the large Jewish minority. While the latter enjoyed superiority in wealth and power, their opponents relied on the garrison whose soldiers were drawn from Sebaste and from Caesarea itself and naturally disposed to help their brethren. In the days of Florus (64–66 c.e.), the last procurator before the revolt, there was a decisive breach between the Roman administration and the Jewish nation. Neither the Roman authorities nor the Jewish autonomous institutions were able to preserve their influence and power. There was growing anarchy alike in the streets of Jerusalem and in the rural areas of Judea.
The great revolt which broke out in 66 c.e. was the result of a combination of several factors. In the realm of theory there was a conspicuous discrepancy between the Jewish belief in the divine choice of the Jewish nation and in its glorious future on the one hand, and on the other the present reality of the Roman Empire's omnipotent rule. This discrepancy found vent in increasing messianic hopes and in expectations that the eternal kingdom of the Jewish nation would be established. The contrast was sharpened by the very essence and character of the Roman Empire with its tyrannical rule and its idolatry which extended even to political manifestations, such as emperor worship (see also *Zealots, *Dead Sea Sect).
In addition to these feelings there were also several tangible features of the Roman regime which gravely offended the Jews. The presence of a Roman army in Jerusalem, the supervision by the authorities of divine worship and of the Temple, the heavy burden of taxes and customs duties – these, but perhaps most of all the Roman administration's support of the non-Jewish population in Ereẓ Israel, caused the Jews to hate the rule of Rome.
The revolt also bore the character of a social revolution, its revolutionary social character being particularly prominent in those extremist groups in which messianic leaders, such as *Menahem the Galilean and *Simeon Bar Giora, were active. To them the revolt was not only a war against Rome. It was also a struggle against the upper classes of Judea who for many years had cooperated with the Roman regime.
The immediate events that led to the great revolt were associated with the tension in Caesarea and with the procurator Florus' conduct in Jerusalem which provoked a clash between the Jews and the Roman army. On the initiative of Eleazar b. Hanania, sacrifices were no longer offered for the welfare of the Roman people and the emperor. The Roman garrison in Jerusalem was destroyed, and the Roman army in Syria under the command of Cestius Gallus, the governor of Syria, was defeated at the ascent of Beth-horon. A provisional government was set up which united under its rule the whole of Jewish Ereẓ Israel.
The emperor *Nero could not remain indifferent to events in Judea and dispatched a huge Roman army under the command of *Vespasian to suppress the revolt. Vespasian invaded Galilee and, after overcoming stubborn resistance, crushed Jewish opposition there (67) and in Transjordan. The significant events that took place in the heart of the Roman Empire after the death of Nero (June 9, 68) greatly delayed the continuation of military operations by Vespasian who at the beginning of July 69 proclaimed himself emperor of Rome. In the spring of 70 c.e. his son *Titus laid siege to Jerusalem.
After a brave stand, Jerusalem was taken by Titus' armies, who burnt the Temple and so in effect terminated the war. Not long afterward Masada, the last fortress of the Jews, fell into the hands of the Romans (73).
"History: Ereẓ Israel – Second Temple." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 13, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/history-erez-israel-second-temple
"History: Ereẓ Israel – Second Temple." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Retrieved November 13, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/history-erez-israel-second-temple