After the Maccabean Revolt, Jerusalem Entered an Era of Growth and Prosperity

The city of Jerusalem, once liberated from Seleucid rule by the triumphant Hasmoneans, experienced rapid population growth and expanded westward, while the rulers of the newly sovereign Jewish state enlarged and renovated the Temple complex. Lawrence Schiffman describes what the city looked like in the 1st and 2nd centuries BCE, setting the stage by relating the little-known epilogue to the Hanukkah story:

Contrary to what many think, the miraculous conquest and purification of the Temple on the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev in 164 BCE was not the end of the Hanukkah story. . . . Through clever diplomacy and playing on the inner politics of the Jewish people, which still included some pro-Hellenistic elements, . . . the Seleucids managed to dislodge Judah the Maccabee and his supporters from the Temple. Then they installed Yakim (Alcimus), a Hellenist, as high priest. Judah and his men were left again to fight a war of resistance from fortresses in the Judean Hills.

After Judah’s death on the battlefield, he was succeeded by his brother Jonathan who was the commander of about 10,000 troops. When an internal conflict developed in Syria over who would rule, Jonathan wisely sided with the successful of the two pretenders to the throne and in return was granted official recognition as the ruler of Judea. He was then accepted by the people as ruler and high priest. It is he who effectively established the Hasmonean dynasty that lasted from 152 BCE through the Roman conquest of the land of Israel in 63 BCE. . . .

Soon after the accession of Jonathan, the city of Jerusalem began to grow. Over the course of the Hasmonean period it went from not much more than 5,000 residents to over 30,000. [Even] before the Maccabean revolt, the population had begun to expand westward from the area of the City of David, which had constituted the entire city during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah. Tremendous impetus was given to this process by the Hasmoneans when they began to rebuild the city walls that had surrounded the city in the time of the First Temple. . . .

The expansion of the city at this time took place on the Western Hill, more or less today’s Jewish Quarter in the Old City. This area had been settled during the time of the first Temple, but for the most part remained abandoned since [its] destruction.

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More about: Ancient Israel, History & Ideas, Jerusalem, Maccabees

 

How Israel Can Best Benefit from Its Newfound Friendship with Brazil

Jan. 21 2019

Earlier this month, Benjamin Netanyahu was in Brazil—the first Israeli prime minister to visit the country—for the inauguration of its controversial new president Jair Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro has made clear his eagerness to break with his predecessors’ hostility toward the Jewish state, and Netanyahu has responded positively. To Emanuele Ottolenghi, the improved relations offer an opportunity for joint cooperation against Hizballah, which gets much of its revenue through cooperation with Brazilian drug cartels. In this cooperative effort, Ottolenghi cautions against repeating mistakes made in an earlier outreach to Paraguay:

Hizballah relies heavily on the proceeds of transnational crime networks, especially in the Tri-Border Area [where] Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay [meet], but until recently, Brazilian officials were loath to acknowledge its presence in their country or its involvement in organized crime. [But] Bolsonaro’s top priority is fighting organized crime. Combating Hizballah’s terror finance is a vital Israeli interest. Making the case that Israel’s and Brazil’s interests dovetail perfectly should be easy. . . .

But Israel should be careful not to prioritize symbols over substance, a mistake already made once in Latin America. During 2013-2018, Netanyahu invested heavily in his relationship with Horacio Cartes, then president of Paraguay. Cartes, . . . too, had a genuine warmth for Israel, which culminated in his decision in May 2018 to move Paraguay’s embassy to Jerusalem. Most importantly, from Israel’s point of view, Paraguay began voting with Israel against the Arab bloc at the UN.

However, the Paraguayan side of the Tri-Border Area remained ground zero for Hizballah’s money laundering in Latin America. The Cartes administration hardly lifted a finger to act against the terror funding networks. . . . Worse—when critics raised Hizballah’s [local] terror-financing activities, Paraguayan ministers confronted their Israeli counterparts, threatening to change Paraguay’s friendly international posture toward Israel. [And] as soon as Cartes left office, his successor, Mario Abdo Benítez, moved Paraguay’s embassy back to Tel Aviv. . . . Israel’s five-year investment ultimately yielded no embassy move and no progress on combating Hizballah’s terror network. . . .

Israel should make the battle against Hizballah’s terror-finance networks in Latin America its top regional priority.

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More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Brazil, Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Israel diplomacy, Latin America