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Alexander the Great and Jaddus the High Priest According to Josephus

Shaye J. D. Cohen
AJS Review
Vol. 7/8 (1982/1983), pp. 41-68
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1486406
Page Count: 28
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Alexander the Great and Jaddus the High Priest According to Josephus
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Abstract

At the end of book 11 of the "Jewish Antiquities" Josephus narrates two stories about Alexander the Great and the Jews. In the first Alexander meets Sanballat, the governor of Samaria, and allows him to build a temple in Samaria. In the second Alexander meets Jaddus, the high priest of Jerusalem, honors him, and bestows benefactions upon the Jews. Before these stories were juxtaposed by Josephus they were independent of each other; even after being juxtaposed they are easily separable. Hence we cannot attribute an anti-Samaritan bias to the Alexander-Jaddus story since the Samaritans and the Samaritan temple do not figure in that story at all. Each story must be studied on its own terms. The Alexander-Jaddus story is composed of two substories which, in all likelihood, once existed independently: adventus and epiphany. In the adventus story Alexander arrives at Jerusalem and is received magnificently by the Jerusalemites. The city accords Alexander the standard "red-carpet" treatment which all Greco-Roman cities accorded distinguished visitors. In the epiphany story Alexander plans to attack Jerusalem but during the night before the intended assault is scared by a dream sent by God. Jaddus too receives a dream that night, a dream of encouragement. The next day Alexander calls off his attack, does homage to Jaddus, and acknowledges the power of the God of Israel. Greco-Roman texts provide many parallels to both the adventus and epiphany stories. The adventus story celebrates the Jews' surrender to Alexander, while the epiphany story celebrates Alexander's surrender to the God of the Jews. Hence it is likely that the former story originated during a period when the Jews accepted Macedonian rule, i.e., the Ptolemaic or early Seleucid occupation of Palestine, while the latter originated during the Maccabean age when the Jews regarded the Macedonians as hostile and boasted of the salvific power of God. The two stories were already combined by the time they reached Josephus who, in turn, introduced changes of his own. The major purpose of these changes was to give divine sanction to Alexander's rule over the Jews--and thereby divine sanction to Alexander's successors, the Romans.

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