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.

As the point where three of the world’s major religions converge, Israel’s history is one of the richest and most complex in the world. Sift through the archaeology and history of this ancient land in the free eBook Israel: An Archaeological Journey, and get a view of these significant Biblical sites through an archaeologist’s lens.

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.


Related reading in Bible History Daily:

Hasmonean Jerusalem Exposed in Time for Hanukkah

Modi’in: Where the Maccabees Lived

Where the Heroes of the Maccabean Revolt Lie


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  • Albert Kim says

    I totally agree with Bob enjoy reading and vision the early beginnings. You were not there why criticise. I enjoy BAS findings and explanations.

  • Valdzemar says

    My offer is to visit Yahoo group Telepathy.
    The New Optimal prognoses concerning the Samuels (from Bible) grave’s place.
    Also. The optiomal prognoses, where in Israel could be graves of the Babyllonian soldiers.

  • gait says

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  • 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.


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