Mon, 23 November 2009
At the time of the Greeks, the Davidic line passes into obscurity, and the political power in Israel is held by the high priests. One such high priest, Onias II, refuses to pay taxes to the Ptolemaic empire. The Tobiad family steps in to cover the debt, and winds up becoming responsible for the tax collection in Israel. The Seleucid Empire takes over Israel, and gives the Jews certain concessions for their assistance.
Onias III becomes high priest, and owing to a dispute with the governor of the Temple, receives a favorable preliminary ruling from the Seleucid Empire. Onias tries to confirm the ruling, but while he seeks out this confirmation, a new emperor takes power, Antiochus IV Epiphanes.
In Jerusalem, a new group of rulers also takes over, and a man named Jason becomes high priest. Jason was not a particularly pious man, and allows certain Hellenistic influences into Israel, most notably a gymnasium. In this gymnasium, the men exercise naked, and in order to appear more like the Greeks whom they exercise with, some Jews begin to have cosmetic surgery to reverse their circumcisions.
Meanwhile, a man named Menelaus convinces the Seleucids to assassinate Onias III and remove Jason to have himself named high priest. Menelaus starts selling off temple vessels, and the people riot. Menelaus seeks help from the Seleucids, who put down the riots bloodily. To keep the peace, the Seleucids conscript some Jews to build a garrison near the temple, and decide to begin construction on a Sabbath to prevent riots. This backfires and there are even more riots. The pro-Greek populace moved into the garrison and only left to enforce the edicts of the empire. People fled Jerusalem, since it was not safe for either orthodox or liberal.
Antiochus wages a preemptive war on Egypt and wins, but the cost of the war causes him to despoil the Temple. As Antiochus attempts to completely conquer Egypt, Rome intervenes and turns Antiochus back, who now places the blame for this failure on the disunity in the empire caused by the nonconforming Jews.
The closing theme is Gerard Satamian's Chansons Sans Paroles Op. 2 Pastorale, from the album Dry Fig Trees. www.magnatune.com