Book: Finding Myth and History in the Bible
Chapter: “When Dreams Come True”: Jerusalem/Hierosolyma and Jewish Nationalism in the Hellenistic and Roman Periods.
This article sketches Jerusalem’s status and development from the sixth century BCE to the Bar Kochba revolt and discusses argumentation for Jerusalem’s sovereignty in Jubilees, Eupolemus and 1 Maccabees. From the time of the Seleucid takeover Jewish authors fostered ideas of independence and dreams of ‘the twelve tribes’, and ‘the Promised land given to the fathers’. Literature of the 2nd century BCE elaborated on utopian visions of nationalism and greatness in Prophetic writings, and Jerusalem and its temple were made the most important symbols of national political independence. Jewish authors’ retelling of the past with interest in national, territorial, cultural and religious matters also implied ideas of cult centralization, which, during the expansion of Jewish borders, became disastrous for other Yahwist cult places.