The Hasmonean State and Rome: A New Appraisal

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The main purpose of this essay is to analyze the evolution of the relationship between the Hasmonean state and the Roman Republic. The first part of the essay shall discuss the beginning of the relationship between the two countries, from the last years of Judah the Maccabee to the early years of John Hyrcanus I's rule. In this section I shall argue for a quite positive perception of the Roman Republic in Hasmonean Judaea. The second part of the essay shall discuss the evolution of this relationship from the last years of John Hyrcanus I's rule to the reign of Queen Salome Alexandra. In this part, I shall argue that the Hasmonean state did not shift its foreign policy, as argued by Rappaport and Pucci Ben Ze'ev, but that the friendship between the two countries continued. However, notwithstanding the existing treaty between Hasmonean Judaea and the Roman Republic, Pesher Habakkuk depicts the "Kittim" as cruel and greedy, mirroring a general view of Roman imperialism that Latin authors attributed to the enemies of Rome. In the third and final part of the essay, I shall discuss the last years of the Hasmonean state in light of Pompey's conquest. By now, quite understandably, after Pompey's conquest, the perception of Rome, mainly filtered through the figure of Pompey, was significantly altered. The Psalms of Solomon, as well as Pesher Nahum in the Dead Sea Scrolls, depict the Gentiles or the "Kittim" as the Divine instrument to punish the Hasmonean rulers. Thus, at this juncture in time, the Romans are seen in a negative light.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-295
Number of pages33
JournalRevue des Etudes Juives
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 2014


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