View Full Version : The Beginning of Hellenization

03-01-2011, 12:39 PM
Alexander the Great, and the beginning of Hellenization; that is, the Grecization of the eastern part of the Ancient Mediterranean. Thatís all Hellenization means, making it Greek. Alexander the Greatís father was Philip II, King of Macedonia, King of Macedon, and he conquered different Greek city-states by defeating Athens and its allies at Chaeronea. Alexander himself was born in 356 BC, he was educated by Aristotle, Alexander was made king after the assassination of his father. Alexander defeated the Persian Army, which at that time controlled all of Asia Minor, Modern Turkey, and had even threatened to control Greece. Alexander defeated the Persian Army in Asia Minor at Granicus, that put Alexander and his Macedonian Army in charge of both Greece and Asia Minor. When Darius II died, who was the king of the Persians, Alexander himself took on Dariusís title, which was Great King. After defeating the Persians again, Alexander pushed his army all the way to the Indus River in India, Alexander wanted to go all the way to the Ganges River, but his army forced him to turn back. Alexander died in 323 BC, when he was not yet 33-years-old, and Alexander died in Babylon of a fever. After Alexanderís death, his empire was divided up among four generals of Alexander, although they were Macedonians and spoke Macedonian and not themselves Greek, but they had, just like Alexander, they had adopted Greek language, Greek culture. They educated their children in Greek ways. Alexander, of course, had been educated by Aristotle, when he was young, and so he had adopted Greek language and Greek literature and a lot of other Greek ways. What Alexander had wanted to do was to take all these different peoples, who spoke different languages and had different customs, and use a Greek layer to sort of unite his empire overall.

Now Alexander didnít really care about the lower class people so much. So they could just still live in their villages and out in the country and do their farming and speak their own local language. But if one were going to be elite= they wanted to establish cities throughout Alexanderís empire that would be actually Greek cities, and he wanted to have the elite people all be able, at least, to speak Greek. We have therefore one world, and in fact this whole dream of Alexander=and it was a very self-conscious, propaganda campaign and a cultural campaign on Alexanderís part. He wanted to make one world. We really have, therefore, for in some way the first time in history, a dream of making all of his empire basically universal, a dream of a universal vision, for one world, under one kind of culture, one kind of language. This really hadnít been attempted. Other empires, like the Assyrian Empire, or these kinds of=the Egyptian Empire, when people conquered other peoples, often all they wanted was tribute. They just wanted taxes, and food, and money, and that sort of thing. They didnít really care about turning those people into Egyptians or into Assyrians. And Alexander didnít really care that much about the lower classes doing that, but he still wanted the elites. And so Alexander would plant Greek cities and settle his veterans in different parts of his empire in Egypt, in Syria, all the way over, and sometimes in the western part of India, and Alexander would take his veterans of his army, and he would drum them out of the army, when they retire, and Alexander would give them land and theyíd build a city there, and that city would be just like a Greek city back home. And they all would speak what developed to be a common form of Greek, slightly different from Classical Greek, what is called Koine Greek.

03-01-2011, 12:51 PM

03-01-2011, 01:07 PM
And yet history shows, that Alexander the Great started what would become known as Hellenization. Do not read, indeed, history is trippe stuff?

03-04-2011, 12:47 AM
A lot of Israelites tried to figure out how do you deal with this whole process of Hellenization? In other words, if you want your own kids to get ahead in the world, in this time, and youíre going to have an elite family yourself in a town, in a city, it makes sense for your kids to get a Greek education. Itís precisely the way it is now with English around the world. Elite families want their kids to have English education, they want them to be familiar with American culture, and, if possible, theyíll even send them to a university in the States, or to graduate school in the States, and this is partly because there are good universities in the States, but itís also partly because they know that to get ahead, their kids need to use English, they need to become, in some sense, to some extent Americanized. Jerusalem wasnít a huge city, but it was important enough that there were elites there themselves, and so they responded to this urge of Hellenizing culture. Alexander the Great, remember, wanted to set up a one world, a universal empire. He taught a sort of syncretism of religion, he taught a common language, Greek, he set up these Greek cities all around; there was a Greek veneer over what would have been local differences. Youíd have Egyptians speaking ancient Egyptian languages, but the elites in the cities would be speaking Greek, so the culture, the elite culture would still be Greek and the same way in Syria. The Syrian Empire or the Greco Syrian Empire, or simply the Greek Empire. If you draw a line separating Syria from Egypt, the line goes right through Israel. The Israelites were kind of caught, therefore, on the border, so Judah at this time was on the border between these two empires and they were constantly fighting trying to aggrandize their own kingdoms.

