Κυριακή, 10 Ιουνίου 2018

Hellenistic and Roman Galilee : The cultural and historical background of early Christianity

In the modern common usage, Galilee refers to all of the area that is beyond Mount Carmel to the northeast, extending from Dan to the north, at the base of Mount Hermon, along Mount Lebanon to the ridges of Mount Carmel and Mount Gilboa north of Jenin to the south, and from the Jordan Rift Valley to the east across the plains of the Jezreel Valleyand Acre to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea and the coastal plainin the west, including Beth Shean's valley, Sea of Galilee's valley, and Hula Valley, although it usually does not include Haifa's immediate northern suburbs. By this definition it overlaps with much of the administrative Northern District of the country. Western Galilee is a common term referring to the western part of the Upper Galilee and its shore, and usually also the northwestern part of the Lower Galilee, mostly overlapping with Acre sub district. Galilee Panhandle is a common term referring to the "panhandle" in the east that extends to the north, where Lebanon is to the west, and includes Hula Valley and Ramot Naftali mountains of the Upper Galilee. Historically, the part of Southern Lebanon south of the east-west section of the Litani River also belonged to the region of Galilee, but the present article mainly deals with the Israeli part of the region. Most of Galilee consists of rocky terrain, at heights of between 500 and 700 m. Several high mountains are in the region, including Mount Tabor and Mount Meron, which have relatively low temperatures and high rainfall. As a result of this climate, flora and fauna thrive in the region, while many birds annually migrate from colder climates to Africa and back through the Hula–Jordan corridor. The streams and waterfalls, the latter mainly in Upper Galilee, along with vast fields of greenery and colourful wildflowers, as well as numerous towns of biblical importance, make the region a popular tourist destination. Due to its high rainfall 900 millimetres –1,200 millimetres, mild temperatures and high mountains (Mount Meron's elevation is 1,000–1,208 m), the upper Galilee region contains some distinctive flora and fauna.
The Siege of Tyre was orchestrated by Alexander the Great in 332 BC during his campaigns against the Persians. The Macedonian army was unable to capture the city, which was a strategic coastal base on the Mediterranean Sea, through conventional means because it was on an island and had walls right up to the sea. Alexander responded to this problem by first blockading and besieging Tyre for seven months, and then by building a causeway that allowed him to breach the fortifications. It is said that Alexander was so enraged at the Tyrians' defence of their city and the loss of his men that he destroyed half the city. According to Arrian, 8,000 Tyrian civilians were massacred after the city fell. Alexander granted pardon to all who had sought sanctuary (safety in the temple), including Azemilcus and his family, as well as many nobles. 30,000 residents and foreigners, mainly women and children, were sold into slavery. When Alexander destroyed Tyre, most of the towns on the route to Egypt quickly capitulated. However, Alexander met with resistance at Gaza. The stronghold was heavily fortified and built on a hill, requiring a siege. During the Siege of Gaza Alexander succeeded in reaching the walls by utilizing the engines he had employed against Tyre. After three unsuccessful assaults, the stronghold was taken by storm. Batis, the commander of the fortress of Gaza, expected to hold Egypt in subjection until the Persian Great King Darius III could raise another army and confront Alexander in a battle from this city. The fortress was located on an eminence, on the edge of a desert from which the surrounding area could be easily controlled. It controlled the main road that went from the Persian province of Syria to Egypt. The city, over 60 feet (18 m) high, was traditionally employed to control the surrounding area, which even then was a hotbed of dissent. Batis was aware that Alexander was marching down the coast, as he had just been victorious at Tyre. He therefore victualed Gaza for a long siege. It is likely that he was aware of Alexander's scheme of controlling the entire Mediterranean coast before moving into the interior of Persia. Batis refused to surrender to Alexander. When Gaza was taken, the male population was put to the sword and the women and children were sold into slavery. As a result of the Siege, Alexander was allowed to proceed south into Egypt securely, without his line of communications being threatened from the North by Batis from Gaza. Andromachus of Cyprus was an allied admiral of Alexander the Great during the Siege of Tyre in 332 BC. He may have been the same Andromachus who was shortly afterward appointed the governor of Coele-Syria, and was burnt to death by the Samaritans. Alexander punished the assassins of Andromachus. During the Hellenistic period, Samaria was largely divided between a Hellenizing faction based in Samaria (Sebastaea) and a pious faction, led by the High Priest and based largely around Shekhem and the rural areas. Samaria was a largely autonomous state nominally dependent on the Seleucid Empire until around 113 BCE, when the Jewish Hasmonean ruler John Hyrcanus destroyed the Samaritan temple and devastated Samaria.
