Generals divide Alexander’s empire

After Alexander died, his Macedonian generals carved up his vast empire. Ptolemy I seized Egypt and founded a dynasty that lasted 300 years and had 12 other kings who bore his name.

Ptolemy I also seized Palestine in 301 B.C., after the death of Antigonus Cyclops, another of Alexander's generals.Potlemy II, attempting to bring together the finest writings of all nations, arranged for Jewish scholars to go to Egypt and translate their holy writings into Greek. Their translation of the Old Testament was the Septuagint, which was significant because the scriptures could be read by all the Greek-speaking world. Of the hundreds of quotes from the Old Testament in the New Testament, more than half were derived from the Septuagint.

In 223 B.C., Antiochus III became king of Syria. He attempted to wrest control of lower Syria, Phoenicia and Palestine from Egypt, whose reigning monarch was Ptolemy IV, also called Philopator.

Philopator defeated Antiochus' troops near Gaza in 217 B.C. and entered Palestine. In Jerusalem, he insisted on offering sacrifices in the temple for his victory. The Jews prevented him from entering the temple. On his return to Egypt, Philopator started a pogrom, an organized persecution and massacre, in an attempt to kill every Jew in Alexandria.

After Philopator's death in 203 B.C., Antiochus invaded the Holy Land. In 198 B.C., after a victorious battle at Panias, he added Palestine to the Selecuid Empire.