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VI The Framework, Literary Genre, Structure, and Contents
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The Framework, Literary Genre, Structure, and Contents

The dating of Pseudo-Hecataeus's treatise and the clarification of its provenance and cultural-religious background have brought us closer to an understanding of the purpose of the work, which can be further advanced by reconstructing the structure and basic contents of the treatise.

An examination of the passages in Against Apion does not by itself provide a clear picture. They are fragmentary and appear garbled and unrelated to each other, lacking historical or thematic sequence. In order to arrive at the structure and contents of the treatise, we have to determine the framework from which the passages were taken, its literary genre, and the conventional scheme of works belonging to that genre.

1. Monograph or Excursus?

Josephus emphatically states that Hecataeus wrote a book that was devoted entirely to the subject of the Jews. He does this in three places. (a) In the preface to the quotations, Josephus contrasts Hecataeus with Clearchus, who had been quoted by him before. (He also implicitly contrasts him with other Greek authors quoted from Ap . I.161 onwards.) He states that while Clearchus mentioned the Jews only "in a digression" ( image), Hecataeus did not refer to the Jews "incidentally" ( image), but "wrote a book about the Jews themselves" (I.183).[1] (b) At the end of the passages quoted (I.205), Josephus adds an


instructive note: "To those who want to learn more the book is readily available." (c) Farther on, Josephus notes that Hieronymus of Cardia, though he was the governor of Syria, did not mention the Jews at all, while Hecataeus "wrote a book about us" (I.214).[2]

A number of considerations rule out the possibility that Josephus exaggerated in describing an excursus as a monograph. The statement that Hecataeus wrote a book on the Jews would have aroused particular curiosity among his potential readers and a desire to check it. Against Apion was written for Greco-Roman intellectuals who had an interest (positive or negative) in the Jews, and for emperors, governors, and political personalities who had to decide on the status and rights of Jewish communities (mainly in Alexandria). Even casual readers who were not involved with the Jewish question would have been interested in information about the existence of an independent monograph by an author of Hecataeus's reputation. These readers could easily have ascertained whether or not such a book existed: they could have used bibliographical handbooks like those based on the Pinakes of Callimachus and later works. These handbooks provided data about all Greek books collected in the Library of Alexandria, such as the title, the author, a short biography, the opening words, the number of lines, and so forth.[3] Guides of this sort were available in Roman public libraries, as well as in the two large libraries of Alexandria.[4]

Josephus would therefore have been careful in stating that Hecataeus wrote a book on the Jews, and that it was "readily available." Certainly he would have been even more cautious in advising his readers to consult it further Reference to a nonexistent book would have undermined his credibility. The note that the book was "readily available" also discounts the possibility that Josephus did not use the treatise directly but found the passages in a secondary source.[5]


In addition to Josephus, Origen refers in his Against Celsus to a book on the Jews attributed to Hecataeus. The passage, which has a number of implications occupying us more than once, reads (C. Cels . I.15):

And it is also said that there is a book on the Jews [ image] by Hecataeus the historian in which still more is attributed to the wisdom of the nation, so much so that Herennius Philo in his treatise On the Jewsimage] first doubts whether the treatise [ image] belongs to the historian, and then states that if it is his, it seems likely that he had been carried away by the persuasiveness of the Jews and conformed to their principles.

Herennius Philo, accordingly, called the work "a book," or at least a "treatise." The question is whether this was based on direct acquaintance with Pseudo-Hecataeus or only through the Josephan testimonia and quotations. The balance tends in favor of the first possibility: the passages in Against Apion alone would hardly have created the impression that the author exaggerated in referring to Jewish "wisdom," of all things, and this also applies to the Mosollamus episode. The exaggerated admiration of Jewish hostility toward pagan cult is much more striking, and, after all, the "wisdom" of ancient nations was a rather common motif in ancient ethnographic literature.[6] One should note that at the beginning of the same paragraph Origen elaborates on the "wisdom" attributed to the Jews by a number of Greek writers, especially Hermippus and Numenius, who posited a decisive Jewish influence on Greek philosophers such as Plato and Pythagoras and stressed the uniqueness of Jewish lawgivers and prophets.[7] Origen further states that the Jewish "wisdom" was emphasized by Hecataeus even more than by those authors. This evaluation may be based on some further comments by Herennius Philo. Origen himself certainly


was not directly acquainted with Pseudo-Hecataeus.[8] Some clear and far-reaching expressions about "Jewish wisdom" must have been found in the original treatise of Pseudo-Hecataeus.

In this context it should be made clear that Herennius Philo referred only to the same treatise quoted by Josephus in Against Apion : the spuriousness of the book On Abraham , which was also attributed to Hecataeus, is evident even from the single preserved extract, since it contains forged verses of Sophocles promulgating the unity of the divine and abolition of idolatry.[9] Herennius Philo would have disqualified this book with more decisive arguments, and would not have raised the possibility that Hecataeus "had been carried away by the persuasiveness of the Jews." There is no justification for positing another forged book attributed to Hecataeus.[10]

The trustworthy testimonia of Josephus and Herennius Philo (besides a number of other reasons) thus finally discount the view (obviously of scholars who support authenticity) that Josephus took the material from an excursus included in a comprehensive historiographical work,[11] from Hecateus's Egyptian ethnography,[12] or from a travelogue.[13]


The conclusion that the treatise was not written by Hecataeus, but by an Egyptian Jew at the time of the Hasmonean state, is in itself sufficient to show that Josephus's source for these quotations was primarily concerned with Jews and Judaism.

At the same time, the argument raised by those scholars who claim that the material contained in the Josephus passages is too brief to have comprised an independent work deserves examination. Josephus does not claim to have quoted the whole book, but explicitly states that he intends to quote only "the highlights of some of the things said" (Ap . I.183; cf. 205). The phrasing of a number of passages, some of which appear in indirect speech, clearly indicates abbreviation and condensation of the original text.[14] Furthermore, the passages do not embrace all the subjects covered by Pseudo-Hecataeus. In the second book of Against Apion Josephus quotes a sentence from the treatise that recounted the granting of Samaria by Alexander to the Jews (II.43),[15] and we have already inferred that some references of Pseudo-Hecataeus to Jewish "wisdom" were not quoted. Josephus, in accordance with the purpose of his book (I.57-59), chose to cite only passages that demonstrated the maturity of the Jewish people at the beginning of the Hellenistic period (I.186): their good relations with Ptolemy I, their numerical strength, their well-established settlements, the role and importance of the Temple, and their profound faith. As can be seen from the absence of the reference to Samaria in Book I of Against Apion , even the coverage of these subjects was not comprehensive.

As a matter of fact, the extant passages alone may indicate a quantity of material equal to that of a typical book of the Hellenistic-Roman period. The length of books was variable and may have been no more than that of a modern pamphlet. A papyrus scroll could have contained even more than two such books, and even works of different authors (symmiges ). After the standardization of the scrolls by the scholars


of the Alexandria Museum, an average scroll measured thirty feet in length and contained about fifty thousand letters.[16] There were scrolls that were far shorter, and Pliny states that a scroll was no more than fifteen feet long (NH XIII.72). The number of letters in the Josephus material, a quarter of which is occupied by the Mosollamus story (I.201-4), is 10 percent of a standard Alexandrian scroll, or 20 percent of a standard book. In contrast to other passages, the Mosollamus story is quoted at relative length, but it illustrates just one feature (and not a central one) of the Jewish people—their disdain for pagan techniques of divination. The Hezekiah story and the description of Jerusalem, Judea, and the land of Israel, for instance, were certainly much longer than Mosollamus's episodic anecdote. We can thus be quite sure that the original treatise was of a length acceptable for a Hellenistic book, if not for an "unmixed" scroll.

2. The Title of the Treatise and the Literary Genre

The passages in Josephus, which deal with Jewish customs and traditions, suggest that the book had an ethnographic character. This, however, is not enough to establish its genre. Besides ethnographic material, the book contains a report of a fictitious historical event—the Hezekiah story. This combination may at first sight recall Pseudo-Aristeas, a story (which could even be disguised as a letter) centered around an event in Jewish life in the Hellenistic period, and supplemented, in one way or another, by plentiful ethnographic material, as well as symposia, travelogues, and the like. We must therefore clarify whether the book belongs to the ethnographic genre par excellence , or to a related genre that also included ethnographic features.

The title of a book in Hellenistic and Jewish Hellenistic literature, if not just fanciful in an attempt to catch the eye (Plin. NH pref. 24-25), indicates its literary genre.[17] To mention just a few titles: Philippica, Hellenica, Anabasis, Chronicon, Periplous , "For ...," "Against ...," "Letter to [or "of"] ...," "Memories of...," "History of ...," "Art


of...." It is clear from some of the titles that they were modeled after the scheme of a celebrated book, while others simply specify the genre or the contents.

Scholars who have accepted that the passages were taken from a monograph devoted to the Jews alone assume that the book was named PeriIoudaion ("On the Jews").[18] However, as it is not clearly stated in the sources, the question of the title requires some elaboration.

Josephus's statement that Hecataeus of Abdera "wrote a book about the Jews themselves" ( image, Ap . I.183) is again relevant. The sentence, as it stands, may appear to refer to the subject of the book and not to its title. But it has already been mentioned that Josephus recommended consulting the book for further information (I.205). Hecataeus wrote books on various subjects,[19] and Josephus even believed that the forged book On Abraham was written by him (Ant . I.158-59). Could he have encouraged his reader to consult the complete book without giving any indication of its title? We can thus assume that the name "Jews" or some variant appeared in the title. To judge by parallel titles, it could be either On the Jews or Ioudaika .

No less instructive is the passage in Origen (C. Cels . I.15), quoted in the previous section, where Hecataeus's book is referred to without the article ("there is a book on the Jews by Hecataeus"). The words  image, which were certainly taken from Herennius Philo, must indicate the book's contents, title, or both. An allusion to the contents is understandable in view of the context (and see I.14), while the use of an identical reference in Josephus lends support to understanding it rather as a title. The latter alternative is suggested by the title of Herennius Philo's own treatise referred to in the same passage: the preceding article ( image, I.15) indicates that it was On the Jews . The same formula for Philo's work is also mentioned by Eusebius (PE I.10, p. 42).[20] One may suppose that Herennius Philo would not


have used the same phrase in referring to a book by someone else unless it was indeed its title. Finally, Hecataeus's known ethnographical books were named On the Hyperboreans and On the Egyptians , or Aegyptiaca .[21] The wish to create an impression of authenticity would have led the forger to imitate external features of Hecataeus's books such as their titles. We can thus conclude that though there is no unequivocal statement to this effect, the name of the book was On the Jews , or less probably Ioudaika .