Hellenistic Judaism was a form of Judaism that combined Jewish religious tradition with elements of Greek culture. The major literary product of the contact of Second Temple Judaism and Hellenistic culture is the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Bible from Biblical Hebrew and Biblical Aramaic to Koiné Greek, Jewish Koiné Greek. Mentionable are also the philosophic and ethical treatises of Philo and the historiographical works of the other Hellenistic Jewish authors. The decline of Hellenistic Judaism started in the 2nd century CE. The conquests of Alexander the Great in the late 4th century BCE spread Greek culture and colonization a process of cultural change called Hellenization over non-Greek lands, including the Levant. This gave rise to the Hellenistic age, which sought to create a common or universal culture in the Alexandrian empire based on that of 5th- and 4th-century BCE Athens, along with a fusion of Near Eastern cultures. The period is characterized by a new wave of Greek colonization which established Greek cities and Kingdoms in Asia and Africa, the most famous being Alexandria in Egypt. New cities were established composed of colonists who came from different parts of the Greek world, and not from a specific metropolis ("mother city") as before. Jewish life in both Judea and the diaspora was influenced by the culture and language of Hellenism. The Greeks viewed Jewish culture favorably, while vice versa, Hellenism gained adherents among the Jews. The main religious issue dividing Hellenized Jews from traditional Jews was the application of biblical laws in a Hellenistic (or Roman or other non-Jewish) empire. Under the suzerainty of the Ptolemies and later the Seleucids, Judea witnessed a period of peace and protection of its institutions.
Judah Aristobulus I (Greek name for"best-advising"; reigned c. 104 - 103 BC) was the first ruler of the Hasmonean Dynasty to declare himself "king". He was the eldest of the five sons of John Hyrcanus, the previous leader. Aristobulus was not only just the first king from the Hasmonean lineage, but the first of any Hebrew kings to claim both the high priesthood and the kingship title. The Sadducees and the Essenes were not concerned about Aristobulus taking the title of king, but the Pharisees were infuriated: they felt that the kingship could only be held by descendants of the Davidic line (the Hasmoneans were Levites). The Pharisees began a massive rebellion, but Aristobulus died before any attempt to depose of him could occur. According to the directions of John Hyrcanus, the country after his death was to be placed in the hands of his wife, and Aristobulus was originally to receive the high-priesthood only. Aristobulus did not approve of his father's wishes, instead, he seized the crown with the support of his brother Antigonus. To secure his kingship, he had his mother placed in prison where she starved to death; and to ensure himself of any possible endangerment from his family, he placed his three brothers into prison except for Antigonus. Much of the Galilee region was annexed by Aristobulus, however, there was some resistance from the Ituraean tribes from the northern parts of the region. The terrain made campaigning difficult against the Galilee inhabitants. In the end, Aristobulus would eventually conquer much of the territory from them. The Golan region was also taken during the campaign and Mount Hermon as well. The conquered inhabitants were forced to accept the Jewish faith, primarily, circumcision was forcibly performed as the main step to conversion. Archaeological findings in eastern Galilee and lower Golan reveal massive ethnic changes in the area just before, during, and immediately after Aristobulus's reign. Beginning with John Hyrcanus and ending with Alexander Jannaeus, large numbers of pro-Hasmonean Jews immigrated into those territories to support Hasmonean political, economic, and religious ideology, displacing much of the pre-existing population. Although many of these towns were later seized by Roman forces who instituted pro-Hellenic policies, the previous Hasmonean influence survived and would incite conflict during and after the rule of Herod the Great.
