Sunday, April 15, 2018

Maccabees need to be greatly lowered on the time scale

Related image




Damien F. Mackey






Part One:

Judas the Jewish Revolutionary


Although the Maccabees are conventionally separated from the Herodians by approximately a century and a half, there might now be reason to think that they were contemporaneous.


The Census


Without committing myself to identifying Judas Maccabeus with “Judas the Galilean” of Acts 5:37: “… Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered”, at the time of my writing:


Judas Maccabeus - Judas the Galilean




I then definitely had well in mind such an historical linking.


For, more and more was I finding parallels between the Maccabean age and the Herodian age. Obviously, then, one would expect to find reference to a “census” at the time of the Maccabees, since this was a major issue at the time of Herod the Great (Luke 2:1): “In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world”.


Please note that the Greek version of this verse makes no mention whatsoever of “Roman”: 1 Ἐγένετο  δὲ  ἐν  ταῖς  ἡμέραις  ἐκείναις  ἐξῆλθεν  δόγμα  παρὰ  Καίσαρος  Αὐγούστου  ἀπογράφεσθαι  πᾶσαν  τὴν  οἰκουμένην. 

Literally: “It came to pass moreover in the days those went out a decree from Caesar Augustus to register all the world”.


And the Greek noun, οἰκουμένη, does not necessarily mean “world”, but can also mean “land”. According to Fiona J. R. Gregson (Everything in Common?: The Theology and Practice of the Sharing of ...): “… while ὅλην τὴν οἰκουμένην could point to the whole world, or at least the whole known world, it could also be used of a region, and allowing for poetic exaggeration to a smaller area”.


“Judas the Galilean” who “appeared in the days of the census”, according to Gamaliel, may just be that required link between the Maccabees and the census of Luke 2.

If so, if Judas the Galilean were Judas the Maccabean, then the census must have occurred while the father, Mattathias was still alive. For, in the legends of Judas the Galilean, his older partner, Matt[at]hias, was yet alive. As we read in “Judas Maccabeus - Judas the Galilean”:


Every day this throng of Israel's future sat and listened to the wizened Matthias and his younger partner, Judas, preach the Kingdom of Heaven. The relationship between the two wise men can be argued as well as their ages, but the pattern of the Maccabees suggests that Matthias was the older father figure (or literal father) and Judas, the son.  How they came to the Temple, to this point in the history of Israel can be deduced from what preceded them.

…. A movement was forming that was based upon the distant exploits of Mattathias and his son Judas Maccabee (170 BCE). ….


Just as, in Luke 2:3, when “everyone went to their own town to register”, and 2:4: “… Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David”, so, at that time (If I am putting this together correctly) did Mattathias, father of the Maccabees, take all of his family “from Jerusalem and [settle] in Modein”. Modein, as we later learn (I Maccabees 13:25), was their ancestral home: “Simon had the body of his brother Jonathan brought to Modein, to be buried in the town of their ancestors”.


Archaeologists have become very excited lately thinking that they may be on the verge of discovering the lost Maccabean tomb at what they consider to be the site of ancient Modein:


…. A large mausoleum recently uncovered in Israel may be the Tomb of the Maccabees, the celebrated Jewish family that led an uprising against the Greeks in the second century B.C. Archaeologists, however, are still searching for conclusive evidence that the site is the Maccabees’ final resting place.

The Israel Antiquities Authority, working with local residents and volunteers, recently excavated the site near the city of Modi’in, 19 miles northwest of Jerusalem, long rumored to be the Maccabees’ tomb.


The Maccabees – Matityahu the Hasmonean and his five sons were from the ancient city of Modi’in. The archaeological site at Horbat Ha-Gardi is close to the Arab village of Al-Midya, which bears a similar name to that of the ancient Modi’in, and attracted nineteenth-century archaeologists.

