Jannai (Janeus), Alexander

   King of Judea 103–76 BC. Jannai, a son of HYRCANUS I, succeeded his elder brother ARISTOBOLUS I as king of Judea in 103 BC. In successive but not always successful campaigns, Jannai conquered the coastal area, including what is now the Gaza Strip, and most of Transjordan. His kingdom matched that of David and Solomon in extent, covering nearly all the area of Palestine. The population included non-Jewish elements such as the Idumean (Edomite) people in the south and Greek and other communities in the Galilee and elsewhere. These were for the most part converted to Judaism and in due course assimilated into the Jewish people. In the internal affairs of the kingdom, Alexander Jannai was an arbitrary and despotic ruler, maintaining his authority with well-armed foreign mercenaries. His reign saw a sharpening of the conflict between two distinct parties or classes: the conservative Zadokim, or Sadducees, based on the priestly Temple establishment and wealthy landowners; and the Perushim, or Pharisees, appealing to the artisans and yeomen and less subservient to the priesthood in matters of religious practice. For instance, contrary to traditional Jewish doctrine, the Pharisees accepted the concept of the resurrection of the dead and an afterlife. In the latter part of Alexander Jannai’s rule a Pharisee revolt was cruelly suppressed. They appealed for help to the Syrian ruler Demetrius III, who marched against the Judean king and defeated him. But patriotic feeling then swung in Jannai’s favour and he was able to expel the invader. He was succeeded by his widow SALOME ALEXANDRA.

Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament. . 2012.

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