Rome and the Maccabees: A Friendship Set in Bronze?

Bible and archaeology news

Excavations at Modi'in may have discovered the first-century B.C.E. Hasmonean city where the family of Judah Maccabee is buried, according to the Book of Maccabees. Photo: Israel Antiquities Authority.

Judah Maccabee’s second-century B.C.E. revolt against the Hellenistic Seleucids set the stage for the establishment of the Hasmonean dynasty in Judea. The events are commemorated in the yearly celebration of Hanukkah. What was the relationship between the Jewish dynasty and Rome? Early historians described a political friendship between Rome and the Maccabees. An upcoming publication by Dr. Linda Zollschan in Classica Er Mediaevali, the Danish Journal of Philology and History, argues for the authenticity of a bronze tablet mentioning Judah Maccabee and commemorating this relationship between Rome and the Jews.

Through the medieval period, historians referred to the bronze tablet that hung in the Temple of Mars Ultor and the later Church of San Basilio, which was built on the ruins of the earlier temple. A report on Zollshcan’s study in the Israeli paper Arutz Sheva notes that the Temple of Mars Ultor served as Rome’s foreign office, and that classical Roman inscriptions were often displayed in medieval Roman churches. The Roman-Jewish tablet was described by medieval authors who identified with Judah Maccabee; however, historians have long considered the tablet itself to be a later fiction. Zollschan’s August publication on the authenticity of the bronze tablet may lend credence to Rome’s ancient and medieval historians, and it will help us understand the relationship between Rome and the Maccabees.

Read the report in Arutz Sheva.
 


 
Interested in the Jewish world’s international and political connections during the Roman period? Read the Bible History Daily feature Herod the Great: Friend of the Romans and Parthians? by Duquesne University’s Jason Schlude.

Posted in Ancient Israel, Inscriptions, News.

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4 Responses

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  1. Tom says

    Arutz Sheva is not a reliable, objective news source — the ‘spinning’ of stories and headlines in accordance with their particular political agenda is somethings quite outrageous. I find it disconcerting that BAS continues to draw upon, and point people to, their offerings.

    TOM POWERS

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