256. Rousseau and Arav, Jesus and His World, 206, 281; Ant. XIII, 254-6; War I, 63.
258. 1Macc. 7:5-25, 2 Macc. 14:3-10, Ant. XII, 391-7.
259. 1 Macc. 7:26-50; 2 Macc. 14:12-15:36; Ant. XII, 402-12.
When Judas died in 161 BC, the Greek party again got the upper hand.261 The "levites"262 who joined the "priests" in the land of Damascus were some of the followers of Judas who went there in 160-159 BC.263
When Jonathan (161-143/2 BC), the brother of Judas, became the leader of Judas' party, Bacchides again came to Judea at two different times for the purpose of destroying Jonathan and his followers in order to aid the pro-Greek party.264 The first time he had some success in his endeavor and fortified many cities of Judea including the citadel in Jerusalem.265 The second time (two years later) he realized that trying to destroy Jonathan's army would be too difficult if not impossible. Therefore, he made peace with Jonathan and swore never to make war on him again.266 By the time Jonathan became the high priest in 152 BC, the pro-Greek party had lost all its political power.267
In the first year of John Hyrcanus I's reign (135/4-104 BC), the Syrian king, Antiochus VII Sidetes (138-129 BC), devastated the country and surrounded Jerusalem with Hyrcanus I shut inside. A settlement was eventually reached between them, although the terms were severe for Hyrcanus I. As part of the deal, Jerusalem was saved from complete destruction, but the walls were pulled down.268 With the death of Antiochus VII in 129 BC, the country was completely free of the Syrians.269
In 88 BC, the Pharisees initiated a treasonable correspondence with Demetrius III Eucerus (ca. 95-88/7 BC) against the Jewish king Alexander Jannaeus (103-76 BC). Demetrius III came with an army, the Jewish rebels joined him, and together they defeated Alexander Jannaeus at Shechem. But then, preferring to be ruled by a Jewish rather than a Syrian king, a large number of Jews returned to Jannaeus and Demetrius III was forced to return to Syria. When Jannaeus had captured the remaining rebel Pharisees, he had eight hundred of them crucified in full view of the city while he was feasting with his concubines. The throats of their wives and children were cut in front of them while they were still alive!270 There is no evidence that Demetrius III had ever tried to enter Jerusalem. However, it is possible that, when he had beaten
263. Schonfield, Secrets of the Dead Sea Scrolls, 20-1.
Janneaus at Shechem, he decided to march to Jerusalem. This could be the real reason why a large number of Jews (six thousand according to Josephus) went over to Jannaeus forcing Demetrius III to leave the country.271
There is an interesting passage in 4QpNah that has relevance for this time period. I will quote it below:
[Where is the lion's den, the cave of the young lions? (Nah. 2:12a) The interpretation of it concerns Jerusalem, which has become] a dwelling for the wicked ones of the Gentiles. Where the (1) lion went to enter, the (2) lion's cub [and no one to disturb (Nah. 2:12b). The interpretation of it concerns (2) Deme]trius, King of Greece, who sought to enter Jerusalem on the advice of the Seekers-After-Smooth-Things, [but God did not give Jerusalem] into the power of the kings of Greece from (1) Antiochus until the rise of the commanders of the Kittim; but afterwards [the city] will be trampled [...]. The (3) lion tears enough for his cubs and strangles prey for his lionesses (Nah. 2:13a). [The interpretation] concerns the (3) Lion of Wrath, who smites by his great ones and his partisans.272 [And fills with prey] the cave and his den with torn flesh (Nah. 2:13b). The interpretation of it concerns the Lion of Wrath..273
The scribe interprets the "lion's den" of Nah. 2:12a and 2:13b as referring to Jerusalem that he states has become "a dwelling for the wicked ones of the Gentiles."274 Three lions are referred to in this section of 4QpNah and they are noted in the above quotation (both the commentary portion and the corresponding biblical verse) with the same number. The statement that "God did not give Jerusalem into the power of the kings of Greece from Antiochus until the rise of the commanders of the Kittim" will only agree with the known historical record in one way. Antiochus VII Sidetes had to be the first lion275 and Demetrius III Eucerus had to be the "lion's cub"276 (i.e., the second lion). The third lion (i.e., the "Lion of Wrath"),277 who lived in the first century AD, will be discussed in a later chapter. The "Seekers-After-Smooth-Things" were the Pharisees who asked Demetrius III for help against Alexander Jannaeus.
271. John M. Allegro, The Dead Sea Scrolls: A Reappraisal (New York: Penguin Books, 1975), 107-8.
272. The Hebrew words translated here, as "his partisans" is literally the "men of his counsel (or Council)." The designation is also found at 1QpHab 9:10 and 4QpPsa, frags. 1-10, 2:19. "Their partisans," which is literally the "men of their counsel (or Council)," can be found at 1QpHab 5:10 and 4QpNah, frags. 1-2, 2:8.
The individual referred to by the name "Antiochus" could not have been Antiochus IV Epiphanes as the passage is usually interpreted. The reason for this is that from his reign "until the rise of the commanders of the Kittim" (i.e., the Romans under Pompey in 63 BC) Demetrius I Soter sent his generals Bacchides and Nicanor to Judea and they did have Jerusalem in their power at various times. On the other hand, although Antiochus VII did surround Jerusalem and have the city in his power, Demetrius III only "sought to enter" the city being forced to leave the country instead. Therefore, only from Antiochus VII to the coming of the Romans Jerusalem was not in "the power of the kings of Greece."
