Jewish History of Macedonia

MACEDONIA, region of southeastern Europe where Alexander the Great was born. As a result of the latter's conquests and subsequent Greek rule in Palestine, the Hebrew term "Javan" as it appears in the Bible was generally translated by the rabbis "Macedonia" (cf. Targum Pseudo-Jonathan to Gen. 10:2; Yoma 10a). Although the origins of a Jewish community in Macedonia are unknown, it is certain that such a colony existed toward the end of the Second Temple period. Philo, in the list of Jewish communities quoted from the correspondence of Agrippa I to Caligula, refers also to the Jews of Macedonia (The Embassy to Gaius, 281). Moreover, the fact that Paul and his followers made a number of journeys to Macedonia, and that their doctrines were readily accepted there, tends to substantiate the existence of a Jewish colony (cf. Acts 16:9; 18:5; 20:1; I Cor. 16:5; II Cor. 1:16; 2:13; 7:5). Josephus, in describing the Jewish community of Alexandria, claims that the Jewish residents there were granted the right to be called "Macedonians" (Wars 2:487–88; Ant. 12:8; Apion 2:35). However, papyrological research has shown that the phrase "Macedonian" eventually lost its original ethnic significance, and is in fact a designation of specific military status.

For later periods see also Bulgaria; Byzantine Empire; Greece; Yugoslavia.

[Isaiah Gafni]

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