Alexander Janneus as High Priest and King: Struggling between Jewish and Hellenistic Concepts of Rule
2. The Problem
3. Josephus’s Sources on Alexander Janneus
4. Josephus on the Institution of the Hasmonean Kingship
5. Alexander Janneus in Defense of His High Priesthood and Kingship
5.1. High Priestly Office
5.2. Army and the Question of Mercenaries
5.3. Expansion of Territories and Cessation of Diplomatic Relations
5.4. Coins, Bullae, Literature, and Other Propagandistic Channels
6. Alexander Janneus and Other Hellenistic (High) Priestly Monarchs
7. Josephus, the Hasmonean High Priesthood, and Aaron63
Conflicts of Interest
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On the disintegration of the Seleucid kingdom, see (Ehling 2008). The last Seleucid king to have exerted some temporary influence over Judea was Antiochus VII Sidetes (138–129 BCE).
The historian seems neither consistent nor specific in his use of the term ἀρχή. When speaking of Hyrcanus I (134–104 BCE), father of Aristobulus, Josephus states that the former recovered the high priesthood (τὴν ἀρχιερωσύνην) from his father (Simon) (War 1.56//Ant. 13.230). Later, at first, Josephus states that John Hyrcanus administered the government (τὴν ἀρχὴν) for thirty-three (War) or thirty-one years. Following, the historian claims that Hyrcanus possessed three privileges: the leadership (τὴν ἀρχὴν) of the nation, the high priesthood (τὴν ἀρχιερωσύνην/τῆς ἀρχιερατικῆς) and prophecy (War 1.68//Ant. 13.299). Here ἀρχή is used distinctively from the high priesthood. By contrast, earlier, Josephus employed the same term to refer to the rule of Alcimus (Ant. 12.398), whereas his source in 1 Maccabees 7:21 speaks of high priesthood. Elsewhere, the author adopts this term to imply the royal office of the Seleucid (Ant. 13.80–81, 110, 387) or Arabian (13.392) kings. It is worth adding that unlike 2 Maccabees, 1 Maccabees does not use the term ἀρχή to imply the high priesthood.
(VanderKam 2004, pp. 318–36), has only noted that there is little one learns about the high priesthood of Janneus but did not discuss why Josephus does not explicitly call Janneus a high priest.
On this list of high priests, see (Gussman 2008, pp. 269–87), who underlines its independent historical value and function.
Josephus uses the term ἱερωσύνη when referring to Hyrcanus I, Aristobulus I, and Janneus. By contrast, he adopts the term ἀρχιερωσύνη for other Hasmonean members: Jonathan, Simon, Hyrcanus II, Aristobulus II, and, indirectly, Aristobulus III.
For an attempt to reconstruct pre-Josephus sources, see (Mendels 2005, pp. 3–19). For possible sources used in Antiquities and an interpretation of how Josephus handled them, see (Schwartz 2016, pp. 36–58). Other possible sources for the Hasmonean period include: Eupolemus, Alexander Polyhistor, Strabo of Amaseia, or Josephus’s political and literary rival, Justus of Tiberias. See further, (Stern 1974, pp. 157, 262, 265–67; Wacholder 1974, pp. 50–51, 53–57).
On this aspect, see the long analysis by (Sharon 2017, pp. 171–330).
Thus, Josephus explains that it was because of internal strife against each other that the Hasmoneans lost their rule (διὰ τὴν πρὸς ἀλλήλους στάσιν τὴν ἀρχὴν ἀπέβαλον; Ant. 14.491).
Adapted from (Marcus 1963, p. 283).
(Feldman 1994, p. 67; van der Kooij 2012, pp. 29–49), argues that 1 Macc 2:54, 57 hint at the priestly and royal rule of Janneus. The author, therefore, dates the book to about 100 BCE. This is, of course, possible but requires a more adequate interpretation of 1 Macc 8, which seems to praise the non-royal government of the Romans. Alternatively, one could argue for insertions done in the Greek version.
(Atkinson 2016, pp. 85–86). The author, however, over interprets the source when he affirms that “Josephus states that the wife of Aristobulus selected the next king and high priest”.
