Love of the Maccabees

The Palestinians who lived in Joppa loved the Maccabeans and their descendants the Hasmoneans. They despised Herod. The reasons began 150 years earlier when Alexander the Great died and left the area in Greek (Seleucid) hands. At the time, the Hebrews of Judea had two conflicting political and religious factions, and these factions were just as important as the Seleucids. One was composed of rural traditionalists under the Maccabees and the second of Hellenized Hebrews from Jerusalem.

The Seleucids brought their army to Jerusalem in support of the Hellenization of the city, but they went too far, even for the Hellenized Hebrews of Jerusalem. The foolish Seleucids banned Hebrew religious practices, outlawed circumcision, and put the idol Zeus on the altar in the temple.

The Seleucids then drowned two hundred Hebrews from Joppa by pretending they were taking them sailing and then killing them. After the drowning, the Maccabees took revenge on the Greeks in Joppa with their battle cry: “Who is like You among the heavenly powers, Hashem!” The word “Hashem” was Hebrew for “the Name” as found in Leviticus—a reference to God. The Maccabees then burned Joppa and killed many Greeks.

We find our heroine Kallisto still harboring ill will towards the Greeks, and especially towards Herod for he killed off many of the Hasmoneans, descendants of the Maccabeans, and sent her as a slave to Rome. When our story Eugenios: Servant of Kings opens, it had only been several decades since the Roman general Pompey, friend of Julius Caesar, had subjected Joppa to Roman rule. And now Augustus had put Herod over them.