Two centuries of archaeological excavation and exploration have revealed that ancient Israel’s neighbors—Egypt, Canaan, Aram, Assyria, and Babylonia—all contributed significantly to its history, from its origins through the Babylonian exile and beyond. At first, relations between Seleucids and Jews were cordial, but the attempt of Antiochus IV Epiphanes (174–163) to impose Hellenic cults on Judea sparked the Maccabean Revolt that ended in the expulsion of the Seleucids and the establishment of an independent Jewish kingdom under the Hasmonean dynasty. It bears what is generally thought to be the earliest extra-biblical reference to the name Yahweh. Some scholars have used the Bible as evidence to argue that most of the people alive during the events recounted in the Old Testament, including Moses, were most likely henotheists. They started to catch the attention of King Antiochus IV in 165, who told his chancellor to put an end to the revolt. Not much is known about the happenings of those in Yehud Medinata from the time of Alexander's death until the Battle of Ipsus due to the frequent battles. However, it was his mother, Cleopatra III, who came to help Alexander and not her son. On the destruction of the Samaritan temple on Mount Gerizim by John Hyrcanus, see for instance: Menahem Mor, "The Persian, Hellenistic and Hasmonean Period," in, Tubbs, Jonathan (2006) "The Canaanites" (BBC Books), History of the Jews in the Byzantine Empire, "Saul and Highlands of Benjamin Update: The Role of Jerusalem", "First Israel, Core Israel, United (Northern) Israel", First Israel, Core Israel, United (Northern) Israel, "The Iron I/IIA Transition in the Levant: A Reply to Mazar and Bronk Ramsey and a New Perspective", Jerusalem in the First Temple period (c.1000-586 B.C.E. His brother Antiochus IV Epiphanes took his place. The Maccabees had to retreat back to Jerusalem, where they should have been beaten badly. [71][72] Hasmonean kings attempted to revive the Judah described in the Bible: a Jewish monarchy ruled from Jerusalem and including all territories once ruled by David and Solomon. [41] Jerusalem, while probably not totally abandoned, was much smaller than previously, and the town of Mizpah in Benjamin in the relatively unscathed northern section of the kingdom became the capital of the new Babylonian province of Yehud Medinata. [12], The Canaanite city state system broke down during the Late Bronze Age collapse,[15] and Canaanite culture was then gradually absorbed into that of the Philistines, Phoenicians and Israelites. Moreover, we must ask ourselves whether our interpretation of the data is affected by extrinsic considerations, such as preconceived theories of the evolution of religion. Antiochus invaded Judea and besieged Jerusalem in 134 BCE. Hyrcanus was able to take back Judea and keep his power. [75] At first, the Jews were content with Ptolemy's rule over them. This tradition of believing in multiple forms of supernatural beings is attributed by many to the traditions of ancient Mesopotamia and Canaan and their pantheons of gods. Refugees from the northern kingdom fled to Judah, bringing with them laws and a prophetic tradition of Yahweh. The new high priest, Alcimus, had come to Jerusalem with the company of an army lead by Bacchides. 11 a.m.–12:15 p.m.  Egypt and the Book of Exodus. He was succeeded by his son Seleucus IV Philopater. Yahweh, the national god of both Israel and Judah, seems to have originated in Edom and Midian in southern Canaan and may have been brought to Israel by the Kenites and Midianites at an early stage. Each culture then embraced their patron god but did not deny the existence of other cultures' patron gods. Aramaic historical texts, including one that mentions two kings known from the Bible, further our understanding of ancient Israel. [29], Modern scholars therefore see Israel arising peacefully and internally from existing people in the highlands of Canaan. [49] Most significantly, the trauma of the exile experience led to the development of a strong sense of Hebrew identity distinct from other peoples,[50] with increased emphasis on symbols such as circumcision and Sabbath-observance to sustain that distinction. [108] Strict monotheism emerged among the priests of the Temple establishment during the seventh and sixth centuries BCE, as did beliefs regarding angels and demons. The Ptolemaic Rule also gave rise to 'tax farmers'. Simon only wanted to pay a fraction of that for only two of the cites, so Antiochus sent his general Cendebaeus to attack. [47] The fall of the city and the end of Davidic kingship forced the leaders of the exile community – kings, priests, scribes and prophets – to reformulate the concepts of community, faith and politics. Hyrcanus had many issues to deal with as the new high priest. Soon after, Lysias went himself but, according to 1 and 2 Maccabees he was defeated. This revision was expressed in the Deuteronomistic history, the books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings, which interpreted the Babylonian destruction as divinely-ordained punishment for the failure of Israel's kings to worship Yahweh to the exclusion of all other deities. The destruction of Jerusalem, its Temple, and the Davidic dynasty by Babylon in 587/586 BCE was deeply traumatic and led to revisions of the national mythos during the Babylonian exile. [42] (This was standard Babylonian practice: when the Philistine city of Ashkalon was conquered in 604, the political, religious and economic elite [but not the bulk of the population] was banished and the administrative centre shifted to a new location). the Amorites came and swallowed up every kingdom and city in the Middle East that they attacked. Instead, it seemed to be a revolution in lifestyle. However, in 153 the Seleucid Empire started to face some problems. As a result of this, more Greeks and Macedonians moved to those new cities and brought over their customs and culture, or Hellenism. [85], Simon was nominated for the title of high priest, general, and leader by a "great assembly". [94] Before the emergence of Yahweh as the patron god of the region of ancient Israel and Judah not all worshiped him alone, or even at all. When Babylon fell to the Persian Cyrus the Great in 539 BCE, Judah (or Yehud medinata, the "province of Yehud") became an administrative division within the Persian empire. Before he killed the king, the minister Heliodorus had tried to steal the treasures the temple in Jerusalem. [84] His brother Simon took his place. [93] This concept entailed adopting the gods of other cultures into their pantheon, with Ashur as the supreme god of all the others. [30], Unusually favourable climatic conditions in the first two centuries of Iron Age II brought about an expansion of population, settlements and trade throughout the region. Judah at this time was a vassal state of Assyria, but Assyrian power collapsed in the 630s, and around 622 Josiah and his supporters launched a bid for independence expressed as loyalty to "Yahweh alone". In order to enforce his hold on them, he reinforced many cities in Palestine and built new ones. Earlier influences from Mesopotamia and Canaan were important in creating the foundation of Israelite religion consistent with the Kingdoms of ancient Israel and Judah, and have since left lasting impacts on some of the biggest and most widespread religions in our world today. The Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah were two related Israelite kingdoms from the Iron Age period of the ancient Southern Levant. [33] A century later Israel came into increasing conflict with the expanding Neo-Assyrian Empire, which first split its territory into several smaller units and then destroyed its capital, Samaria (722 BCE). The religion of the Israelites of Iron Age I, like the Ancient Canaanite religion from which it evolved and other religions of the ancient Near East, was based on a cult of ancestors and worship of family gods (the "gods of the fathers").

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