These names indicate that the book was an ethnogrpahic work. Hellenistic ethnographies were usually entitled with the name of the nation or the land in one of two basic forms: "[Affairs of] ..." (Aithiopike , Indike , Persike , Skythike , and the like) or "On the ..." (Peri tonIndikon , Peri Kyprou, Peri Sikelias, PeritonAithiopeon , PeriAiolikon ).[22] Significantly enough, almost all the ethnographic books devoted to the Jews known to us were called PeriIoudaion . They were written in the Hellenistic period by both Jews and gentiles. The best-known among them is the book by Alexander Polyhistor (Eus. PE IX.17), a gentile contemporary of Pompey and Sulla, who compiled material from monographs on the Jews by Jewish as well as gentile authors.[23] This was probably also the name of Apollonius Molon's anti-Jewish book.[24] The treatise On the Jews by Herennius Philo, written in the first half of the second century A.D. , belongs to the same category. From the brief fragments of two books called On the Jews by two otherwise unknown authors, Damocritus the Tactician and Nicarchus son of Ammonius, it also appears that they belonged to the ethnographic genre, and were perhaps written in the first century A.D.[25] Of the Jewish authors who


wrote books entitled On the Jews ,[26] we know about Artapanus, Aristeas the Exegete, Theodotus the Poet,[27] and Pseudo-Eupolemus, who was probably a Samaritan.[28] These books were written between the middle of the second and the middle of the first century B.C. 29

The fragments of the works named On the Jews confirm that they were indeed ethnographic works containing the common components of the genre.[30] Those written by Jewish authors report on the patriarchs, leaders, and kings: Abraham, Job,[31] Joseph, Moses and the Exodus, Solomon and the building of the Temple, the last kings of Judea, and the destruction of the First Temple. Stress is laid on the theoretical and practical wisdom of Moses and the patriarchs. Thus the invention of astrology is attributed to Abraham, and that of philosophy, together with a number of useful technical inventions, to Moses. In addition to stories about the leaders, we hear about Jerusalem, the Jewish holy books, the origin of the name "Judea," and the like.

The books named On the Jews written by gentiles contain similar topics, although the contents and attitudes frequently differ. Alexander Polyhistor probably did not contribute much of his own and was content with quotations from earlier ethnographies. The fragments and


testimonia of Herennius Philo contain mainly folkloristic-etymological notes: the origin of the words "Judea" and "Jews," the name of the Jewish God, a derogatory nickname ascribed to Moses,[32] and reservations about Jewish "wisdom" and the authenticity of the treatise attributed to Hecataeus. From the works of Damocritus and Nicarchus we have references to the "blood" libel against contemporary Jewish cult and the leper libel against Moses and the Israelites in Egypt. The remaining fragments of the works entitled On the Jews thus reassure us that they were indeed ethnographical books commenting on the beginnings of the nation and the achievements of its leaders, as well as on the customs (including faith and religious practices) and the land of the Jews. The last two components are also to be found in Pseudo-Hecataeus.

3. The Structure of an Ethnographical Work

We have seen in this chapter that the passages quoted by Josephus were taken from an independent monograph called On the Jews . The title and the contents of the material indicate that it was an ethnographical treatise. Pseudo-Hecataeus was acquainted with ethnographical literature, certainly with the writings of Hecataeus. Even Berossus, the Babylonian historian-ethnographer, and Demetrius, the Jewish chronographer, whose knowledge of Greek language and culture was far worse, were influenced by Greek literary models.[33] Like other genres of ancient literature, the ethnographical work had a conventional scheme and structure, so much so, that their elucidation can contribute to an understanding of the structure of Pseudo-Hecataeus's treatise and the nature of its contents. The few extant discussions of Greek ethnography do not provide a satisfactory and comprehensive analysis of the structure.[34] We must therefore digress from the discussion of the treatise itself and examine the structure of works belonging to this genre. Other features of the genre were surveyed above, at the beginning of this book.[35]


The following discussion will attempt to establish the conventional scheme of the genre by analyzing the structure of several independent monographs, as well as that of a few ethnographical excursuses that properly represent the genre. The difference between the two is by and large only one of length, although occasionally the structure of an excursus is dictated by the context in which it is inserted and may therefore differ somewhat from the conventional scheme. The discussion does not deal with works of a semiethnographical character. These actually belong to other genres: for example, Ctesias's Persica , classified as a historical novel; the book of Manetho on Egypt, apparently an expanded chronicle;[36] or Berossus's monograph, which is largely a historical account of Babylon and its people.[37] In order to follow the development of the genre, the survey is arranged in chronological order, and includes examples of various types of nations described in this literature: nations residing in the centers of civilization as against peoples (including legendary ones) on the periphery of the known inhabited world, and autochthonous nations as against nations of immigrants. To keep the discussion within reasonable bounds, it is limited to the four outstanding ethnographical authors preceding Pseudo-Hecataeus: Herodotus, Hecataeus of Abdera, Megasthenes, and Agatharcides. In addition, the structure of half a dozen ethnographical accounts of the Jews will be analyzed.

The genre seems to have originated in Ionia during the late sixth and the early fifth century. Hecataeus of Miletus is universally acknowledged as its originator. However, only relatively short fragments of his writings have survived.[38] The first real evidence for the rules and structure of ethnographical works is to be found in the excursuses on various nations included in the Histories of Herodotus. The most detailed of these excursuses, and the ones most similar to Hellenistic ethnographies, are the logoi on the Egyptians (II.2-182) and the Scythians (IV.5-82).


Many conjectures have been proffered as to the sources and original forms of the two excursuses, which by themselves contribute to our understanding of the development of the ethnographic genre. It has been suggested that the contents of the Egyptian excursus were basically influenced by the Egyptian ethnography of Hecataeus of Miletus included in his Periegesis . If this is correct, the structure of the Herodotean excursus may resemble that of its predecessor However, the extent to which the "father of ethnography" influenced the "father of history" is disputed.[39] Similarly, there is no unanimity as to the stages of composition of Herodotus's ethnographies. In the past many scholars were of the opinion that the two excursuses were originally written as independent logoi and only later incorporated by Herodotus into his great work. Others think that the excursuses were never meant to be independent, but were first written as "rough drafts" planned for inclusion in existing sections of the Histories .[40] Be that as it may, the composition of the excursuses, as they now stand, was dictated by a clear conception as to the structure and contents of the ethnographical work.[41]

The Egyptian excursus, which is the longer of the two, contains the following sections:[42] (a) the origo of the Egyptian people, or rather their archaeologia , describing the antiquity of the Egyptians and their contribution to the beginnings of civilization (II.2-4);[43] (b) the geography of Egypt (5-34); (c) customs (35-98), with Egyptian cult and beliefs described in the middle of the section (37-76); (d) history, recounting stories about famous Egyptian rulers and their major achievements (99-182). The first three sections appear in the same order in the Scythian excursus: (a) the origo , offering various speculations on the descent of the Scythians, who are introduced, unlike the Egyptians, as


the youngest of all nations (IV.5-15);[44] (b) the geography of the various Scythian regions and tribes (16-58: this section is interrupted by two accounts that do not directly relate to the Scythian territories [32-36; 36-45]; a description of the Scythian coast and borders appears separately in the course of the historical narrative that follows [99-101]); (c) customs (59-82), including at the beginning an account of cults and beliefs (59-63). In contrast to the Egyptian ethnography, there is no survey of Scythian rulers and their achievements, presumably because of a lack of sufficient material.[45]

Close acquaintance with the oriental world in the wake of Alexander's expedition naturally stimulated much ethnographical writing and set new standards for the genre.[46] The pioneer of the new ethnography was Hecataeus of Abdera, who provided a model for ethnographical writing and was for many years widely imitated by Hellenistic ethnographers.[47] Nevertheless, Hellenistic ethnography did not entirely depart from the Ionian tradition. The basic schematic structure of the Herodotean ethnographical excursus (especially that of the Egyptian logos ) still guided Hellenistic ethnographers.[48] This applies not only to authors like Agatharcides of Cnidus, who expressed admiration for Herodotus's achievements, but also to Hecataeus, who did not greatly appreciate him. The latter even occasionally drew on Herodotus, although he had opportunities to consult much better sources.

Of Hecataeus's two ethnographical books known to us, On the Egyptians was the longer and more important. It was preserved, in an abbreviated form, in Book I of Diodorus's Historical Library , which contains the ethnography of Egypt.[49] Diodorus's lack of originality


in transmitting the narrative material of his sources must also be characteristic of the structure of his books. We can therefore assume that the scheme of the ethnographical account in Diodorus's Book I reflects that of Hecataeus's original work.

The structure of Hecataeus's book has already been surveyed and analyzed by quite a number of scholars.[50] The general division is supported by the captions (epikephalaia ) that precede Diodorus's Book I, the internal division of that book into two parts, and the prefaces and endnotes to the sections (I.29.6, 41.10, 42.1-2, 69.1-2; II.1-2). Consequently, there are no significant differences between the various reconstructions. All of them assume that Hecataeus's book was divided into four sections: (a) theologoumena , that is, theology (Diod. I.10-29);[51] (b) geography (30-31; on 32-41 see below); (c) history (42.2-68); (d) nomima , or customs and manners (69-98). In the following pages the titles of the sections will be examined, as well as the arrangement of material and emphasis in each of them.

