Volume. XXXiii, No. 47
Sunday, 19 May 2019

From the Pastor’s Heart: Jerusalem (3)

We saw that Josephus describes Jerusalem by distinguishing five distinct regions, and I wrote about three of them last week.  They are (1) The Upper City or Upper Market Place (The hill, Zion, or the City of David), (2) AAs I was closing the previous article, I felt that I should inform you of the background history of Jerusalem a bit.  Especially, I mentioned the name Antiochus Epiphanes without any explanation, though he needs our attention in order for us to understand the Jerusalem history better.  Thus, today I am going to write this article based on characters.


Alexander the Great

There are lots of stories related to this great king and the Jews.  There are traditions and legends about his relationship with the Jews.  I thought the Jewish Encyclopedia itself may enlighten us about the Jewish view of him.  The following is a direct quote from the Jewish Encyclopedia under the heading of Alexander the Great:


The celebrated conqueror of the East, 356-323 B.C.  By introducing Hellenic culture into Syria and Egypt, he had probably more influence on the development of Judaism than any one individual not a Jew by race.  Yet, curiously enough, there are no personal details which connect him with Jewish history, save that after the siege of Tyre, 332 B.C., he marched through Palestine unopposed, except in the case of Gaza, which was razed to the ground.  He is mentioned by name only in the Apocryphal I Macc. (i. 1-8, vi. 2).  It is supposed that the Book of Daniel alludes to Alexander when it refers to a mighty king that "shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion," whose kingdom shall be destroyed after his death (Dan. xi. 3).  The vision of the "fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly," devouring and breaking all in pieces (ibid. vii. 7), may also be an allusion to Alexander.


The only historical event connecting Alexander the Great with the Jews is his visit to Jerusalem, which is recorded by Josephus in a somewhat fantastic manner. According to "Ant." xi. 8, §§ 4-6, Alexander went to Jerusalem after having taken Gaza.  Jaddua, the high priest, had a warning from God received in a dream, in which he saw himself vested in a purple robe, with his miter—that had the golden plate on which the name of God was engraved—on his head.  Accordingly he went to meet Alexander at Sapha ("View" [of the Temple]).  Followed by the priests, all clothed in fine linen, and by a multitude of citizens, Jaddua awaited the coming of the king.  When Alexander saw the high priest, he reverenced God (Lev. R. xiii., end), and saluted Jaddua; while the Jews with one voice greeted Alexander.  When Parmenio, the general, gave expression to the army's surprise at Alexander's extraordinary act—that one who ought to be adored by all as king should adore the high priest of the Jews—Alexander replied: "I did not adore him, but the God who hath honored him with this high-priesthood; for I saw this very person in a dream, in this very habit, when I was at Dios in Macedonia, who, when I was considering with myself how I might obtain dominion of Asia, exhorted me to make no delay, but boldly to pass over the sea, promising that he would conduct my army, and would give me the dominion over the Persians." Alexander then gave the high priest his right hand, and went into the Temple and "offered sacrifice to God according to the high priest's direction," treating the whole priesthood magnificently. "And when the Book of Daniel was shown him [see Dan. vii. 6, viii. 5-8, 20-22, xi. 3-4], wherein Daniel declared that one of the Greeks [] should destroy the empire of the Persians, he supposed that he was the person intended, and rejoiced thereat.  The following day Alexander asked the people what favors he should grant them; and, at the high priest's request, he accorded them the right to live in full enjoyment of the laws of their forefathers. He, furthermore, exempted them from the payment of tribute in the seventh year of release.  To the Jews of Babylonia and Media also he granted like privileges; and to the Jews who were willing to enlist in his army he promised the right to live in accordance with their ancestral laws.  Afterward the Samaritans, having learned of the favors granted the Jews by Alexander, asked for similar privileges; but Alexander declined to accede to their request. The historical character of this account is, however, doubted by many scholars (see Pauly-Wissowa, "Realencyklopädie," i. col. 1422).  Although, according to Josephus ("Contra Ap." ii. 4, quoting Hecatæus), Alexander permitted the Jews to hold the country of Samaria free from tribute as a reward for their fidelity to him, it was he who Hellenized its capital (Schürer, "Gesch." ii. 108). The Sibylline Books (iii. 383) speak of Alexander—who claimed to be the son of Zeus Amon—as "of the progeny of the Kronides, though spurious."


