The Alexander Tradition

 THE YAVNEH REVIEW 1973

THE ALEXANDER TRADITION IN JEWISH SOURCES

TZVEE ZAHAVY

The significance of Jewish nomenclature in helping to reinforce certain statements of Jewish historical significance, has perhaps been overlooked in the case of Alexander the Great. Jewish tradition states that in the course of his conquests, Alexander made an appearance in the Holy Land and knelt before the Jewish High Priest. Numerous historians have challenged this point and have debated its efficacy. Historians who deny Alexander's visit rest their case upon bold assumptions far removed in time from the original occurrence. It is the purpose of this paper to re-examine some of the facts and to weigh the evidence anew, adding to the statements of the Jewish sources the weight of Jewish nomenclature, which has been maintained in an unbroken historic chain, in the case of Alexander, for some twenty-four centuries.

The naming of a new-born babe in the Jewish tradition has been an event of singular importance since the days of the patriarchs. In the early pages of the Pentateuch, it is evident that the endowment of a name to an infant would chart its destiny and influence its personality for the rest of its life. For the most part, in naming children, Judaism steadfastly avoided imparting names which called to mind idolatrous practices, non-Jewish elements or alien personalities. There were, of course, notable exceptions, but these were few and far between.! Throughout history, Jews were keenly sensitive to the names which they and their offspring bore. The Talmud and Midrash are replete with such references. This sensitivity towards one's name dates back to the Biblical admonitions, which equated a good name with a sterling reputation.2 The maintenance of Jewish nomenclature was even credited as one of the reasons for Israel's redemption from Egyptian' servitude. A Jewish name was considered as a strong link in Jewish chain of historic tradition. It was regarded as a sign of loyalty to the heritage of the Patriarchs.

For four merits the Israelites were delivered from Egypt: because they did not change their language, and because they did not inform against one another, and because there was not one profligate. among them. “They did not change their names': as Reuben and Simeon they went down to Egypt, and as Reuben and Simeon .they went up from it; they did not call Reuben -Rufus, nor did they call Simeon – Luliani, nor did they call Joseph – Listis, nor Benjamin – Alexander.3

This statement by R. Huna in the name of Bar Kappara indicates a strong predisposition against the Jewish adoption of foreign names. Yet, in the case of Alexander, it somehow bypassed the rabbinic predilection and gained Jewish acceptance on par with other traditional names. In other words, Alexander was no longer the secular name for Benjamin or any other Biblical connotation. Alexander became a Jewish name in its own right.4 True, Alexander the Great conquered a world, but the duration of his leadership was limited to the brief span of a dozen years. Alexander may have appeared to be a benevolent despot in the eyes of the Jew. But other benevolent despots appeared on the scene of Jewish history without ever gaining the reward of acceptance in Jewish nomenclature. In what manner did Alexander so favorably impress the Jewish mind as to include his name in the annals of Jewish personal identification for posterity?

Jewish sensitivity towards one's personal name emerges time and again in rabbinic teachings. A name was sometimes given to forge a link with Israel's historic destiny. The Midrash states: “It is the custom of the righteous to name their children from some event which has occurred.”5 “R. Jose said: 'The ancients, since they knew their genealogy, named themselves in reference to the events of their days. But we, who do not know our genealogy, name ourselves by our father.’”6 What dynamic event could have gained for Alexander such noble perpetuity?

The Midrash Tanhuma cautions: “A man should always -search among names to endow upon his son one which is befitting for becoming a righteous person; because a name causes good or evil.”7 Historically, we know that Alexander was hardly the epitome of Jewish righteousness, yet, saintly scholars bore his name as their mark of Jewish identification. The phenomenon becomes all the more puzzling when it is recalled that the Talmudic Sages identified the individual personality with one's name.8 The personality of Alexander the Great, which sometimes erupted in cruel and barbaric acts of conduct would hardly qualify him for distinctive citation. As a matter of fact, the Talmud relates the cancellation of the perpetuity of a name because of some evil deed.9 If this reflected the Jewish attitude, it would seem that rather than gain the perpetuity of Jewish nomenclature. Alexander, because of his many harsh acts in the course of his conquests, should have been firmly excluded from any such honor and recognition. Yet, the fact remains. Alexander gained the distinction of a Hebrew name for posterity. Why should this occur?