The tomb is described in two 2,000-year-old books – ‘The Book of the Maccabees’ and the ‘Antiquities of the Jews’, which was written by ancient historian Josephus Flavius. Described as a tall, impressive structure surrounded by columns, the mausoleum was covered with pyramid-like roofs and was said to overlook the sea.


Amit Re’em, who managed the recent Horbat Ha-Gardi excavation for the Israel Antiquities Authority, told that the tomb certainly bears a resemblance to the one described in the ancient books. “It was circled with pillars,” he said, adding that the tall building had pyramid-style structures on its roof. “People could see it from the sea, from [the coastal city of] Jaffa.”

An excavation of the tomb by Charles Clermont-Ganneau in the late nineteenth century revealed mosaics adorned with a cross on the floor of the burial vaults, prompting the French archaeologist to assert that the site is Christian in nature. The tomb was then abandoned by archaeologists until the recent attempt to reveal its secrets.

“It’s a wonderful site, it’s a beautiful site,” Re’em told  “We re-exposed the tomb chamber and the mosaic with the decoration of the cross.”

The archaeologist noted that the Maccabees had a place of honor in early Christianity, which could explain the cross decoration, and speculated that early Christians may have re-dedicated the burial tomb, a theory also put forward by Clermont-Ganneau. However, Re’em acknowledged that there is still insufficient archaeological evidence to identify the Maccabees’ tomb.

“We’re still searching, we’re looking for the smoking gun, the hard evidence that will enable us to tell people that this is the Tomb of the Maccabees,” he said. ….


However, a location only “19 miles northwest of Jerusalem” would not serve to make Judas a “Galilean”, as according to Gamaliel in Acts 5:37. Accordingly, I do not expect the archaeologists to find the ancestral Maccabean tomb at (or near) Horbat Ha-Gardi.


My tentative choice for ancient Modein would be Sepphoris in Galilee, not far from Nazareth:



Image result for sepphoris map



on account the fact that Judas the Galilean and his followers had escaped to Sepphoris, a very important city at the time.



Part Two:

Gamaliel’s feeble account of Judas?


‘… Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered’.


Acts 5:37




If Judas the Galilean, the partisan referred to here by Gamaliel, were Judas the Maccabean, as I have strongly suggested in Part One, then what an underwhelming account of the great man

the highly-respected Pharisee gives of him here!

The best that he can say of Judas is that ‘he was killed’ and his ‘revolt’ came to nothing.

Gamaliel was, of course, the strict teacher of St. Paul himself, who claimed to have been “educated at the feet of Gamaliel according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers …” (Acts 22:3).

So much for that.

But compare Gamaliel’s miserable account of Judas with the one given in 1 Maccabees 3:3-9:


Judas brought greater glory to his people.
In his armor, he was like a giant.
He took up his weapons and went to war;
    with his own sword he defended his camp.

He was like a ferocious lion roaring as it attacks.
Judas hunted down those who broke the Law
    and set fire to all who oppressed his people.
In fear of him, lawless men huddled together in terror,
    not knowing which way to turn.

He advanced the cause of freedom by what he did.
He made life miserable for many kings,
    but brought joy to the people of Israel.
We will praise him forever for what he did.

He went through the towns of Judea
    and destroyed all the godless men.
He relieved Israel of its terrible suffering.
His fame spread to the ends of the earth,
    as he gathered together those who were threatened with death.


“Finally Judas himself was killed” (9:18), as Gamaliel said, and also: “Then all his men fled”.

But that was by no means the end of the story (vv. 19-22):


“Jonathan and Simon took their brother's body and buried it in the family tomb at Modein, and there at the tomb they wept for him. All Israel mourned for him in great sorrow for many days. They said,


It can't be! The mighty hero and savior of Israel has been killed!


The other deeds of Judas, his battles, his courageous deeds, and his great accomplishments, were too many to write down”.