As we can see, there are interesting stories and legends concerning Alexander in Israel.  However, there are a couple of points we may need to consider.  Even the Jewish Encyclopedia explains about him by relating him to some of the prophetic passages in the book of Daniel.  Likewise, many Bible commentaries follow this line of interpretation of the same passages.  It means that Bible prophecies are not conjectures but the very word of God we can trust.  The fact that Alexander is mentioned within the context of Biblical prophecies means that he was a prophetic figure like Cyrus (Isaiah 44:28; 45:1) and Josiah (1 Kings 13:2), whose comings were prophesied before their births.  This is precisely the reason why liberal scholars do not want to recognize the date of its writing as evangelical Christians believe and also they deny that Daniel is the author of this book.  They argue that the book of Daniel was written only after everything was completed and the author of the book wrote it as if it was a prophetic book.  They deny the supernatural work of God, and of course, divine providence and inspiration of the Bible.  For sure, Jerusalem was spared from Alexander’s military conquest.  Even though he went down even to Egypt and conquered the land and built his own city, known to us as Alexandria, he did not do the same thing in Israel.  Jerusalem was spared from destruction.  Problems to Jerusalem came upon her, in fact, only after Alexander died (323 BC).


The Ptolemaic Rule

After Alexander’s sudden death, his four generals fought against each other and divided Alexander’s empire into four parts.  The two most notable generals built their own kingdoms affecting and influencing the affairs in the land of Israel: the Ptolemy and the Seleucid.  They vied for hegemony in this land.  In 321 B.C. “Ptolemy Soter invaded Palestine, and, it is said (Ant., XII, i, 1), captured Jerusalem by a ruse, entering the city on the Sabbath as if anxious to offer sacrifice.  He carried away many of his Jewish prisoners to Egypt and settled them there.  In the struggles between the contending monarchies, although Palestine suffered, the capital itself, on account of its isolated position, remained undisturbed, under the suzerainty of Egypt.  In 217 BC, Ptolemy (IV) Philopator, after his victory over Antiochus III at Raphia, visited the temple at Jerusalem and offered sacrifices; he is reported (3 Macc 1) to have entered the ‘Holy of Holies.’  The comparative prosperity of the city during the Egyptian domination is witnessed to by Hecataeus of Abdera, who is quoted by Josephus; he even puts the population of the city at 120,000, which is probably an exaggeration” (ISBE).


I am going to continue with the Ptolemaic rule next week.



Your Pastor

More Lively Hope



  • Welcome to our pulpit: Rev Kyle Graham.
  • Special thanks to Dn Boong & Sis Mariam Atijatuporn for organising the Seniors’ Fellowship Lunch on Thursday.
  • 33rd Anniversary Thanksgiving: Please invite your family members, relatives, neighbours, friends, & work colleagues to join us.
  • Church Roster: Please send your availability for Jul – Sep quarter no later than 1 Jun to hopebpcrosterer@gmail.com
  • All worshippers are encouraged to attend Bible Study & fellowship groups.
  • Lunch Duty: This week: VFG. Next week: YAF.  



  • Healing: Pastor Ki; Rev George van Buuren; and others who are in affliction.
  • Missions: Rev & Mrs Woo Sun Kim; Rev & Mrs Ken Olson (Brazil); Rev & Mrs Eben Yoon (Kenya).
  • 33rd Anniversary Thanksgiving Service, 2 Jun. Speaker – Rev Edward Paauwe; God’s guidance for Hope BPC.
  • Those away: Pastor Okman & Sis Myung Ki (S’pore/Korea).
  • Elder Stephen Lim: God’s guidance & preparation to start Wellspring Bible Church on 2 Jun in Glen Waverley, Melbourne.
  • Journey mercies: Rev Kyle Graham & family (Pt. Lincoln); & others who are travelling.


Praise & Thanksgiving

  • Visitors & church activities in the past week.
  • Journey mercies: Rev Kyle Graham & family (Adl); & others who have travelled.







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