The Late Roman Republic and Hasmonean Judaea

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This article will analyze the evolution of the relationship between the Roman Republic and the Hasmonean state from its earliest beginnings, somewhere between 174 B.C.E. and 161 B.C.E. The main purpose of this article is to follow the development of the relationship between the two states from the Roman perspective; the Hasmonean point of view, which is no less important, will be discussed elsewhere. The article is divided into two main pans. The first, introductory section will analyze the current state of research on Roman Imperialism in the East, on the main discussing the theories postulated by Badian, developed further by Harris and Sherwin- White, and of course the position of Gruen, arguing that the main thrust of Roman foreign policy in the Hellenistic East was to weaken the larger states in the East, which were perceived as a threat to the security of Rome. The second and main part of the article will follow the development of the relationship between the Roman Republic and the Hasmoneans chronologically over four main periods: from that of Judah Maccabeus till that of the first Hasmonean rulers, Simon and John Hyrcanus; and those of Alexander Jannaeus and Salome Alexandra, respectively, ending with the fall of the Hasmonean state by the hands of Pompey. This section will analyze first how and why the Roman Republic decided to support the rebellion or the Maccabees against the oeleucid overlords. 1 hen this section also discusses the evolution of the relationship between the Roman Republic and the Has- monean state during a period that has not been so well documented, when Judaea was ruled first by King Alexander Jannaeus and then by his wife Salome Alexandra, either from the Roman or Hasmonean point of view. The main question, discussed by various scholars such as Rappaport and Pucci Ben Zeev, is whether or not the Hasmonean state shifted its foreign policy in the direction of an alliance and friendship with the Roman Republic, or whether it chose instead the friendship of geographically closer powers, such as Parthia as well as Pontus, under the rule of Mithridates VI. It seems to me - through a careful reading of Josephus's Antiquities, Strabo, Plutarch, and the Book of Judith - that Hasmonean Judaea did not commit any hostile acts towards the Roman Republic, such as siding with her enemies, but, on the contrary, that the Roman Republic and the Hasmonean kingdom shared the same adversaries as the Roman Republic, such as Mithridates VI of Pontus and Tigranes II of Armenia.1 I shall conclude with an analysis of Pom- pey's conquest of the Hasmonean state. By then Hasmonean Judaea had become a local power that was possibly perceived as a veiled threat by the Roman Republic, just as the Seleucid kingdom had once been. Besides, Pompey had good personal reasons for acting as he did against a state that was still officially sodas et amicus populi Romani.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-78
Number of pages32
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014


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