One common characteristic of the Seekers-After-Smooth-Things at all times was that they tended to make concessions in some way with Gentiles. An example of this attitude can be seen in the description of the pro-Greek party in the days of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. The First Book of Maccabees states that "in those days lawless men came forth from Israel, and misled many, saying, 'Let us go and make a covenant with the Gentiles round about us, for since we separated from them many evils have come upon us.'"278 Further on, the same source states that "they joined with the Gentiles and sold themselves to do evil."279 This attitude agrees with the pro-Greek party headed by Alcimus who asked Demetrius I for help against Judas Maccabeus' party. It also agrees with the Pharisees who asked Demetrius III for help against Alexander Jannaeus. A first century AD example of this type of individual was Tiberius Iulius Alexander who was the sole governor of Judea from AD 46-8. Josephus states that he was an Alexandrian of Jewish ancestry who nevertheless "did not stand by the practices of his people."280
No history is alluded to again until the capture of Jerusalem by the Roman general Pompey in 63 BC:
For because of the unfaithfulness of those who abandoned Him [God]
He hid His face from Israel and its Sanctuary and delivered them up to the sword.
But remembering the Covenant of the first ones,
He left a remnant to Israel
And did not deliver them to destruction.281
The reason why these verses must refer to a later visitation than the one of Antiochus IV Epiphanes in 169 BC is because God "remembering the Covenant of the first, ... left a remnant to Israel."282 When this new visitation occurred, the events concerning the first ones had been in the past. The only significant one after Antiochus, but before the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in AD 70, was the visitation of Pompey in 63 BC.
"Those who abandoned Him" were Queen Alexandra (76-67 BC); her son, the high priest Hyrcanus II (76-67 BC and 63-40 BC); and the Pharisaic establishment who supported them.283 The brother of Hyrcanus II, Aristobulus II, was the high priest and king from 67-63 BC and he supported the Sadducees like his father Alexander Jannaeus (103-76 BC).284 The sect probably approved of Aristobulus II like they did Jannaeus,285 but the high priesthood of the former lasted only four years. Pompey made Hyrcanus II the high priest again from 63 to 40 BC, but he was not given a royal title.286 Aristobulus II and his family were sent to Rome in chains.287 A large number of other Jewish prisoners were sent to Rome as well.288
While Pompey had Aristobulus II under arrest and was considering the best way to take Jerusalem in 63 BC, "the partisans of Aristobulus [Sadducees] [were] insisting on a battle and the rescue of the king, while those of Hyrancus [Pharisees] werefor opening thegates to Pompey."289 Josephus continues on as follows:
The party of Aristobulus, finding themselves beaten [by the partisans of Hyrcanus], retired into the temple, cut the bridge which connected it with the city, and prepared to hold out to the last. The others admitted the Romans to the city and delivered up the palace. Pompey sent a body of troops to occupy it under the command of Piso, one of his lieutenant-generals. That officer distributed sentries about the town and, failing to induce any of the refugees in the temple to listen to terms, prepared the surrounding ground for an assault. In this work the friends of Hyrancus keenly assisted him with their advice and services.290
284. Ant. XIII, 293-7, 408-9. Hyrcanus I (135/4-104 BC) deserted the Pharisees and went over to the Sadducees. The Pharissees did not regain their power until the reign of Queen Alexandra (76-67 BC). Therefore, under Aristobulus I (104-103 BC) and Alexander Jannaeus (103-76 BC) the Sadducees were in power.
285. 4Q448 praises Alexander Jannaeus.
286. Ant. XIV, 4-7, 73-6, XX, 244, War I, 120-2, 153-4.
288. Emil Schurer, The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ, vols. I, II, III.1, III.2, rev. and ed. by Geza Vermes, et al. (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1973/87), Vol. I, 241.
289. War I, 142 (italics mine); cf. Ant. XIV, 58-9.
290. War I, 143-4 (italics mine); cf. Ant. XIV, 59-63.
Although Pompey was able to gain control of the city without a battle, as a result of the aid he received from Hyrcanus' supporters, a siege was still required to take the Temple where Aristobulus' supporters entrenched themselves.
When the Romans finally breached the Temple wall after a siege of three months, Josephus describes the scene as follows:
Then it was that many of the priests, seeing the enemy advancing sword in hand, calmly continued their sacred ministrations, and were butchered in the act of pouring libations and burning incense; putting the worship of the Deity above their own preservation. Most of the slain perished by the hands of their countrymen of the opposite faction; countless numbers flung themselves over the precipices; some, driven mad by their hopeless plight, set fire to the buildings around the wall and were consumed in the flames. Of the Jews twelve thousand perished; the losses of the Romans in dead were trilling, in wounded consid-
If the passages from Josephus quoted above are examined, especially the phrases in italics that refer to the partisans of Hyrcanus (Pharisees), one will quickly realize that it is they who would be considered the "Seekers-After-Smooth-Things" by the sectarians not the partisans of Aristobulus (Sadducees). They opened the gates of Jerusalem to Pompey and aided him in every way, even killing their fellow countrymen in the assault on the Temple. On the other hand, the partisans of Aristobulus (i.e., the Sadducees) "retired into the temple ... and prepared to hold out to the last" and, while they were being slain by the Romans, "calmly continued their sacred ministrations . putting the worship of the Deity above their own preservation."
The "remnant" mentioned in the previously quoted passage from CD,292 which survived the visitation of Pompey in 63 BC, were Sadducees who preserved the traditions of the first ones by escaping to the land of Damascus. Other Sadducees chose to remain in Judaea with Aristobulus II. Although it does not explicitly state that this remnant had escaped to the land of Damascus, there is some evidence that it did. The archeological evidence for this flight of a group of Sadducees to the land of Damascus will be provided in a later chapter.293
291. War I, 150-1 (italics mine); cf. Ant. XIV, 64-71.
293. See the chapter titled Khirbet Qumran and the Scrolls.
Was this article helpful?