Between Empires and Peers: Hasmonean Foreign Policy under Alexander Jannaeus

Julia Wilker

During the reign of Alexander Jannaeus (103–76 BCE), Judea underwent a number
of signifi cant changes. This article explores one of them: the fundamental shift in foreign policy
strategy. This shift becomes most apparent in the king’s decision to not renew the alliance with
Rome, which had been a hallmark of Hasmonean foreign policy since the days of Judas Maccabaeus.
However, a close analysis of Alexander Jannaeus’ policy regarding other foreign powers
demonstrates that the end of the Judean-Roman alliance did not happen in a vacuum. It is shown
that under Alexander Jannaeus, the Hasmonean state adopted a different strategy towards imperial
powers by focusing on deescalation and ignorance rather than alliances. In contrast, interactions
with other rising states in the vicinity, such as the Nabateans and Itureans, increased. This new
orientation in foreign policy refl ected changes in Hasmonean identity and self-defi nition; Judea
did not need imperial support to maintain its independence anymore but strived to increase its
status as a regional power.
Słowa kluczowe: Hasmoneans, Alexander Jannaeus, Jewish-Roman relations, foreign relations.

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