The power of the temple: examining the role of the Jerusalem temple in the Seleukid Empire (200-167 BCE)
thesisposted on 2022-03-29, 03:04 authored by Penelope Carpentier
This paper will investigate the Jerusalem temple as a power structure in the Seleukid era prior to the Maccabean revolt (200-167 BCE), both in its own region of Judea as well as within the Seleukid empire itself. To build up a fuller picture of the city and temple during this time, it is necessary to analyse both historical and archaeological sources together, a methodology that is also necessary due to the scarcity of material. These will include not only sources from and relating to the Hellenistic era, but also from the Persian and Hasmonean periods, as continuation of administrative principles was a common trend. Further insight can also be gained by examining Hellenistic and Persian material relating to the region of Samaria, including the Samaritan temple on Mount Gerizim, which shares many commonalities with the one in Jerusalem. Within the complex and multifaceted administrative matrix of the Seleukid empire, the Jerusalem temple was an important part of local governance, serving as the point of contact between the local populace and the Seleukid authorities, and the high priest holding the key city financial administrative role. From its own perspective, the temple and high priest were pre-eminent authorities over the city’s administration and governance, possessing a level of autonomy that was not only a stabilising factor for the Judeans but also for the Seleukids, enabling them to achieve their goal of maximised revenue for their vast empire.