See (Babota 2014, pp. 285–91). Furthermore, such actions as frequent participation in warfare, torturing and killing each other as well as their inner opposition, entertaining publicly with concubines and heavy drinking (e.g., 1 Macc 16; Ant. 13.380, 398), inner family marriages to save the control of the country and their interactions with the Gentiles, rather demonstrates that most Hasmoneans acted violently in order to preserve themselves in power. The only exception may have been the last Hasmonean high priest Aristobulus III—the grandson of both high priests Hyrcanus II and Aristobulus II. However, Aristobulus III was appointed high priest by Herod the Great when he was merely only 17 years old, and was soon drowned at the order of the king (Ant. 15.55–56). See further, (Van Henten 2014, pp. 38–42).
“During Pompey’s stay in Damascus of Syria, Aristobulus [II], the king of the Jews/Judeans, and Hyrcanus [II] his brother came to him with their dispute over the kingship. Likewise, the leading men, more than two hundred in number, gathered to address the (Roman) general and explain that their forefathers, having revolted from the sanctuary, had sent an embassy to the senate, and received from them the leadership of the Jews, who were, moreover, to be free and autonomous, their ruler being called high priest, not king. Now, however, these men were lording it over them, having overthrown the ancient laws and enslaved the citizens in defiance of all justice”.
See (VanderKam 2004, pp. 394–405).
Later on, the high priestly vestments became a real political instrument, first of Herod the Great and his son Archelaus, and then under Romans down to 37 CE, when Vitellius—after removing the high priest Caiaphas—placed them back under the custody of the temple priests (Ant. 18.91–95; cf. 20.6–14).
(Meshorer 2001, pp. 73–74). The author also points out that “[f]rom 127/6 BCE onwards Tyrian shekels were the only official coinage acceptable in the Temple as payment of the half-shekel tribute”. This period roughly coincides with the time when Hyrcanus I began to strike his own coins. Earlier, (Ariel 1982, p. 284), argued that that “there is every reason to believe that Tyrian shekels would have been current in Jerusalem even without the Temple tax”.
(Babota 2014, p. 126), passim.
The following three studies are fundamental: (Griffith 1935; Launey 1950; Chaniotis 2005, pp. 78–101). At least part of the mercenaries was usually accompanied by their families and were often in possession of land. See further, (Loman 2005, pp. 346–65). One wonders how this worked in the Hasmonean Judea.
Another part of the riches Hyrcanus I probably used to negotiate the lifting of the siege by the Seleucid king Antiochus VII Sidetes. On this siege, see Jos., War 1.61; Ant. 13.236–249; Diod. 34/35.1.1–2, 4–5.
Mercenaries from Pisidia and Cilicia along with those from Galatia were regularly hired by the Attalid kings from the third century BCE onward, see Diod. 18.61.4–5; Polyb. 5.78.5; Livy 42.57.7–9.
See the study of (Shatzman 1991).
These numbers should not be taken literally, of course. These measures remind those of Antiochus IV against Jews (Ant. 12.255–256) in the prelude to the Hasmonean revolt.
See further, (Babota forthcoming).
(Stern 1974, p. 186), following other scholars, suggested both Diodorus and Josephus may have used Theophanes of Mytilene, the assistant of Pompey. Seeing that Josephus refers to Strabo in Ant. 14.37 and not long after in 14.68, that is, just before and after the Damascus episode (14.41–47), it is also possible that Josephus drew on Strabo here.
See, for example, (Berthelot 2018, pp. 240–83).
We should not exclude that opposition groups may have tried to seek support from the Romans even before 63 BCE.
See especially (Hoover 2003, pp. 29–40; Hübner 2005, pp. 171–87; Hendin 2008, pp. 76–91). On Janneus’s seven types of coins, see (Meshorer 2001, pp. 37–41, 209–17 (with Plates); Shachar 2004, pp. 5–33; Hendin and Shachar 2008, pp. 87–94 (with bibliographies)). For an interpretation of Hasmonean coins with particular emphasis on those of Janneus, see (Regev 2013, pp. 175–223; Schwentzel 2013, pp. 77–92).
