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    An Analysis of the Book of Daniel and the Effect of Greek Imperialism on the Near Eastern People

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    Greek imperialism had a very large effect on the Near Eastern people that they governed. One profound example of this is the Hebrews who were under Greek control. The Book of Daniel provides us with some examples of how the Jews were expected to change their lifestyle in order to more conform to Greek ideals. Certain elements of Hebrew culture that were criticized by the Greeks include; their refusal to worship images of foreign monarchies, their refusal to eat royal foods, and their belief that their god will protect them from any harm.

    One element of Hebrew culture that would have led to criticism from the Greeks is their refusal to worship images of foreign monarchies. An example of this is the Hebrews refusal to worship the image of gold King Nebuchadnezzar had erected. (Daniel 2) They even go so far as to say “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand.

    But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Daniel 2) This would have been in great contrast to the later ideas of Greek imperialism in which kings routinely had coins minted showing them in a holy, and therefore worthy of worship, light.

    Another element of Hebrew culture that the Greeks criticized is the certain Hebrews refusal to indulge in the royal foods. For example, this occurs when Daniel is offered the royal food, including forbidden items such as pig, and steadfastly refuses despite the encouragement of the Ashpenaz, chief official of the King of Judah. Instead he chooses for him and his companions to dine on vegetables. (Daniel 1) This idea of refusing kingly food and drink to honor ones religious would have seemed preposterous to Greeks at this time and led to much criticism of the Hebrews.

    The final element of Hebrew culture that the Greeks would’ve criticized is the Hebrew belief that their god can protect them from any harm. One example of this is Daniel’s episode in the lion’s den. Daniel is placed in the lion’s den for praying three times a day and when the Persian king asked him if his god has protected him Daniel answers “My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.” (Daniel 6) The Greeks would have found this overwhelming belief the Hebrews’ are supposed to have in God as foolish and arrogant.

    These are some elements of Hebrew culture presented in the Book of David that Hellenistic Greeks would have criticized. The Hebrews refusal to worship images of foreign monarchies, their refusal to eat royal foods, and their belief that their god will protect them from any harm would have seemed foreign and strange to Greeks living in this time period. These cultural differences lead to many problems during the period of Greek imperialism and many Hebrew are expected to live under the rule of governing Greeks who don’t understand their culture.

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    An Analysis of the Book of Daniel and the Effect of Greek Imperialism on the Near Eastern People. (2022, Dec 11). Retrieved from https://artscolumbia.org/an-analysis-of-the-book-of-daniel-and-the-effect-of-greek-imperialism-on-the-near-eastern-people/

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