A bible-reader’s historical primer of the Greco-Macedonian Empire — tracing its supposed supernatural origin and following through until the four-way division of Alexander’s empire — before a confluence into northern (Seleucid) and southern (Ptolemaic) realms, straddling Israel.
A THIRD KINGDOM
6 After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it.
The death of Sardanapallus ushered in the transfer of power from Assyria to Macedonia, in 649 BCE. From Karanus, the first to rule all the Macedonians, unto Alexander who conquered Asia, 24 kings ruled the Greco-Macedonian world over a 453-year span. After Alexander son of Phillipus, kings ruled Macedonia and Greece until the kingdom was taken over by the Roman Empire, in 149 BCE. The Macedonian kings are said to originate from Heracles (Hercules), the first and manifestly strongest of all mortals, prior to whom is a composite of myth and legend, the Gods and demigods of Greek renown.
Order of the Gods begins with “Chaos”
Everything came out of Chaos (Gr. “chasm”), the invisible air and gloomy mist filling the void between heaven and earth, the first primeval god to emerge at the creation of the universe. Only later did Chaos come to mean the random mix of primeval universal elements of the Orphic alternative to heavenly kingship. She was soon followed by Gaia (Earth), Tartaros (the Underworld), and Eros, sexual passion and bringer of life, the beginning of order in the universe. Chaos bore other substances of the air: Night (Nyx) and Darkness (Erebos), both appearing without the input of a mate, Light (Aither) and Day (Hemera), and various emotion-affecting Daimones drifting through it. The lineage of Chaos, her daughter Nyx, and grand-daughters the Moirai, were all goddesses of fate. [Alternatively, Eros is Night’s hatchling and father (or mother) of several generations of gods leading up to the current order].
The Demigods begin with Hercules, son of Zeus, to give rise to the Temenid Dynasty
From Chaos sprung the sky (Uranus) and then Kronos (time). Zeus, the Greek god of god’s, was the son of Kronos, and Hercules his son. From Hercules came Hyllus, from whom came Cleolus, and from whom came Aristomachus. From there we trace the lineage successively through Temenus, Cisus, Maron, Thestrus, Merops, Acous, and Aristomidas, collectively known as the Temenids of Argos. (In Greek mythology, Temenus was great-great-grandson of Heracles and helped lead the fifth and final attack on Mycenae in the Peloponnese, becoming King of Argos.)
Karanus, first king of Macedonian (Argaead) Dynasty that ends after Alexander III (the Great)
The reign of Aristomidas’ son, Karanus, was as first king and founder of the royal Macedonia (Argaead) Dynasty, based in southern Greece. Karanus’ wife bore him the second king of Macedonia, Koinos, whose wife Kleonike bore him the third king Tyrimmas. The fourth king of Macedonia was Perdiccas, who married Cleopatra. Perdiccas and Cleopatra have a son, Argaeus I, whose son is King Philip I of Macedon. Philip I’s has Aeropus I and his son, Alcetas I, is king of Macedonia during the time of Cyrus, King of Persia. Alcetas’ son is Amyntas Temenid I, and his son, Alexander I of Macedonia, competed in the Olympic Games in 504 or 500 BCE. Alexander the First’s son, Perdiccas the Second, married Arsino Antigone (circa 354 BCE), known as Lagus (“The Rabbit”) of Macedonia, after which we have a complete chronology, starting with Archelaus:
- 413-399 BCE Archelaus
- Orestes and Aeropus II
- 396-393 Archelaus II
- 393 Amyntas II
- 393-392 Argaeus II
- 392-370 Amyntas III (restored)
- 359-356 Amyntas IV
- 370-368 Alexander II
- Pausanius (may have been between Amyntas’ reign)
- 368-365 Ptolemy (of Alorus)
- 365-359 Perdiccas III
- 359-336 Phillipus II, of Macedon (father of Alexander the Great)
King Phillip II was assassinated aged 46, apparently poisoned by his wife, Olympia, in 336 BCE. Their son, Alexander III (later, the Great), who fought against the Persians for more than 12 years, reigned in his stead. His rule began in the second year of the 114th Olympiad (323 BCE) and died at King Nebuchadnezzar’s Palace a few months after a fight at the Zagros Mountains (present-day Iran bordering Iraq) in June of that same year.