The title theologoumena for the first section is derived from an expression used by Diodorus in its closing sentence: "This is what can be said about the theological matters [ image] of the Egyptians" (I.29.6). At first sight, it may appear that the section differs from the origo-archaeologia , the first section of Herodotus's Egyptian ethnography. However, a close look at the contents shows that its primary purpose was much the same. The section opens with the genesis of life in general, and goes on to the creation of the human species and subsequent development of society. According to Hecataeus all these occurred in Egypt as a result of its special climate and soil (I.10). The Egyptian people are thus autochthonous, as indicated by Herodotus. The section ends with an appendix on the beginnings of other nations through dispersal from Egypt (28-29), which further proves that it was an origo-archaeologia . In the middle of the section there is indeed an account of the creation and origin of the Egyptian religion. This is why Diodorus named the whole section theologoumena . It includes an explanation of how belief in the celestial bodies arose in Egypt (11), an identification of certain Egyptian gods with the five basic


elements (12), the deification of past Egyptian heroes and kings and their achievements (13), the introduction of civilization to Egypt and the inhabited world by Osiris (14-20), and a series of mythological tales about Osiris and Isis (21-27). However, all these components are clearly meant to show the development of early Egyptian civilization in the mythological age, before the historical period of the kings, and particularly its great contribution to the beginnings of humanity. The contribution is demonstrated by the very creation of belief in gods, and by a number of useful inventions attributed to Egyptian personalities, said to have been consequently deified. Similarly, the Egyptian contribution to early civilization (including the invention of religion) occupies a substantial part of the first section of Herodotus's Egyptian ethnography (II.4), which is only natural for an origo-archaeologia section on an autochthonic nation. Significantly Hecataeus does not describe the role of the animal gods according to Egyptian beliefs in this section, which would have been expected of a proper theological account, nor does he elaborate on Egyptian cult (apart from occasional references and etiological hints).[52] He does these, and with much detail, only in the fourth section, the nomima .

In contrast to the first section, the Diodorean titles of the other sections properly reflect their purpose and contents. Nevertheless, some clarification is still necessary. The second section of Diodorus's version, the geography (30-41), opens with an account of the boundaries of Egypt and refers to its great population (30-31.8). This was taken from Hecataeus. Then comes a sentence by Diodorus (31.9) in which he indicates that although his source (i.e., Hecataeus) passed on to the history section, he will insert a detailed report on the Nile. It is assumed that the long digression on the Nile, which follows (32-41), was drawn from Agatharcides of Cnidus.[53] Hecataeus did not devote much attention to the subject, presumably because it could not contribute much to the social and political purposes that guided him in writing his book.[54] If so, we see that an ethnographical work does not necessarily include a comprehensive account of all geographical features, even if they are in themselves of special interest. Their inclusion


depends on their relevance to the purposes of the ethnographical work as a whole.

The third section comprises the major achievements of outstanding kings (I.42.2-68). Diodorus himself so defines the contents of the section (I.44.4-5), which is actually neither a history nor a chronicle. Like Herodotus, the author mentions only those kings whose achievements included impressive, monumental, building projects (temples, palaces, pyramids, dams, canals, etc.) as well as leading military expeditions beyond the borders of Egypt (cf. 71.5). In addition, he refers here and there to kings known for such curious and exceptional actions as the accumulation of numerous treasures, excessive cruelty, hospitality to foreigners, metamorphosis into animals or trees, and the like.

The fourth and last section (I.69-98) is defined by Diodorus as nomima ("customs," 69.2), "habits and laws" (69.6), and even "everyday life" (bios , 41.10). According to the contents it should rather be called "customs, laws, and institutions." The location of the nomima in the fourth place is exceptional. In other ethnographies it precedes the history, and sometimes even the geography. The reason for this may be that part of the customs are explained by the section about the rulers (especially the account of the practices of the Egyptian royalty, which opens the nomima ). Naturally that section also includes many typical Egyptian customs (e.g., the building of pyramids).

The material included by Hecataeus was rather selective, and consisted only of curiosities or information that might be "most useful" (69.2). Diodorus made a further selection from this material (72.6, 84.4, 89.4). The section contains the following subjects: everyday life of the kings, describing regular daily sacrifices and the role of the priests, subordination to laws, the loyalty of the people, funerary and mourning ceremonies (70-72); agrarian arrangements and social classes (73-74); jurisprudence, including judges, procedure, offenses, and penalties (75-80.2); marriage and child rearing (80.3-81); health and medicine (82); animal worship (83-90); mourning and funeral customs of ordinary people (91-93); a list of Egyptian lawgivers (94-95); and finally, famous Greek poets, lawgivers, and philosophers who visited Egypt and were inspired by its customs and culture (96-98). As was mentioned above, Egyptian cult was not included by Hecataeus in the first section, but among the nomima . The survey indeed refers only to animal worship, but one can assume that it also included other cult forms. Diodorus


hints that he abbreviated the account of Egyptian cult (84.4, 89.4), presumably deleting practices that were not "curious" enough.

Far less has been preserved of Hecataeus's second ethnographical work, On the Hyperboreans . It was not just a short treatise, but, as appears from a reference in a scholion to Apollonius Rhodius (FGrH IIIA, 264 F 10), it comprised at least two books. However, all we have is a brief summary by Diodorus (II.47) and a few short fragments and testimonia in Hellenistic and Roman authors, as well as ones found in Byzantine lexicons and scholia.[55] Diodorus's summary suggests the following sections: geography (II.47.1-2); nomima (2-6)—beliefs and cult (2-

3); customs and other characteristics (4-6).[56] The inclusion of the origo section can be deduced from a scholion to Pindar (FGrH IIIA, 264 F 9). It quotes different views of the origin of the Hyperboreans, and says that Hecataeus had another version of their descent. Hecataeus's version itself is not recorded. The scholion to Apollonius Rhodius states that according to Hecataeus there were three Hyperborean tribes (ethne ). One can consequently assume that Hecataeus discussed the origin of the three Hyperborean tribes and the foundation of Hyperborean society.[57] The Hyperboreans being an imaginary, utopian nation, their origo may well have been described as autochthonous, considered the ideal descent, as was that of the Panchaeans in Euhemerus's celebrated ethnography-utopia (Diod. V.42.5). The other fragments provide additional material on the geography of the Hyperborean country (e.g., Strabo VII.3.6; Pliny, NH IV.94), on their religion (mainly Ael. NA XI.1), and on other customs (Plut. QC IV.3.1).

In view of the structure of other ethnographies, it is very likely that Hecataeus's Hyperborean ethnography also opened with an origo section. Its absence in Diodorus's summary does not impose a particular difficulty: Jacoby has already shown that Diodorus was not directly acquainted with Hecataeus's treatise, but rather knew of it through


a secondary source that preceded the abstracts with the question of whether the Hyperboreans lived in Asia or in Europe.[58] It is therefore only natural that the intermediate source omitted the origo , and opened with the geographical section. From geography it continued on to customs (including religion). That author did not return to the origo , either through negligence or because it was not important for his case.[59] It should be noted that the origo section heads Euhemerus's Panchaean ethnography, and is followed by geography and customs (Diod. V.42.4-46.7).

Hecataeus's counterpart at the Seleucid court in the first generation of the Hellenistic kings was Megasthenes.[60] Like Hecataeus, he also went on diplomatic missions, first and foremost to the Indian king Sandracottus (Candragupta). His Indica served as the main source of information for the accounts of India written by Diodorus, Strabo, and Arrian, and its influence can also be traced in fragments from other authors.[61] The work was not exactly an eyewitness account, as might be expected, but was based on hearsay, folklore, and local legends, as well as on information drawn from Megasthenes' predecessors—Herodotus, Ctesias, Nearchus, and others. All these were occasionally supplemented by the author's own experiences. Hecataeus's influence


can be recognized in the structure, the author's approach and etiological techniques, and above all in his tendency to idealize the political and social structure and practices of the subjects of his ethnography.[62]

Of all the accounts that drew on Megasthenes, the most important for our discussion is Diodorus's Indian excursus, included in Book II of his Library (II.35-42). It was taken solely from Megasthenes,[63] and so it stands to reason that Diodorus, more than others, preserved the original structure of Megasthenes' ethnography. The various attempts at reconstructing Megasthenes' Indica are consequently based chiefly on Diodorus.[64] This is, however, not particularly easy, since Diodorus drastically abbreviated the original work. Furthermore, the complementary extracts preserved by Strabo and Arrian are themselves part of concise versions (see, e.g., Arrian, Indica XVII.6), and what is worse, they evidently did not adhere to Megasthenes' sequence.

Diodorus's excursus opens with the geography of India (II.35-37). He surveys the borders, terrain, flora and fauna, minerals, precipitation, and rivers. To these has to be added the description of Palimbothra (Pataliputra image), the capital of Sandracottus (Arr. Ind . X, Strabo XV.1.36, Ael. NA XIII.18). The influence of physical geography on the development of a country's civilization and history and on the characteristics and customs of its people was stressed by Megasthenes more than by other ethnographers. Such references already recur in the geographical section itself (e.g., Diod. II.35.4; 36.1, 4, 6-7; 37.3). The geographical section thus also serves as a preface to the following sections; hence its location at the head of the work.

Diodorus's second section deals with the origo-archaeologia (II.38-39; cf. Arr. Ind . VII.1-3)—the inhabitants' being autochthonous and the


life of the first human beings—and, as in Hecataeus, it elaborates on the development of civilization. In this framework the role of Dionysus and Heracles in introducing civilization to India is described in detail. There is also a reference to religious matters: Dionysus is said to have taught the Indians to respect the gods (Diod. II.39). It may well be that in this context, Megasthenes, like Hecataeus, expanded on Indian beliefs, although he later returned to the subject in the account of Indian castes, included in the section on customs. Further supplements, especially with regard to the contributions of Dionysus and Heracles, are mainly provided by Arrian (Ind . V. 9-13, VII-IX.8).[65]

The determination of the origo as the second component in Megasthenes' work faces an obstacle: Josephus writes in the Jewish Antiquities (X.227) and Against Apion (I.144) that in Book IV of his Indica Megasthenes tried to prove that Nabuchodonosor (Nebuchadnezzar) "exceeded Heracles in his heroism and the greatness of his deeds." This statement has been brought forward as (sole) evidence for the accepted view that Megasthenes' work consisted of four books. As it mentions Heracles, it was naturally assumed that the reference is to the account of his Indian expedition, recorded by Diodorus in the origo section. Hence the conclusion of some scholars that the origo was included in the fourth book of the Indica .[66] As we shall see later, the nomima were undoubtedly included in Books II and III. It therefore may appear that the origo was placed at the end of the ethnography. This by itself would be rather strange,[67] and would not correspond with the location of the origo in Diodorus.


