Gaza and the Chashmonaim

Seleucid ArrowheadsThe history that goes beyond the days of Chanukah

Everyone knows the story of Chanukah, but for some reason the years of the Chashmonean Empire that followed from 152 BCE to the Roman conquest of Eretz Yisrael in 63 BCE are barely understood. In this period, the Jewish people came into conflict for the second time with the occupants of what is now the Gaza Strip and the southern coastal plain of Israel. In antiquity, this area ran farther north than today’s Gaza, continuing northward up through Ashkelon and Ashdod.

The first contact had been shortly after bnei Yisrael entered Canaan. Groups from the Aegean region, known to historians as Sea Peoples, took control of the area known as Pleshes (Philistia). The area had previously been under Egyptian control, as shown by both written sources and archaeological excavations. The Sea Peoples, referred to in Tanach as the Plishtim (Philistines), waged constant guerilla attacks against the Israelites after they settled in the hill country of Yehudah and Shomron, despoiling their livestock and crops. The constant threat of the Plishtim led bnei Yisrael to ask for a king in order to unify the tribes and defend their territory from the constant raids.

Read the rest of this article in Ami Magazine.


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