With help of two powerful courtiers, Antipater and Parmenion, Alexander succeeded his father, inheriting the Persian war. Alexander reigned between 336 and 323 BCE, defeating Darius III Codomannus and conquering the Achaemenid Empire. Crossing the Hellespont to rout a local Persian garrison, Alexander and Parmenion turned south to take Sardis, then Ephesus, Priene, and Miletus, but met severe resistance at Halicarnassus, giving Darius precious time to build his army. In 333 they advanced to Issus to successfully attack Darius on a narrow strip of land. Travelling southward they took the naval stronghold of Tyre in a siege lasting seven months and in which he (Alexander) built a causeway from the mainland to the island. This dramatic victory, followed by one at Gaza, prompted Egypt to welcome Alexander as its liberator and king, in November 332 BCE. And the Persian Empire was now left without port. On a pilgrimage to Siwa, the oracle of Amun, whom the Greeks equated with Zeus, welcomed Alexander with the standard Pharaoh greeting, “son of God”. The salutation was received as confirmation of Alexander’s divinity. Crossing the Euphrates on-route to Babylon in the summer of 331 BCE, Alexander’s men were forced north by the Persians, arriving at a plain east of the Tigris. According to the Babylonian Astronomical Diary, at Gaugamela Darius was deserted by his own soldiers. By the autumn Alexander had reached Babylon and Susa, to fight his way through the Persian gate (Zagros Mountain pass) in January. By winter they were at Persepolis and in spring they sacked the city. Having built an army in Ecbatana, Darius went east to meet further reinforcements but with lightning speed was intercepted and killed by Alexander. Finding himself in charge of the Orient, Alexander began fusing local custom with Greek culture into what is known as Hellenism (an attempt to appease both the locals and Greeks), which dominated the eastern Mediterranean world for the next nine centuries. Alienated, the Greeks were sent back home by Alexander.
At Alexander’s Demise the Kingdom is Rent in Four
At the death of the childless king, with no successor named, an uneasy agreement was reached by four of his generals to divide the empire along more-or-less geographical lines, each general becoming a king (as Diadochi or “successors”), respectively: Lysimachus, Cassander, Antipater, and Ptolemy. But it was not long before the Diadochi were fighting each other, and within a few decades three major kingdoms had emerged —Greece (the former city-states of Classical Era Greece, the Aegean Islands, and the northern third of modern day Turkey), Egypt (ruled by the descendants of Ptolemy—Cleopatra was the last Ptolemy), and Syria-Mesopotamia which became known as the Seleucid Empire, which by virtue of its control over what was then known as Judea, would set the course of history.
Hellenism continued to be imbibed into the native cultures throughout the divided empire, and Greek became lingua franca. Control of Israel was a to-and-fro between the Seleucids (King of the North) and Ptolemies (King of the South).
Pharaohs successors – the Ptolemaic ‘Kings of the South’
The Ptolemaic dynasty (Lagides, from Ptolemy I’s father, Lagus) was a Macedonian Greek royal family and last of the ancient Egyptian dynastic rule, through 275 years (305-30 BCE) of the Hellenistic period. One of the six body-guard (somatophylakes) generals, who were also deputies, Ptolemy was appointed satrap of Egypt after Alexander’s death (323 BCE), declaring himself King Ptolemy I (later known as Soter) in 305 BC, by which time the Egyptians had accepted Ptolemaic rule as legitimate pharaoh successors, ruling until the Roman conquest of 30 BCE, with the apparent suicide of Cleopatra (VII). Abominations – the Seleucid ‘Kings of the North’
In the southwest, the Seleucids (see King of the North) fought several Syrian wars (officially Asia, the Romans called the kingdom, Syria), with the Egyptians (see King of the South) finally ceding Palestine to Antiochus III. Convinced of the superiority of Greek culture (developed since Zeus had taken control of Mount Olympus from Kronos), the Seleucids erected temples to the Olympian gods in every major city under their control, including a small city in Judea that was locally known as Jerusalem. Around 170 BCE, the population of Judea revolted against the Seleucid King Antiochus IV (Epiphanes) after he ordered that the Temple of Jerusalem be turned into a Temple of Zeus and forbade the practice of the Jewish faith. The success of the Maccabean Revolt (as it became to be known) nevertheless had the long term consequence of estranging the more liberal from the traditional Jew—and the rest of the population from both groups—with a commensurate upsurge in belief among Jews that a messiah would soon come forth to usher in a new era, in which the Jews would re-establish their old kingdom. In this context, guarding against any messianic backlash, the Seleucids maintained a strong military presence in Judea such that the army of the Roman Republic advanced into Seleucid territory, conquering the area with relative ease.
