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The Hasmonean Dynasty

Suzanne F. Singer, “The Winter Palaces of Jericho,” Biblical Archaeology Review 3, 2 (1977).
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Suzanne F. Singer, “The Winter Palaces of Jericho,” Biblical Archaeology Review 3, 2 (1977).

For at least 10,000 years, on the plain of the Great Rift, bordered by the mountains of Judea on the west and, on the other side of the Jordan River, the mountains of Moab, there has been a city at Jericho. The earliest settlement at Jericho—in the Late Stone Age—arose on a hillock close to […]

Jericho Synagogue Mosaic
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Jericho Synagogue Mosaic

The earliest mosaic yet found in Israel, dating to the late Hasmonean period (1st century B.C.). The mosaic comes from the bath near the most elegant of the six mikvaot found at the Hasmonean Palace, which was probably used by members of the royal family.

Lee I. Levine. “Judaism from the Destruction of Jerusalem to the End of the Second Jewish Revolt: 70-135 C.E.” Part III
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Lee I. Levine. “Judaism from the Destruction of Jerusalem to the End of the Second Jewish Revolt: 70-135 C.E.” Part III

Excerpted from Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism- a Parallel History of their Origins and Early Development. Ed. Hershal Shanks. Washington D.C.- Biblical Archaeology Society, 1993. The Diaspora revolts Under Trajan, a series of major revolts did in fact erupt, primarily affecting the Jews of the Diaspora. 74 In 115 C.E., Jews in Egypt and Cyrene (on the […]

Babylonian Talmud Sotah 49b: Hyrcanus and Aristobulus at War
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Babylonian Talmud Sotah 49b: Hyrcanus and Aristobulus at War

Rabbinic 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 […]

Josephus, Antiquities XI, 4-79: Hyrcanus II and Aristobulus
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Josephus, Antiquities XI, 4-79: Hyrcanus II and Aristobulus

The coming of the Romans led, in turn, to the rise of the Idumean Antipater who manipulated Hyrcanus II to advance his own interests. The infighting of the last Hasmoneans made it possible for the Romans to side with Antipater and Hyrcanus, thus gaining power over Judea in 63 B.C.E. (4) Hyrcanus then began his […]

Josephus, Antiquities XIII, 398-432: Queen Salome Alexandra
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Josephus, Antiquities XIII, 398-432: Queen Salome Alexandra

Alexander Janneus was soon succeeded by his wife, Salome Alexandra (76-67 B.C.E.) whose reign brought the Pharisees back to power. But the Queen’s rule sowed the seeds of the eventual decline if the Hasmonean House after her death. (398) After this, King Alexander 53 fell ill because of hard drinking and had a quartan fever for […]

Josephus, Antiquities XIII, 356-83: The Reign of Alexander Janneus
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Josephus, Antiquities XIII, 356-83: The Reign of Alexander Janneus

Alexander Janneus (103-76 B.C.E.) cruelly defeated his enemies and expanded the boundaries of the Hasmonean state. But his people revolted against him in a violent revolt which he cruelly suppressed. (356) When Alexander was delivered from his fear of Ptolemy, 44 he immediately made an expedition against Celesyria. 45 He also took Gadara after a siege […]

Josephus, Antiquities XIII, 301-23: The Reign of Aristobulus
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Josephus, Antiquities XIII, 301-23: The Reign of Aristobulus

Aristobulus, who succeeded his father John Hyrcanus, reigned from 104 to 103 B.C.E. He was a tragic figure destroyed by his jealousy and suspicion. He serves as little more than a transitional figure between John Hyrcanus and Alexander Janneus. He was, however, the first Hasmonean to take the title of King. (301) Now when their […]

Josephus, Antiquities XIII, 225-9: The Death of Simon
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Josephus, Antiquities XIII, 225-9: The Death of Simon

Simon, who ruled from 142 to 134 B.C.E., successfully defended the Jews against Seleucid incursions later in his reign, only to fall victim to internecine strife in his own court. His son, John Hyrcanus, survived and became the next Hasmonean ruler. (225) However, Antiochus forgot the kind assistance that Simon had afforded him in his necessity, […]

Maccabees 12-15: Jonathan’s Death and the Reign of Simon
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Maccabees 12-15: Jonathan’s Death and the Reign of Simon

After the death of Jonathan in 143 B.C.E., the Hasmonean state was ruled by Simon. He succeeded in expelling the Seleucids from the citadel and in gaining an official charter from the Seleucid ruler, making Judea truly independent. Especially important are the royal documents of Seleucid provenance confirming this status which were preserved in 1 […]