Term Paper: Jewish History the Hebrews

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[. . .] Non-Jews were persecuted, and foreign religious expelled" (Ancient pg).

In the mid fifth century B.C.E., a high Jewish official at the court of Persia named Nehemiah, struggled to overcome the oppressive practices of the Jewish establishment (Davidmann pg). Many were poor and were forced to mortgage their lands to the rich and even had to give their children to the service of others or actually sell their children as slaves or lose their own freedom (Davidmann pg). Nehemiah persuaded the nobles and rulers to return the land and all that had been taken from the people, to stopped charging interest on loans, and abolish bondage for debt (Davidmann pg). Nehemiah also denounced intermarriage, ensured that the Sabbath was observed and instituted the Year of Release, shemittah year (Davidmann pg). Another religious leader, Ezra, worked with Nehemiah to strengthen the community and introduced innovations including the regular reading of the Torah (Department pg). Most historians attach Ezra to the date of the 420's B.C.E. (Department pg).

During the 330's B.C.E., Alexander the Great of Macedonia defeated the Persian empire and this become one of the most important events in human history (Department pg). By taking over the empire, he inaugurated an "era of Greek influence over the lands of the east," bringing in the Hellenism period, an influence that would be felt "among many of the upper class of the Jews including the priests (Department pg).

Little is known about life in Israel between the time of the return from Babylon and the time of the Seleucids (Davidmann pg). There was such importance placed on religious observance that they did not even "defend themselves when attacked on the Sabbath, so as not to desecrate it" (Davidmann pg). A process of hellenisation was started by the Seleucid rulers, whereby "among the Jewish leadership were those who served the Seleucid rulers by offering greater annual taxes for the sake of obtaining personal power" (Davidmann pg). Moreover, they collected them from the people and weakened and opposed the influence of the Jewish religion in an attempt to weaken the people (Davidmann pg). The people suffered and became more discontented (Davidmann pg). The Seleucids stole from the Temple, including the written records of the law, and destroyed the walls of Jerusalem and used brute force against the people, especially those who "observed the Jewish laws and customs," and introduced pagan worship and practices into the Temple, with the high priest Menelaus serving Jupiter (Davidmann pg). The priest Mattathias rebelled against the pagan worship and led the rebellion against the rule of the Seleucids, and was succeeded by his son Judah Maccabee, one of five sons (Davidmann pg). Jonathan succeeded Judah, who was followed by Simeon, and under these three brothers most of the country was freed (Davidmann pg). When Jonathan was appointed high priest, religious authority and power was transferred to secular leader, and when the "Great Assembly confirmed Simeon's position they confirmed that religious and secular as well as military authority and power had been vested in one person and were to be hereditary" (Hebrew pg). This concentration of authority and power in the hands of one person was permanent and to be transferred to descendants (Hebrew pg). The Maccabees became more and more powerful and added the title of king to their title of high priest and as their empire grew, forced the conversion of "newly subject populations to Judaism"(Department pg). During 67-63 B.C.E., when civil war broke out between the Maccabee brothers, they turned to Rome for help (Department pg). The Maccabee line became a "quarrelling group of oriental princes" and brought about a civil war between two princes for Judea's throne (Department pg). When they turned to Rome to settle the dispute, Rome exploited the opportunity and brought in its troops and seized control (Department pg).

In 40 B.C.E. Herod, who had gained power through his father, was appointed king of Judea by the Senate of Roman (Department pg). He proved to be a brilliant, but ruthless and unpopular leader, and reigned for thirty-five years until his death, however, he did implement programs such as the rebuilding of the Second Temple and the fortification of the desert fortress (Department pg). The Romans found Herod's heir, Archelaus, unsatisfactory and exiled him and put Judea under the control of the Roman governors (Department pg). When they issued a new census, a rebellion began "which is seen as the beginning of the Zealot movement," which ultimately provoked the great revolt against the Romans sixty years later (Department pg).

Between 20-40 A.D. A small Jewish state was founded in part of Babylon, founded by two brothers, Anilai and Asinai, however the brothers soon fell out with each other and the state was annihilated (Department pg). In 30 A.D., the Jewish preacher, Jesus, "was put to death by the Romans" fearing the threat of the messianic movement (Department pg). "From the time of his death, we get the development of the group of Jewish-Christians, Jews who practiced Judaism and identified Jesus as the messianic figure who would return again, and in 40 A.D., Saul began to preach the idea of Jesus' messianism to a non-Jewish audience (Department pg).

In 66 A.D., "a local anti-Jewish incident in Ceasarea, coming against a background of increasingly explosive tension between the Jews and the non-Jewish inhabitants of the Province and the Jews and Romans, caused an outbreak of revolution...the situation explodes" (Department pg). The following year, General Vespasian, leading "tens of thousands of troops" put down the rebellion in the Galilee (Department pg). Although, many Jews joined the rebellion, "large numbers chose to stay with Rome," and with the fall of the Galilee, the "struggle started to focus around Jerusalem" (Department pg).

Works Cited

Ancient Jewish History


Davidmann, Mandred. "History Speaks: Monarchy, Exile and Maccabees." http://www.solbaram.org/articles/fn2.html

Department for Jewish Zionist Education


The Hebrews

http://www.wsu.edu:8080/~dee/HEBREWS/EXILE.HTM [END OF PREVIEW]

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