There is no clear attestation of coins minted by Simon, or before by Jonathan.
For the latter suggestion, see (Regev 2013, pp. 186–99), who thinks the Hasmoneans aimed through coins to represent Jewish Diaspora as well.
(Berthelot 2018, p. 226), stresses the almost total silence of ancient sources of any destruction of a non-Jewish temple at the hands of the Hasmoneans. This is plausible, also, in the light of hiring foreign troops and integrating them within the Hasmonean permanent army. One can hardly imagine all of them would have completely given up their religion. On the problem of integrating the non-Jewish populations within the Hasmonean Judea, see further, (Berthelot 2018, pp. 283–334; Eckhardt 2013, pp. 308–14, 335–43).
See (Meshorer 2001, pp. 36–37). According to Meshorer, pp. 55–57, the menorah was incised only later on the coins of the high priest Mattathias Antigonus.
See further, (Tal 1987, pp. 1–20).
In support of the original Hebrew Vorlage of 1 Maccabees, see (Darshan 2019, pp. 91–110).
On the function of the literature produced by the Hellenistic royal courts, see (Strootman 2010, pp. 30–45). Strootman, p. 35, posits that “the most successful writers were drawn to the major centers of power” and that the production of literature depended to a great extent on the “stability” of the state. We do not know how much new literature was produced under the patronage of Janneus. At least the anti-Hasmonean ‘sectarian’ scribes, who produced many of the Dead Sea Scrolls, appear to have been quite successful.
With regard to Janneus’s overstruck coins, Zlotnik (2011) [www.academia.edu], p. 14, made the attractive suggestion that “it can be assumed that the ‘priestly’ minting that was done on top of the ‘royal’ minting was not meant to blur or erase the previous minting but to incorporate it in such a way that will display another minting on the coins so both ‘royal’ and ‘priestly’ minting” [retrieved from www.academia.edu]. On the coins of Antigonus containing both titles, see (Meshorer 2001, pp. 218–20).
For a discussion of Nabatean coinage and royal statues, see (Schwentzel 2013, pp. 183–226). In general, the sources, especially literary, for the Nabatean history, are very scarce. Hence, it is difficult to trace a clear development of this monarchy or explore its various institutional characteristics. On various epithets of the Hellenistic kings, see the detailed study by (Muccioli 2013). Among the royal epithets one finds Theos, Theopator, Soter, Epiphanes, Autokrator, Philopator, and others.
On 3rd century BCE papyrus probably mentioning a Nabatean king and Nabatean coins from the third century onward, see (Pearson 2011, pp. 6–15) [https://escholarship.org/uc/item/4dx9g1rj]. Second Maccabees 5:8 mentions the “tyrant” Aretas (about 169/8 BCE). Based on archaeological excavations conducted so far, one notes that a more constant material culture for the Nabateans is found from the end of the second century BCE onward.
Often scholars speak of ‘temple-states’. For various examples down to the imperial Roman period, see (Boffo 1985, pp. 132–33, 259–65; Müller 2000, pp. 519–542; Heinen 2006, pp. 295–304). For similar examples, including from the Roman imperial period, see (Campanile 2006, pp. 523–84 (with previous bibliography); Kirbihler 2008, pp. 107–49; Heller 2017, pp. 1–20).
On this aspect, see (Babota 2014, chp. 10).
See (Rüpke 2008).
For a tentative explanation, see (Barclay 2007, pp. 273–75).
See (Gussman 2008, pp. 278–80).
See here also (Gussman 2008, pp. 320–24).
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Babota, V. Alexander Janneus as High Priest and King: Struggling between Jewish and Hellenistic Concepts of Rule. Religions 2020, 11, 40. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11010040
Babota V. Alexander Janneus as High Priest and King: Struggling between Jewish and Hellenistic Concepts of Rule. Religions. 2020; 11(1):40. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11010040Chicago/Turabian Style
Babota, Vasile. 2020. "Alexander Janneus as High Priest and King: Struggling between Jewish and Hellenistic Concepts of Rule" Religions 11, no. 1: 40. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11010040