This question is overlooked and ignored by the important Alexandrian scholars, in spite of the fact that logically, such an event could only come to fruition as a consequence of some far-reaching incident or impact on Jewish life under exceptionally favorable circumstances. The list of notable Jewish namesakes of Alexander is too deeply embedded in the fabric of Jewish history.10 It is hardly plausible that it is merely the consequence of some fanciful legend, bereft of fact and historic reality. In the long panorama of Jewish history, other benevolent emperors and rulers failed to gain the warm recognition accorded Alexander. This brings all the more pressure to bear to search out or deduce some historical incident which would bring Alexander into the warm embrace of the Jewish people.

Alexander is mentioned in the Book of the Maccabees not with disfavor and there is even an inkling of his esteem in Jewish eyes, when it is stated: “And the earth was quiet before him, and he was exalted…”11 Furthermore, Alexander achieved such highly favored esteem and renown among the Jews, that certain Biblical references were attributed to him, such as the last of the four great beasts mentioned in Daniel, which alluded to a mighty conqueror.12

The rational emergence of Jewish history makes it difficult to ignore notable Jewish literary references as merely the legendary fancy of the Children of Israel. There is a long-standing dispute among historians as to whether Alexander ever had any contact with the Jews. Perhaps the added weight of the Alexander name-tradition in Jewish history may help to bolster the views of those who consider a Jewish meeting with Alexander as an historical fact. The long-standing record of Alexander as a respected name in Jewish nomenclature should not be lightly dismissed. The logical temperament of the Jewish historical personality calls for an explanation consistent with the Jewish sources.

It appears that throughout history, Jews always approached the task of endowing their offspring with a name, as a matter of serious import. Certainly, they would not want their children to bear the name of someone whom they desired to honor if that individual were notoriously wicked or of an evil temperament. At the outset, therefore, it is puzzling to find Alexander the Great, so honored by the Jews. The historians describe him as a drunkard, licentious, cruel and hot-tempered. True, Plutarch sympathetically omits mention of Alexander's revelry, however, Aelian, Athenaeus and Arrian do not hesitate to record his coarse and hideous character.13 Several incidents reveal Alexander's incontrollable rage and brutal personality. Seneca states that it was Alexander's deep-felt desire to ultimately be considered a deity. Such vanity was apparently one of the extremely touchy and sensitive weaknesses in his character. On the occasion when he was wounded, Callisthenes of Olynthus, who was a nephew of Aristotle accompanying Alexander on his Asiatic expedition, taunted the bleeding emperor with the remark that he was surprised the flowing blood was not a divine stream found in the veins of the deities. Alexander retorted with a savage thrust of his spear.14

Callisthenes also censured Alexander for his adoption of oriental customs. Such criticism was countered by Alexander with harsh punishment, which Justin describes in gruesome detail. All of Callisthenes limbs were cruelly mangled and in this torturous state, he was carried about in a cage shut up with a dog. Lysimachus, one of His Disciples, out of pity for the scholar's suffering for no other crime than freedom of speech, gave him poison to relieve his unendurable pain. For This act, Alexander had Lysimachus thrown to a fierce lion.15

Other incidents similarly record the sadistic and barbaric side of Alexander's character. His hands were dripping with the blood of his victories. Tyre – with his massacre of eight thousand people; Gaza with the extermination of the entire population; the sacking of Persepolis and the annihilation of all of its men; the slaying of all inhabitants in Sogdinia; his wild banquets when his passion was satisfied only through the wielding of his deadly sword; all this was hardly the mark or caliber of a person to be eternally glorified in Jewish life by endowing his name upon newborn generations. Historically speaking, the usual Jewish attitude was to reward tyranny with ignominy. A multitude of Jewish tyrants rose up against Israel. Not one of them could extract such an honor as perpetuating his name, even were Israel to be threatened with annihilation.

In addition to his cruel sadism, the fact that Alexander remained a slave to superstition could scarcely have escaped public attention. Important decisions were made according to the advice of soothsayers and astrologers who filled his court. Alexander worshipped idols and sacrificed to them. Would such a person not be more deplored than extolled in Jewish life? Would we not be more likely to expect that Jews would refrain from naming their children after such an individual?

