Intertestamental History

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Last Days of this fallen earth

J E Bradburn

Intertestamental Period - Faithlife TVThe Greek Period, 323—167 B.C.


Philip of Macedon sought to consolidate Greece to resist attack by the Persian Empire. When he was murdered in 336 B.C, his young son Alexander took up this formidable task. He was only 19 years of age, however; he was highly gifted, and educated. Within two years he set out to destroy Persia. In a series of battles over the next two years, he gained control of the territory from Asia Minor to Egypt. This included Palestine and the [Jews] Hebrews.

  Josephus, a Jewish historian who lived about A.D. 37—100, tells of Alexander going to Jerusalem and offering sacrifice in the temple. Many elements of this story are undoubtedly false; however, Alexander (the Great) did treat the Hebrews very well. When he founded the new city of Alexandria in Egypt, he moved many Hebrews from Palestine to populate one part of that city. In 331 B.C. Alexander gained full control over the Persian Empire.


Alexander’s conquest had three major results:

1.      He sought to introduce Greek ideas and culture into the conquered territory. This is called Hellenization. He believed that the way to consolidate         his empire was for the people to have a common way of life. However, he did he did not seek to change the religious practices of the Hebrews.

2.      He founded Greek cities and colonies throughout the conquered territory.

3.      He spread the Greek language into that entire region so that it became a universal language during the following centuries. 


When Alexander died in 323 B.C. chaos resulted in his empire. Five of his prominent generals established themselves over different parts of his empire.

·        Ptolemy chose the land of Egypt.

·        Seleucus took control of Babylonia.

·        Antigonus became ruler of Asia Minor and Northern Syria.

·        The other two ruled in Europe and did not have direct influence over events in Palestine.


From the beginning, Ptolemy and Antigonus struggled over the control of Palestine. The battle of Ipsus in 301 B.C. settled the matter for a century. In this battle the other four generals fought against and killed Antigonus. Seleucus was given the territory of Antigonus, including Palestine. However, Ptolemy did not take part in the battle. Instead he took over control of Palestine. The result was that Palestine continued to be a point of contention between the Ptolemies and the Seleucids.

  The Hebrews fared well under the Ptolemies. They had much self-rule. Their religious practices were not hampered. Greek customs gradually more common among the people. During this period the translation of the O.T. into Greek began during the reign of Ptolemy Philadephus 285—246 B.C. This translation is known as the Septuagint, and New Testament writers often quoted it. 

This posthumous edition of Dr Walters’ The Text of the Septuagint provides a valuable working tool for specialists in Hellenistic and Classical Greek and the Old and New Testaments. The book is directed first to the practical task of producing a critical (tending to find fault with something, and things in general), edition of the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Old Testament. Byzantine and Renaissance scholars both regarded the Greek Old Testament as belonging to the Church rather than to the heritage of classical literature which formed the proper object of their critical endeavours. It was therefore reproduced for centuries in much the same corrupt form and no complete critical edition was produced.  (Until King James Version (KJV), also called Authorized Version or King James Bible, English translation of the Bible, published in 1611 under the auspices of King James I of England.) The present work is a detailed study of the grammatical corruptions and Semitisms (the customs, traditions, and characteristics of Semitic people, especially Jewish people). In the LXX is a vast. Apart from the traditional neglect of the text and its variety and extent this emendation demands an expertise in both biblical and classical studies (and especially knowledge of both Greek and Hebrew) rarely found in one scholar. The late Peter Walters (formerly Katz) devoted himself to this goal and prepared the manuscript for this book as a first but major step towards its achievement. The manuscript has been revised and edited for publication by Dr Gooding and it has been fully indexed for the convenience of readers who wish to consult it on particular points of detail. The reason I call the Jews here Hebrews is because Jew is identified with a place; Judah, (the enemies of the Hebrews only called them Jews from a province in Judea)).


