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Yannai and Pella, Josephus and Circumcision*

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Abstract Josephus’ notice that Alexander Yannai destroyed Pella because its inhabitants refused to Judaize (Ant. 13.397), which does not sit well in its context and also contradicts Josephus’ reports elsewhere, seems to be based upon a Greek source. Given the fact that Greek writers about conversion to Judaism usually focused upon circumcision, failure to mention it here may indicate that Yannai did not demand it—a possibility that directs attention to the fact that Qumran texts show little interest in circumcision, apparently because they adhered to a priestly view according to which Gentiles cannot become Jews. Sadducees, such as Yannai, probably held the same view.


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