It would therefore seem that a popular Jewish appreciation of the emperor was based upon a markedly beneficent attitude which Alexander displayed toward the children of Israel and which extended throughout his realm. Certain characteristics of the man appear to bathe him in a more favorable light, such as his belief in the ideal of justice. From Plutarch and Arrian, we have a picture of his gallantry to ladies; his sexual morality, his loyalty of friendship , his sincerity of affection, his simple trustfulness, his generosity to certain acquaintances and even enemies, plus his endearment to his soldiers.16 It seems that to the Jewish nation, Alexander must have been very good, and as a consequence, the Jews were favorably impressed with this world leader.

At this point one comes face to face with a puzzling enigma. Why have so many modern historians dismissed much of the Jewish historical references pertaining to Alexander as lacking total veracity? Are Jewish historical sources less reliable than other Alexandrian sources Now extant? Aside from fragments and scattered notices, our knowledge of Alexander depends principally upon five later compositions. The earliest of these is Diodorus, book xvii, which is dated c. 20 B.C.E., more than three centuries removed from Alexander, himself! Plutarch (c. C.E. 45-125), who wrote the Life of Alexander, is a later contemporary than the Jewish historian, Josephus Flavius (37-c. 95 C.E.), yet many statements made by Josephus concerning Alexander are dismissed as spurious! Other accepted Alexandrian sources are even later than Josephus. They are: Arrian's Anabasis and Indica (c. C.E. 150) and the relevant books of Justin's abridgment (2nd cent. C.E.) of the history of Trogus (c. 10 B.C.E.?). To these are added the Latin Itinerarium Alexandri, a skeleton outline of Alexander's campaigns (324-361 C.E.) and the Epitome Rerum Gestarum Alexandri magni, an abridgment made in the 4th or 5th century (C .E.) of a lost Latin work of uncertain date. These latter are contemporaneous with the Jewish Mishnaic-Talmudic references to Alexander. In point of time, the Jewish sources should qualify historically no less than the others.

For that matter, one may question the veracity of the non-Jewish sources themselves, as does a noted modern scholar. Robinson, whose first volume on Alexander contains a translation of the important extant fragments, remarks: “Plutarch's Life of Alexander is interesting, vivid, passionate, encritical and confused.17 It must be granted that a confused source is not the best source upon which one bases a reconstruction of historical facts. Robinson further states: “The historians who survive only in fragments do not significantly alter the picture. Some are good, sound and important, but among them will be found the most fatuous writers on record, as well as the worlds greatest liars. Alexander, quite clearly, has fared very well at the hands of history.18 In the same dejected tone, Robinson deplores the difficulty of recognizing, in these sources, judgments which are genuinely independent. Moreover, a rapid reading of the extant texts, “is indeed quite deceiving".19

In reconstructing the Alexander story, the non-Jewish sources cited above, notwithstanding their suspected and apparent inaccuracies, are used by modern historians of that period. One is hard put to understand why modern historians fail to extend the same courtesy and tolerance to Jewish sources. It would seem, at the very least, that Josephus, who is dedicated to an historical approach, should be granted at least as much credence as any of the other historians of his time and in the ensuing generations, since, generally speaking, his recorded statements, have on the whole, been quite consonant with historically accepted facts.

Unfortunately, most modern scholars refuse to take seriously important source material in, Jewish literature pertaining to Alexander. This approach seems to be pursued by the modern historians as a matter of obstinate principle rather than as a logical policy. As a consequence, it appears that one noted historian falls into a trap of embarrassing self-contradiction. Oesterly’s comment on the Jews in Alexandria reveals an unwarranted skepticism towards Josephus, when the former makes reference to a confirmation of the privileges and rights enjoyed by the Jews of Alexandria under Augustus. Oesterly says: “That these privileges had originally been conferred by Alexander the Great, as Josephus states is very doubtful.”20 In a footnote, the author adds, “But Josephus' statement is very questionable. Dr. Edwyn Bevan points out (in private communication) that we never hear of any conflict between Alexander and the Egyptians; it was the Persians in Egypt against Whom Alexander warred, and he seems to have taken a strong pro-Egyptian line. Moreover, there can hardly have been any large body of Jews at Alexandria when Alexander left Egypt a few months after the walls of Alexandria had first been marked out.21 Oddly enough, in this very same volume, Oesterly accepts a diametrically opposite view, namely, that Alexander had settled Jews in Egypt.

