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orion Alexander Jannaeus
Alexander Jannaeus, I suggest, was the (or a ) "wicked priest" of Qumran
mss. Judah the Essene, a plausible candidate for the (or a) "teacher of
righteousness," was in Jerusalem c104 BCE, when the brothers Antigonus and
Aristobolus died, according to Josephus. Then Alexander's rule began, c103
BCE. According to 1QpHab 8.8-11, the wicked priest began with a reputation
for truthfulness but became proud, greedy, and betrayed the commandments.
The significance of 4Q448 is disputed. Most now agree it mentions
King Jonathan, but some (Vermes, Puech) read this as Jonathan I and others
as Alexander. It has been read both as critical of and praising Jonathan.
Even if read correctly as praising Alexander, that could have been in the
early days before he was seen to fall from truth and may have been kept
either because of the psalm(s) on the same surface or from the ambiguity of
Though bQidd 66a, other rabbinic texts, and Josephus are not
without problems, they suggest that Alexander was asked to give up the high
priesthood and refused, and that he crucified Pharisees who allied with
Demetrius III (called king of Greece, but really the Selucid ruler). No
similar case is known from the time of Demetrius I. And the "seekers of h."
are an edah with disapproved interpretations of torah, not merely
individual Hellenists seen as opportunist. They, "Ephraim," are a larger
group, and growing (as the biblical analogy suggests) and younger than
Manasseh, Sadducees, aristocratic great ones. Ephraim and Manasseh
disagreed (as Pharisees and Sadducees did). The 4QpNah writer disapproved
of both groups, even if allowing that crucifixion was
That Alexander was called a lion was partly determined by the Nahum
text. That a "sectarian" Jew could call others with a name of an unclean
animal is attested by the use of "vipers" by John the Baptist, according to
Alexander is known to have had military campaigns east of the
Jordan River, including in an area called Kohlit. Kohlit may be near the
Yarmuk River (emergency excavations are now ongoing at one Yarmuk area site
before a dam is built). If the teacher of r. fled to the "land of Damascus"
east of the Jordan, Alexander may have pursued him to his house of exile
4QpNah was apparently written late enough to write quite negatively
of Alexander's wife and successor, Alexandra Salome, and of her alliance
with Pharisees, also attested in rabbinic literature and Josephus.
Stephen Goranson email@example.com