Antiochus III (the Great), attempted to take Palestine from the Ptolemy’s in 217 B. C. without success. At the battle of Panium, 198 B.C., however, he defeated Ptolemy IV, and he and his successors ruled Palestine until 167 B.C. The situation of the Hebrews changed after Antiochus was defeated by the Romans in the battle of Magnesia, 190 B.C. Antiochus had supported Hannibal of North Africa, Rome’s hated enemy. As a result, Antiochus had to give up all of his territory except the province of Cilicia. He had to pay a large sum of money to the Romans for a period of years, and he had to surrender his navy and elephants. To guarantee his compliance, one of his sons was kept as hostage in Rome. So the tax burden of the Hebrews increased, as did pressure to Hellenise, that is, to adopt Greek practices.


Here the education is being passed down to our Universities today, in an ever increasing posthumous (later in time or order than something else is) a direction which the Tares have been successful; hence: and; wheat & tares parable in this link

Antiochus was succeeded by his son Seleucus IV 187—175  B.C. When he was murdered, his younger brother became ruler, Antiochus IV, 175—163 B.C., was called Epiphanes (which meant “manifest” or “splendid”), although some called him Epimenes (which meant: Antiochus IV Epiphanes, (Greek: “God Manifest”) also called Antiochus Epimanes (the Mad), Seleucid king of the Hellenistic Syrian kingdom who reigned from 175 to 164 B.C. As a ruler he was best known for his encouragement of Greek culture and institutions). He was the son who had been a hostage in Rome. During the early years of his reign, the situation of the Hebrews became worse. Part of it was due to their being divided.  Some of their leaders, especially the priests, encouraged Hellenism.


Up to the time of Antiochus IV, the office of high priest had been hereditary and held for life. However, Jason, the brother of the high priest, offered the king a large sum of money to be appointed high priest. Antiochus needed the money and made the appointment. Jason also offered an additional sum to receive permission to build a gymnasium near the temple. This indicated the pressure toward Hellenism. Within a few years, Menelaus, a priest but not of the priestly line,,-Main%20article%3A%20Psalm&text=In%20the%20King%20James%20Version,s%20Davidic%20line%20was%20ordained. Offered the king more money to be named high priest in place of Jason. Then he stole vessels from the temple to pay what he had promised.


Antiochus sought to add Egypt to his territory. He was proclaimed king of Egypt, but when he returned the following year to take control of the land, the Romans confronted him and told him to leave Egypt. Knowing the power of Rome, he returned home. When he reached Jerusalem, he found that Jason had driven Menelaus out of the city. He saw this as a full revolt. He allowed his troops to kill many of the Hebrews and determined to put an end to the Hebrew religion. He sacrificed a pig on the altar of the temple. Parents were forbidden to circumcise their children, the Sabbath was not to be observed, and all copies of the law were to be burned. It was a capital offense to be found with a copy of the law. The zeal of Antiochus to destroy Judaism was a major factor in its salvation (the saving of somebody or something from harm, destruction, difficulty, or failure)


Hebrew Independence 167—63 B.C

Resistance was passive at first, but when the Seleucids sent officers throughout the land to compel leading citizens to offer sacrifice to Zeus, open conflict flared (1 Maccabees, link above). It broke out first at the village of Modein, about halfway between Jerusalem and Joppa. An aged priest named Mattathias was chosen to offer the sacrifice. He refused, but a young Hebrew volunteered to do it. This angered Mattathias, and he killed both the Hebrew and the Officer. Then he fled to the hills with his five sons and others who supported his action. The revolt had begun.

  Leadership fell to Judas, the third son of Mattathias.  He was named Maccabeus, the hammerer. He probably received this title because of his success in battle. He was the ideal guerrilla leader. He fought successful battles against much larger forces. A group called the Hasidim made up the major part of his army. These men were devoutly committed to religious freedom. They were dedicated to obedience to the law and to the worship of God.

