The Intertestamental Period

What happened in the Intertestamental Period? The 400 “silent years” between the Old and New Testaments were far from silent!

The Intertestamental Period

In this week’s episode we examine the events from about 400 BC until the time of Christ. We begin with the Book of Daniel where King Nebuchadnezzer of Babylon dreams of a statue made of different materials. Daniel explains to him that it was a vision of the current and future dynasties which would conquer the known world. Assyria had recently been conquered by Babylon which seemed undefeatable, but was soon over thrown by the Medo-Persian Empire. The Persians actually ruled through the rest of the Old Testament writings and about 100 years into the so-called “silent” years. But then Alexander the Great conquered the world with record speed and the Greeks ruled until his untimely death. That empire fell into civil war between four factions led by:

Seleucus Nicor who ruled in Judea,
Ptolemy Soter who ruled in Egypt,
Attalus I who ruled in Asia, and
Antigonus Monophthalmus who ruled Macedonia

These four divisions of the Greek Empire remained segregated until Rome ran through and conquered the world from 50-67 BC.

During this time, the Jewish people were stuck in a conflict of their own with the Seleucids ruling Judea. In 167 BC, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, determined to erradicate the Jewish religion and culture, desecrated the temple by erecting a statue of Zeus and sacrificing a pig in the temple. This created a revolt among the Jews, led by Judas Maccabeus. The Maccabean revolt ultimately succeeded creating a new dynasty in Israel. This was later called the Hasmonean Dynasty which lasted until Rome conquered in 67 BC. The Hasmoneans still held to the throne until Herod was named Tetrarch of Judea in 37 BC. This takes us into the time of Jesus’ birth.

There were also a number of religiously relevant things established during this intertestamental time as well including:

  • The Septuagint Translation of the Old Testament
  • The writing of the Dead Sea Scroll manuscripts
  • The writing of 14 “apocryphal” books
  • The writing of many books now called the pseudopigrapha
  • The establishment of the Jewish Festival of Lights (Hanukkah)
  • The establishment of the Pharisees Sect of Jews
  • The establishment of the Saducee Sect of Jews
  • The establishment of the Essene Sect of Jews
  • The establishment of Synagogue Worship
  • The establishment of Sanhedrin Council
  • And More!


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