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Lisbeth S. Fried’s insightful study investigates the impact of Achaemenid rule on the political power of local priesthoods during the 6th–4th centuries B.C.E. Scholars typically assume that, as long as tribute was sent to Susa, the capital of the Achaemenid Empire, subject peoples remained autonomous. Fried’s work challenges this assumption. She examines the inscriptions, coins, temple archives, and literary texts from Babylon, Egypt, Asia Minor, and Judah and concludes that there was no local autonomy. The only people with power in the Empire were Persians and their appointees. This was true for Judah as well. The High Priest had no real power; there was no theocracy. The wars that periodically engulfed the Levant in the fourth century temporarily pulled the ruling governors and satraps away from Judah, and during these times, the Judean priesthood may have capitalized on the brief absence of Persian officials to mint coins, but they achieved their longed-for independence only much later, under the Maccabees.
Number of Pages: 266
Series: Biblical & Judaic Studies