The Maccabaean Revolt

Antiochus IV, ruling his empire including Jerusalem from Syria, wrongly assumed that the worship of Yahweh among the Jews could be transformed into the worship of the universal god, Zeus, as easily as such transformations had been made in his dominions farther east — where Jews worshiped Yahweh under the name of Zeus Sabazions. He wrongly assumed that the Jews of Judea would easily accept the notion that all worshiped the same God. In 167 he had the temple in Jerusalem rededicated as a shrine to Zeus. A problem in semantics developed. Some Jews saw Antiochus as compelling them to practice idolatry — something neither the Persians nor the Ptolemies had tried to force upon them. Continue reading The Maccabaean Revolt

The Book of Ecclesiastes

The author of the Old Testament’s Book of Ecclesiastes called himself “the preacher.” And he claimed to be a “son of David,” an expression used commonly to describe oneself as a Jew rather than as an actual son of David. But some in modern times would believe that Ecclesiastes was written by Solomon, despite it being unlikely that Solomon in his old age would have turned his view of the world upside down and written about futility and the evils of oppression. Some others estimate that Ecclesiastes was written several hundred years after Solomon: around 200 BCE. Continue reading The Book of Ecclesiastes

Hellenism & Jews

With Alexander’s conquests also came significant cultural change. In West Asia and North Africa, well-to-do tradesmen, intellectuals and aristocrats who were neither Greek nor Macedonian, including those who were Jews, had begun developing an interest in things Greek — to the annoyance of those who believed that the old ways were best. From Marseille to India, Greek became the language of intellectuals. The Greek gymnasium became popular. It was a place for bathing and physical exercise Continue reading Hellenism & Jews

From Abraham to David – Yahweh

The word Hebrew has been associated with the word Hiberu and Apiru, described in Wikipedia as ” the name given by various Sumerian, Egyptian, Akkadian, Hittite, Mitanni, and Ugaritic sources (dated, roughly, from before 2000 BC to around 1200 BC) to a group of people living as nomadic invaders in areas of the Fertile Crescent from Northeastern Mesopotamia and Iran to the borders of Egypt in Canaan.” They are “variously described as nomadic or semi-nomadic, rebels, outlaws, raiders, mercenaries, and bowmen, servants, slaves, migrant laborers, etc.” Continue reading From Abraham to David – Yahweh

Zoroastrians and Judaism

Fall of Assyria’s Empire and Rise of the Moses Legend

Assyria’s great empire lasted no longer than would the empires that began in the late nineteenth century — about seventy-five years. Assyria weakened itself economically by continuous wars to maintain its empire, including defending against invasions by an Indo-European tribal people, the Cimmerians, who came upon the Assyrians from the northeast. The Assyrians spent themselves expanding into Egypt and in quelling the rebellions of Egyptian princes. The Cimmerian menace increased, and more rebellions occurred within the empire. Assyria was burdened by the expense of maintaining its army. Soldiers had to be paid. Massive numbers of horses had to be cared for and fed. Siege engines had to be moved against rebellious cities. Continue reading Zoroastrians and Judaism