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Babylonian Talmud Sotah 49b: Hyrcanus and Aristobulus at War

Aristobulus IIRabbinic tradition also preserves a tannaitic report of the siege of Jerusalem by Hyrcanus against Aristobulus. The Rabbis used the story to learn a lesson but their account indicates awareness of the basic events.

Our Rabbis taught- when the kings of the Hasmonean House laid siege one to another, Hyrcanus was outside and Aristobulus inside. 77 Every day they would lower down dinarii in a basket and raise up (animals for) daily sacrifices. There was one elder who knew the Greek language. He spoke to them in Greek. He said to them, ‘‘As long as they busy themselves with (divine) worship, they will not be given over into your hands.” On the next day, they lowered down to them the denarii in the basket, and they sent up to them a pig. When it reached halfway up the wall, it dug its hooves into the wall. The Land of Israel shook for four hundred Persian miles. (And regarding) that time they (the sages) said, “Cursed is the man who raises pigs, and cursed is the man who teaches his son the Greek language.” And regarding that year we have learned it happened that the omer sacrifice came from Gagot Tserifim 78 and the two loaves from the Valley of Ein Sokher. 79

76. Also found in Bava Qamma 82b, Menahot 64b.

77. Of the walls of Jerusalem.

78. Because the Roman soldiers despoiled the countryside, the omer grain had to be brought from this area which was far away from Jerusalem.

79. The first fruits offering of wheat for the holiday of Shavuot also had to be brought from afar because of the destruction of the land.

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