The Zugos: The beginning of the decline & assimilation of Jewry, & the
emergence of Rabbinic political authority.
The period of the Greek domination over the land of Israel was one of the most trying and transforming periods in Jewish history. During this period, Jerusalem was plundered by Ptolemy Soter (Lagos), the founder of a dynasty of Greek kings in Egypt, with many thousands of its inhabitants being taken into captivity and sold into slavery. Later, under his successor Ptolemy Philadelphus, these slaves were released as part of the deal that culminated with the translation of the Torah (the subject of the previous lecture). Under his successor, Ptolemy Euregetes, the leadership of Judea fell into the hands of a criminal element led by Yosef ben Tovia, a grandson of Shimon HaTzaddik. Finally, the land of Israel was conquered by the Syrians, and the leadership of Judea was returned to the Sanhedrin, under the leadership of the Zugos, the pair of Torah authorities who led the Sanhedrin. The story of this tumultuous period and the people who played critical roles during this time as well as the history of the chain of transmission of the Torah until the time of the Zugos are the subjects of this lecture.
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