This book analyzes the antecedents to the Maccabean revolt and the initial phases of the rebellion against the background of contemporary Hellenistic and Roman history. The author contests the accepted view that the Jewish aristocracy during the Syrian wars was divided into well-defined pro-Seleucid and pro-Ptolemaic factions. A major section of the book deals with Antiochus Epiphanes: the author shows that although the king initiated unprecedented religious persecutions, his interest in Judea was somewhat limited, and an overall examination of the Seleucid's policies demonstrates his considerable political abilities. A prosopographical study indicates how the death of Antiochus led to strife and eventually disintegration within the Seleucid kingdom, paving the way for Roman intervention and for the Jews' march on the road to independence. This book offers a new approach to the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes, as well as critical analyses of the various Jewish sources and Polybius.
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