Explore BrainMass

Hellenism and the Hellenistic Influence

What is meant by the Hellenistic influence? Does it refer to the influence of Greece or what? Could you give me the dates and a summary of this period. Thanks.

Solution Preview

1. What is meant by the Hellenistic influence? Does it refer to the influence of Greece or what? Could you give me the dates and a summary of this period. Thanks.

The Hellenistic Age is from 336-30 B.C. when the Hellenistic influence refers to the infleunce of Greek culture. The terms hellenization and hellenized means to bring all people under the influence of the Greek laws and customs (pagan gods, worshiping the King, etc.) and doing away with all other laws and customs (including the Jewish laws and customs).

333-168 BCE - Greek Influence and Conquest

The beginnings of Hellenistic influence are peaceful. The people submit to Alexander the Great without a struggle. Alexander visits Jerusalem, admires the Jews and grants them political and religious freedom. Jews travel throughout the Greek empire, building trade and importing new ideas that affect language, dress, culture, morals, ethics and religion.

In 323 BCE Alexander dies. After an internal fight for succession, three Greek successors split the empire. Judea and Jerusalem come under the rule of the Ptolemy who rules from Egypt. He deports part of the city's population to Alexandria, but confirms the Jews' autonomy and the validity of their traditional laws. He leaves a garrison of Egyptian troops in charge of the city.

The Jews pay taxes and are left with broad autonomy. Jerusalem remains the administrative center of Judea. The Temple remains the religious and social center. Many priests (kohanim) live in the city and form an important social class along with the scribes and the nobles. Jerusalem is ruled by the high priest and the Great Assembly which acts as a senate and a supreme court made up of members from leading families, heads of clans from other towns, scholars and intellectuals. When acting as a supreme court, it has 72 judges/members; when judging capital offenses, it uses 23 judges; when deciding civil cases, it has at least 3 judges/members.

After centuries of slow but steady economic growth under the Persians, Jerusalem begins to prosper rapidly during the early Hellenistic period. The Temple Mount is Judea's banking and business center, but rich and noble families in the favor of the
Egyptian Ptolemaic court begin to compete for economic dominance. In exchange for a lump payment, the king allows them to collect the country's taxes.

The new Hellenistic philosophy begins to gain Jewish adherents, especially among the aristocracy and some of the younger priests. A factor in this growing ferment is the Seleucid rulers of Syria, who claim the area of Judea and try to conquer it by force and intrigue. After several attempts, Antiochus III, king of Syria, ousts the Ptolemies from Judea in 198 BCE Some Jewish supporters in Jerusalem help him take the fortress from the Egyptian garrison. In gratitude, Antiochus grants Judea a charter allowing the Jews to live according to their traditional laws and customs. The Temple priests and scribes are exempted from taxes forever and the Jerusalem civilian population for three years. It is forbidden to bring ritually impure animals or their hides into Jerusalem.

That charter remains in force until the time of his son and successor, Antiochus IV (176 BCE) who does not agree with his father and demands that Jews be like other minorities and worship statues of Greek gods and of himself. Antiochus IV has inherited a heavy burden of tribute imposed on his father after defeat by the Romans. To pay this tribute and to consolidate his kingdom, Antiochus IV starts to Hellenize the religions in his empire and impounds the treasures of the Temple. In Jerusalem, he has the help of part of the priesthood, in particular Menelaus and Jason who compete for Greek favor.

Forced Hellenization ...

Solution Summary

This explains aspects of the Hellenistic influence e.g. whose influence it refers to, the dates and a summary of this period. It also provides links for further research.