03.04.16 198 B.C. Syria and Jerusalem Come Firmly Under the Control of the Greek Seleucids
Antiochus III of the Syrian Seleucid dynasty captured control of the Jewish state from the Egyptian Ptolemies who had controlled it since the death of Alexander the Great. This battle was fought at Panias, a village later known as Caesarea Philippi, where Jesus asked Peter his famous question, “Who do people say that I am?” The Greek Seleucids maintained their district capital in Damascus, Syria, and from there they controlled Samaria, Judah, and Jerusalem. The Jewish people welcomed Antiochus III because he granted them the right to practice their faith according to the traditions and laws of their fathers. They were also exempted from taxes for three years.
However, after the death of Antiochus III, Antiochus IV reigned. The freedom of religion the Jews once enjoyed changed radically to deadly persecution. The change not only intensified the culture war between pious Jews and the Greeks, but also between Hellenistic Jews and the Hasidim. The Hellenists had obtained considerable influence among the priests and Levites in the temple. As will be shown, for pious Jews this was a time of hell on earth.