Understanding The Bible
The History of Israel:  Part 9b of 9


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Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible

    1. PERSIAN PERIOD, 432-332 B.C.
      1. Decline of Persian power after continued unsuccessful war with Greece.
      2. Internal administration of Palestine in hands of corrupt high priests.
    2. HELLENISTIC PERIOD, 332-63 B.C.
      (The Greek period of the Times of the Gentiles in Daniel - the belly and thighs of brass.)
      1. Palestine under Alexander, 332-323 B.C.
        1. Rise of Alexander the Great. Philip, king of Macedon, consoli­dates his kingdom. His son, Alexander (336-323), defeated weakened Persia and dominated Asia Minor, Phoenicia, Palestine, Egypt, to borders of India.
        2. Alexander entered Jerusalem , spared it, 332 B.C.
          Josephus says this was because he was impressed when the priest met him outside Jerusalem and showed him to be the one prophesied in Dan. 8:5,21 (“notable horn”),

        3. His armies carried Greek language and influence to Near East, thus helping to prepare for”the fulness of time.” Founded Alexandria, where soon sprang up a great center of Jewish learning.
        4. Alexander dies, 323 B.C.
      2. Palestine under Alexander’s successors, 323-165 B.C.
        1. Upon Alexander’s death, his empire was divided into four parts and taken by four of his generals. Of these, Ptolemy received Egypt, and Seleucus, Syria. Palestine was border­land, and many battles were fought over it by the Seleucids (successors of Seleucus) and Ptolemy s (successors of Ptolemy).
        2. Palestine under the Ptolemy s, 323-304 B.C. (Some major events)
          1. Ptolemy I Soter (323-285 B.C.), Alexander’s general who ruled Egypt, annexed Palestine. At first he was very harsh toward the Jews, but later realized their ability and encouraged colonization.
          2. Ptolemy II Philadelphus (285-246 B.C.). the most eminent of these kings. Under him Egypt regained some of her lost glory. He built the lighthouse on Pharos at the mouth of the Nile, one of the wonders of the ancient world. He collected a great library at Alexandria, and tradition credits him with the direction of the translation of the Septua-gint. He was very partial to the Jews.
          3. Rise of rival power of Syria. Sgleucus LNicator (312-281 B.C.), another of Alexander’s generals, acquired most of Asia for his dominion. He built two new capitals, Seleucia , about forty miles from Babylon , and Antioch on the Orontes River near Damascus, named for his father. He too encouraged colonization by the Jews; and with him commenced a continual warfare between Syria and Egypt. Palestine was the chief battle ground and no matter which side won, the Jew always lost.
          4. Ptolemy IV Philopater (222-203 B.C.) defeated Antiochus III the Great (223-187 B.C.) at Gaza , and in celebrating his victory marched to Jerusalem and tried to enter the Holy of Holies in the temple. The Jewish priests opposed him and he returned to Egypt in a rage. He retaliated by an awful persecution of the Jews in Egypt. Tradition says he sought to turn drunken elephants in upon imprisoned Jews, but the elephants turned upon those who came to see the show, killing great numbers of them.
          5. Ptolemy V Epiphanes (203-181 B.C.) ascended throne at age of five. The result of such a weak ruler was the loss of many provinces to Syria.
        3. Palestine under the Seleucids, 204-165 B.C. (Some major events)
          1. Antiochus lit the Great (223-187 B.C.) seized Palestine upon the coronation of Ptolemy V Epiphanes, whereupon Egypt appealed to Rome for help. The Romans sent an army against Antiochus, defeated him, and laid heavy tribute upon him. Shortly after this he was murdered,
          2. Seleucus IV Philopater (187 -175 B. C.), unimportant.
          3. Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175-164 B.C.). Ephiphanes means “illustrious”; this man was illustrious only for his gross wickedness. Indeed, his contemporaries nick-named him “Epimanes, “ meaning “the half-crazed.” He is the little horn of Daniel 8. His first act was to depose Onias, the high priest, and sell his office to Jason, the brother of Onias, for 360 talents. Jason was strongly Greek in all his sympathies and openly opposed the Hebrew customs and religion. He was followed by his brother, Menalaus, who was even worse.

