St. Jerome tells us that the Gospel of Matthew was originally written in Aramaic, and that it was reworked into a Greek version later, which is supported by some evidence. Jerome also tells us that Matthew was the first gospel, but the actual order of composition is not clear. Matthew is also associated with a…

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After the death of Antipater, Antigonus became high priest after mutilating the high priest Hyrcanus. Herod had been quickly rising to prominence, marrying into the house of Hasmon, sending his wife into exile, and Herod sought to have the Romans proclaim him leader of the Jews. Rome did declare him King of the Jews, a…

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The Romans came to rule Judea in 63 BC. Leading up to that, the high priests of the Hasmonean Dynasty were the de facto kings in Israel, though their official title was Ethnarch. This dynasty began from the Maccabees, and lasted roughly eighty years. They did not want to be seen as usurping the rightful…

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Out of the Maccabean revolt, three rulers rise successively, Judah Maccabee, Jonathan, and then Simon. Simon and two of his his sons were murdered, and only John Hyrcanus was left to rule. Various other rulers rise and fall, but Salome Alexandra is the only woman in antiquity to rule Judea and be praised for it.…

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The period between the Maccabean Revolt and Roman rule of Judea is not represented by any writings in the Scriptures, but like all things that touch the history of Israel and Christ, it is worth studying. The Hasmoneans, named after the house of Hasmon, are not related to David, but are a priestly family from…

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At the time of the Greeks, the Davidic line passes into obscurity, and the political power in Israel is held by the high priests. One such high priest, Onias II, refuses to pay taxes to the Ptolemaic empire. The Tobiad family steps in to cover the debt, and winds up becoming responsible for the tax…

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After the Persian period, the Greeks conquered a vast empire, spreading Hellenistic Greek culture throughout the area from Rome to India. Alexander the Great conquered the area from Rome and Egypt to India, including Israel. This land would be divided after Alexander’s death, and the area including Israel was known as the Seleucid Empire, ruled…

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The return to the land of Israel was an event which really broadened the world of the Israelites. When Jews began forming a Diaspora, it clarified the concept that God was not just a local deity, but rather the God of the universe. Babylon, in particular, appears as a true cosmopolis until the time when…

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The Persians under Xerxes invade Greece, and have some success until Greece expels them. It is during this period that the Book of Esther takes place, a book that has great significance when considering the tensions between the many cultures in the Middle East at the time. After Xerxes, the Persia is ruled by Artaxerxes…

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