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Stelae, Elephants, and Irony: The Battle of Raphia and Its Import as Historical Context for 3 Maccabees

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The opening verses of 3 Maccabees set the story in the aftermath of the Battle of Raphia (217 BCE); the significance of this historical setting has been overlooked. The Battle of Raphia is intimately related to the narrative at large in at least three ways. First, 3 Maccabees advocates for a counter-tradition to a stele tradition that arises out of Ptolemy’s victory at Raphia. Second, the story reworks the famous incident of Ptolemy’s elephant retreat at Raphia into a tale of praise for the God of the Jews. And finally, the book is invested with the irony already present in the historical realities of Ptolemy’s short-lived victory.

Affiliations: 1: Marquette University Milwaukee, wiUSA patrick.okernick@marquette.edu

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/content/journals/10.1163/15700631-12481190
2018-11-08
2018-06-25

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