NT 520: NEW TESTAMENT INTRODUCTION
Köstenberger, Kellum, and Quarles: The Cradle, The Cross, and The Crown
Luther Rice Seminary
In Partial Fulfillment of
the Requirements for the Degree
Masters of Divinity
Justin Z. DuBose
5218 Happy Hollow Court
Lula, GA 30554
I.D.# GC6831 / Phone: (678) 707-1491
March 05, 2011
Professor: Dr. Arnett
Hours Completed: 0 -- Hours Remaining: 90
THE HASMONEAN DYNASTY: ITS RISE AND DEMISE
Presented to Dr. Brad Arnett
Luther Rice Seminary
In Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for the Course
NT 520: NEW TESTAMENT INTRODUCTION
Justin Z. DuBose
II. RISE OF THE HASMONEAN DYNASTY
A. Founding principles
B. Reasons for success
III. DEMISE OF THE HASMONEAN DYNASTY
IV. SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY
The Hasmonean Dynasty was a time in Jewish history which was marked by independence from foreign rule. The founder of the dynasty, Mattathias Maccabee, led a revolt in 167 BC against the Seleucids and their program of forced Hellenization. The result was success, so much so that Mattathias’ lineage formed a dynasty of leaders that would lead Israel into political independence. However, the Hasmoneans would be a short-lived dynasty who would succumb to the power of Rome.
This paper will examine the reasons for both the success and demise of the Hasmonean Dynasty. Additionally, this paper will demonstrate that the cause for demise was a disregard of the foundational principles of their success.
RISE OF THE HASMONEAN DYNASTY
The Hasmonean Dynasty was a lineage of rulers descended from Mattathias Maccabaeus, the leader of the Maccabean Revolt in 167 BC. Under the brutal reign of Antiochus IV, the Jews were persecuted, their sacred texts outlawed, and their Temple in Jerusalem dedicated to Zeus and pigs sacrificed on its altar. It was this desecration of the Jewish Temple and disdain for the Jewish religion that lead Mattathias to commence a revolt to restore proper worship of Yahweh in Israel.
The rallying cry of the Jews participating in the Maccabean Revolt was the cry of Mattathias upon his slaying of the king’s envoy in Modein, “Whosoever is zealous of the law, and maintaineth the covenant, let him follow me!” 1 This return to foundational Jewish principles was the reason for Maccabean success. The success of the Maccabee family, from whose lineage the Hasmonean Dynasty stems, can be boiled down to three foundational principles. These principles are adherence to the Torah, resistance to
1 First Book of Maccabees 2.27
forced Hellenization, and reverence for the Jewish religious heritage.
Reasons for Success
Mattathias and his son Judas exhibited these foundational principles in three distinct ways. Firstly, Antiochus IV “prohibited possession of the Torah” 2 which provoked Mattathias’ cry to maintain the covenant; to adhere to the Torah. Secondly, Antiochus IV declared that Zeus, the Greek god, rather than Yahweh, the Hebrew God, be worshipped in the temple. To accomplish this purpose, he prohibited offerings to Yahweh, “erected a statue of Zeus in the temple” in Jerusalem, and demanded that pigs be sacrificed on the altar. 3 It was when Mattathias was asked to comply with this standard that the revolt began. Thirdly, the entire program of Antiochus IV was aimed at wiping the Jewish heritage from the face of the Earth. His “attempt to ban Judaism” was the primary objective – the
2 Andreas J. Köstenberger, L. Scott Kellum, and Charles L. Quarles. The Cradle, The Cross, and The Crown: An Introduction to the New Testament (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group), 69.
3 Ibid., 69
motive for which all of the above means were instituted. 4 The combination of these measures, comprising the agenda of Antiochus IV in its entirety, was the root cause of rebellion by the Maccabee family.
Mattathias understood the importance of maintaining covenant with the Lord, and it is this which prompted his actions in Modein. In the book of Deuteronomy, a book of Moses included in the Torah, the Lord lays out for Israel the blessings of keeping His covenant and cautions against the dangers of ignoring this covenant. “Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments” (Deut 7.9). 5 What comprises this covenant of which the Lord speaks? Obedience to God’s Word is the human obligation of the covenant. What then is the promise of the Lord to those who keep this covenant with Him? “He will love you and bless you and multiply you” (Deut 7.13). Beyond that is a
4 Köstenberger, Kellum, and Quarles, 69.
5 Unless otherwise stated, the New King James Version will be used consistently throughout this paper.
verse pertaining specifically to the plight of Jews during the Seleucid reign of Antiochus IV in which the Lord says something very specific. “You shall destroy all the peoples whom the LORD your God delivers over to you…nor shall you serve their gods, for that will be a snare to you” (Deut 7.16). The rallying cry of Mattathias was to maintain this covenant. When his descendants honored this covenant, they were blessed, because the Lord is faithful. When they neglected it - when it began to be compromised and eventually disregarded altogether - their demise and destruction was imminent. As we will see in the following pages, when the Maccabees (Hasmoneans) kept their covenant with Him, they received the blessings outlined in Deuteronomy. Adversely, when they failed to keep this covenant, they received the destruction outlined in Deuteronomy.
