The Maccabean period gave to the Jews a greatly enlarged intellectual vision and led them to adopt many of the ideas of their Greek conquerors. In their literature it is easy to recognize the influence of the more logical Greek methods of reasoning and of the scientific attitude toward the universe. It was during this period that the wise were transformed into scribes, and the rule of the scribal method of thinking and interpretation began. The struggles through which the Jews passed intensified their love for the law and the temple services. Duty was more and more defined in the terms of ceremonial, and the Pharisees entered upon that vast and impossible task of providing rules for man’s every act. Out of the struggles of the Maccabean period came that fusion of Hellenic and Jewish ideas that has become an important factor in all human thought. At last under the influence of the great crises through which they had passed, the belief in individual immortality gained wide acceptance among the Jews. Side by side with this came the belief in a personal devil and a hierarchy of demons opposed to the divine hierarchy at whose head was Jehovah. Last of all the taste of freedom under a Jewish ruler brought again to the front the kingly messianic hopes of the race, and led them to long and struggle for their realization. Thus in this brief century Judaism attained in many ways its final form, and only in the light of this process is it possible fully to understand and appreciate the background of the New Testament history.
* * * * *
THE RULE OF ROME
Section CXVII. The rise of the Herodian house
[Sidenote: Jos. Jew. War, I, 8:2] Now Alexander, that son of Aristobulus who ran away from Pompey, after a time gathered together a considerable body of men and made a strong attack upon Hyrcanus, and overran Judea, and was on the point of dethroning him. And indeed he would have come to Jerusalem, and would have ventured to rebuild its wall that had been thrown down by Pompey, had not Gabinius, who was sent as Scaurus’s successor in Syria, showed his bravery by making an attack on Alexander. Alexander, being afraid at his approach, assembled a larger army composed of ten thousand armed footmen and fifteen hundred horsemen.
[Sidenote: Jos. Jew. War, I, 8:4a, 5] Now when Gabinius came to Alexandrium, finding a great many encamped there, he tried by promising them pardon for their former offences to attach them to him before it came to fighting; but when they would listen to nothing reasonable, he slew a great number of them and shut up the rest in the citadel. Therefore when Alexander despaired of ever obtaining the rulership, he sent ambassadors to Gabinius and besought him to pardon his offences. He also surrendered to him the remaining fortresses, Hyrcanium and Macherus. After this Gabinius brought Hyrcanus back to Jerusalem and put him in charge of the temple. He also divided the entire nation into five districts, assigning one to Jerusalem, another to Gadara, another to Amathus, a fourth to Jericho, and the fifth to Sepphoris, a city of Galilee.