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Jews of Egypt

20 B.C.E. Judaeopagan Conflict, Alexander the Great and the Jews of Egypt
By October 19, 2016 Read More →

20 B.C.E. Judaeopagan Conflict, Alexander the Great and the Jews of Egypt

Under the Ptolemies, the Jews had been part of the community of “Hellenes,” the dominant group of Greek-speaking conquerors. When the Romans, in their turn, conquered Egypt, the situation was altered from top to bottom. There was no room within the limits of Roman law for the community of Hellenes, a cultural rather than a […]

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78 B.C.E. Purim/Ecclesiasticus
By October 11, 2016 Read More →

78 B.C.E. Purim/Ecclesiasticus

The Book of Esther, in a Greek version written in Judah, was introduced into Egypt, probably in 78/77 B.C.E., during the reign of Ptolemy Auletes, the father of the seductive Cleopatra VII. It was accompanied by a letter requesting the Egyptian Jews to join their Judaean brothers in the celebration of the Feast of Purim, […]

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First Century B.C.E. Synagogues
By October 11, 2016 Read More →

First Century B.C.E. Synagogues

Rylands Papyrus IV 590; CPJud. I 138 The word synagoge, “congregation,” was reserved for a meeting or for the community itself. Thus, in a papyrus from the end of the first century B.C.E., we are told of a meeting (synagoge) of a Jewish association in a house of prayer (proseuche). A document dating from Diocletian’s […]

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100 B.C.E. Synagogue Rituals
By October 11, 2016 Read More →

100 B.C.E. Synagogue Rituals

Torah Reading in Synagogues in Egypt; Blessing of Priests (Birkat Kohanim); Triennial Reading of Torah Papyrus Fouad 266 We do not know when the custom of the regular reading of the Torah in the synagogue was institutionalized. The Ptolemaic papyri containing the oldest fragments of the scrolls of the Septuagint suggest that this practice was […]

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102 B.C.E. Jewish Mercenaries in Egypt
By October 11, 2016 Read More →

102 B.C.E. Jewish Mercenaries in Egypt

Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 13:354 Cleopatra III (e.g. 142 – 101) appointed two Jews, Helkias and Ananias, as commanders-in-chief of her army. They served their queen well, although in one remarkable episode they counseled her not to invade the territory of the Jewish King Alexander Jannaeus (e.g. 103 – 76 B.C.E.) because “an injustice done to […]

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December 124 B.C.E. Hannukah
By October 11, 2016 Read More →

December 124 B.C.E. Hannukah

The Hasmoneans, for their part, were aware of the goodwill borne to them by most, but not all, Egyptian Jews. They sought to strengthen the ties between the two communities in many ways; for example, by inviting the Egyptian Jews to join them in the celebration of the newly established Feast of Hannukah, to commemorate […]

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125 B.C.E. Synagogue Dedications
By October 11, 2016 Read More →

125 B.C.E. Synagogue Dedications

In the latter part of the reign of Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II (145-116 B.C.E.), thus two synagogues were founded In Xenephyris, near Damanhur, and in Nitriai (modern Wadi Natrun or, more probably, el-Barnugi) in the Western Delta (CIJ II, Nos. 1441-1442; Horbury-Noy, Nos. 24-25). Other synagogues were founded by individuals, either personally or in affiliation […]

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150 B.C.E. Aristobulos
By October 11, 2016 Read More →

150 B.C.E. Aristobulos

While Judaea, under the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175 – 163 B.C.E.), was being racked by the struggles between “traditionalists” and “Hellenists,” by the persecutions, and by the revolt of the Maccabees, the Jewish diaspora in Egypt had attained the apogee of its successful trajectory, under the reign of Ptolemy VI Philometor (185 – […]

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182 B.C.E. Contract for a Loan
By October 11, 2016 Read More →

182 B.C.E. Contract for a Loan

These two Jews of “the epigone,” born in Egypt, have pure Greek names. Had the document not specified that they were Ioudaioi, Jews, there would be no way of guessing this fact. However, dealing as it does with two Jews, the papyrus and especially its last lines suddenly take on new meaning. A “portrait” is […]

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172 B.C.E. Synagogues in Egypt
By October 11, 2016 Read More →

172 B.C.E. Synagogues in Egypt

The Oniads were the descendants of Zadok, high priest in the time of King Solomon. They had occupied the office of high priest since Onias I, son of Jaddus, the high priest who had, according to legend, opened the gates of Jerusalem to the victorious Alexander, on the high priesthood until the advent of Jason […]

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