The Rise of Rome
Greece was the first kingdom of the Diadochi to fall to the Roman Empire, but it flourished under the Roman policy of conquered territories—that of permitting a continuance of the local custom. And when the (Roman) Empire was divided, the Eastern half outlived the Western. The early Christians there grew into the Greek Orthodox Church, whose missionaries carried their faith into the Land of the Rus which developed into the Russian Orthodox Church (Tsar or Czar is the Russian word for “Caesar”). Constantinople remained a commercial center and outpost of western cultural and political heritage until it fell to the Ottomans almost a thousand years later. It was within Byzantium that the works of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle were copied, by hand, and preserved and where the Justinian Code would emerge as the philosophical ancestor of much of today’s legal principles. Bibliography
- Got Questions
- Humanities 360
- Prophecy Forum
- Virtual Religion – Alexander
- Virtual Religion – Antiochus
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400 END OF THE OLD TESTAMENT 384 -Aristotle of Athens (384-322) 359 -Philip of Macedon (359-336) 358 -Artaxerxes III king of Medo Persia (358-338) 348 -Jews try to rebel against Artaxerxes III 348 -Some Jews deported to Hyrcania 338 -Arses King of Medo Persia (33&336) 338 -Philip defeats Greeks at Chaeronea 338 -Philip becomes Greek commander of war 336 -Darius III king of Medo Persia (336331) 336 -Philip assassinated; son Alexander leader 336 -ALEXANDER I “the Great” (33623) 335 -Alexander destroys rebellious Thebes 333 -Alexander wins Battle of Isis 332 Siege and destruction of Tyre 332 -Alexander invades Egypt 332 Jews come under Macedonian control 331 -Battle of Arbela 330 -Alexander burns Persepolis; M-P conquered 330 -Alexander’s campaign into Central Asia (330-327) 327 -Alexander reaches India 327 BEGINNING OF GRECIAN EMPIRE 324 -Alexander’s marriage in Susa 323 -Alexander dies in Babylon 323 GRECIAN EMPIRE DIVIDED 323 -Macedonian kings rule Greece (323-30) 323 -Ptolemys rule in Egypt (323-30) 320 -Ptolemy I attacks Jerusalem 320 -Many Jewish captives taken to Egypt 314 -Antogonus conquers Palestine 312 -Battle of Gaza again gives Ptolemy control of Jews 312 -Selucid Dynasty rules Syria (312~’s4) 301 -Battle of Ipsus 264 -First Punic War (264-240); Rome vs. Carthage 218 -Second Punic War (218-201) 218 -Hannibal crosses Alps 218 -Palestine occupied by Antiochus III 216 -Battle of Cannae near Rome 217 -Ptolemy IV retakes Palestine at Raphia 202 -Scipio invades Africa, defeats Hannibal 202 -Palestine retaken by Antiochus III 200 -Ptolemy’s general (Scopas) loses Palestine 198 -Egyptian control over Palestine broken by Syria 198 -Scopas beaten at Paneas and Sidon 198 -Palestine comes under Syrian (Seleucid) rule 190 -Simon the Maccabee is Jewish high priest 176 -THE MACCABEAN PERIOD IN JUDAEA 176 -Heliodorus tries to rob Temple for Seleucus IV 175 -Antiochus IV (Epiphanes) king of Syria (175-163) 175 -Antiochus IV puts Jason as high priest 175 -Hellenization of Jews begins in earnest 169 -Antiochus plunders Temple 168 -Battle of Pydna; Romans conquer Macedonia 168 -MACCABEAN REVOLT BEGINS 168 -Maccabean revolt (Judaea) against Syria 167 -Revolt in Jerusalem put down 167 -Temple polluted; Maccebeans revolt 166 -Judas Maccabaeus (Judaea) (166160) 165 -Death of Mattathias of Modin 165 -Gorgias and Lysine fight Maccabees 164 -Persecution Ceases; Temple rededicated 164 -Hanukkah festival begun 163 -Death of Antiochus IV (Epiphanes) 163 -Judas besieges Acra; fought by Antiochus V 162 -Peace; Temple returned to Jews 162 -Demetrius overthrows Antiochus V 161 Jews continue in revolt 161 -Judas’ victory over Nicanor 160 -Judas slain 160 -Johnathan Maccabaeus (Judaea) (160.142) 157 -Johnathan makes peace with Seleucids 152 -Johnathan appointed high priest 149 -Third Punic War; Carthage destroyed (149-146) 147 -Macedonia becomes Roman Province 146 -Rome destroys Corinth, conquers Greece 143 Johnathan executed by Antiochus VI 142 -Simon Maccabaeus (Judaea) (142-134) 142 -Demetrius II gives autonomy to the Jews 141 -Simon captures the Acra (Grecian area in Jer) 140 -Simon appointed Ethnarch 139 -Antiochus VII gives privileges to Jews (139-138) 134 -Simon assassinated 134 -Son of John Hyrcanus becomes high priest 134 -Antiochus VII takes Jer; confirms their autonomy 134 -John Hyrcanus (Judaea) (134-104) 104 -Aristobulus I (Judaea) (104-103) 103 -Alexander Jannaeus (Judaea) (103-76) 133 -Pergamum becomes Roman Province 106 -Nabataea becomes Roman Province 76 -Salome Alexandra (Judaea) (76-67) 67 -Aristobulus II (Judaea) (673) 63 -POMPEY TAKES JERUSALEM