The Political And Social Background Of Palestinian Judaism (3)

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The Political And Social Background Of Palestinian Judaism (3)

Palestine Under Roman Rule:

Each of the contending parties wants to win the favor of Pompey. Still, because he delayed, Aristobulus became impatient and wanted to force (using military power) to get back to the throne. Pompey became suspicious of Aristobulus and then decided to attack Jerusalem.

Pompey told the Nabataens’ to withdraw, so Aristobulus pitched his tent inside Jerusalem to fight the Romans for three months. Pompey conquered Aristobulus and his men.

When Pompey went inside the temple, he went into the Holy of Holies, an action that was a desecration. Pompey gave an order for worship to resume, but for the orthodox Hebrews, Pompey’s action was a desecration of the temple that needed to be cleaned. Matters were put straight in Jerusalem after the defeat of Aristobulus.

Aristobulus and his two sons, Alexander and Antigonus, were taken as prisoners to Rome, and John Hycarnus II was restored as High Priest. Pompey was able to redraw the boundaries of Judah. All the Cities at the Coaster Jordan that were not independent became independent. The Hasmonean dynasty subjugated these Cities before independence. All the Hellenistic Cities in Eastern Jordan were combined into a free league of Cities that extended from Damascus to Philadelphia. The Cities Bible refers to Decapolis, meaning Ten Cities – Mark 5:20. Samaria was also given her independence. Only those cities that immediately belonged to the Jerusalem Cultic community, including Judah and Berea, were under the dominion of the High Priest in 57BC, the Roman provincial government.

In Syria, Gabanius divided Palestine into five districts which were to be under his immediate throne. Three came from Judah. Jerusalem, Gazara, and Jericho. Galilee was apportioned to the district of Sepphoris. Berea went into another district, Amanthus. Thus arrangement could have been the best bringing about peace if not for internal conflict and outside influence. Aristobulus and his two sons escaped from Rome and began to cause trouble. In Jerusalem, many people discounted the weak ruling of John Hycarnus, and the people began to sympathize with Aristobulus.

There was a problem in Rome over leadership between Pompey and Julius Ceasar, resulting in a battle between the two. Hycarnus supported Pompey; at the end of the day, Julius Ceasar won the battle. John Hycarnus immediately ran to Julius Ceasar with total allegiance telling him that though he had supported Pompey until now, he now submitted totally to Julius Ceasar, who then secured Hycarnus position. Julius Ceasar did not only restore the traditional rights of the Cultic community but added privileges, i.e., the city of Jopar was added to the dominion of the High Priest. John Hycarnus was not only confirmed in his position but also named Rome’s Ethnarch and ally.

Antipater received a right of hereditary Roman citizenship and was also restored the procurator of Judah, so Judah was freed of the obligation of housing Roman legions during winter. Again unhindered worship was assured for the temple community and the synagogue community. It enabled the Jews to set up synagogues in any part of the Roman Empire. From this time on, Judaism stood under the protection of Rome. Antipater became a strong man and shared his power with his children through this arrangement.: Phasael and Herod. So Phasael was given the administration of Judah while Herod handled that of Galilee.

In Galilee, Herod eliminated the nuisance of Nationalist Jewish parties. So Herod imposed the death penalty on anyone involved (engaged) in violence, which he did without consulting the Sanhedrin. In 44 BC, Julius Ceasar was murdered, and a new confusion broke out in the Roman Empire. What John Hycarnus and Antipater did was side with Ceasar’s enemies. In 42 BC, Octavian and Mark Anthony defeated the enemies of Julius Ceasar. After this victory, Anthony assumed the government of the Eastern part of the Empire, but then he lived in Egypt; by this time, Egypt was part of the Roman Empire. Antipater fell victim to an assassin, and Hycarnus and two of Antipater’s sons (Phasael and Herod) were confined to their offices. Anthony could not involve himself in the affairs of the Empire (Syria and Palestine), so an attack came from the Parthians from the East; they took Hycarnus and Phasael’s prisoners along the way Phasael killed himself. Hycarnus was handed over to Antigonus, an ally of the Parthians. He cut off Hycarnus ear so that he would be unfit to become the High Priest, so Antigonus assumed the position of High Priest and king of Jews with the help of the Parthians from 40-37BC.

In 40 BC, Herod went to Rome to seek confirmation of Anthony and Octavian. The Senate confirmed him as the king and high Priest of Jews but with no Country because the Perthians had taken over Syria and Judah. From Syria, Rome launched an attack on Palestine. Rome was able to push the Parthians from Judah. Antigonus was imprisoned and later executed. With the execution of Antigonus, the last attempt by the Hasmonians to gain power was shattered. Herod had the kingship and did not allow the kingship to be disputed. Herod fortified himself and his throne with the help of Rome. Herod was crafty and ruthless; a murderer, cruel, wicked, daring, and capable of making quick decisions when it matters most. He initially supported Mark Anthony, who was in charge of the East, and submitted absolutely to Mark Anthony even if it was against his interest; he made the best of opportunity when Anthony gave part of the territory to Cleopatra. When Anthony was defeated by Octavian (Ceasar Augustus), Herod went to Ceasar Augustus, threw his crown down, and pledged loyalty, and he was not only.

The kingdom of Herod the Great did not only include the Jews but Gentiles who dwelt in the regions of Galilee under his rule. As a result of Octavian’s generosity, he did not force the gentiles to convert to Judaism but placed the Jews and the Greeks side by side with equal rights, and Herod himself desired to be a king of the Jews and the king of Gentiles. Herod surrounded himself with Hellenist-educated men and carried out building activities in the Greek Cities. Herod built Baths, Gymnasia, Open-Air Theatres, Temples, etc. The devout Jews became annoyed with Herod; in other to Appease the Jews, Herod began rebuilding and expanding the temple that had been destroyed to fashion after Solomon’s Temple to be accepted by Jews.

Herod was a great man, even though he was mean. Jerusalem temple was something to behold.

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