Nor was Judas merely a warrior-priest. He was also a man of culture. Gamaliel may, in fact, have owed it to Judas Maccabeus that he now had access to important Jewish literature, because (2 Maccabees 2:13-14): “… Nehemiah … established a library and collected the writings of David, letters of the kings concerning offerings, and books about the kings and prophets. Judas also collected the books that had been scattered because of the war, and we still have them”.


The herculean effort of Judas Maccabeus did not terminate with his death, as one might think from Gamaliel’s synopsis, but was carried on by his brothers, Jonathan and - most notably - Simon (Sirach 50:1-2): “The greatest of his brothers and the pride of his people was the High Priest Simon … who repaired the Temple and laid the foundation for the high double wall and the fortifications of the Temple …”.





A summary so far



This now necessitates also that the main king in Judah at the time of Judas Maccabeus, namely Antiochus IV ‘Epiphanes’, must ‘collapse into’ the main king there at the time of Judas the Galilean, namely Herod ‘the Great’.




I had commenced by likening the poorly known partisan, “Judas the Galilean” (as referred to in Acts 5:37), with Judas the Maccabean, with whom I had intended later to forge an identity.


That I began to do in Part One and Part Two of this new series.


And, since Judas the Galilean is connected by Gamaliel with “the census”, which must be that of Luke 2:1-2: “In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria) …”, then the revolt against the Seleucid Greeks by Judas the Maccabean must have occurred right at the time of the birth of Jesus Christ.



As noted earlier in this series, some translations of Luke 2 have a census “of the entire Roman world”, even though the word “Roman” was not originally included here by Luke.



This new revision of our by now composite (but historically real) “Judas” means a massive reduction of some 170 years in terms of conventional BC-AD history.


This now necessitates also that the main king in Judah at the time of Judas Maccabeus, namely Antiochus IV ‘Epiphanes’, must ‘collapse into’ the main king there at the time of Judas the Galilean, namely Herod ‘the Great’.


Do we find a census at the time of Antiochus IV ‘Epiphanes?


Do we find, at that time, a ‘slaughter of innocents’?


We shall definitely find that Antiochus IV ‘Epiphanes’ was a slaughterer of babies, along with men, women, children and the elderly.


And what about Luke’s “Caesar Augustus” (Καίσαρος Αὐγούστου)?



Part Three: The “King”

(i) A slaughterer of innocent babies


“Mothers who had allowed their babies to be circumcised were put to death in accordance with the king's decree. Their babies were hung around their necks, and their families and those who had circumcised them were put to death”.


I Maccabees 1:60-61



Basically, in this series, I am in the process of merging the early era of the Jewish revolutionary, Judas Maccabeus (c. 170 BC, conventional dating), with that of the partisan, Judas the Galilean (c. 4 BC, conventional dating) and the era of the birth of Jesus Christ.


There are some remarkable parallels arising here.

The father of Judas Maccabee was one, Mattathias (I Maccabees 2:1, 4) - the name “Mattathias” perhaps being a Hellenised version of Matthias:

Now we encounter the name, Matthias, in the case of Judas the Galilean, whose mentor bore this very name. And I would agree with this comment that connects well with the Maccabees: “It is quite probable that Matthias was the father and Judas the son. However, it also implies that there were other brothers involved”:


Whilst the Maccabean account does not specifically refer to a census, we do have that same Lucan situation of an emperor issuing a binding decree to his subjects (I Maccabees 1:41-43): “Antiochus now issued a decree that all nations in his empire should abandon their own customs and become one people. All the Gentiles and even many of the Israelites submitted to this decree. They adopted the official pagan religion, offered sacrifices to idols, and no longer observed the Sabbath”.

The two may be connected.

And, as we noted earlier in this series, just as Joseph and Mary had departed for Joseph’s ancestral town of Bethlehem, in accordance with the census decree, so did Mattathias at this same time (according to my revision) take his family to their ancestral town of Modein.

