Alexander, the Great of Macedonia, conquered most of the known world in 332 B.C. When the young king finally died he didn’t leave any heirs to the throne. His only child and his queen, Roxanne, were slain by one of his generals. King Alexander’s generals then divided up his Empire into four sections that each of them could rule. Ptolemy Lagi and a lower ranking general named Seleucus gained control over Judah. At first Ptolemy ruled his allocated lands with Seleucus serving him but Seleucus wanted land of his own. Eventually, Seleucus and Ptolemy went to war with each other leading to the formation of two empires. Ptolemy finally gained complete control over the Judeans by 320 B.C., which is where this event occurs on the Biblical Timeline with World History.
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Once Ptolemy had the power he didn’t bother the Jewish people as long as they paid him tribute. There were at least five ruling Ptolemaic rulers of Judah. Ptolemy Soter transported Jewish people to Egypt and his Greek homeland. He wanted to teach them how to speak his native tongue. This wasn’t a problem for the Jewish people who were already used to practice of being forced into other lands and some of them welcomed the ability to travel to other regions.
Ptolemy put a Jewish priest who was loyal to him in charge of Judah. Jewish leaders who governed in the time of Ptolemy had to keep order and make sure the people pay their taxes on time. As long as they fulfilled these requirements Ptolemy lets them do as they pleased. Greek culture had become so dominant in the ancient world around 300 B.C. that almost every person knew some form of the Greek language.
The Greek language in ancient times was a universal language in the same way that English is spoken toady. Because of its influence many Jewish leaders began to learn how to speak it. And then they transformed their Hebrew texts into the Greek language so that the Jews who lived in other lands could have the Law of Moses.
The Septuagint was created, and this is the Greek version of the Tanakh. The Old Testament was also translated into Greek at a later time The New Testament writers of the Christian Scriptures also used Greek to write down their texts around 100 A.D. The Septuagint was written during the era of the Ptolemaic rulers. Even though most Ptolemaic rulers didn’t care for the Jewish people, unfortunately, there were some that did but in the wrong kind of way. Ptolemy IV Philopater (221 – 203 B.C.) and Ptolemy V Epiphanes (203 -180 B.C.) both hated the Jews. They persecuted the Jews for about 40 years during their reigns, and they desecrated their temple. The Jewish people were extremely happy when Ptolemy IV Philpater died.
The Ptolemy’s and the Seleucuns fought against each other over territory, and the Jewish people were caught up in this struggle. They wanted the ongoing conflict to end because many Jewish people were being caught in the crossfire. The Jewish people were finally rid of the Ptolemy’s after the Seleucuns took over, but they didn’t fare much better under their rule.