Fragments of Greek inscription found in Israel shed light on ancient Jewish warriors

February 18th, 2009 - 5:17 pm ICT by ANI  

Jerusalem, Feb 18 (ANI): Archaeologists have found three fragments of a Greek inscription, believed to be part of the famous Heliodoros stele, in an Israeli excavation, has shed light on ancient Jewish warriors.

The Heliodoros stele, dating back to 178 B.C.E. and consisting of 23 lines inscribed in limestone, is considered one of the most important ancient inscriptions found in Israel.

According to Dr. Dov Gera, who studied the inscriptions, determined that the fragments were actually the lower portion of The Heliodoros stele.

This discovery confirmed the assumption that the stele originally stood in one of the temples located where Maresha- Beit Guvrin National Park stands today.

The new fragments were discovered in a subterranean complex by participants in the Archaeological Seminars Institutes Dig for a Day program.

As published by Professors Cotton and Worrle in 2007, this royal stone stele bears a proclamation by the Seleucid king, Seleucus IV (father of Antiochus IV).

The contents of the stele shed light on the Seleucid government’’s involvement in local temples, mentioning an individual named Olympiodoros, the appointed overseer of the temples in Coele Syria - Phoenicia, including Judea.

The order of the king was sent to Heliodorus, who was probably the same person mentioned in the book of II Maccabees.

According to the story in Maccabees, Heliodorus, as the representative of King Seleucus IV, tried to steal money from the Temple in Jerusalem, but instead was severely beaten as a result of divine intervention.

Three years later, Seleucus IV was assassinated and was succeeded by his son Antiochus IV, who was the ruler, who according to II Maccabees, eventually issued an edict of persecution against the Jewish people and desecrated the Temple in Jerusalem leading to the Maccabean Revolt.

In short, it can be determined that this royal stele originated in the city of Maresha, and adds important archaeological evidence and historical context to understanding the period leading up to the Maccabean Revolt, an event celebrated each year on the holiday of Hanukah. (ANI)

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