According to the legends associated with Matthias and “Judas the Galilean” these partisans firmly opposed the census. But it may have been, instead - taking our cue from the Maccabeans - the decree to “abandon their own customs and become one people” that they so vehemently opposed.

Judas the Galilean went to Sepphoris in Galilee, which I have surmised may be the proper location for the disputed “Modein”.


Slaughter of babies


Reminiscent of our own age, the lives even of babies were not safe.

Mattathias the father of the Maccabees, lamenting (I Maccabees 2:6): ‘Why was I born to see these terrible things’, will include amongst the ghastly sins and crimes of the oppressors (v. 9): ‘Our children have been killed in the streets …’.


At the beginning of the uprising, the faithful Jews were attacked on the Sabbath. Again, not even the children were spared (v. 38): “So the enemy attacked them on the Sabbath and killed the men, their wives, their children, and their livestock. A thousand people died”.


After the death of Mattathias, Judas, fighting against “Seron, general of the Syrian forces”, will remind his followers that their “children”, too, were in danger (I Maccabees 3:20): “Our enemies are coming against us with great violence, intending to plunder our possessions and kill our wives and children”.  


Perhaps the most striking passage of all in our revised context is 2 Maccabees 8:4: “They also asked the Lord to show his hatred of evil by taking revenge on those who were murdering his people, mercilessly slaughtering innocent children, and saying evil things against the Lord”.

For, we speak today of the very same “slaughter of the innocents” in relation to Mathew 2:16: “When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi”.


Part Three: The “King”

(ii) Antiochus IV ‘Epiphanes’ merges into Herod




“About this time Antiochus made his second invasion of Egypt. And it happened that over all the city, for almost forty days, there appeared golden-clad horsemen charging through the air, in companies fully armed with lances and drawn swords, troops of horsemen drawn up, attacks and counterattacks made on this side and on that, brandishing of shields, massing of spears, hurling of missiles, the flash of golden trappings, and armor of all sorts. Therefore all men prayed that the apparition might prove to have been a good omen”.


2 Maccabees 5:1-5

“And suddenly there appeared with the angel a great multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests!’”


Luke 2:13-14




The era of Antiochus IV ‘Epiphanes’, the era of Herod ‘the Great’, saw - as we have found - the issuing of a kingdom-wide decree demanding conformity by the ruler’s subjects.

People at the time moved back to their ancestral homes.


Babies were being slaughtered in the streets in those days.


Angelic manifestations were also occurring. For instance, we read at:



In the Book of the Maccabees I and II, there are few, if any, references to Angels. For the most part, they are historical documents concentrating on the momentous events that befell Israel and the Jews in the years 167-160 BC. What follows is excerpts from the I and II Maccabees that actually mention Angels or other related supernatural phenomena. As the Bible states:


Angels of the LORD protect the Temple treasury from the Greeks

Heliodorus, because of the king's commands which he had, said that this money must in any case be confiscated for the king's treasury. So he set a day and went in to direct the inspection of these funds. There was great anxiety and distress throughout the whole city...While they were calling upon the Almighty Lord that he would keep what had been entrusted safe and secure for those who had entrusted it, Heliodorus went on with what had been decided. So when he arrived at the treasury with his bodyguard, then and there the Sovereign ruler of spirits and of all Divine authority caused so great a manifestation that all who had been so bold as to accompany him were astounded by the power of God and became filled with terror and fright. For then there materialized unto them a magnificently thoroughbred horse, with a rider of frightening appearance, which rushed furiously at Heliodorus and struck at him with its front hoofs. Its rider was seen to have armor and weapons of gold. Two young men also mysteriously appeared in front of him, remarkably strong, gloriously beautiful and splendidly dressed, who stood on each side of him and scourged him continuously, inflicting many blows on him.