The Israelites were often, therefore, caught right in the middle. Antiochus IV Epiphanes reigned from 175 to 164 BC. Heís called the IV because heís the fourth Antiochus; Epiphanes though is a sort of nickname and it means ďmanifest.Ē What Antiochus was doing with his name is saying he was claiming divine honors for himself, because what heís saying is, ďIím Antiochus, God made manifest among you.Ē This was not that unusual. Alexander the Great had sort of claimed divine honors for himself. Antiochus was following the lead of a lot of eastern monarchs and rulers who would claim to be the descendants of a god and claim to be a god themselves, and would receive cult and worship. Antiochus IV, though, was ruling at that time and he had control, he had gained control of Judah. The high priesthood was the main ruler of the Israelites at this time. They didnít have a king, and they didnít have a direct governor, so whoever controlled the high priesthood was sort of the political ruler also at this time; but Antiochus was the one who had the privilege of appointing the high priest. Menelaus, another leading Israelite, seems to have offered Antiochus more money for the priesthood, trying to get it away from Jason. Jason is the one who built a gymnasium in Jerusalem and gained the control of the education, what this did is disenfranchise those leading families who didnít want to have their sons Hellenized. Menelaus couldnít afford the priesthood. In order to pay for his own priesthood, he took gold vessels and instruments out of the temple treasury, and this seems to have caused a riot. Both of them apparently trying to get in with this Hellenizing process; they get into a big fight. To settle things down in Jerusalem, Antiochus takes control of Jerusalem and he stationed Syrian troops, that is the Greco-Syrian troops, in Jerusalem in 167. Things are heating up, around this time changes were made to the temple in Jerusalem. It may have been basically to accommodate the soldiers. They may have had to house soldiers from the Greco-Syrian Empire, and they may have used the temple mount apparently to house some of them. This caused changes to the temple. At this time Menelaus is in charge, and his Hellenizing party.

Remember Alexander the Great taught a sort of syncretism of religion, the radical reformers about this time passed several laws that forbade circumcision and forbidden from observing the Torah. It may have been that even a pig was sacrificed on the altar in Jerusalem in the Holy of Holies, and the temple was turned into a syncretistic Israelite pagan grove. They did this to the temple, and it was renamed as a shrine to Zeus Olympus. If youíre one of these liberal Israelites, you may not really believe youíre doing anything bad. Youíre not forsaking Yahweh, youíre just updating Yahweh, you're just bringing Yahweh up to the modern era. You might say, ďWell whatís wrong with calling Yahweh, Zeus Olympus? We all know these are just different names given to the same god anyway, thereís just one supreme God.Ē So they may well have identified the Israelite god Yahweh with this god Zeus Olympus and said itís just two different names, one Greek name and one Israelite for the same Israelite god. Antiochus was happy because the Syrians are worshipping a Syrian god here, the Greeks are happy theyíre worshipping Zeus Olympus, and the Israelites will be happy because itís identified as Yahweh. This whole process of Hellenization, one gets the idea Antiochus is putting all this on the Israelites and forcing Greek religion and Greek culture on them. Thatís not really the way it happened, itís a debate thatís going on today. How Greek should we be? How much do you accommodate the dominant culture? How much do you want your kids to assimilate to be just as American as everybody else? This is what was going on and it was an internal Israelites conflict that was going on. There were several responses to Hellenization, among the Israelites.

Menelaus and the liberals accept Hellenization and promote it; but another priest that had been dislocated from the high priesthood earlier, his family had originally been the high priesthood family, Onias IV. Onias IV withdrew from Jerusalem and went off and built a new temple; his thinking, if youíre going to destroy the existing temple, weíre going to have an alternative temple elsewhere. Their were a group of former high priests, who have been dislocated and other priestly families withdrawing from Jerusalem, and apparently going out in the desert and maybe building a community out their, the Dead Sea Scrolls? Then their is the reaction of Mattathias. Mattathias was a priest from Jerusalem who had settled in a village called Modein, in the hill country of Judah. Some soldier come from Jerusalem to the village, and theyíre trying to force the Israelites to sacrifice on an altar. Mattathias took a sword away from a soldier and killed this priest and the soldier for encouraging the Israelites in his village to sacrifice to the gods. This was against the law, so Mattathias runs off to the hills, taking his family with him, his sons, he had several sons, and this is the beginning of the war that comes to be called the Maccabean Revolt. Itís called Maccabean because after Mattathias died, shortly thereafter, he was the leader of the revolt in the beginning, his son Judas becomes the head general of the bunch, and Judas, early on earned the nickname Maccabeus, could mean Ďthe hammer,í but it may have been an attribute from him being a very good general and winning a lot of battles. Against all odds, this rag tag bunch of basically guerilla fighters, up against a far superior army of Antiochus IV, they beat them, they retook Jerusalem, they didnít actually beat them in Syria, they just beat them several battles in Judah, and Judas was able to recapture Jerusalem and the temple. In the year 164, they cleansed the temple of the profanation, the pollution of having maybe pigs and things like that sacrificed, it being polluted as the Greek temple, and so 164 is the beginning of the celebration of the Israelites holiday Hanukkah. So 164 in the cleansing of the temple, is what Israelites celebrate with Hanukkah.

A reasoning blog, letís reason through the old testament.

Michael Oíbuck---The man who found that life, thanks buddy.