On the other hand, that he settled a number of Jews in Alexandria is doubtless true, though there were probably Jews living already in the Egyptian Diaspora.22

Continuing in the same vein, Oesterly seems to accept the record of Josephus, without hesitation, that special privileges were granted to the Jews by Alexander.

Further, Hecataeus of Abdera says that ‘Alexander honoured our nation to such a degree that, for the equity and fidelity which the Jews exhibited to him, he permitted them to hold the country of Samaria free from tribute.’ He also mentions the fact that many Jews enlisted in Alexander's army, and this seems highly probable.23

This is not the place to attempt to reconcile Oesterly’s apparent contradiction of his own statements. What appears to be significant is the fact that the Jews found favor in the eyes of Alexander, even as Alexander apparently found favor in the eyes of the Jews. That such relations did, in fact, exist, emerges from the pages of Josephus.

But for Alexandria, the sedition of the people of the place against the Jews was perpetual, and this from that very time when Alexander (the Great) upon finding the readiness of the Jews in assisting him against the Egyptians, and as a reward for such their assistance, gave them equal privileges in this city with the Grecians themselves; - which honorary reward continued among them under his successors, who also set apart for them a particular place, that they might live without being polluted (by the gentiles).24

From his very first meeting with the Jews, Alexander seemed kindly disposed towards them.

He (Alexander) granted them all they desired; and when they (the Jews) entreated him that he would permit the Jews in Babylon and Media to enjoy their own laws also, he willingly thereafter promised to do what they desired; and when he said to the multitude, that if any of them would enlist themselves in his army on this condition, that they should continue under the laws of their forefathers, and live according to them, he was willing to take them with him, many were ready to accompany him in his wars.25

Josephus also quotes Strabo to indicate that special privileges were granted to the Alexandrian Jews.26 It is interesting to note that Arnold Toynbee also accepts the view that Alexander granted special privileges to the Jews in Alexandria.

Granting special consideration to the Jews in many parts of the world, must have been an event of striking significance in Jewish life. It meant that they would be guaranteed spiritual security and physical safety, at home as well as abroad. It would help safeguard the trans-mission of the Jewish heritage for many generations to come. Such a benefactor would be deserving of high appreciation and praise from the Jews. Alexander appeared to be such a benefactor.

What would motivate such generosity on the part of Alexander? Certainly, the addition of troops to his army was welcomed wherever he traveled. Yet how does an agreement of this nature come to pass? There surely must have been some meeting between the representatives of the Jewish nation and Alexander to evolve such an understanding. Or were these decisions made by Alexander, himself, in a conference with the High Priest at Jerusalem?

Two eminent historians categorically declare, “Alexander ...never visited Jerusalem.”27 One is rather hesitant to accept this bald statement, since it is based upon opinion, rather than historical proof. Jewish sources report such a visit by Alexander. There is also an interesting non-Jewish source which refers to Jerusalem. It is a brief description found in one of the ancient fragments of Eusebius.

The writer of a land-survey of Syria says in the first book of his work that Jerusalem lies on lofty and rough ground; part of the walls is built of polished stone; most of them concrete. The city's circumference is 27 stades. There is a spring on the spot which gushes forth with abundant water.28

Such a description is typical of intelligence information desired by an invading force, such as an army under the personal direction of Alexander. It depicts a formidable fortress-city, which would require skill and sacrifice for its conquest. Would it not be advantageous for a conqueror to win the city and its inhabitants by a display of friendship and amity? Would not such an ally be of helpful advantage to a conqueror who had half a world yet at bay? Politically, economically, and militarily there would be much more to gain in an Alexandrian Greek-Jewish alliance, than in a Greek-Jewish contest of arms. If it required the subtle, psychological appeasement of people by a colorful display of obeisance for their religion and religious representatives, would it not be worthwhile? In one brief visit and in one fell swoop, Alexander could win the alliance of a Jewish nation and the unswerving loyalty of an entire people. Why not go on to Jerusalem?