When Helidorus suddenly fell to the ground and deep darkness came over him, his men took him up and put him on a stretcher and carried him away, this man who had just entered the aforesaid treasury with a great retinue and all his bodyguard but was now unable to help himself; and they recognized clearly the sovereign power of God. While he lay helpless, speechless because of the divine apparition, deprived of any hope of recovery, they praised the LORD who had acted marvelously for his own place. And the temple, which a little while before was full of fear and disturbance, was filled with joy and gladness, now that the Almighty LORD had appeared. Quickly some of Heliodorus' friends asked Onias to call upon the Most High to grant life to the one who was lying quite at his last breath.


At the same time the high priest, fearing that the king might get the idea that some foul play had been perpetrated by the Jews in regard to Heliodorus, decided to offer sacrifice for the man's recovery. While the high priest was making the offering of atonement, the same young men appeared again to Heliodorus dressed in the same clothing, and they stood and said, 'Be very grateful to Onias the high priest, since for his sake the Lord has granted you your life. Also make sure that you, who has just been scourged by Heaven, report to all men the majestic power of God.' Having said this they vanished.



Then Heliodorus offered sacrifice to the Lord and made very great vows to the Savior of his life, and having bidden Onias farewell, he marched off with his forces to the king. After this he bore testimony to all men about the deeds of the supreme God, which he had seen with his own eyes. When the king asked Heliodorus what sort of person would be suitable to send on another mission to Jerusalem he replied, 'If you have any enemy or plotter against your government, send him there, for you will get him back thoroughly scourged, if he escapes at all, for there certainly is about the place some power of God. For he who has his dwelling in heaven watches over that place himself and brings it aid, and he strikes and destroys those who come to do it injury.' This was the outcome of the Divine incident involving Heliodorus and the protection of the treasury.


- II Maccabees 3:13-40

Numerous Angels of the LORD suddenly appear throughout Jerusalem

About this time Antiochus made his second invasion of Egypt. And it happened that over all the city, for almost forty days, there appeared golden-clad horsemen charging through the air, in companies fully armed with lances and drawn swords, troops of horsemen drawn up, attacks and counterattacks made on this side and on that, brandishing of shields, massing of spears, hurling of missiles, the flash of golden trappings, and armor of all sorts. Therefore all men prayed that the apparition might prove to have been a good omen.


- II Maccabees 5:1-5


Five Angels of the LORD join Judas Maccabaeus in Battle against the Pagan Greeks

Just as dawn was breaking, the two armies joined battle, one having as a promise of success and victory not only their own valor and ability, but their reliance upon the LORD, while the other made rage and hate their leader in the fight. When the battle became fierce, there appeared unto the enemy from Heaven five resplendent men on horses with golden bridles, and they were leading the Jews. Surrounding Maccabeus and protecting him with their own armor and weapons, they kept him from being wounded. And they showered arrows and thunderbolts upon the enemy, so that after becoming confused and blinded, they were thrown into disorder and cut to pieces. Twenty thousand five hundred were slaughtered, besides six hundred horsemen.


- II Maccabees 10:28-31


An Angel of the LORD arrives to support the Jews against the Greeks

When Maccabeus and his men got word that Lysias was besieging the strongholds, they and all the people, with lamentations and tears, prayed for the LORD to send a good angel to save Israel. Maccabeus himself was the first to take up arms and he urged the others to risk their lives with him to aid their brothers. Then they eagerly rushed off together. Even there, while they were still near Jerusalem, a horseman appeared at their head, clothed in white and brandishing weapons of gold. Thus encouraged, they all praised the merciful God together as one and were strengthened in heart, ready to assail not only men but the even the wildest of beasts or walls of iron. They advanced in battle order, along with their Heavenly ally, for the LORD had indeed bestowed mercy upon them. They hurled themselves like lions against the enemy, and slew eleven thousand of them and sixteen hundred horsemen, and forced all the rest to flee.


- II Maccabees 11:6-11


Matthew 2:12-13, 19:


“And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, [the Magi] returned to their country by another route.

When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. ‘Get up’, he said, ‘take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him’.”


After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead’.”