An examination of the reference to Nebuchadnezzar indeed suggests that it was not included in the origo : a similar allusion to Nebuchadnezzar, which is attributed to Megasthenes, appears in Strabo (XV.1.6-7), in an extract much longer than the Josephus reference. Megasthenes states that the Indians never undertook military expeditions and had never been occupied by foreigners, apart from the occupations by Dionysus, Heracles, and Alexander the Great. He then continues by listing a number of celebrated oriental emperors, including Nebuchadnezzar, saying that despite their great achievements elsewhere, none of them had invaded India.[68] In this context he notes that the Babylonian emperor had a greater reputation among the Chaldaeans than even Heracles and that he led an expedition to the Pillars. The context indicates that the passage was taken not necessarily from the account of Heracles' contribution to the development of Indian civilization (i.e., from the origo ), but from a section on the kings and their achievements.[69] A passage quite similar to that quoted by Strabo (though making no mention of Nebuchadnezzar) indeed appears in Arrian at the end of a short survey of the Indian kings (Ind . IX.10-12; cf. V.4-8), based on Megasthenes (VIII.6, IX.8).

The contents of this survey (Ind . VIII-IX) in themselves prove that Megasthenes' work did include a section on the kings and their achievements, though it is missing from Diodorus's Indian excursus. The extract records the names of several kings who reigned after Dionysus, their years of rule, the number of generations from Dionysus to Heracles, the rise of the dynasty related to Heracles' daughter, the number of kings and years from Dionysus to Sandracottus, Megasthenes' contemporary, and some notes on attempted invasions and foreign occupations. The references to Dionysus and Heracles in this survey, and especially to the role of the former in introducing civilization to India, which


were described in detail in the origo section (Diod. II.38-39), do not prove that it was taken from the origo . Similarly Hecataeus opens his section on Egyptian kings with a short recapitulation of the main stages in the development of Egyptian civilization and the roles (and reigns) of mythological god-kings like Isis and Horus (I.43-44) before elaborating on the historical kings, although the former were already described in detail in the origo section. Like Megasthenes, he appends on this occasion summary numbers of kings and years, and even briefly mentions the foreign occupations.

Arrian refrains from quoting the subsequent detailed account of the Indian kings. As he himself testifies, the ethnography in his Indica is only a preface to the main purpose of the book—recounting the story of the naval expedition initiated by Alexander from Persia to India. Therefore he recorded only the "most notable" of the nomima he had found in Nearchus and Megasthenes (XVII.6-7). The emphasis was accordingly laid at the outset on customs, and even these were carefully selected and considerably abbreviated. He was not interested in the detailed history of the nonmythological kings. Diodorus, on his part, did not incorporate the section on the kings in his version, probably assuming that the names of Indian kings would not mean anything to the Greek reader, in contrast to those of the Egyptian and Mesopotamian kings. The detailed report by Herodotus (and possibly also by his predecessors) about the achievements of the latter introduced them into the corpus of Greek historical knowledge.

Diodorus's ethnographical excursus closes with a section on customs (II.39.5-42.2). It briefly comments on the absence of slavery in India (39.5), surveys the seven castes (40.1-41.5), and gives a long description of Indian elephants and their habits (42.1-2). Apart from the description of Indian elephants, Diodorus greatly abbreviated the nomima , omitting most of them. A number of subjects that Strabo explicitly attributed to Megasthenes can help in reconstructing this section: the simple life of the Indians, their self-restraint, oral laws and their characteristics, abstinence from alcoholic drinks, eating in solitude, physical activity, burial customs, body ornaments, clothing, attitude toward elderly people, marriage customs, and court practices (XV.1.53-55). Some of these subjects have parallels in Arrian, who supplements them with descriptions of urban construction, transportation, courting customs, and dining practices (Indica VIII.17). All these are likewise said to have been taken from Megasthenes.


The tenets and practices of Indian religion, which were already briefly referred to in the origo , are scattered among the nomima (e.g., sacrifices), mainly in the framework of the account of classes. Especially detailed is Strabo's version of the first caste, that of the philosophers (XV.1.58-60), drawn from Megasthenes (58.1, 59.1). It proves their connection with the Dionysian religion (58), distinguishes between the Brachmanes and the Garmanes, and elaborates on their unique ethics, way of life, and beliefs, especially on death and the creation and governance of the universe.

The account of elephants, their characteristics and habits, and elephant hunts appears in Diodorus after the survey of classes (cf. Arr. Ind . XIII-XV). In contrast to the views of some scholars, I do not think it was taken from an independent section dealing with thaumasia ("wonders," "curiosities"). In Strabo's version it is included in the account of the third class—that of farmers and hunters (XV.1.42-45)—and this may well have been its place in Megasthenes' ethnography. It could also be that the account of hunting and taming methods, which were described in particular detail, was attached as an appendix to the survey of the classes, as in Diodorus and also in Arrian (Ind . XIII).[70] An appendix to a section is also known from Hecataeus's Egyptian ethnography. It is almost certain that Megasthenes' work included accounts of hunting methods and the behavior of various wild animals: Strabo, attributing his information to Megasthenes, describes wild animals that had been domesticated in other countries, as well as unusual horses, monkeys, tigers, snakes, and scorpions (Strabo XV.1.37, 44-45, 56; cf. Ael. NA XVI.41; Pliny, NH VIII.14.1). Parallels for these descriptions can be found in references to wild animals, birds, and reptiles by Strabo and Arrian, which are attributed by them to Nearchus (Strabo XV.1.15; Arr. Ind . VIII.15.1-2, 8-12).[71]


Which of Megasthenes' books included the nomima section? Athenaeus (IV.153d) quotes a piece of information from Megasthenes' Book II about table setting as practiced by Indians. Clement of Alexandria (Strom . I.15) takes from Book Ill of the Indica a comparison between the views of Greek philosophers on nature and those of the Indian Brahmans. It can hence be accepted that Book II included the customs that were common to Indian society as a whole, and that Book III was devoted to those of individual castes.

To conclude: Megasthenes' work on India included the following sections: geography, origo , customs, and history of kings. The geography appeared in Book I; the origo , in the second part of that book or at the beginning of Book II. The nomima section was located in Books II and III, and the history of kings in Book IV. Wild animals were surveyed at the end of the nomima , as an appendix to the description of the castes, and the Indian religion in the origo , as well as in the nomima (in the latter section in relation to the class of philosophers). Geography was located at the head of the work, because Megasthenes believed it to exert a decisive influence on the other components.

Having dealt with Hecataeus and Megasthenes, the two great ethnographers of the beginning of the Hellenistic era, let us turn to Agatharcides of Cnidus, the most important figure in Alexandrian historiography, geography, and ethnography of the second century B.C. 72 Most of the fragments and extracts from his works are preserved in Diodorus's Book III, in Photius's Bibliotheca (213, 250), and in various books of Athenaeus's Deipnosophistae . The ethnographical passages deal with regions to the south of Egypt. The longest and most complete of them is the ethnographical account of the Ethiopians residing on the Upper Nile (Diod. III.2-10).

Diodorus himself states at the end of his excursus on the Ethiopian state that he drew his material from Agatharcides (III.11-12), adding that it was included in Book II of the work On Asian Matters . In the same sentence he also mentions Artemidorus of Ephesus as his source. It has already been accepted that Diodorus used Agatharcides indirectly


through the work of Artemidorus, who himself held closely to the original account by Agatharcides.[73] There is no reason not to assume that Diodorus's version properly reflects the structure of Agatharcides' ethnographical account, despite the obvious abbreviation.[74]

The excursus by Diodorus-Agatharcides opens with the origo-archaeologia of the Ethiopians (III.2-7). They are described as an autochthonous nation, and as the first human beings (2.1). The author stresses that they were the originators of religious beliefs and cults (2.2-3) and emphasizes their piety, and the resultant difficulty of conquering and controlling them (2.4-3.1). The section closes with an appendix similar to that attached to the origo of Hecataeus's Egyptian ethnography, on the origin of mankind from Ethiopia. However, only the colonization of Egypt by Ethiopians is described, with Agatharcides clearly accepting Hecataeus's version on the dispersion of other nations from Egypt. As evidence for the Ethiopian origin of the Egyptians, the author points out similarities in customs, physical features, and the development of script (3.1-5.4). Religious beliefs and cult are referred to in both this section and that on customs. There is a great resemblance between this origo section and the first section of Hecataeus's Egyptian ethnography, which indicates the influence of the latter,[75] and supports the conclusion above that Hecataeus's first section is not a theologoumena but is an origo-archaeologia : both sections open with the autochthonous origin of the nation described and the creation of mankind there. Next they discuss the development of civilization, laying stress on the rise of religious beliefs and the family of gods. The accounts close with migration from the country and the creation of new nations. Evidence is provided mainly by comparisons of customs.

The second section describes the Ethiopian nomima (Diod. III.5.1-9.4). The first part deals with the civilized Ethiopians (5-7), the second with the wild tribes (8), and the third with practices common to all the Ethiopians (9). The section concentrates on unique, curious customs


attributed to the Ethiopians. It also includes the Ethiopian belief in various gods interpreted according to the Euhemerist conception (9.1-2), though the religious originality of the Ethiopians was already surveyed in the origo . The last section deals with geography (10). It appears in Diodorus in an extremely abbreviated version, which certainly does not properly reflect Agatharcides' original account.[76] The excursus does not include a section on Ethiopian rulers, perhaps because Agatharcides was acquainted only with the names and deeds of the kings of the Hellenistic period (see on Ergamenes, Diod. III.6.3-4). As he could have sought support in royal Egyptian records (see III.38.1), it is possible that he did not bother to incorporate them into his account because the ancient Ethiopian kings had not had contacts with the Greek world in the past,[77] and were not mentioned by Herodotus. It may also be that it was Diodorus who omitted the section on the kings, for similar reasons, as he had done with regard to the survey by Megasthenes on the Indian kings.