Aristobulus's feeble health gradually lead his remaining reign under the control of a clique, at the head of which stood Queen Alexandra Salome, his wife. Through his machinations reign, he was led to suspect his favorite brother, Antigonus whom he had entrusted with a share in the government, and whom he treated almost as a coregent of designs against him. When he showed signs of disease, the queen conspired to murder Antigonus. She deceived the king with suggestions that Antigonus was attempting to overthrow him by force. Salome then convinced Antigonus that his king wished to see his new armor, while telling Aristobulus that his brother was coming to kill him. Antigonus was killed by Aristobulus's guards before he could get close to his brother. Days later, Aristobulus died from pain and internal bleeding from an unknown disease, which Jews perceived his death as a sign of God's disgruntlement. The queen released the younger brothers from prison, placing Alexander Jannaeus on the throne. The first mint of Hasmonean coins didn't begin until the leadership of John Hyrcanus. Like his father, Judah Aristobulus only minted his coins with the title of the high priesthood. It wasn't until Alexander Jannaeus that both the roles of kingship and the high priesthood were minted onto coins. The majority of Judah's coins were found in the regions of Galilee and the Golan, primary, the largest amount of coins were from Gamla. Majority of them come from his actual reign, while a small amount of these coins were minted after.
In Roman times, the client kingdom of Judea was divided into Judea, Samaria, the Paralia (beach in Greek)(Palestine), and Galilee, which comprised the whole northern section of the country, and was the largest of the three regions under the Tetrarchy (Judea). After Judea became a Roman province in 6 CE, Galilee briefly became a part of it, then separated from it for two to three centuries. The Galilee region was presumably the home of Jesus Christ during at least 30 years of his life. Much of the first three Gospels of the New Testament give an account of Jesus' public ministry in this province, particularly in the towns of Nazareth and Capernaum. Galilee is also cited as the place where Jesus performed many public miracles, including curing a blind man. After the death of Jesus, some accounts suggest his disciples returned to Galilee and their experience of His resurrection took place there. The archaeological discoveries of synagogues from the Hellenistic and Roman period in the Galilee show strong Phoenician influences, and a high level of tolerance for other cultures, relative to other Jewish sacred sites from the period, the latter being "cleansed of impurities". Eastern Galilee retained a Jewish majority until at least the seventh century.
Sepphoris Zippori also called Diocaesaraea (in Greek) and, during the Crusades, Sephory is a village and an archeological site located in the central Galilee region of Israel, 6 kilometers north-northwest of Nazareth. In Late Antiquity, it was believed to be the birthplace of Mary, mother of Jesus, and the village where Saints Anna and Joachim are often said to have resided, where today a 5th-century basilica is excavated at the site honoring the birth of Mary.
Following the Bar Kokhba revolt of 132–135, Sepphoris was one of the centers in Galilee where rabbinical families from Judea relocated. In 104 BCE, the Judean priestly dynasty of the Hasmoneans conquered Galilee under the leadership of either Alexander Jannaeus or Aristobulus I and at this time the town may have been administered by a quarter-master, probably Jewish, and by the middle of the 1st century BCE, after the campaigns of Pompey, it fell under Roman rule in 63 BCE and became one of the five synods of Roman influence in the Near East. After Herod's death in 4 BCE, a certain Judas, son of a local bandit, Ezekias, attacked Sepphoris, then the administrative center of the Galilee, and, sacking its treasury and weapons, armed his followers in a revolt against Herodian rule. The Roman Governor in Syria, Varus is reported by Josephus - perhaps in an exaggeration, since archaeology has failed to verify traces of the conflagration - to have burnt the city down, and sold its inhabitants into slavery. After Herod's son, Herod Antipas was made tetrarch, or governor, he proclaimed the city's new name to be Autocratoris, and rebuilt it as the "Ornament of the Galilee". An ancient route linking Sepphoris to Legio, and further south to Samaria-Sebastia, is believed to have been paved by the Romans around this time. The new population was loyal to Rome. At the time of Jesus, Sepphoris was a large, Roman-influenced city. It has been suggested that Jesus, while living in Nazareth, may have worked as a craftsman at Sepphoris, where, during his youth 'the largest restoration project' of his time took place. The inhabitants of Sepphoris did not join the Great Jewish Revolt against Roman rule of 66 CE. Towns and villages that did not rebel were spared and in Galilee they were the majority. Coins minted in the city at the time of the Great Revolt carried the inscription Neronias and Eirenopolis, Greek for "City of Peace". After the revolt, coins bore depictions of laurel wreaths, palm trees, caduceuses and ears of barley, which appear on Jewish coinage albeit not exclusively.
Πηγή : https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hasmonean_dynasty

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