The Hasmoneans and the Religious Homogeneity of Their State

Edward Dąbrowa


The conquest of the Near East by Alexander of Macedon began a new era in the history of this region. This pregnant event was quite differently perceived and judged by contemporaries in conquered lands, Palestine among them. To those, the Macedonian’s victory over the Persians meant little more than one hegemonist replacing another. It must have been with concern, or perhaps with hope, that they awaited possible changes under the new political arrangement. We know little about Alexander’s direct rule over Palestine, but the historical evidence we have suggests that the behavior of local populations in the area did not always meet the expectations of Macedonian conquerors. One example may be seen in the attitude of the Jerusalem Temple’s high priest, who, despite Alexander’s superiority at arms, firmly declared his loyalty to the Persian king (Jos. AJ 11, 317–319), while some in Samaria’s elites chose to follow their self-interest and did not hesitate to join the conqueror (Jos. AJ 11, 321–324; 340–345). Although local elites and communities declared their willingness to cooperate with the Macedonian monarch, there were no avoiding tensions and conflicts between locals and newcomers. One such instance was a mutiny in Samaria city against the Macedonians, during which the Syrian governor Andromachus was killed. In retaliation, the rebellion was quenched in blood and Macedonian settlers were brought into Samaria.


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