The story of Gviha Ben-Psisa and Alexander the Great

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The story of Gviha Ben-Psisa and Alexander the Great is a rabbinic myth. The mythical Alexander represents the historical Pompey. Gviha, on the other hand, is a fully historical figure (a grandson of Jonathan Maqabi and great-grandfather of Josephus). The myth emerged out of the realities and anxieties created by the rise of Hasmonean imperialism under Hyrkanos I and his sons, and by its collapse at the hands of Pompey. It defends the Jewish rights over Eretz Israel by establishing the Torah as a source of legitimacy in international law. The myth also reflects Jewish ambivalence towards Pompey: at once a défiler and a preserver of the Temple.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-74
Number of pages14
JournalJournal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2006


  • Alexander the great
  • Gviha ben-psisa
  • Holy of holies
  • Josephus
  • Leontopolis temple
  • Megillat ta 'emit
  • Pompey
  • Second temple

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies


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