My study of the scriptures has had a profound effect on my life. As I have studied, I have grown closer to God and found answers to real challenges in my life. This blog is a scripture journal that records insights I have discovered in the past and continue to gain as I search, ponder, and pray.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Between the Testaments--Part 2, Rest of Historical Timeline

After Ezra, the Bible doesn't record much of what happened until the birth of Christ. It is this period between the testaments that major political and cultural changes occur. These changes have profound impact on the Israel that Christ lived in.

No longer did they have the problem of the Old Testament: the Israelites kept incorporating the traditions, worship practices, and beliefs of the Pagan nations causing them to forsake their own God. On the other hand, in the New Testament, the problem was the opposite. They finally got the message that foreign Gods and religions were bad. Therefore, they closed themselves off and became a people who were regimented and overly structured in the Law.

As mentioned in the last post, these changes started with Ezra and his reforms. The succeeding 400 years also had great impact on the Jews.

330 BC Alexander the Great conquered the Middle East, including Palestine. His rule began the Hellenization of Israel. During this time, many Jews migrated to Alexandria, Egypt. The Jews living there formed a large community and were highly respected. As they lived in Alexandria, though, they lost their proficiency in Hebrew. They transcribed their records into Greek. Actually, the earliest record we have of our canonized Bible is the Septuagint, which is the record of these Jews written in Greek.

330-175 BC Many different Roman rulers came and went. Some were more tolerant than others of the Jews and their religious traditions.

175 BC Antiochus Epiphanes ruled. He acted like he was Diety and was a strong believer in the Greek religious worship. He made the Jews abandon their own religious traditions and forced them to participate in the Greek traditions. There were alters built to Zeus on the temple mount, conducted pagan sacrifices, and the Jews were even forced to eat Pork, which if they didn't, they were killed.

163-142 BC It was at this time that the Maccabean Wars began. Mattathias Maccabee was the father of five sons. He refused to participate in a Pagan sacrifice and revolted. His sons followed and they set up a war cry for the Jews to follow. Over time, many did. Matthathias died and his sons took over. They continued fighting against the Greeks until in 142 BC they had finally won political independence for the first time in decades.

It was during these wars that festival Hannukkah was established. The leaders wanted to burn the traditional candles sticks at the temple. However, there was only enough holy oil left to burn for one day. The oil burned for eight! Thus, the eight days of Hannukkah were established.

142-63 BC During the succeeding years, the house of the Maccabees, known as the Hasmoneans, ruled Israel. They also became the High Priests, the first time the high priests were not in the family of Eleazar, who was Aaron's son. During the reign of the Maccabees, the high priests were also the political rulers of Israel. The high priests were from the Hasmonean family until the Roman rule where they high priest then appointed by Roman leaders.

63 BC During the Maccabean rule, the leaders had often sought alliances with Rome. In 63 AD, there were two members of the Hasmonean family who both vied to be the succeeding ruler of Israel. During the civil war that ensued, they both ended up seeking alliance from Rome. This opened the way for the invasion of Pompey, which ended the independent status of the nation of Israel and put them under Roman rule.

Sources: Bible Dictionary; Black, 2010; Brown, 2002

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