Land of Israel and Jewish heritage – 35

Land of Israel and Jewish heritage

A series from the book written by Naveed Anjum

Jewish Life in the Land of Canaan, cont’d

The Promised Land, cont’d

Persian and Greek rule

While still under Persian rule, the last three Jewish prophets, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi, lived, prophesied, wrote, and died. Afterward, leadership of the Jewish people was in the hands of five successive generations of zugot (“pairs”) of leaders. They flourished first under the Persians and then under the Greeks. As a result, the Pharisees and Sadducees formed. Also, Jews minted Yehud (the Persian word for Judaea) coinage in Judah during the Persian (ca 375-333 BCE) and Greek Ptolemaic (333-2nd century BCE) periods.

The Hasmonean Kingdom and Roman rule

The Greek conqueror, King Alexander the Great, defeated the Persian King Darius III in 331 BCE when he was 25-years of age. Eight years later, Alexander III of Macedon was dead at the age of 33. Following his demise, Alexander’s empire was divided up by and among his generals, and the Seleucid Kingdom was formed.

A deterioration of relations between Hellenized Jews and religious Jews led the Seleucid King Antiochus IV Epiphanes to impose decrees that banned certain Jewish religious rites and traditions. Consequently, the Orthodox Jews revolted under the leadership of the Hasmonean family known as the Maccabees. This revolt eventually led to the formation of an independent Jewish kingdom, known as the Hasmonean Dynasty, which lasted from 165 BCE to 63 BCE. Upon their successful defeat of the Greeks, the Maccabees purified the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. Jews commemorate that event every year with a celebration known as Chanukah.

(To be continued…)

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