Did the Jews invent themselves and Israel in response to Hellenism
After Alexander the Great died a Greek family called the Ptolemy’s took over Egypt and the area we call Israel today. They instituted a new form of god worship for their empire the worship of the king and a new god named Serapis. Serapis was a combination of several Egyptian and Greeks gods combined into one god. The king also got himself named Pharaoh so to be god on earth.
This family wanted to influence their entire empire and make it more Greek like in culture and worship, this is where Hellenism was born.
Now when we look at the story behind the creation of the Greek Septuagint Bible the oldest Old Testament writtings we are led to believe by some letters written back then that one of the Ptolemy Kings wanted a Jewish law book written in Greek. These letters go on to say that this king was willing to pay big money and free 100,000 slaves so these writtings would be written. 72 Jewish scholars gathered in Alexandria and then wrote the Old Testament into Greek.
Some say this Old Testament was put together by the Greeks to help Hellenise the jews, pointing to some of the stories in the Bible that are clearly Greek in nature.
Could it be the opposite? Could it be that to try to combat the Greeks a group of people Jews invented or made up many of the stories in the Bible to make themselves more legitimate as a group or a nation. Could be that this is what they did but do to lack of time they took many stories already written by others, stories from Egypt, Greece, Babylon and Assyria and just changed a few characters or places to give them a Jewish narrative. The letter written stating the Greek King released 100,000 slaves and paid a lot of money to get the Greek Septuagint written is just preposterous, possibly a Jewish lie to make these writtings that much more important.
To further this claim when we look back into history we can find no history of a nation called Israel and many historians like Heradadous never mention a people called Hebrews or Jews. So again was the Septuagint bible created to make a history for a people in order to counter Greek influences? Sure we have Jerusalem kings like Hezzekia and others after him down to the destruction of the city by the Babylonians but again a small group of people. Again could the Old Testament been written to counter Greek attempts to stamp out the Jewish culture?
Before you answer no thinking this is a crazy idea just remember this has happened in modern times. The Jehovah’s witnesses have written a myriad of books making it look as thought the New Testament was written for and about them exclusively, claiming in their writings that several prophecies in the Bible had their fulfillment by Jehovah witness leaders and that they continue to fulfill prophecy today.
...and that's your lesson for today, return to kittens and puppy videos. Go Greeks!
Crazyguy: "After Alexander the Great died a Greek family called the Ptolemy’s took over Egypt and the area we call Israel today."
Just a minor correction. After Alexander's death, the west Asian section of his empire was divided between the Seleucid dynasty, based mainly in Syria and the Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt. Control of Palestine and Jerusalem seesawed between the two rival Greek dynasties.
Is that important? Yes, because the best Jewish account that we have of opposition to the hellenising process is the semi-canonical Maccabees, which took place against a background of a time when the Seleucids were in control.
The author of a Wikipedia entry, notes: "Antiochus' aggressive Hellenizing (or de-Judaizing) activities provoked a full scale armed rebellion in Judea—the Maccabean Revolt.Efforts to deal with both the Parthians and the Jews as well as retain control of the provinces at the same time proved beyond the weakened empire's power."
First Maccabees, describes some of the acculturation process: "... Some of the people eagerly went to the king (i.e Antiochus). He authorized them to observe the ordinances of the Gentiles. So they built a gymnasium in Jerusalem, according to Gentile custom, and removed the marks of circumcision, and abandoned the holy covenant. They joined with the Gentiles and sold themselves to do evil."
And second Maccabees provides more detail. Under High Priest Jason, the account tells us even priests wore Greek garb and attended the gymnasium:
Verse 10. "When Jason received the king’s approval and came into office, he immediately initiated his compatriots into the Greek way of life.He set aside the royal concessions granted to the Jews through the mediation of John, father of Eupolemus* ... he set aside the lawful practices and introduced customs contrary to the law.
With perverse delight he established a gymnasium* at the very foot of the citadel, where he induced the noblest young men to wear the Greek hat.13The craze for Hellenism and the adoption of foreign customs reached such a pitch, through the outrageous wickedness of Jason, the renegade and would-be high priest, that the priests no longer cared about the service of the altar. Disdaining the temple and neglecting the sacrifices, they hastened, at the signal for the games, to take part in the unlawful exercises at the arena. What their ancestors had regarded as honors they despised; what the Greeks esteemed as glory they prized highly."
You have to put the two texts together to see the full picture.
Young priests (and other young men of the Jewish elite) were going to the Greek gymnasium, which was also a school teaching Greek thought. In the exercises they performed they did so naked, that's why the previous text mentioned that the Jews attending attempted to "de-circumcise,**" themselves.
