FIRST JEWISH MILITARY UNITS IN PTOLEMAIC EGYPT * BY A. KASHER Tel-Aviv University, Ramat-Aviv In the Persian period, it is well accepted that Jews served in military units of their own, a statement which is mainly proved in the papyri of Elephantine. However, some scholars have under- estimated the military talent of Jews in later times, claiming that only after proving themselves in the Hasmonaean revolt, did the Jews win some appreciation which allowed them to serve in Hel- lenistic armies I). Such a statement is quite puzzling when taking into account the simple fact that the first Hellenistic rulers, actually, inherited many of the state orders which were prevailing in the days of their Persian predecessors. Probably they avoided making extreme changes, at least in the first generations. Furthermore, it is sufficient to bear in mind the evidence of Hekataios from Abdera (ap. Diodorus Siculus XL, 3) in order to reject the above mentioned opinion. Nobody doubts any more the information which is pre- served in Ps. Aristeas 13 (cf. Jos., Ant. XII, 8; c. Ap. II, 44) about the settling of captive Jews in Egyptian fortresses by Ptolemy I 2). The epigraphic and papyrological findings prove
Journal for the Study of Judaism – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1978
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