It seems that some of the modern historians refuse to acknowledge a meeting between Alexander and the Jews because the oldest Greek and Latin sources fail to mention such a meeting. If the Jewish sources which describe such a meeting are correct, then Alexander had kneeled in humility at the feet of the Jewish representatives. Would it not seem uncomplimentary to the great Alexander, for a Greek historian to report such a fact? It may, therefore, have been censored or completely ignored by the ancient Greek sources and thus was never available to the historians who wrote three to five centuries after Alexander. The fact could very well have been preserved, however, in the annals of Jewish tradition, such as recorded in Josephus.

… and when the Phoenicians and the Chaldeans that followed him (Alexander) thought they should have liberty to plunder the city, and torment the high priest to death, which the king's displeasure fairly promised them , the very reverse of it happened; for Alexander, when he saw the multitude at a distance, in white garments while the priests stood clothed in fine linen, and the high priest in purple and scarlet clothing, with his mitre on his head, having the gold plate whereon the name of G-d was engraved, he approached by himself and adored that name, and first saluted the high priest.

The Jews also did altogether, with one voice salute Alexander and encompass him about; whereupon the kings of Syria and the rest were surprised at what Alexander had done and supposed him disordered in his mind. However, Parmenio alone went up to him, and asked him how it came to pass that, when all others adored him, he should adore the high priest of the Jews? To whom, he replied, “I did not adore him, but that G-d who hath honored him with his high-priesthood; for I saw this very person in a dream, in this very habit, when I was at Dios in Macedonia, who, when I was considering with myself, how I might obtain dominion of Asia, exhorted me to make no delay, but boldly to pass over the sea thither, for that he would conduct my army, and would give me dominion over the Persians; whence it is, that having seen no other in that habit, and now seeing this person in it, and remembering that vision, and the exhortation which I had in my dream, I believe that I bring this army under the divine conduct, and shall therewith conquer Darius, and destroy the power of the Persians, and that all things will succeed according to what is in my own mind.”

And when he said this to Parmenio, and had given the high priest his right hand, the priests ran along by him, and he came into the city; and when he went up into the temple, he offered sacrifices to G-d, according to the high priests direction, and magnificently treated both the high-priest and priests.29

The above report of Josephus continues with the statement that Alexander was shown the Book of Daniel which prophesied the destruction of the Persian empire by one of the Greeks, which he supposed referred to himself. Alexander was greatly pleased and on the next day asked the Jews what favors they desired. The high-priest replied that they wanted to observe the laws of their forefathers and exemption from tribute during the seventh year. This was granted and he also extend Jewish religious freedom to the Jews in Babylon and Media and likewise, promised religious freedom to all Jews who would enlist in his army. “So when Alexander had thus settled matters at Jerusalem he Ied his army into neighboring cities.”30 He also sent Jews to Alexandria “as a reward; because, he had, upon a careful trial, found them all to have been men of virtue and fidelity to him.”31

It is interesting to note that according to the report of Josephus Alexander was kindly disposed to the Jews as a result of some mystical impression which they made upon him. He envisioned the high priest in a dream. The Jews prove their loyalty to him. They identify him with the Greek conqueror in the Book of Daniel. Two questions are here projected. Would Alexander make an important decision as a consequence of a mystical illusion? How could he have conjured up a vision of the high-priest, resplendent in all of his garments without ever having seen him before?

In answer to the first question, it is well documented that Alexander was deeply superstitious. Durant records that Alexander placed faith in soothsayers and astrologers.32 These were ever to be found in abundance in his court. Prior to the battle of Arbela, Alexander himself spent the night performing magic ceremonies with his magician, Aristander. He also offered sacrifices to the deity of Fear. His plans were often changed by signs of good or evil fortune and he was “easily alarmed by portents and prodigies.”33 

The answer to question number two above, requires some speculation. It is not improbable that Alexander knew of the Jewish religion, its laws and practices even before meeting his meeting with the High Priest.  From whom could he gain such information? Wise old Aristotle, who was the teacher of Alexander from the boy's fourteenth year, and who evidently remained his mentor the rest of his life, was reputed to have developed a keen respect for Judaism. From Aristotle the young Alexander could have gleaned a knowledge of exotic nations beyond including an introduction to the people of the Book; their customs and manner of worship; even a description of their high priest.