Again, it was a time when the sacred writer would break off into a lament.


Compare the “great mourning” in I Maccabees 1:25-28:


“There was great mourning everywhere in the land of Israel.

Rulers and leaders groaned in sorrow.

Young men and young women grew weak.

The beauty of our women faded.

Every bridegroom sang a funeral song,

and every bride sat mourning in her room.

All our people were clothed with shame,

and our land trembled for them”.


and in Matthew 2:17-18:


“Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:

‘A voice is heard in Ramah,

weeping and great mourning,

Rachel weeping for her children

and refusing to be comforted,

because they are no more’.”


Compare also the “trembled” in I Maccabees 1:28: All our people were clothed with shame, and our land trembled for them”[,] with Matthew 2:3: “When Herod the king heard it, he trembled, and all Jerusalem with him”.


As for the outstanding “King” at the time, I have already connected:


Antiochus 'Epiphanes' and Herod 'the Great'



Antiochus 'Epiphanes' and Herod 'the Great'. Part Two: ‘The King’ of Daniel 11





King Herod 'the Great', Sulla, and Antiochus IV 'Epiphanes'



Not surprisingly, at least in my context, there is little archaeological evidence of building activity from the time of the Seleucids, although the Citadel (or Akra) has recently been found:


Newly-discovered Seleucid Fort ('Acra') a challenge to identity of 'Temple Mount'




Well the most impressive building works of Herod ‘the Great’ in the land have not been recognised for what (I think) they really are, Seleucid Greek.

Thus we encounter this typical conclusion: “Yet archaeologists have found few artifacts or buildings from this important [Macedonian-Greek] era that shaped Jewish culture”:


…. Alexander the Great conquered Judea in the 4th century B.C., and his successors quarreled over the spoils. Jerusalem, Judea’s capital, sided with Seleucid King Antiochus III to expel an Egyptian garrison, and a grateful Antiochus granted the Jews religious autonomy. For a century and a half, Greek culture and language flourished here. Yet archaeologists have found few artifacts or buildings from this important era that shaped Jewish culture.

Conflicts between traditional Jews and those influenced by Hellenism led to tensions, and Jewish rebels took up arms in 167 B.C. [sic] The revolt was put down, and Antiochus IV Epiphanes sacked the city, banned traditional Jewish rites, and set up Greek gods in the temple.

According to the Jewish author of 1 Maccabees, a book written shortly after the revolt, the Seleucids built a massive fort in “the city of David with a great and strong wall, and with strong towers.” Called the Acra—from the Greek for a high, fortified place—it was a thorn in the side of Jews who resented Greek dominance. ….



Part Three: The “King”

(iii) Antiochus/Herod merges into Hadrian



“One of the mysteries surrounding the revolt involves the founding of the city Aelia Capitolina, the name the Romans gave to Jerusalem. Did the Romans establish Aelia Capitolina before the Bar-Kokhba Revolt, thereby inciting the Jews to revolt? Or did they establish it after the revolt and exclude the Jews from the city as punishment?”


Hanan Eshel




According to my recent series of articles:






the legendary, and poorly-known, Simon Bar-Kochba, was not a C2nd AD Jewish zealot at all, but was, instead, the celebrated Maccabean High Priest, Simon “Thassi”, the Hasmonaean, conventionally dated (but no longer by me) to the C2nd BC.

The Temple of Jerusalem was still standing, as clearly depicted on the coins of that period.


Hence there was no Second Jewish Revolt in the C2nd AD – the place had been thoroughly ‘cleaned out’ by the Romans during the Jewish Revolt that had terminated in 70AD.

Hadrian, who was not actually a Roman emperor, but was the Roman-loving, Hellenistic Greek, Antiochus IV ‘Epiphanes:




Antiochus 'Epiphanes' and Emperor Hadrian. Part Two: "Hadrian … a second Antiochus"



did not build a new Jerusalem, the Aelia Capitolina, at least not in the C2nd AD.

