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Seleucus I and the descendants of his dynasty were ardent proponents of Hellenism, promoting its tenets throughout Mesopotamia and the Levant/Syria in a variety of ways. Seleucus I moved thousands of Greeks into Mesopotamia, especially to his eponymously named city of Seleucia, while his son and successor, Antiochus I (ruled 281-261 BC), followed suite by building Antioch in Syria. It is estimated that up to 50,000 Greeks emigrated from Greece and Macedonia to Syria and Mesopotamia during their reigns. <ref> Bryce, Trevor. <i>Ancient Syria: A Three Thousand Year History.</i> (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), pgs. 168-73</ref> It is important to know that although Hellenism was certainly a Greek-centric philosophy, it was also universal in that native elites under Greek rule were encouraged and found it beneficial to learn Greek and take part in Greek customs and past times. The Greeks may have thought of their culture as superior, but they also believed that it could be given as a gift to others, especially those from older, venerated cultures.
Hellenism presented a unique challenged to the Jews of the Levant and their culture. It was devoid of some of the more unacceptable ideas that the Jews found in their earlier rulers – such as the Egyptians, Assyrians, and Babylonians – and its universality enticed Jews who wished to elevate their standing within the Greek-Seleucid Empire. <ref> Greenspoon, Leonard J. “Between Alexandria and Antioch: Jews and Judaism in the Hellenistic Period.” In <i>The Oxford History of the Biblical World.</i> Edited by Michael Coogan. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), p. 318</ref> The result was that many Jews learned Greek and observed some of the cultural aspects of Hellenism, such as taking part in gymnasiums and taking Greek first names, while still clinging to their religion and Jewish traditions. As a result, many of the Greeks saw the Jews attempts to Hellenize as half hearted and insincere and continued to view them as insular, clannish, and untrustworthy. <ref> Greenspoon, p. 321</ref
On an official level, Antiochus III (ruled 222-187 BC) and his successor, Seleucus IV (reigned 187-175 BC), appear to have developed a good working relationship with the Jews of Jerusalem and the surrounding area. Both kings allocated funds to rebuild the Second Solomonic Temple and allowed the Jews to practice their religion as they did before the Babylonian captivity. In return, the Jews of the region generally supported the Seleucids against the Ptolemies and many adopted aspects of Hellenism into their lives. <ref> Greenspoon, p. 324</ref> The good relations that had developed between the Jews and Greeks of Syria, though, would quickly come to an end during the kingship of Antiochus IV.