There is reason to suspect that Aristotle had a broad knowledge of the Jews and their faith. The Jewish philosophe, Aristobulus, in 200 B.C.E. asserted that Jewish revelation and Aristotelian philosophy were identical.34 Josephus infers that Aristotle derived his doctrine directly from Judaism.35 Josephus also cites ·Clearchus, the pupil of Aristotle, as reporting his master's respect and admiration for Jews and their doctrine.36 Joseph ben Shem Tob records that Aristotle became a Jewish proselyte at the end of his life.37

Even more significant is the report that Aristotle owed much of his philosophy to the writings of King Solomon, which was presented to him by his disciple Alexander after his visit to Jerusalem.38 There is also the matter of the letter which Aristotle had written to Alexander, in which the philosopher reputedly readjusts his teachings in accordance with Jewish divine revelation. The sage, Simon the Just, is credited with having influenced Aristotle's change of heart and change of mind.39

If these items are fitted together, there emerges a possibility of reassessing the meeting between Alexander and the high priest, accompanied by his Jewish retinue. Alexander had already heard of the Jews and their doctrine from the mouth of his mentor, Aristotle. The philosopher had spoken of them with a sense of high regard and deep respect. He may have described their manner of worship under the direction of the chief high priest as being in consonance with his own philosophic principle of a first cause of the world; a prime mover unmoved; the origin and beginning of all motion and power.

As Alexander approaches Jerusalem, he recalls the teachings of his master, Aristotle. This is the citadel where the people not only consider the Prime Mover as a philosophical truth, but, more so, have incorporated such a belief as the foundation stone of their very faith and as their moral basis for living. From the distance, the priestly delegation of the Jews comes into view. Were these not the representatives of the people whom Aristotle described? The impressive garb of the high priest strikes a familiar chord in Alexander's mind. Did he not once envision such a being in a dream, holding forth a promise of success in conquest? Yet, the vicissitudes of a conqueror, with its myriad of details involved in overcoming problems of military strategy, battles, and campaigns, caused Alexander to forget this stirring mystic vision of former years.

Now, outside of the city of Jerusalem, it is all recalled with serious regard and even a ray of divine promise. Certainly, of all the offerings and oblations which Alexander had himself consecrated to a multitude of deities, there yet remained unfulfilled an obeisance to the Prime Mover of his mentor, Aristotle, because no where on earth, except here, in Jerusalem was the Prime Mover adored in worship. Here hand, was the opportunity to appease the Supreme Deity of all creation.

An emotional earthquake fills his war-weary soul. Aristotle’s patient lessons in metaphysics begins to prod his tired brain. The first cause! The Prime Mover! The very people who worship One G-d! The high-priest of the One G-d, wearing the vestments he envisioned. This source of truth which had promised him the fulfillment of his dreams of conquest is now ere, at hand! Without a word of warning to his generals or to his staff, he prostrates himself in humble gratitude and sentimental emotional expression.

What to explain to his dumbfounded retinue? What would they understand of Aristotle's teachings? How could they appreciate Aristotle’s beautiful depiction of a universe under a Prime Mover? Such expressions may even engender a suspicion of heresy against Alexander. Suffice it to say, that it recalled a tender recollection of such a high priest in a dream.

Alexander is impressed with the wisdom of the high priest, who re-echoes some of the doctrines of metaphysics concerning a One Creator as he heard mentioned by Aristotle. The high priest is impressed with Alexander and his apparent sincerity in this momentary expression of obeisance to the One Supreme Creator. A deep-felt mutual rapport is experienced between Alexander and the high priest. Alexander would like to show his appreciation. What do the Jews desire? Permission to practice their faith - granted! For their brethren in other lands, likewise - granted! Alexander's beneficence stems from a deep, emotional sympathy.

How can the Jews, in return, express their appreciation for the considerate actions of Alexander? Outwardly, he may appear to be an alien pagan. However, did not this conquering hero profess the deepest respect for the One Creator through prostration and perhaps even worship? Alexander appears to be a spiritual kinsman of the Jewish people deep in the recesses of his heart. His clandestine acknowledgment of One Creator and his generous impulses towards the Jewish people, are deserving of his appointment as an “honorary" Jew.

In accordance with such honor, his name shall henceforth be entered into the chronicles of the Jewish nomenclature. The children of the priests that shall be born during the year shall bear the name Alexander as a rightful Jewish name. This is a great reward indeed for it spans many generations. Alexander’s name is enshrined as a Jewish name and throughout their history, he shall be recalled as a man of rare courage – not so much as the man of mighty courage in the field of military conquest – rather  as a man of spiritual courage, who momentarily broke the fetters of pagan superstition and idolatry, to offer obeisance and adoration to the One G-d, Creator of the Universe.