Other fragments of Agatharcides, which also refer to Ethiopia (Photius, Bibl . cod. 250; GGM I.111-95), were taken from his book On the Red Sea . They do not deal with political entities, but with primitive tribes in the region. The account includes only geography and customs, and lays stress on thaumasia , namely miracles, curiosities, and exceptional phenomena. This focus indicates a shortage of authoritative information. The narrative inclines to the paradoxographical, rather than to ethnographical writing,[78] and therefore does not concern us here.

Having so far discussed some of the most important ethnographical monographs and excursuses of the classical and Hellenistic periods, we turn now to excursuses on Jews and Judaism in Hellenistic and Roman literature. The first comprehensive account on Jews and Judaism was the Jewish excursus by Hecataeus of Abdera, preserved by


Diodorus (XL.3.1-8) as an ethnographic introduction to the first Jewish confrontations with the Romans (63 B.C. ). The variety of subjects connected with this version concerning ancient Judaism was discussed above in Chapter I.2. With regard to the genre it was argued that the excursus is basically an ethnography and not a "foundation story" (ktisis ), despite the evident influence of Greek colonization traditions.[79] In the framework of the present chapter, I shall refer only to the general scheme of the excursus and related questions.

The excursus, as explicitly stated by Diodorus (XL.3.1), comprised a ktisis ("foundation") section (1-3) and a nomima section (3-8). The titles may well have recorded Hecataeus's original nomenclature. The excursus does not include sections on geography and history. Despite the abbreviation of Jewish daily practices by Diodorus,[80] it is quite certain that the two sections were missing in the original version. Diodorus would not have omitted historical and geographical accounts, had there been any, when he incorporated the excursus into Book XL. They would have served to introduce the reader to the geographical background of the Roman occupation. The absence of a historical section is not exceptional. A geographical section, however, is included in the conventional scheme of an ethnographical work, and in all later Jewish ethnographical excursuses. To understand this lacuna, the original location of the Jewish account in Hecataeus's work must be established. The discussion may reveal a subtype of the ethnographical excursus.

As has been universally accepted, the excursus could be taken only from Hecataeus's great Egyptian ethnography. It has been suggested by Jacoby that its exact location was in the framework of the appendix to the origo section, which described the migration of various nations from Egypt (Diod. I.28-29).[81] To examine this suggestion and its implications for the structure of the original Jewish excursus, let us take a closer look at the appendix.

The appendix opens with the statement "Now the Egyptians say that also after these events a great number of apoikiai were spread


from Egypt over all the inhabited world" (28.1; cf. 29.5). Then comes a short account of an emigration from Egypt to Babylon, led by the eponymous Belus, his appointment of priests, and the establishment of their rights and practices (28.1). It is followed by a short sentence about the emigration to Argos led by Danaus (28.2) and a statement that the Colchi in Pontus, as well as the Jews, were also emigrants from Egypt (28.2). To justify this statement, the author mentions the practice of circumcision as common among the Egyptians, the Colchi, and the Jews (28.3; cf. Hdt. II.104). The discussion then turns to the Athenians (Diod. I.28.4-29.5). Diodorus provides evidence as to their origin in Egypt: linguistic parallels, the similarity of political institutions and religious rituals, the Egyptian descent of some Athenian rulers, and some evidence for an Egyptian origin of two Athenian families. The appendix closes with the observation that the Egyptians attributed Egyptian origin to many other nations, but since they did not provide real evidence, he chose to ignore their claims (29.5).

It seems rather clear that the appendix was drastically abbreviated by Diodorus. Writing a universal history, he did not find it appropriate to include in the framework of the Egyptian ethnography detailed accounts about nations or cities that were to figure later in the course of his historical narrative. The passage on the Babylonians is evidently a shortened version of an ethnographical account that included their origo and nomima . Diodorus, for his own reasons, preferred to preserve only the information concerning the priests originally included in the nomima section. There is no reason not to think that the references to the Jews and the Colchi are likewise remnants of more detailed accounts. The case of the Athenians was different: Hecataeus was content with quoting evidence for their Egyptian descent, because there was no point in introducing an Athenian ethnography (or a comprehensive nomima section) to his prospective Greek readers. The same may apply to the Argives. It is difficult to know whether the original appendix included accounts of other nations. On the one hand, the note at the end of the appendix (29.5), casting doubt on Egyptian stories about the descent of other nations and cities from Egypt, does not seem to be Diodorean. On the other hand, the Jewish excursus mentions Cadmus as one of the leaders of Greek emigrants from Egypt, which indicates some account concerning Thebes. Be that as it may, the references to nations in the appendix reflect two types of account in the original text: (a) ethnographical accounts containing


only the origo and nomima ; (b) statements concerning migration and evidence pointing to it, especially common customs and institutions, and linguistic similarities. The absence of a geographical section and an account of rulers in both types is not accidental: after all, the author was primarily concerned in this context to stress the origin of certain nations in Egypt, with the evidence of Egyptian influences on their customs to prove it. Moreover, historical and especially geographical sections on foreign lands would have been quite out of place in a work on Egypt and the Egyptians.

The suggestion made by Jacoby, that the Jewish excursus had been taken by Diodorus from Hecataeus's appendix to the Egyptian origo , was based on the conclusion that the appendix included a series of ethnographical accounts of nations said to have migrated from Egypt; on the reference to the Jews in the appendix; on the reference in the excursus to the expulsion of foreigners to "Greece and other regions" and the explicit mention of Danaus (3.2), which recalls the information about the emigration to Greece and Asia Minor headed by Danaus found in the appendix (28.2); and finally, on the appearance of the phrase  image image ("in ancient times") both at the beginning of the excursus (3.1) and in the appendix with regard to the Jews (28.3). These points can be supplemented by further observations. First, there are striking parallels between the passage about the Babylonians in the appendix and the Jewish excursus (migration; leader-lawgiver; appointment of priests; privileges conferred upon the priests; duties and qualifications of the priests). Second, the excursus contains only the origo and nomima , like the Babylonian passage.[82]

It should be added that the absence of any reference to circumcision in the Jewish excursus as preserved by Diodorus, though it is mentioned in the appendix (I.28.3; cf. 55.5), does not detract from the validity of the above conclusion. The passage in the appendix about circumcision among the Egyptians, the Jews, and the Colchi may have been a general preface by Hecataeus to his more detailed account of the latter two nations, which made the listing of circumcision among their nomima rather redundant. It could also be that it was Diodorus who omitted circumcision from the excursus, as he had done with all Jewish practices re-


lating to private life (XL.3.8). Citing these practices could not contribute to the main purpose for which the excursus was quoted by Diodorus.

Another difficulty with Jacoby's suggestion is the apparent discrepancy between the excursus and the appendix with regard to the cause of the emigration: the excursus speaks about the expulsion of Jews and Greeks from Egypt (Diod. XL.3.1-2), while the appendix does not mention an expulsion, but describes the settlements founded by the Jews and other nations as apoikiai ("colonies") "spread from Egypt" (I.28.1) and "founded by emigrants from Egypt" (28.2). However, the absence of a reference to the expulsion can be attributed to the drastic abbreviation of the appendix by Diodorus, which is especially evident in its first paragraphs.[83] As for the terminology, the fact is that even a settlement of exiles was called an apoikia .[84] Moreover, such inconsistency exists in the excursus itself, which shortly afterwards uses the same term for the settlement of Jews by Moses in Judea (XL.3.3). We have already seen that the terminology, like other features in the excursus, was deeply influenced by foundation traditions.[85] The same naturally applies to the appendix, which deals with emigrations.

To sum up: Diodorus took the excursus from Hecataeus's appendix, and like other ethnographical accounts in that appendix, the original text contained only two sections: the origo and the nomima . With regard to the general question of the structure of ethnographical works, it appears that there was a subtype of ethnographical excursus, which, because of the special context, consisted of only two of the major components: the origo and the nomima .

Hecataeus's Jewish excursus deeply influenced, directly and indirectly, the contents of almost all ethnographical accounts of and references to the Jews and Judaism written by Hellenistic and Roman authors. Although they had the possibility of acquiring better and more accurate knowledge, they preferred to adhere to the earliest account. A similar tendency can also be observed in ethnographies of other nations, which are merely expanded adaptations of earlier ethnographies.[86] However, the structure of later Jewish ethnographies


follows the conventional scheme of an ethnographical treatise, as reflected in Hecataeus's account of the Egyptians, and not the shortened, exceptional one of his Jewish excursus and his other "miniatures." As the Jewish ethnographies were written in the time of the Hasmonean state and afterwards, a section on Jewish rulers was also included.

Strabo's ethnographical excursus on the Jews, incorporated in his Geography (XVI.2.34-39), is the best example of Hecataeus's influence. The excursus, which was taken from Posidonius of Apamea, is a consistent adaptation (frequently also a deliberate reversal), following Hecataeus step by step. Hecataeus's information is reshaped in the spirit of the Middle Stoa. Mosaic Judaism, which Posidonius contrasts with later Judaism, is clearly a utopian society intended to serve as a model. Its way of life is actually a reflection of the social, religious, and political ideals of Posidonius himself. Posidonius's purpose from the outset was not to provide information on the Jews, but to show that his own theoretical ideals were not impractically utopian but could be (and were) realized in practice.[87]

Strabo's excursus opens with the statement that Moses was an Egyptian priest. Then follows a description of the Jewish faith and the story of the migration from Egypt (XVI.2.35-36). The integration of theology into the origo is necessary for his original explanation of the Exodus: Moses and his followers, who are introduced as what might be called "intellectual Egyptians," left Egypt because they were dissatisfied with the local cult and aspired to establish a new religion, free of any material representation of the divine. In order to explain why the Jews chose to settle in Jerusalem, the author includes a few sentences on the water supply and soil of the city and its surroundings (2.36).

A comprehensive geographical account of the Jewish land appears in the sequence of Strabo's general geographic narrative, preceding and following the Jewish excursus (2.34, 41-45), but not in the excursus itself. This geographical account combines two sources, Posidonius and Artemidorus,[88] and is artificially separated into two parts by the ethnographical excursus. It includes, among other things, a repetition


(with one addition) of the references to Jerusalem and its surroundings that have already appeared in the ethnographical excursus (2.40). Thus it is possible that in Posidonius's original Jewish excursus there was a detailed section on the geography of Judea that followed the origo , and not just a few sentences on Jerusalem.