And that led to the Maccabean rebellion, and some 100+ years of independence. But the elite did not resist cultural Hellenisation in other fields. Greek became the main language of the Jews, and Yes! Your, main premise has at least a grain of truth in it.
** In other words, they attempted to stretch what remained of their foreskin, so that they would not stand out as circumcised. An interesting contrast in customs. Jews could not be Jewish without circumcision, thus exposing the head of their penis. The Greeks of that time, thought it shameful to expose the head of their penis. To ensure that did not happen, some would tie a ribbon around the foreskin so that it could not rise and expose the head of their penis.
Some more interesting references for you:
And a very long examination of the hellenising process:
"A HISTORY OF JEWS IN GREEK GYMNASIA FROM THE HELLENISTIC PERIOD THROUGH THE LATE ROMAN PERIOD."
You make some good points Fulltimestudent, but since the Maccabean revolts started a bit later I wonder if there’s still some truth to my idea? What I don’t understand is why the Ptolemy’s if they actually did this we don’t know for sure, contracted, some Jews to write their books into Greek? If they were not behind writting a Greek bible so to speak then why would the Jews do so, for they thought the older Hebrew language sacred so we’re told? The other question is are these writtings really Jewish and if not why make them look as if they are.
Since we know many of the stories in the Old Testament are rewritten stories from other places then who changed them to fit a Jewish narrative and included a nation called Israel which never existed? Who made up stories about people like David, Solomon, and Moses? Maybe it was the Seleucid Greeks to weaken the Ptolemy’s?
Maybe its like that episode of Star Trek where the captain finds himself in a Capone/gangster type of civilization. apparently they had found an old book from earth that described the times and ways of that era in gangland USA and they took to living that way.
The best part was when Kirk became the head gangster haha!
but yeah, maybe its something along those lines.
Where is David_Jay when you want him!
He seemed to be very knowledgable about the history of his people, the Jews. According to David_Jay, the Old Testament was put together a little earlier than the Selucid / Ptolemaic era, but for much the same reasons that you suggest. He appeared to represent Jewish understanding of this matter when he claimed that the Old Testament was written during the period of Jewish exile in Babylon, which ended in 539 BC (and as we here all know very well, began in 607 BC!)
Given that it was the Jewish people after all who wrote the Old Testament, their claims should be given merit, I would think!
It's all fabricated. If God had given a promise such as "I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted.” (Gen 13:16) why is it not fulfilled even now? Another proof is that Genesis mentions that early humans lived nearly 1000 years for which no fossil record exists. This is obviously because inventors felt tired of finding details to fill 4000 years history, hence they simply wrote Adam lived for 930 years, Methuselah lived for 969 years etc.
Crazyguy: " What I don’t understand is why the Ptolemy’s if they actually did this we don’t know for sure, contracted, some Jews to write their books into Greek? If they were not behind writting a Greek bible so to speak then why would the Jews do so, for they thought the older Hebrew language sacred so we’re told? The other question is are these writtings really Jewish and if not why make them look as if they are."
Our main source of information regarding the translation of the Septuagint, is the so-called Letter of Aristeas, which is discussed in the link below, so I won't go into some of the obvious indications that it is has a few deficiencies as an explanation.
Let's extract an important point from that article. By the time of Jesus, Greek had become the most important language of the Eastern Roman Empire and prior to Roman power, the Seleucid and Ptolemaic empires. And, the Greeks did not just live in what we now know as Greece, but also lived around the coast of Asia Minor. They were undoubtedly a very important part of the world at that time. In contrast, aside from the importance that the various brands of christianity have placed on the Jews, they were rather insignificant.
But large numbers lived in other areas of the ancient world. It is known that the city of Alexandria had a large Jewish population, as an example. Also, there were at least two Jewish temples in Egypt (that we know of), the first is the temple of Onias which was located at Leontopolis, and the other was located on the island of Elephantine, where it served a garrison of Jewish soldiers (who were in the service of the Ptolemies). In Roman times, as friction developed between the Jews and the Romans (that eventually led to the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem and Jews being expelled from Jerusalem), Jews in Egypt and some other north African locations conducted a serious guerrilla campaign against Roman forces. All these Jews likely spoke Greek rather than Aramaic, so a possible reason is that a Greek translation served these non-palestinian Jews.
And noting that the Letter of Aristeas invokes the world famous Library of Alexandria (then the largest in the world - or so it is claimed) and an associated research centre known as the Mouseion, maybe a translation of the Jewish religious books was wanted for the Library and the Mouseion, for the sake of owning a copy that could be read by Greek speaking students and teachers.
By the way, there were other translations of the OT into Greek, not much remains of them, but I suggest they were another indication that Jews in the Palestine area were becoming hellenised.
The letter you mention is the one that sounds like pure Jewish propaganda. In the end I wish i had a time machine so I could go back and find out what was really going on.