Is judaism the eyebeia of alexandria ? 3 maccabees 2:31A revisited

Noah Hacham*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The text of 3 Maccabees chapter 2 relates that after returning to Egypt from Jerusalem, where the Jews did not permit him to enter and desecrate the Temple, the victorious Ptolemy IV Philopator ordered that all Jews be reduced to menial status, and that they be registered and branded with the ivyleaf emblem of Dionysus. He added, however, that anyone who preferred to join the mystery cult would enjoy equal civic rights with the Alexandrians (3 Macc. 2:28-30). Most of the Jews, according to 3 Maccabees (2:32-33), did not obey the king's order. Regarding the small minority, the author elaborates as follows (3 Macc. 2:31): The general meaning of this verse is clear: very few Jews obeyed the order and were initiated into the mysteries, hoping to upgrade their (citizenship) status by benefit of their close future association with the king. Yet the exact meaning of some words, and consequently of the entire first half of the sentence, is obscure. Not surprisingly, manuscripts offer diverse versions of the verse. 2 The problem concerns the exact version and the meaning of ?πιβ?θρας and ε? σεβε?ας, as well as the identity and the number of occurrences of the π?λις (city) mentioned in this verse. According to Robert Hanhart's version, cited above, the verse relates that some of the Jews superficially loathed the ?πιβ? θραι that were connected with the ε?σ? βεια of the city. This sentence is explained in different ways. According to one opinion, the requisite translation of the word ?πιβ?θρας is "price," 3 understanding the word as a derivation of the neuter τ? ?π? βαθρον. Thus some common translations of the verse are:.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)72-79
Number of pages8
JournalClassical Philology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014


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