The next section, the nomima , lists a number of Stoic-influenced practices and ideals, which the author attributes to Moses: refraining from military exercises and armament, from excessive expenditures on the religious cult, and from establishing governmental institutions (2.36). The section is rather short in comparison with its equivalents in other Jewish ethnographies. This is not surprising in view of Posidonius's purpose: he took from Hecataeus only those customs that he could bring into conformity (or reverse to fit) with his Stoic conceptions and ideals. The excursus closes with a section on Jewish rulers after Moses, the founder. The author refers mainly to the Hasmonean leaders and kings, described as tyrants who departed from the Mosaic heritage (2.37, 39). An appendix to the section on the Jewish rulers elaborates on famous ancient prophets and lawgivers. The appendix was taken by Strabo not from Posidonius but from an unknown source.[89]

A Jewish excursus that ignored the Hecataean tradition altogether was written by Pompeius Trogus, the Augustan historian. The excursus, originally included in Trogus's Historiae Philippicae , has come down to us in an abbreviated version in the epitome of Justin, from the third century A.D. (XXXVI.2.1-3.8), and it appears to be a rather confused mixture of information from various sources.[90] The structure is, however, identical to the conventional scheme of Hellenistic ethnographical works.

The excursus opens with a complicated, long version of the Jewish origo , which combines several traditions (2.1-14): the Jews are said to have arisen from a royal dynasty ruling in Damascus. The author refers specifically to Abraham, Israel and his twelve children, and the creation of the twelve tribes (in Damascus?). After this he goes on to describe the sale of Joseph to the Egyptians and Joseph's success in Egypt. Moses, according to Trogus's story, was Joseph's son, and is said to have left


Egypt at the head of all the Egyptians who suffered from pestilence and leprosy. The account of the Jews wandering in the desert and the relation of the Jews to Mount Sinai is no less distorted.

The second section is devoted to Jewish customs (2.14-15). It is directly connected with the origo : Jewish practices are explained by the circumstances of the residence in and expulsion from Egypt. Thus, for instance, the Sabbath is said to have been established as a fast day to commemorate a seven days' fast at the time of the wanderings in the desert. Moreover, Jewish religious practices are characterized as typically Egyptian. Consequently the excursus devotes just one short sentence to the Jewish faith and cult. Egyptian beliefs themselves were probably described, in a manner similar to that of Hecataeus, in the framework of the Egyptian origines known to have been included in Book I of Pompeius Trogus's historical work (according to his Prol . I). The Jews are said to be ruled by kings who also served as priests. Pompeius Trogus was informed on this point by sources referring to the Hasmonean period. Contrary to the accounts of other gentile authors, however, this system of government is presented by him as traditionally Jewish, originating with Arruas (Aaron, Moses' son in his version).

After the customs comes the geography (3.1-7). Justin's version is not comprehensive. It relates only to what he calls the sources of Jewish wealth—the balsam of the Jericho Valley and the natural resources of the Dead Sea. It is possible that the original account included a comprehensive geographical section and that Justin omitted most of it, as he had done with other geographical excursuses.[91] Justin preserved only the passages that described the districts and features unique to Judea. The references to Jewish wealth may indicate that Pompeius Trogus also used the geographical excursus to illustrate and explain other features of Jewish life.

Justin closes the excursus with a short passage on the period of Jewish subjection, from Xerxes (instead of Cyrus) up to the gaining of independence, dated to the time of Demetrius (I or II; unspecified). The section does not record the deeds of Jewish rulers, because in this case an account of the Hasmonaeans would have been redundant: the excursus was preceded in the same book by a description of the campaign of


Antiochus VII against John Hyrcanus (Prol . XXXVI), and the same book later recorded events in the days of his successors (Prol . XXXIX, Justin XL.2.4). Those chapters in Pompeius Trogus's original book must certainly have expanded on the characteristics of the Hasmonean dynasty from the viewpoint of the Hellenistic world.

The best-known and most detailed Jewish ethnography at our disposal is Tacitus's notorious excursus in Book V of his Histories (V.2-10). It served as a preface to his account of Titus's siege and conquest of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple.[92] The contents of the excursus were influenced by Hecataeus, as well as by later hostile references and rumors about Jews and Judaism, all carrying Tacitus's strong imprint. The structure follows the conventional scheme of four sections. However, their sequence and contents, and the internal order of each section, differ from those of other Jewish ethnographies. They are dictated by the context of the excursus, Tacitus's tendency to arrange topics associatively in his ethnographical works,[93] and his extremely negative opinion of Jews and Judaism.

The excursus opens with the origo . Tacitus raises a number of conjectures as to the origin of the Jews. All are connected with stories of migration, expulsion, or flight from Crete, Ethiopia, Assyria, and Asia Minor (Hist . V.2). Tacitus himself accepts the anti-Semitic Egyptian-Greek versions of the Jewish Exodus from Egypt (3). The origo is followed by customs (4-5), and not by the geography as is usual in Tacitus. The reason is first and foremost the thematic association: Tacitus opens the customs section with those Jewish cult practices that could be explained by events from the time of the expulsion. Furthermore, contrary to his practice in other ethnographies (e.g., Germania 5.1ff., Agricola 11), Tacitus does not apply geographical explanations to Jewish customs. He therefore did not have any reason to place the geography before the customs.

The customs section breaks down into two parts: the first (Hist . V.4) deals with Jewish cult and religious customs (some alleged), which are explained by the Jewish origo . The second (5) contains customs that are not connected with early Jewish history, but arise from what


Tacitus calls the Jewish pravitas ("corrupted character").[94] It ends with a reference to Jewish monotheism, which is followed by the statement that the Jews refrained from making graven representations of the divine and from deifying kings. These features of the Jewish cult and creed were discussed at the end of the section because of association with the preceding material on Jewish customs.[95] Since Tacitus mentioned there the similarity between the burial customs and the belief in immortality of Egyptians and Jews, he also found it appropriate to stress the fundamental differences in the cults of the two nations. It stands to reason that Tacitus deferred the account of Jewish beliefs to the end of the customs section because of his lack of appreciation for Jewish religion: in his view Jewish religious conceptions did not originate in authentic, positive religious and moral thinking, but from hatred for mankind and anything sanctified by the civilized world. In his view this negative motivation also characterized most Jewish religious practices (mainly 3.1; 5.1, 5).

The geography occupies the third part of the work (Hist . V.6-8). The survey covers the borders of Judea, climate, flora, and terrain—soil, mountains, rivers, and lakes. Special attention is given to the balsam of Jericho and the unique phenomena of the Dead Sea. The description of Jerusalem (8) is rather short, relative to the rest of the section, because the report on the beginning of Titus's siege, which follows the excursus, is accompanied by a detailed description of the city: its hills and walls, and the Temple fortifications (11-12). As was said above, in contrast to other ethnographies, Tacitus in the Histories does not use the geography in any way to explain Jewish character and customs. He was obviously unable to connect the pleasant features of the land and its climate with his hostile characterization of its inhabitants. The account, therefore, remains cool and "neutral," unlike the other sections of the excursus.

The historical discussion makes up the fourth section, the very last in the excursus (Hist . V.8-10). Contrary to the usual practice in non-Jewish ethnographies, it is not an account of rulers alone, but a summary of later Jewish history. In this respect Tacitus's version is similar to other Jewish ethnographies, but it differs from them in the emphasis laid on periods of foreign rule. The report opens with


the subjection of the Jews to the oriental empires and the Macedonian kingdoms (8.2-3), continues with a brief, condensed reference to the Hasmonean rulers (8.3), and closes with the development of Jewish-Roman relations from the occupation by Pompey up to the Great Revolt (9-10). Tacitus deviates from the accepted scheme in this section because of his overall purpose and because of the context. The first period of Jewish subjugation serves as evidence for the inferior, "servile" position of the Jews in history (8.2), and the period under Roman occupation is a preface to the story of the Roman-Jewish war. It ends in the Year of the Four Emperors and is thus naturally integrated into the account of the siege of Jerusalem. For reasons related to the context (although in an entirely different manner), Tacitus's excursus on the British in Agricota (13ff.) also expands on the history of Roman rule in Britain and mentions only in passing that in the past the British had had kings of their own.

To sum up the discussion: the above survey of ethnographical monographs and excursuses shows that the conventional ethnography was composed of three or four sections, in the following order: origo-archaeologia , geography, customs, and history of rulers. The origo almost always opened the ethnographical work, and only in one case was it replaced by the geography. The geographical account usually preceded that of customs, while in the Jewish excursuses the customs section comes before the geographical account. The fourth component, the history of rulers, was sometimes absent, and in a number of Jewish excursuses it takes the form of a concise history of the nation in the time of the Second Temple. A cursory glance at some Roman ethnographies suffices to show that they followed the same basic scheme (e.g., Tacitus's Germania and Agricola ; Atom. Marc. XV.9-12).

The origin of the nation heads the ethnographical work because according to the conception of ethnographical literature the origo was the main clue to understanding the character, customs, and history of a nation. All these were thought to have been deeply influenced by the special circumstances of the nation's birth.[96] The origin may be autochthonous or connected with a migration. In the case of


autochthonous peoples (Egyptians, Ethiopians, or Indians), the origo-archaeologia section includes the claim for the genesis of the human race (or life in general) in their countries and the early stages of civilization. These accounts include the beginnings of the belief in gods and the role of certain gods and mythological figures in the introduction of civilization. With regard to migrating nations, the basic beliefs are recorded in the customs section. Only Strabo's Jewish excursus records the Jewish faith and some basic religious practices in the framework of the origo , for, according to the author's view, the very migration was motivated by philosophical-religious aspirations.

The origo-archaeologia of an autochthonous nation is sometimes supplemented by appendixes on nations created by migration from its land. Such an appendix consists of a series of independent ethnographical accounts. Unlike the ordinary ethnographical monograph or excursus, they contain only the two sections required by the context: the story of the migration (i.e., the origo ) and the nomima . Hecataeus's account of Jews and Judaism belongs to this exceptional category. In the case of famous Greek cities like Athens, the ethnographical account is replaced by a statement about the migration and indirect evidence that it did in fact occur, based mainly on language, customs, and institutions.

