03.04.09 323 B.C. Death of Alexander the Great
Alexander died suddenly at the age of 33 on June 13, 323 B.C. in Babylon, leaving no heirs. His massive empire extended from the Mediterranean Sea to Punjab in India. The author of the first book of Maccabees preserved the account of his death. A portion of it reads as follows:
After Alexander son of Philip, the Macedonian, who came from the land of Kittim, had defeated Darius, king of the Persians and the Medes, he succeeded him as king. (He had previously become king of Greece.) He fought many battles, conquered strongholds and put to death the kings of the earth. He advanced to the ends of the earth and plundered many nations. When the earth became quiet before him, he became exalted and his heart was lifted up. He gathered a very strong army and ruled over countries, nations, and princes and they became tributary to him. After this he fell sick and perceived that he was dying, so he brought his most honored officers, who had been brought up with him from youth, and divided his kingdom among them while he was still alive. And after Alexander reigned twelve years, he died.
1 Maccabees 1:1-7
The four generals, Antigonus I, Cyclops, Ptolemy, and Seleucus I Nicator, who inherited power, established dynasties that for a while lived in peace. Eventually they fought each other leaving the Jewish land a battle ground for twenty years. Each general hoped to establish a kingdom similar to that of Alexander. Eventually Syria, Galilee, Samaria, and Judah came under a powerful family known as the Seleucid Dynasty. The prophecy of Daniel 11 is a description of these conflicts. From this time, the land of the Jews was always considered a part of Syria, even when Rome was the dominant world power in the first century. The author of Maccabees made these comments concerning the generals:
Then his officers began to rule, each in his own place. They all put on crowns after his death, and so did their sons after them for many years and they caused many evils on the earth. From them came forth a sinful root, Antiochus Epiphanes, son of Antiochus the king; he had been a hostage in Rome. He began to reign in the one hundred and thirty-seventh year of the kingdom of the Greeks.
1 Maccabees 1:8-10
It should be noted that while the Hellenistic Period is recognized to be in the years between 334 and 63 B.C., the Jews were not in constant domination during this era. As is described in detail below, from 165 – 63 B.C. the Jews were an independent people but the Hellenistic culture continued its influence upon them.
 See 02.02.01.V for more information on this subject and the significance of 1 and 2 Maccabees is to understanding this period of Inter-Testamental history. Without these two books, scholarship would be at a loss of the details.
. First and 2nd Maccabees belong to a classification of extra-biblical books known as the Apocrypha. These two literary works are deemed highly reliable historically. See 02.02.03 “Apocrypha” for more information.
. Golub, In the Days. 65-66.
. New International Version Study Bible footnotes for Dan. 11.