Greeks in Israel

In Peter Leithart’s excellent paper “Did Plato Read Moses”, he wrote:

According to Elias J. Bickerman, “long before Alexander, Greeks and Jews had encountered each other outside their homelands. In the Persian period [i.e., late sixthand early fight centuries] the Jewis diaspora had spread from the Ethiopean frontier to the Caspian Sea. And almost everywhere these Jews had come across Greek traders, craftsmen, and mercenaries.” It is possible, he suggests, that “Hebrew ideas and images could have reached Greece long before Alexander.”

Leithart also cites Neusner on the extent of the diaspora.

By the second century B.C., Jacob Neusner writes,

Every territory in the plain of the Tigris and Euphrates, from Armenia to the Persian Gulf, as well as north eastward to the Caspian Sea, and eastward to Media, contained Jewish populations, and in some of these places, particularly in Babylonia and Adiabene, these settlements were populous and strong.

With this in mind, I read with interest this story about a Greek helmet discovered in Haifa Bay today. An excerpt:

At the time the helmet was made, circa 600 B.C., Greek colonies dotted the Mediterranean coast, stretching from the Black Sea to southern France. Even so, there is no evidence of Greek colonies in Israel, indicating the warrior who ventured into Haifa Bay was likely the leader of a group of Greek mercenaries.
This warrior was likely one of Egyptian pharaoh Necho II’s troops, which he sent through Israel accompanied by a fleet of ancient ships. The pharaoh was heavily involved in military campaigns in the region for nearly a decade, operations in which this warrior and his group likely were involved.
“They were not fighting for the Greeks, they were fighting for Egypt,” Sharvit told LiveScience in an interview.
The series of wars engulfed Egypt, Judah (a Jewish kingdom), Assyria and Babylon, with Necho II of Egypt intervening on the side of Assyria.
The end result of these conflicts was the conquest of Judah and the rise of a resurgent Babylon led by King Nebuchadnezzar II. These events would be immortalized in the Torah (the Christian Old Testament).
At some point, amidst all this history, the elite Greek warrior’s helmet ended up at the bottom of Haifa Bay.

Plato lived from somewhere around 424 BC and died somewhere around 347 BC. This Greek mercenary helmet, circa 600 BC, is yet another point of contact showing that it is eminently possible that Jewish Scriptures or at least knowledge of them was passed from Israel to Greece. Plato may indeed have read Moses.

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