  Antiochus IV was more concerned with affairs in the eastern part of his empire than what was taking place in Palestine. Therefore, he did not commit many troops to the revolt at first. Judas was able to gain control of Jerusalem within three years. The temple was cleansed and rededicated exactly three years after it had been polluted by the king, in 164 B.C. This is still commemorated by the Jewish feast of Hanukkah. The Hasidim had gained what they were seeking and left the army. Judas had larger goals in mind, he wanted political freedom. He rescued mistreated Jews from Galilee, and Gilead 

moreover, made a treaty of friendship and mutual support with Rome. In 160 B.C. at Elasa, with a force of 800 men, he fought a vastly superior army Seleucid army and was killed.

  Jonathon, another son of Mattathias, took the lead in the quest for independence. He was weak militarily. He was driven out of the cities and only gradually established himself in the countryside. Constant struggle engaged those seeking the Seleucid throne. The rivals offered him gifts to gain his support. In 152 B.C. he gave his support to Alexander Balas,  who claimed to be the son of Antiochus IV. In return Jonathon was appointed high priest.

For the first time, Jewish religious and civil rule were centered in one person. Jonathon was taken prisoner and killed in 143 B. C.

  Simo, the last surviving son of Mattathias, ruled until he was murdered by his son-in-law in 134 B.C. At last they had achieved political freedom. Simon was acclaimed by the people as their leader and high priest forever. The high priesthood was made hereditary with him and his descendants. The Hasmonean dynasty, named after an ancestor of Mattathias, had its beginning.

  When Simon was murdered, his son John Hyrcanus became the high priest and civil ruler (134-104 B. C.). For a brief time the Seleucids exercised some power over the Hebrews, but Hyrcanus broke free and began to expand the territory of the Hebrews, in the north he destroyed the temple of the Samaritans on Mount Gerizim. He moved south east and conquered the land of Idumeans, the ancient kingdom of Edom. The residents were forced to emigrate or convert to Judaism. This had great significance for the Hebrews; for it was from this people that Herod the Great was to come. The elder son of Hyrcanus Aritobulus  (104—103 B.C.), succeeded him. He had his mother and three brothers put into prison. One brother was allowed to remain free, but he was murdered. He allowed his mother to starve to death in prison. He extended his rule to include part of the territory Ituraea, north of Galilee. He was the first to take the title of king.

  Salome Alexandra was the wife of Aristobulus When he died she released his brothers from prison and married the eldest of them, Alexander Jannaeus. He became high priest and king (103—76). He made many enemies by marrying the widow of his brother. The Old Testament stated that a high priest must marry a virgin,


Leviticus 21:14 (KJV) A widow, or a divorced woman, or profane, or an harlot, these shall he not take: but he shall take a virgin of his own people to wife.”


He was an ambitious warrior and conducted campaigns by which he enlarged his kingdom to about the size of the Kingdom of David.

(Before the Israeli civil war) He used foreign soldiers because he could not trust Chinesische Zedrat Zitrone.jpgHebrews in his army. As high priest, he did not always follow the prescribed ritual. On one occasion the people reacted to his improper actions by throwing citrons at him (not to be confused with French make of car). He allowed the foreign soldiers to kill 6000 of them. At another time he had eight hundred of his enemies crucified. As they hung on their stakes, he had their wives and children brought out and slain before their eyes. Alexandra succeeded her husband as ruler (76—67 B.C.). Of course she could not serve as high priest

, so the two functions were separated. He eldest son, Hyrcanus II, became high priest; however, he was not ambitious. Her younger son, Aristobulus II, was just the opposite. He was waiting for his mother to die so that he could become high priest and king.

When Salome died, civil war broke out and lasted until 63 B.C.


Aristobulus easily defeated Hyrcanus, who was content to retire. This might have been the end of the drama were it not for Antipater, an Idumean. He persuaded Hyrcanus to seek the help of the king Nabataea to regain his position. Aristobulus was driven back to Jerusalem. At his point Rome arrived on the scene. Both Aristobulus and Hyrcanus appealed to Scaurus, the Roman general charged with the administration of Palestine. He sided with Aristobulus. When the Roman commander Pompey arrive d later, both of them appealed to him. Aristobulus ended up trying to fight against the Romans; was defeated and taken as prisoner to Rome. The Romans took control over Palestine.    