The geography usually appears as the second section. Ethnographers attributed to geography great influence (though usually less than to the origo ) on the shaping and development of a nation. Climate, soil, topography, and water are described as decisive factors.[97] Hence the prominent position of the geographical section in second place, before customs. Geography was considered to have a greater impact on autochthonous than on migrating nations. In the case of Megasthenes this even caused him to place the Indian geography before the origo .[98]


The section on customs, the nomima , is as a rule located third, after the origo and geography. In some cases, customs precede the geography, despite the influence of the latter component on the life of a nation. This happens, for instance, in the Jewish excursuses, where the connection between the customs and the origo is too evident to be deferred to a later stage in the account. The nomima are actually the "heart" of an ethnography. Ethnographical works were written first and foremost either to teach the reader about the characteristics and everyday life of a nation or to achieve some political, social, or religious goal. The customs section also includes religious creeds and practices, if these are not recorded in the origo .

An ethnographical work usually closes with a historical section. For reasons connected with the specific contents, Hecataeus's Egyptian ethnography places history before the nomima . The ordinary historical section covers only the most famous rulers, laying stress on their major achievements, especially great military expeditions and building projects. In the case of the Jews this is replaced by a general historical outline, mainly of the changes in the political status of the nation from subjection to independence and back to subjection, without naming individual rulers. Later ethnographers comment on the policies of the Hasmoneans.

The historical section is missing in the ethnographies of some nations. The authors either did not know much about their rulers, or assumed that the reader would not be interested in the names of rulers who were not mentioned by Herodotus or other classical authors.

For the sake of the following discussion on the structure of Pseudo-Hecataeus's treatise, it should be repeated that apart from one case, the surveyed ethnographical works all open with the origo . Only in Megasthenes' Indian ethnography does the origo-archaeologia appear in second place, after geography. It should also be stressed that the origo opens Hecataeus's two ethnographies, his excursus on the Jews, and all the surviving excursuses on Jews and Judaism.

4. The Structure of on the Jews: the Place and Role of the Hezekiah Story

Hecataeus's passages in Against Apion contain at least two sections of the four common in ethnographic literature: (a) customs (including


religion: Ap . I.188, 190-94, 201-2; II.43;[99] Orig. C. Cels . I.15);[100] (b) geography (including descriptions of the Temple and demography, Ap . I.195-200).

The passages do not make any reference to the traditional Jewish origo —the patriarchs, the former Jewish residence in Egypt, Moses' personality and accomplishments, the Exodus, and the settlement in Canaan. Nor is there any mention of Jewish rulers, the kings or later secular and religious leaders (except for Hezekiah). There is no doubt that all these were absent from the treatise: the very quotation of the passages by Josephus is meant to prove that Greek and Hellenistic authors were acquainted with and acknowledged the antiquity of the Jewish people (Ap . I.22, 175). Had there been any account of these events and personalities, Josephus would certainly have quoted it at length. His emphatic statement that Hecataeus's report about Hezekiah proves that the Jewish people were already flourishing by the time of Ptolemy I (Ap . I.185) further strengthens this conclusion.

The Hezekiah story cannot belong to the two components inherent in the other passages. Hezekiah being the only Jewish leader mentioned, the story could not be part of a section on rulers' histories either.[101] What then is the role and place of the story in the schematic structure of the book? In order to answer this question we have to understand the contents of the story precisely, especially the passage about Hezekiah's activity in Egypt.


This, however, is not easy. The original text was only partly cited by Josephus. The quotations contain four separate excerpts (I.186-89), each paragraph constituting another excerpt. Certain conjunctions used by Josephus indicate considerable omissions between the excerpts.[102] As appears from the contents, significant omissions have been made at the end of the first excerpt, as well as at the beginning and the end of the fourth. In addition, the phrasing of the fourth excerpt is quite condensed, containing twice as many participles as finite verbs, which may indicate abbreviation by Josephus. The last two sentences are especially concise, and there is an evident lacuna in one of them. These shortcomings of the present text have to be taken into account in trying to understand it.

The general contents of the first and second excerpts (I.186-87) are quite clear: after the battle of Gaza, many Jews, among them Hezekiah the High Priest, decided to follow the king to Egypt and participate in the building of the kingdom. The third excerpt (I.188) refers to the number of priests engaged in public duties and does not concern us here. Hezekiah's activity in Egypt is described in the fourth excerpt, the text of which is rather problematic:

[189] This man ... had obtained this time ["honor"? "appointment"? "authority"? "reward"?], and being well acquainted with us, he assembled some of his men and read to them the whole diaphora ["difference"? "advantage"? "profit"?]. For [he? it?] held [ image] in writing their settling [katoikesis ] and politeia .

The great stumbling block is the word diaphora . Whatever its meaning, it can hardly stand alone as the object of "he read." Hans Lewy emends  image to  image (i.e., diaphora , "difference," to diphthera , "scroll").[103] He suggests that Hezekiah was reading the Torah, and that the following sentence refers to its contents: the story of the settlement of the Israelites in Canaan (katoikesis ) and the law of


the Torah (politeia ). Lewy's emendation and interpretation have been accepted by the majority of scholars.[104]

The emendation itself is not free from difficulties of grammar and substance. First, the particle  image indicates a lacuna in the text.[105] Second, according to the emendation, the subject of the verb  image, which opens the subsequent sentence, must be the "scroll," meaning "it contained" or the like. However,  image is not the right expression. The closest possible verb would be  image. Finally, the word  image ("for"), which connects the two sentences, would certainly not fit: the Pentateuch, especially the book of Deuteronomy, is anything but supportive of the idea of settling in Egypt.

To interpret the author as referring to the reading of the Pentateuch, and consequently the katoikesis as the story about the settlement in Canaan, poses a number of other questions: Why did Hezekiah assemble only "some of his men" for the reading of the Pentateuch, which was usually performed before large crowds? How could Hezekiah have read "the whole scroll"—that is, the Torah—in one session? Moreover, the Pentateuch does not record the story of the settlement in Canaan, but closes at the eve of the occupation. The Jewish author, who demonstrates good knowledge of the Scriptures, must have known this basic fact, if only from the ordinary communal religious service.[106] And above all, would a leader who initiated Jewish emigration to Egypt have assembled his followers on that occasion just to read them the story of the Exodus and the settlement in the Holy Land, a story whose very


essence is the negation of Jewish residence in Egypt? The author must have been aware of this, and would not have attributed to Hezekiah the performance of such a ceremony in the midst of the emigration and settlement in Egypt. Surely he would not have described it as the climax of Hezekiah's activity upon arriving in Egypt.

Consequently, the emended reading  image, "scroll," cannot mean the Pentateuch unless the lacuna is filled with the name of another written text, and this text is assumed to have contained the katoikesis and politeia . It can therefore be concluded that whatever the correct reading of the word in question might be, the main essence of the last two sentences in the fourth excerpt could only be that Hezekiah introduced to his audience the "foundation decree," that is, an official document (or more than one) dealing with the Jewish settlement in Egypt. It contained the charter of the settlement, that is, permission to settle (katoikesis ) and a constitution (politeia ).[107]

In view of all these considerations the existing reading,  image, deserves reexamination. On the assumption that the word diaphora in this context means "advantage," "profit,"[108] I would suggest exempli gratia the following to supplement the lacuna:


(He ‹pointed out› to them the advantage and read to them the whole ‹syngraphe : "decree"? "charter"?› For he possessed in writing their settling and politeia. )

Instead of  image and  image are also possible.[109] . Syngraphe appears for decrees as well as for a charter of a settlement, which contains


the permission to settle and the rights of the settlers,[110] but other terms and variations are also possible. The general meaning of the sentence remains the same. The lacuna may have been caused by a homoiographonimage ‹...›  image), or by jumping from a point in the first leg of a parisosis to the equivalent point in the second leg ( image [verb  image] verb). The sentences thus mean that Hezekiah consulted his close friends, reading to them the decree or charter given by the court, pointing out to them the advantages of accepting the offer.[111]

The interpretation of the second part of the fourth excerpt illuminates its first part. They seem to be closely connected, the second resulting from the first. Hezekiah is said to have been "well acquainted with us" ( image).[112] This means that he carried out negotiations with the authorities over the settlement and its conditions. Consequently, he received a time . In view of the general context, this does not seem to be merely an honorary title or gesture,[113] but the authority given to Hezekiah to settle the Jews. It can also be interpreted as "reward," namely the right to settle and the related benefits granted to the Jews in return for their loyalty mentioned in the previous excerpts


(Ap . I.183, 186). Thus probably after negotiating with the Ptolemaic authorities, Hezekiah obtained the time , authority or reward, and was able to present his achievements to his close friends. The contents and phrasing of the excerpt show that details about Hezekiah's negotiations and an account of the realization of the right to settle were included in the original version of the story preceding and following the excerpt, respectively.

We should at this point digress to examine a different interpretation of the whole story recently made by a distinguished scholar. Fergus Millar has argued that the phrasing of the text does not necessarily imply a permanent migration.[114] In his view, Hezekiah traveled to Egypt after the Ptolemaic occupation of Judea in the year 312 to negotiate with Ptolemy about his appointment as High Priest and about future arrangements in Judea. Accordingly he was accompanied on this mission by just a few friends and advisers.

This interpretation depends upon emending  image to  image, the assumption that Hezekiah was reading the Torah, and mainly that the katoikesis and politeia referred to are the story of the Exodus and the settlement in Canaan. Most of the arguments raised above do not leave much room for Millar's hypothesis. There is also further evidence that the story indeed described an emigration, not just a trip.

First of all, the opening excerpt states that "many people" followed the king to Egypt (Ap . I.187). Given the context, the author could hardly have meant anyone other than Jews. Second, the sequence of events must be considered. After his victory at Gaza, Ptolemy stayed in Coile Syria for a few months to conduct various operations. He returned with his troops to Egypt only seven or eight months later, upon hearing the news of the arrival of Antigonus in Upper Syria (Diod. XIX.93.4-6).[115] According to the Hezekiah story, the Jewish High Priest and his men "followed" (I.186) Ptolemy to Egypt. What sense was there after the Ptolemaic withdrawal in carrying on negotiations in Egypt about the High Priesthood or other subjects relating to the Jews in Judea? And if the word "followed" is not to be accepted literally, and Hezekiah had


come to Egypt before Judea was abandoned, would he have negotiated there on the affairs of Judea while Ptolemy himself and his staff stayed in Coile Syria?

