I was reading the Book of Maccabees (I and II) over Shabbat and in it there is a letter written to Sparta to ask for peace, goodwill and friendship.
In the reply letter back from Sparta, they affirm everlasting peace and friendship, and say that the Jewish people are Kin of Sparta for they are the children of Abraham.
Does anyone know what this means, or how Sparta knows this, or what they mean by it?
Chapter 12 verse 20-23 of the Book of Maccabees I
"Arius, king of the Spartans, sends greetings to Onias, the chief priest. It has been found in a writing concerning the Spartans and Jews, that they are a kinsmen, and that they are descended from Abraham. Now since we have learned this, please write us about your welfare. We for our part write you that your cattle and property are ours and ours are yours. So we command them to report to you to this effect."
According to one reading of Josephus, Josephus makes the same claim:
"Areus, King of the Lacedemonians, to Onias, sendeth greeting ... we have discovered that both the Jews and the Lacedemonians (Spartans) are of one stock, and are derived from the kindred of Abraham ... This letter is four-square; and the seal is an eagle, with a dragon in his claws"(Ant.12:4:10).