Friday, March 13, 2015

The Normal Run of Things

A passage in 1 Maccabees illustrates how foreign policy was conducted in the ancient world (or at least the Hellenistic world). The Seleucid general has kidnapped the Hasmonean ruler, Jonathan:
And now send a hundred talents of silver and two of his sons as hostages and do not allow rebellion from us and we will release him (1 Maccabees 13:16).
A conquering power would demand tribute and hostages to keep conquered subjects submissive and in line. The idea was that if the subjected revolted them the hostages would be killed. The tribute would be expected on an annual basis. This is the normal way that things worked. One can see the same procedures at work in the El-Amarna letters from a thousand years earlier.

In this case:
Simon knew that he spoke with deception to him (1 Maccabees 13:17).
That too, unfortunately, was not uncommon either.