DEMISE OF THE HASMONEAN DYNASTY
Acting in direct opposition to the founding principles
Only one of Matththias’ sons, Judas Maccabaeus, would
maintain these values in totality. From Judas, there would
be a steady, gradual decline of adherence to these foundational principles. Holding to these principles, Judas Maccabeus rededicated the temple in 164 BC, a celebration now known as Hannukah. This milestone was a primary example of the Lord maintaining His covenant with His people. He instructed them not to worship other gods, and when they acted in obedience, the Lord restored their temple. The first compromise came in the third ruler, Jonathan, a son of Mattathias and brother of Judas. Rather than following and trusting the Lord, Jonathan “worked the levels of political gamesmanship” and accepted the office of high priest, which was “in violation of the commands of Scripture”. 6 This action was the first example of their failure to adhere to the Torah. Approximately one decade after accepting this position, Jonathan was
executed by Trypho in 143 BC. 7 Following Jonathan, the fourth Maccabean leader was Simon, the youngest brother. Under Simon, Israel attained national autonomy in 142 BC, a
6 Köstenberger, Kellum, and Quarles, 70
7 First Book of Maccabees 13.23
monumental achievement. 8 However, like his older brother Jonathan, Simon would continue to ignore the foundational principles of the family’s success, principles rooted in Scripture. In addition to the high priesthood, obtained contrary to Scripture, Simon garnered “military, religious, and executive privileges”, also a violation of Scriptural teaching. 9 Simon and two of his sons were murdered by his son-in-law, Ptolemy, and Hyrcanus, the only surviving son in the Maccabean line, defeated Ptolemy to retain leadership. 10 The commencement of the reign of John Hyrcanus in 135 BC marked the official beginning of the Hasmonean Dynasty.
The reign of John Hyrcanus would be marked by a complete disregard for the foundational principle of
opposition to forced Hellenization. Look no further than
his name for evidence. All of his hereditary predecessors had Hebrew names, whereas Hyrcanus is a Greek name. Beyond
8 Köstenberger, Kellum, and Quarles, 71
9 Ibid., 71
10 Ibid., 71
that, John Hyrcanus also practiced a policy of forcible conversion. This means that whomever John Hyrcanus conquered, he forced the inhabitants to be circumcised and adhere to the tenets of Judaism. In fact, Herod the Great, an Idumean who would later infamously and brutally rule Israel, was a victim of “the policy of forcible conversion of Hyrcanus I”. 11 Hyrcanus also demeaned the Jewish religious heritage by raiding the tomb of King David for “three thousand talents of silver during the siege of Jerusalem in 135/134 B.C.” 12 Hyrcanus’ son, Aristobulus I, would take perhaps the greatest step in opposition to Scriptural principles. He would crown himself “King” of the Jews, the “first king since 586 BC”, in direct violation of the Davidic covenant found in 2 Samuel
7:12-16. 13 Ironically, he would die of an “unknown
11 Bryan, David J. "The Herodians: A Case of Disputed Identity". Tyndale Bulletin 53 (2002): 2.
12 Trull, Gregory V. "Peter's Interpretation of Psalm 16:8-11 in Acts 2:25-32". Bibliotheca Sacra 161 (2004): 644.
13 Pierce, Ronald W. “Covenant Conditionality and A Future for Israel”. Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 37 (1994): 1.
disease” in his first year of rule. 14 Alexander Janneus, Aristobulus’ brother, married his brothers’ widow, Salome Alexander, another violation of Scripture. Alexander also completely ignored the duties of the High Priest and was a brutal ruler. 15 Upon his death, his wife ruled for nine years, until 67 BC, and then the dynasty unraveled.
Reasons for Demise
The Hasmonean Dynasty fell apart when the leaders exercised a policy of disregard for Scripture. The reason for their meteoric rise was to hold unwaveringly to Scriptural principles. The reason for their demise was their failure to hold to those Scriptural principles. When Mattathias was offered “prestige” along with “gold and silver” for compromise, he refused. 16 However, later leaders of the Hasmonean dynasty “turned out to be corrupt,
14 Köstenberger, Kellum, and Quarles, 71
15 Ibid., 72
16 Ibid., 70
easily persuaded by the lure of power and wealth.” 17 Some scholars have even classified the Hasmonean Dynasty as “occupation” of the Jewish state. 18 How tragic! A time of political independence and self-rule is now considered “occupation”, no different from Roman occupation. It was this departure from values and the Sciptural covenant laid out in Deuteronomy that resulted in the demise of the Hasmonean Dynasty.
17 Easley, Kendell H. The Illustrated Guide to Biblical History (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers), 152.
18 Wood, Bryant G. "Three Coins From a Mountain". Bible and Spade 11 (1998): 4.
The rise of the Hasmonean Dynasty was a result of their knowledge of Scripture, specifically their covenantal relationship with Yahweh. Their failure to compromise, thus their honoring of the covenant, brought to them God’s favor, love, and blessing on their mission. It was when they began to compromise, to the point of blasphemy, which brought their demise. The other part of the Lord’s covenant is laid out for His people who do not keep their covenant with Him. “He repays those who hate Him to their face, to destroy them. He will not be slack with him who hates Him” (Deut 7.10). Thus the Hasmonean Dynasty experienced both ends of their covenant with the Lord. Their keeping of the covenant lead to their rise in power and their disregard for the covenant lead to their demise.
Bryan, David J. "The Herodians: A Case of Disputed Identity". Tyndale Bulletin 53 (2002): 2.
Easley, Kendell H. The Illustrated Guide to Biblical History (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers), 152.
First Book of Maccabees
Köstenberger, Andreas J., Kellum, Scott L., and Quarles, Charles L. The Cradle, The Cross, and The Crown: An Introduction to the New Testament (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group), 69.
Pierce, Ronald W. “Covenant Conditionality and A Future for Israel”. Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 37 (1994): 1.
The Holy Bible. New King James Version.
Trull, Gregory V. "Peter's Interpretation of Psalm 16:8-11 in Acts 2:25-32". Bibliotheca Sacra 161 (2004): 644.
Wood, Bryant G. "Three Coins From a Mountain". Bible and Spade 11 (1998): 4.
NG, LR, & NCU
My collection of personal papers written over the years