Hadrian’s building works in Jerusalem can hardly be distinguished from the buildings there of Herod ‘the Great’, who was anyway, I believe, Hadrian’s other alter ego.

See my article:


Herod and Hadrian



in which one will read: “Differentiating the works of the two sovereigns is neither easy nor, in the context of current politics, especially sought after. In some quarters, Herod – the half Jew – is viewed in a poor light, but then Hadrian, the nemesis of the Jews, is castigated as a vicious tyrant …”.


My above article about the “meagre sources”, the extremely limited knowledge, surrounding the Bar Kochba revolt is borne out in the following inconclusive piece by Hanan Eshel:

(Biblical Archaeology Review 23:6, November/December 1997)


Roman Jerusalem

Aelia Capitolina: Jerusalem No More


Unlike the First Jewish Revolt against Rome (66–70 C.E.), which was chronicled in detail by the first-century historian Josephus, the Second Jewish Revolt, the so-called Bar-Kokhba Revolt (132–135 C.E.), is known only from scraps of ancient literature.1 Archaeology alone can fill in the gaps. And it has been doing so in an amazing way in recent decades.a


One of the mysteries surrounding the revolt involves the founding of the city Aelia Capitolina, the name the Romans gave to Jerusalem. Did the Romans establish Aelia Capitolina before the Bar-Kokhba Revolt, thereby inciting the Jews to revolt? Or did they establish it after the revolt and exclude the Jews from the city as punishment? Scholars, as might be expected, have taken two views. Recent numismatic evidence—coins from the Judean desert—may provide the answer.


The first view, that the founding of Aelia Capitolina preceded the revolt, is supported by the Roman historian Dio Cassius. In 130 C.E. Emperor Hadrian (117–138 C.E.) made a tour of his eastern lands, traveling through Judea, Arabia and Egypt before returning to Rome. According to Dio, Hadrian founded Aelia Capitolina during this journey.2 ….


Concluding Note


Having now sought to tie up (i) leading revolutionaries of the time of Antiochus IV ‘Epiphanes’, namely Mattathias, Judas and Simon Maccabee, with leading revolutionaries of the time of Herod ‘the Great’, namely Matthias and Judas - {and also at the time of the emperor Hadrian, Simon Bar Kochba} - and (ii) dreaded, persecuting kings, Antiochus with Herod (and Hadrian), the burning question now becomes whether we can include in this ‘persecuting kings’ mix (ii) Luke 2:1’s “Caesar Augustus”.


Hadrian was certainly known as “Caesar Augustus”:, also spelled Adrian, Latin in full Caesar Traianus Hadrianus Augustus …”.


Part Three: The “King”

(iv) Was the “King” also “Caesar Augustus”?



“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree

from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed”.


Luke 2:1




If, as according to this present series, the beginning of the Maccabean revolution took place at the time of the compulsory “census”, that is, at the time of “Judas the Galilean” (Acts 5:37) - whom I am indentifying with Judas the Maccabean - then the Roman world had not yet arrived at the stage of Empire, but was a somewhat burgeoning Republic.


This would then mean that the “Caesar Augustus” to whom Luke refers at the time of the royal “decree”, the time of the “census”, now needs to be reconsidered as well.

{I have previously observed that the word “Roman” is entirely absent from Luke’s original Greek}.


By now the persecuting “King” at the time of the Maccabees, at the time of “Judas the Galilean” - the “census” - has been found to have been a persecuting monster, already previewed in Daniel 11, who will slaughter even innocent babies in the course of his quest for absolute power. He is, all at once, Antiochus IV, his “mirror image”, Hadrian, and Herod ‘the Great’.   


Were the “King” now also to embrace the character of Augustus (= Sebastos in Greek) Caesar, then Roman imperial history, too, needs to be re-cast (over and beyond my fusing, so far, of the era of Hadrian with Seleucid times).

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