‘All the world save rome seemed tranquil and greek’

At the time Alexander the Great died, in 323 B.C., "all the world save Rome seemed tranquil and Greek," wrote the noted Jewish author Chaim Potok in Wanderings. Even Jerusalem – the city of David – eventually absorbed Greek culture and tradition.

Potok noted: "Greek pottery, Phoenician amulets, and Egyptian idols have been found in Palestine dating to the fourth century B.C.E. (Before the Common Era.) Oedipus converses with the sphnix on a Greek cup. Six miles north of Jerusalem was found an attic cup with a sphinx."A Jerusalemite shopping in a coastal city for pottery would return home carrying a drawing from Greek mythology on shaped glazed earth. Coins from Athens [becameT the main currency for trade in . . . Palestine. They bore the figures of gods and sacred birds. But these were essentially the peripheral elements of Greek civilization.

"Neither Pythagoras nor Plato ever met Ezekiel; the Chronicler never met Herodotus; Ezra never met Aristotle; Euripides would have had no Jerusalem dramatist to converse with, for drama was an extension of pagan ritual and could have no place as yet in the sacred city. With the founding of the Greek city in the north and the settlement of Macedonian soldiery, there began the full shock of culture encounter between the worlds of Zeus and [JehovahT. . . .

"Judea was a self-governing entity with a garrison of royal troops with no royal governor; it was an autonomous ethnic-religious unity. The only city of the Jews was Jerusalem.

"Jewish soldiers had served in the army of Alexander. When the empire of Alexander disintegrated after his death and was divided among his quarreling generals, Palestine came under the control of the general Ptolemy, who ruled Egypt; a Jewish regiment of calvary served in the army of Ptolemy. The political unity of the world of dispersed Jewry was broken."