Furthermore, Josephus, who could read the full text of the Hezekiah story, surely knew its correct meaning. His version of the story elsewhere in his writings may be instructive. In the consecutive account of the beginning of the Ptolemaic period in Judea in Jewish Antiquities (XII.3-9), Josephus deplores the attitude of Ptolemy toward the inhabitants of Syria, including the Jews, calling him despotes , and elaborates on the occupation of Jerusalem by Ptolemy, his harsh rule in the city, and the banishment of many captives to Egypt and their settlement there. Immediately after this account, Josephus adds (Ant . XII.9):

But not a few [ image] of the other Jews came voluntarily [ image] to Egypt because the quality of the places and Ptolemy's prodigality [philotimia ] "invited" them.

The sentence contradicts the preceding account: the immigration is a voluntary one and not a deportation, and the evaluation of Ptolemy's character is the opposite of the despotism stressed in the earlier paragraphs. It recalls the Hezekiah story:[116] a great number of people were involved, they went to Egypt voluntarily, and they were attracted by Ptolemy's generous character. It seems clear, therefore, that the sentence was written under the influence of the Hezekiah story, and we can thus conclude that Josephus understood the story as recording a permanent migration of a great number of Jews to Egypt. The fact that Josephus introduced this sentence, despite its blatantly contradicting his own preceding account, indicates that he was confident of the meaning of the story and that it was based on unambiguous statements. These must have been found mainly in the missing passages of the original story.

The next step required for understanding the role of the Hezekiah story would be to clarify the dimensions of the settlement and its status according to the author. It has been suggested that the Jewish


community in Alexandria or a certain military settlement is meant.[117] However, as was said above, Hezekiah's activity in Egypt—that is, the emigration and negotiations, and the very settlement—was certainly recorded in the missing sentences (or passages) preceding and following the fourth excerpt. Had it been the founding of the Jewish community in Alexandria, Josephus would not have missed such a reference. In Book II of Against Apion , where he strives to prove the antiquity of Jewish settlement in Alexandria and the rights granted to it, Josephus cannot adduce any direct evidence from Pseudo-Hecataeus, but only the scarcely relevant passage about the granting of Samaria to the Jews by Alexander (Ap . II.43). It also appears from Josephus that the Jews of Alexandria claimed to have been settled there earlier, since the founding of the city (Bell . II.487, Ap . II.35; cf. Philo, Flacc . 46).

As for the other suggestion: the High Priest and his followers are said to have emigrated to Egypt in order to "take part in the affairs [of the kingdom]" (Ap . I.186), and Hezekiah is introduced as a man especially competent in these matters (187). The placement of the immigrants in a single military settlement, which was normally relatively far from the center of the Ptolemaic regime, does not accord with the purpose of the emigration and the personality and status of Hezekiah. Moreover, the author mentions an emigration of "many people" (186), while the Ptolemaic military settlements were, naturally, rather small.[118]

In considering the two suggestions, it should be noticed that the story is a clear antithesis to the version of the Exodus in the Jewish excursus of Hecataeus of Abdera (Diod. XL.3.1-3), and the meaning of katoikesis can therefore be deduced from its parallel in Hecataeus: Moses takes the people out of Egypt, and Hezekiah leads them back to Egypt; the Jews were expelled from Egypt by the Egyptians, while the Ptolemaic regime accepted them in Egypt most favorably; Moses is said to have established the Jewish apoikia in Judea and given it a politeia , while Hezekiah received both the right to establish Jewish settlements in Egypt and


their politeia . Now, the term apoikia in Hecataeus means, as the author himself elaborates, not a single city or locality, but the whole settlement of the Jews in Judea, Jerusalem, and other cities (Diod. XL.3.3).[119] This parallel indicates that the author attributed to Hezekiah and his men a settlement undertaking of remarkable dimensions, certainly not a single rural settlement. The very modeling of the Hezekiah story after the Moses tradition and its place at the head of the original treatise also show how important it was to the author Limiting Hezekiah's practical achievements to the foundation of just one military settlement or the like considerably reduces the story's importance.

Despite what might be thought, I do not believe the author presented the Hezekiah migration as the historical beginning of the Jewish Egyptian Diaspora. Jewish readers would not have accepted such an inaccuracy. The existence of a Jewish community in Egypt already in the time of the great oriental empires, recorded in the Bible and the Elephantine papyri, was well known to Egyptian Jews and was recorded in their literature (e.g., Pseudo-Aristeas 13, 36). In another passage, Pseudo-Hecataeus himself recounts Jewish emigration to Egypt "after Alexander's death," caused by the stasis in Coile Syria (Ap . I.194), which could not have meant the emigration attributed to Hezekiah, nor a later emigration. Thus according to Pseudo-Hecataeus, the settlement of Hezekiah and his followers was not the first emigration of Jews to Egypt, but a wave of emigration and settlement of special importance and considerable extent, which made the Jewish community there an important factor, well integrated in state affairs.

From the historical point of view, this seems to be a proper assessment. I have already noted in Chapter III.2 that the story about the voluntary emigration is a reversal of the deportation of many Jews from Judea by Ptolemy I and their forced settlement in Egypt.[120] As usual in deportations of this kind, which were intended to insure the future stability of the provincial regime, those exiled naturally comprised the elite of the Jewish community in Judea. Their arrival in Egypt not only made a major numerical contribution to the building of Egyptian Jewry, but, given their quality, must also have decisively influenced its future cultural, religious, and social development.


With its contents clarified, the location of the Hezekiah story in the book requires attention. Josephus quotes it at the head of the passages cited. Along with the fact that the story is an antithesis to the Exodus story that opens Hecataeus's authentic Jewish excursus, this suggests that the Hezekiah story was the first subject dealt with by Pseudo-Hecataeus. Furthermore, the Hezekiah story is quoted by Josephus at the outset as evidence that the Jewish people were already "mature" at the time of the battle of Gaza. However, this could be proved by references to other events, which preceded the battle of Gaza and were adduced by Josephus in the context of Jewish customs, such as Jewish martyrology in the Persian period (Ap . I.191), the participation in Alexander's army of Jews firmly committed to their beliefs (I.192), the granting of Samaria to the Jews by Alexander (II.43), and the massive emigration to Phoenicia and Egypt after his death (I.194). The placing of the Hezekiah story at the head of the passages can thus be explained only by its original place in the treatise. Josephus just followed the original sequence of his source.[121]

The dimension and importance of the settlement attributed to Hezekiah and the place of the story in the book, and, even more, its formulation as an antithesis to the Exodus story in Hecataeus's excursus, lead to the inevitable conclusion that the Hezekiah story served as a substitute for the origo component, which heads most ethnographic surveys and usually centers around an emigration and foundation. The Hezekiah story does this in a unique way: it does not report the origo of the Jewish people as such, but only that of the hard core (both numerical and qualitative) of the Jewish Egyptian Diaspora. The odd mixture of an "origo " that deals only with Egyptian Jewry together with the geography of the Holy Land and a general Jewish nomima section will be understandable once we clarify the purposes of the book. And after all, one would not expect the author of a Jewish ethnography to replace in his treatise a Palestinian geography with an Egyptian one. Pseudo-Aristeas, admittedly not an ethnographical author in the strict sense, similarly opens the Letter with an account of an event in the life of the Egyptian Jewry and inserts a detailed geographic excursus on the Holy Land (83-120). For an ethnographic book proper this is certainly


an extraordinary mixture, but the omission of the Exodus and the personality of Moses from a Jewish ethnography is also unparalleled.

The omissions of Moses and the Exodus could not have occurred accidentally. The author, apart from being well acquainted with Hecataeus's excursus, knew perfectly well that the beginning of a nation as a whole is always the first (and frequently the most significant) component of an ethnographical work, and this also applies to the story of the Exodus in Jewish ethnographies. The omission can be understood in light of the contents of the Hezekiah story. The laudatory story of emigration to Egypt initiated by the High Priest could not coexist with the tradition about the sufferings in Egypt, the Exodus, and the settlement in the Jewish land. This is also why the component of the rulers' achievements was omitted: a description of the glorious days of past Jewish independence in the Holy Land could not be harmonized with an idealization of the emigration and settlement in the Egyptian Diaspora—certainly not in the period of the Hasmonean state, when the treatise was composed. The omission of these fundamental traditions, together with the use of the Hezekiah story as the origo component, once more underlines the major importance of the story in the framework of the book, and indicates that it contains the main message.

It should be added that even if we are wrong, and the treatise was not an ethnographical work par excellence , the absence of any reference to Moses could not but be deliberate. Moses stands at the center of almost every paragraph in Hecataeus's Jewish excursus, and was described as the initiator and lawgiver responsible for all Jewish practices. How was it that the Jewish forger, who tried to convince his readers of the authenticity of his work, and was evidently acquainted with Hecataeus's original excursus, did not mention Moses in his detailed account of Jewish practices, not even in the report about the Jewish priests and their regulations (Ap . I.188), attributed by Hecataeus explicitly to Moses (Diod. XL.3.4)?[122]

A final note about the genre: despite the major role of the Hezekiah story, the treatise cannot be classified as a "foundation story" (ktisis ). This genre, which saw its beginning in ancient Greece and acquired


considerable popularity in the Hellenistic period, was composed in metrical poetry, and only a few works were written in prose, using similar stylistic-artistic features. The books are named after a country, a region, or, most often, a city. Stress is laid on etiological explanations for the foundation of the settlement and its names, cult, and customs.[123] The account centers around the personality of the "founder," to whom the establishment of all institutions and customs is attributed.[124] None of these features can be found in Josephus's passages. Besides, inclusion of detailed accounts on the nomima and geography of a mother city is less understandable in a "foundation story" than in an ethnography. In preferring to use the ethnographic genre, for which Hecataeus was celebrated, the author was motivated, among other things, by the wish to create an impression of authenticity.


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