NOTES

1. Somehow Ptolemy and Theodorus qualified in the list of acceptable Jewish names.

2. Prov. xxii, 1: “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches.” Eccles. vii, 1: “A good name is better than precious oil.”

3. Song of Songs R. iv, 12,1; Exod. R. I, 28; Numb. R. xx, 22.

4. Several of Israel's outstanding scholars, as well as countless laymen throughout Jewish history bore the name, Alexander, as their official Hebrew name. As a result of its popular usage, even its· shortened form, Sender or Senderman gained official Hebrew sanction.

5. Exod. R. I, 33.

6. Gen. R. xxxvii, 7.

7. Tanhuma, Ha'azinu 7.

8. Yoma 83b R Meir always paid close attention to people's names. Once on a Journey with two other rabbis, they came to an inn. Upon learning the name of the innkeeper, Kidor, he suspected that he was an evil man. Later, he was proven correct. As a consequence, the other rabbis henceforth paid close attention to people's names.

9. B. Pesahim 113b. Iss; was the son of Akabia ben Mehallalel who was excommunicated (cf. Ed. V. 6, 7). In order to be spared the tragic memories associated with the name of Akabia, the Talmud notes that Issi described himself as Issi ben Mehallalel.

10, Some notable namesakes, bearing the Hebrew name Alexander are Alexander Jannaeus who was Alexander I of Judea; two Palestinian Amoraim so named. Alexander Suslin HaKohen of Frankfurt a 14th century rabbi. Alexander (Sender) ben Mordecai, a 17th century rabbi in Prague, Alexander Susskind of Grodno, 18th century Kabbalist in Lithuania, etc.

11. I Macc. i,3.

12. Daniel, VII, 7; XI, 3,4; VIII, 5

13. C. A. Robinson, The History of Alexander the Great, Volume 1, p. 31.

14. Ibid. p. 52.

15. Ibid., p. 53; Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. IV, p. 618 (1958 ed.).

16. Will Durant, The Life of Greece, pp. 540·541, based upon Plutarch, Alexander and Arrian, VII, 28.

17. C. A. Robinson, The History of Alexander the Great, Vol. 1. p. 2.

18. Ibid.

19. Ibid., p. 3.

20. W.O.E. Oesterly, A History of Israel, Vol. Il, p. 404.

21. Ibid. p. 404

22. Ibid. p. I89. In his footnote, Oesterly bases this fact upon Josephus, Antiq. XlV, 7, which he apparently accepts in this instance.

23. Ibid. p. 189. Oesterly’s sources here are cited in two footnotes: Josephus, Contra Ap. II, 43 and Contra Ap. I. 192, which he seems to accept as valid.

24. Josephus, Wars of the Jews, II, 8.

25. Ibid., Antiquities. XI, B.

26. Ibid., XIV, 7.

27. Tarn and Griffith, Hellenistic Civilization, p. 210. 62

28. Robinson, The History of Alexander the Great, Vol. 1, p. 39.

 29. The Works of Flavius Josephus, trans. Wm. Whiston, Antiquities, Book XI Chap. 8, p. 350. '

30. Ibid.

31. Ibid., Against Apion, Book II, p. 907. The Talmud B. Yoma 69a records the meeting between Alexander and Simon the Just, who was high priest. There is still speculation as to his time and identity. Josephus mentions him as Jaddua. (cf. Antiquities, Chap. VIII, p. 349). Graetz thought he was Onias, Jaddua's son and Simon's father. (Hist. of Jews, I, p. 413).

32. Will Durant, The Life of Greece, p.540.

33. Plutarch, Alexander; Arrian, I, 17. Cf. Durant, Ibid.

34. The Jewish Encyclopedia, I. Singer, ed. Vol. II, p. 98.

35. Ibid.; Contra Apion, II, 17.

36. Ibid.; Contra Apion, I, 22.

37. The Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. II, p. 99.

38 Ibid.

39. Ibid.; cf. also Yehiel Halperin, Seder Ha-Dorot (Warsaw 1901), pp. 110-111.

Comments