The Roman Period, 63 B.C.—A.D. 70

Under the Romans the Hebrews paid heavy taxes, however; their religious practices were not changed. Roman power was exercised through Antipater, who was named governor of Palestine. Hyrcanus was made high priest. The situation in Palestine was confused due to the efforts of Aristobulus and his sons to lead revolts against Rome. While Palestine was successively under the control of various Roman officials, Antipater was the stabilising force. He had one son Phasael, named governor of Judea, and a second son Herod, who was made governor of Galilee, who sought to bring order to his area. He arrested Hezekiah, a Hebrew robber or rebel, and had him executed. The Sanhedrin in Jerusalem summoned Herod to give an account of his action. He went dressed in royal purple and with a bodyguard. The Sanhedrin could do nothing. Antipater was murdered in 43 B.C. Antony became the Roman commander in the East in 42 B.C. In 40 B.C. the Parthians invaded Palestine and made Antigonus, the last surviving son of Aristobulus, king of Palestine. Hyrcanus was mutilated by having his ears cut or bitten off so he could not serve as high priest again. Phasael was captured and committed suicide in prison. Herod barely escaped with his family. He went to Rome to have his future brother in law, Aristobulus, made king, hoping to rule through him as his father had ruled through Antipater. However, the Roman Senate, at the urging of Antony and Octavian  (Augustus), made Herod king  in (40 B.C.) It took him three years to drive the Parthians out of the country and establish his rule. He was king until his death in (4 B.C.).  

  The years of Herod’s rule were a time of turmoil for the Hebrew people. He was an Idumean. Of course, his ancestors had been forced to convert to Judaism, but the people never accepted him. He was the representative of a foreign power. No matter how well he served Rome, he could never satisfy the Hebrews. Even his marriage to Marianne, the granddaughter of Aristobulus II, gave him no legitimacy to his rule in their sight.

  The most spectacular of his achievements, the rebuilding of the Jerusalem Temple, but did not win the loyalty of the Hebrews.

  Herod had many problems that grew out of his jealousy and fears. He had Astrobulus, his brother in law, executed. Later Marianne, her mother, and her two sons were killed. Just five days before his own death, had his eldest son Antipater put to death. His relations with Rome were sometimes troubled due to the unsettled conditions in the empire. Herod was a strong supporter of Antony even though he could not tolerate Cleopatra, with whom Antony had become enamoured When Antony was defeated by Octavian in (31 B.C.), Herod went to Octavian and pledged his full support. This support was accepted. Herod proved himself an efficient administrator on behalf of Rome. He kept the peace among a people who were hard to rule. He was a cruel and merciless man, yet he was generous, using his own funds to feed the people during a time of famine. He never got over the execution of Marianne, the wife he loved above all others. His grief led to mental and emotional problems.


During the reign of Herod, Jesus was born: 


Matthew 2:1—18 (KJV)

01 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,”

02Saying, Where is He that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him.”


03 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.”

04And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.”

05And they said unto him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet’[Micah],,Analysis,thus%20the%20prophet%20mentioned%20here. Analysis. This verse mainly serves as a lead into the next one, which is a quote from Micah chapter 5 (5:2-4 KJV), and Micah is thus the prophet mentioned here.


06And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule My people Israel.”

07Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.”

08 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, ‘Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found Him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship Him also.”

09When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.”

10When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.”

11And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary Mariam His mother, and fell down, and worshipped Him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto Him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.

12 And being warned of [Jehovah] God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.”

13 And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, ‘Arise, and take the young child and His mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy Him.”

14When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:”

15And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, ‘Out of Egypt have I called My son.’”


Herod was the king who ordered the execution of the male babies in Bethlehem.


16Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men.”

17Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying,”

18In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.”


Luke 1:5 (KJV) There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.”


At his death Herod left a will leaving his kingdom to three of his sons.


