Antiochus Epiphanes and the Rebirth of Judaea

E. Badian writes that the efforts of Antiochus Epiphanes to Hellenize his dominions led to a revolt in Judaea under the leadership of the Hasmonaean house, known as the Maccabees, who succeeded in re-asserting Jewish law and the Jewish religion in traditional form.

Two thousand one hundred years ago a new era officially began in Jewish Palestine: after long subjection to foreign rulers, the people, though not yet fully independent, were again allowed to date documents by the year of office of their own ruler, instead of dating by whatever foreign king controlled the country.

As so often in the history of the Jewish people, this triumph was ultimately due to the stimulus of a great persecution; and as so often, that persecution disrupted a process of gradual assimilation by the Jews to their environment. But for Antiochus Epiphanes, the environment into which Jesus was born might well have been entirely different.

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