THE GREEK PERIOD
ALEXANDER of Macedon defeated the Persian army at Issus in the year 333 B.C. To break the naval power of his adversary it was necessary for him to get full possession of the Syrian coast. He therefore marched at once toward Egypt, making everything secure as he went. At only two points was there opposition-- at Tyre and at Gaza, both which cities had furnished contingents to the Persian fleet. Tyre fell after an obstinate resistance of seven months. The length of the siege of Gaza is given at two months. Thus the maritime plain was in Greek possession and, with this secure, the interior of Palestine must also yield. The cities of the highland can hardly have been of much importance. Jerusalem was no longer the capital of the country in any sense. Its wealth had long departed and the Arabian trade, once exploited by Solomon, now went to the Philistine towns.
A Jewish legend preserved by Josephus recounts that in his progress toward Egypt Alexander sent a message to the high- priest summoning him to acknowledge his new master. The high-priest (the story correctly represents him to be the political head of the community) replied that his allegiance was sworn to Darius and that to him he would be true. Alexander therefore marched from Gaza to punish the contumacious city. The high-priest's loyalty to his oath was of no very enduring quality. In the old days the citizens would have manned the walls and stood a siege. In the present emergency the ruler took refuge in spectacular devices. Warned by a dream he arranged a procession to meet the king. Without arms but in full pontificals, accompanied by a train of priests and citizens all clothed in white, he marched out of the city to the hill ( Scopus) over which the conqueror was approaching. Alexander, to the surprise of his staff, without waiting for the obeisance of the approaching train, himself did obeisance to the high-priest and declared that this was the figure which he had seen in a dream