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13 Chapter 13 – Alexander the Great

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ALEXANDER THE GREAT (p. 74)

Alexander the Great, the king of Macedonia, was a military conqueror. In 331 B.C.E. the whole Persian world
was in his power. Alexander may have passed through
Palestine on his way to Egypt. The historian Josephus
claimed that Alexander visited Jerusalem and paid
homage to the high priest Jaddua, whom he credited
with his victories over the Persian army.
Josephus transmits what must have been an old
tradition regarding early contacts between the Jews and
Alexander the Great.

But when the seven months of the siege of Tyre were
over, and after two months of the siege of Gaza, Sanballat
died. Now Alexander, when he had taken Gaza, made haste
to go up to Jerusalem. Jaddua the high priest, when he heard
that, was in agony and terror, not knowing how he could meet
the Macedonians since the king was displeased at his former
disobedience.


Then God warned him in a dream, which came upon
him after he had offered sacrifice, telling him that he should
take courage, adorn the city, and open the gates; that the
people should appear in white garments, but that he and the
priests should meet the king in the garments proper to their
order, without the dread of any ill consequences, which the
providence of God would prevent. Thereupon, he rose from
his sleep greatly rejoicing and declared to all the revelation
he had received from God, according to which he acted
entirely and so waited for the coming of the king.


When he understood that Alexander was not far from
the city, he went out in procession, with the priests and the
multitude of the citizens. The procession was venerable and
the manner of it different from that of other nations. It reached
a place called Sapha; which name, translated into Greek, signifies a lookout," for you have a view from there both of
Jerusalem and of the Temple. The Phoenicians and
Chaldeans who followed him thought that the king in his
anger would naturally permit them to plunder the city and torment the high priest to death, but the very reverse happened.
For Alexander, when he saw the multitude at a distance, in
white garments, while the priests stood clothed with fine linen
and the high priest in purple and scarlet clothing, with his
miter on his head with the golden plate on which the name of
God was engraved, he approached by himself and bowed
down before the name (of God), and first saluted the high
priest.


The Jews all together, with one voice, saluted
Alexander, and surrounded him, whereupon the kings of
Syria and the others were surprised at what Alexander had
done and supposed him disordered in his mind. However,
Parmenio alone went up to him and asked him how it came
to pass that when all others bowed before him, he should
bow before the high priest of the Jews. He replied to him, "I
did not bow before him, but before that God who has honored
him with the high priesthood; for I saw this very person in a
dream, in this very apparel when I was at Dios, in Macedonia.
When I was considering how I might obtain dominion over
Asia, he exhorted me to make no delay but boldly to pass
over the sea, for he would lead my army and would give me
dominion over the Persians. Since then, having seen no other
in that clothing, and now seeing this person in it, and remembering that vision and the exhortation which I had in my
dream, I believe that I bring this army under divine guidance
and shall therewith conquer Darius and destroy the power of
the Persians, and that all things will succeed according to
what is in my own mind."


When the Book of Daniel was shown him, wherein
Daniel declared that one of the Greeks should destroy the
empire of the Persians, he supposed that he himself was the
person intended. As he was then glad, he dismissed the multitude for the present, but the next day he called them to him
and bade them ask what favors they wished of him, where-
upon the high priest requested that they might observe the
laws of their forefathers and might pay no tribute in the seventh year. He granted all they requested. And when they
entreated him that he should permit the Jews in Babylon and
Media to enjoy their own laws also, he willingly promised to
do what they requested.


Josephus, Antiquities 325-329

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

1. Why was Jaddua afraid of Alexander?
2. What changed Jaddua's mind?
3. Who wanted to plunder Jerusalem?
4. Why was Alexander respectful and friendly to
the Jews?
5. What did Alexander read in the Book of Daniel?
6. What favors did Jaddua ask from Alexander?
What was Alexander's answer?

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