            When Antiochus Epiphanes had led an expedition against Egypt, the Jews received a report that he had been killed in battle, and held a great celebration at Jerusalem, Antiochus returned and chastened them, killing 40, 000 Jews and selling a like number into slavery. His object then became nothing less than the total extermination of the Jewish religion. He entered the temple, sacrificed a sow on the altar of burnt offering and, making broth from its flesh, sprinkled it in the Holy of Holies. Some time later when hindered by Rome in his war with Egypt he returned to wreak vengeance on the Jews. He carried out a frightful massacre, broke down the city walls, and put an end to all temple worship for three years. He ordered all people under Syrian power to worship the gods of Syria. The temple at Jerusalem was dedicated to the Greek god Jove, and a statue of Jupiter was erected upon the altar of sacrifice. Disobedience to his mandate was rewarded by fearful persecution (Hebrews 11:36 -37). This is the “abomination that maketh desolate” (Dan. 11:31) in its near view application.
        4. Palestine under the Maccabees 165-63 B.C.
          Maccabee is a family name thought to be derived from the Hebrew word for hammer. It became the surname of the family of Mattathias, and was soon applied to all who joined tlieir cause.
          1. Mattathias was the father of llie family. He was a priest, and lived in Modin, on tlie Philistine plain. He refused to con­form to the pagan worship urged upon the Jews by Antiochus Epiphanes, slew a Jewish neighbor wlio sacrificed at a heathen altar, then fled to ‘he wilderness of Judea with his family and friends. Tlie Syrians made three attacks upon these patriots, but were defeated each time. Now begins one of the heroic times of the Jewish people (Dan. 11:32 ).
          2. Judas Maccabee succeeded his father after Ins death. The death of Antiochus Epiphanes was followed by civil war in Syria. Judas was able to occupy much of Jerusalem . On llie 2.5th Chislev. 165 B.C.. exactly lliree years after its desecration, the temple was solemnly rededicated. llie morning sacrifice offered on a new altar (the old having been removed because it had been desecrated) and the lamps upon the golden candle’ stick were lighted. The eight-day feast of dedication (Hanukkah—lights) followed, commemorated ever since by the Hebrew people as a religious festival. Gradually Judas and his brothers were able (because of a great power vacuum in the Near East at the lime) to regain most of Palestine , and for nearly a hundred years there was an independent Jewish nation again. Judas was killed in battle in a fresh war with Syria.
          3. Jonathan, brother of Judas, next assumed leadership and con­trived to have his authority recognized by Syria, but it was not long before he was treacherously murdered.
          4. Simon, brother of Jonathan, next ruled; he appealed for help to Rome. Rome supported his claims and declared the office to be hereditary in his family.
          5. John Hyrcanus, the son of Simon, was unprincipled and unfit for the position. The sects of the Pharisees and Sadducees were now keenly opposed to each other and John Hyrcanus first joined one and then the other. Much strife and blood­shed followed. Later two rival Maccabees, Hyrcanus and Aristobulus. grandsons of John Hyrcanus, opposed each other in civil war. They finally appealed their cause to Pompey, who preferred Hyrcanus and took Aristobulus prisoner to Rome, 62 B.C.
    3. ROMAN PERIOD, 64 B.C. - A.D. 325
      (Roman period of the Times of the Gentiles in Daniel - the legs of iron.)
      1. Under Pompey
        He made Hyrcanus governor and high priest supported by the authority and power of Rome. During the disruption at Rome , Aristobulus escaped and came back to Palestine to revive his war with his brother Hyrcanus.
      2. Julius Caesar
        Having obtained complete control and power at Rome, Julius Caesar appointed Hyrcanus king of Palestine and made Antipater, an Edomite, procurator of Judea . The two sons of Antipater, Phasaelis and Herod (later known as Herod the Great), were made governors of Galilee and Judea. Julius Caesar was murdered at Rome and a new triumvirate arose at Rome with Mark Anthony in control of the East.
      3. Mark Anthony
        Herod the Great now married Mariamne, granddaughter of Hyrcanus, the first step in pressing his own ambitious projects. There was still . trouble, however, with the son of Aristobulus, Antigonus by name, and Herod appealed to Rome, declaring that he alone could bring about peace in the province of Palestine. Mark Anthony then proclaimed him king, Antigonus was put to death, and the rule of the Maccabees was over.
      4. Caesar Augustus
        Some years after this, war broke out between Anthony and Octavius which was brought to an end by the defeat of Anthony at the battle of Actium. Octavius, who then became known as Caesar Augustus, was made emperor of Rome. He is the Roman ruler at the birth of Christ, Lu. 2:1.


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