Antipas was to be tetrarch (the ruler of a quarter of a country or province) of Galilee and Perea (4 B.C.—AD 39). Philip was to be tetrarch of gentile regions to the north east of the Sea of Galilee 4 B.C.—Ad 34). Achelous was to be king of Judea and Samaria. Rome honoured the will except that Achelous was not given the title of king. He was ethnarch (a ruler of a province or people, especially in the Roman Empire) He was ruler of the people of these two territories. He proved to be a poor ruler and was deposed in (A.D. 6). His territories were placed under the direct rule of Roman procurators (an agent engaged to manage somebody else's affairs)who were under the control of the governor of Syria.


The Hebrews produced many writings during the Intertestamental period. These writings can be divided into three groups:


1.      The Apocrypha are writings that were included, for the most part, in the Greek translation of the Old Testament. They were translated into Latin and became a part of the Latin Vulgate (a Latin version of the Bible, produced by Saint Jerome in the 4th century). The authoritative Latin Bible. (Of the Catholic Church).

2.      Some are historical books. I Maccabees 2 Maccabees First Maccabees is our chief source for the history period from Antiochus Epiphanes to John Hyrcanus.

3.      Other books are Wisdom literature. Others can be classified as historical romances. One is apocalyptic giving attention to the end of time and Jehovah’s intervention in history. One writing is devotional in nature.


A second group of writings is the Pseudepigrapha. It is a larger collection than that of the Apocrypha,, but there is no final agreement as to which writings should be included in the two volumes, The Old Testament Psuedepigrapha, edited by James H Charlesworth. These cover the range of Hebrew thought from apocalyptic to wisdom to devotional. Their title indicates that they are attributed to noted people of ancient times|:

Such as Adam -Abraham - - Enoch - - Ezra - - Baruch -


For the most part they were written in the last centuries before the birth of Jesus, although some of them are from the first century A.D.


Dead Sea Scrolls

The final group of writings from this period is the Qumran scrolls, popularly known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. The scrolls were discovered between 1947 and 1960 in a cave on the western Dead Sea shore near a ruin called Khirbet Qumran. Eleven caves from the Qumran area have since yielded manuscripts, mostly in small fragments. About 60% of the scrolls have so far been published. These were composed or copied between 200 B.C. and A.D. 70, mostly around the time of Jesus, by a small community living at Qumran.


Dead Sea Scrolls and the Old Testament (Hebrews)

Prior to the discovery of these scrolls, certain scholars posited (to put forward for consideration something such as a suggestion, assumption, or fact) the idea that some of the ideology of early Christianity may have had its origins in the theology of the Qumran sectarians (relating to or involving relations between religious groups or denominations). Self-identifying phrases such as the “Called out ones” (ecclesia), “the Way” “the Poor” the Elects,” and theSaints were common in both groups, as well as the general identities Messianic communities.

  Both groups held to a “new covenant” theology and saw their founders and leaders as the fulfilment of the prophetic promise of the Old Testament. Both groups held that the religious leadership in Jerusalem had become corrupt and was in need of Divine intervention to bring correction. Communal meals and property sharing in the early church were paralleled with those of Qumran, and both were seen as practicing forms of baptismal ritual. However these might appear as parallel upon a surface reading of the text, there are notable differences. At the core of the distinctiveness is the personal identity, teaching and work of Jesus of Nazereth

  Qumran sectarians (rigidly adhering to a set of doctrines and intolerant of other views) were looking for possibly two Messiahs, one of the lineage of Arron (priestly) and one of the branch of David (royal), whereas for Christianity the Messiah had come and fulfilled the Law and the prophets and would return in the eschatological future for the saints.


Daniel 11:2—4 (KJV)

2 And now will I shew thee the truth. Behold, there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia; and the fourth shall be far richer than they all: and by his strength through his riches he shall stir up all against the realm of Grecia.”

3 And a mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will.”

4And when he shall stand up, his kingdom shall be broken, and shall be divided toward the four winds of heaven; and not to his posterity, nor according to his dominion which he ruled: for his kingdom shall be plucked up, even for others beside those.”