69 – Israel – 444 BC To The Roman Empire

Ship Full of Holocaust Survivors Sing Hatikva in 1945

Watching the following video made me cry.

March of the Living – Tribute to Liberators

Soldiers, Russia, British and American, are seen as they free Jews who had been enslaved, tortured and starved by Hitler’s Nazis. Yes! There was a holocaust. Some people deny that act of inhumanity, but, it happened.

Israel 444 BC To The Roman Empire

In order for anyone to have a clear understanding of the culture of Israel, and the Jewish people, it is an imperative that the religious aspects of such a people be considered. Before this post is read, it is advised that the prior posts be read, in their order of being published:

1. Israel, A Look Within, From Without
2. Israel 931-586 BC
3. Israel 586-445 BC

As has been mentioned in this study of Israel, the Jews have always had a great respect for their prophets, from whom “God’s chosen people” (per, Deuteronomy 7:6), believed that they received revelation from God. The prophets were identified as being major or minor prophets. The only difference between the two groups was the length of their writings. The major prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel) had no greater significance than did the minor prophets (Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi). The prophets wrote prior to the deportation of the Jews, during the exile of the Jews, and after the return of the Jews to Jerusalem and surrounding Judah. The times of the writings of the prophets occurred from approximately 850 B.C. until approximately 400 BC.

After the return of the Jews to Judah and Jerusalem, three other important books were written that Jews hold in high regard. Those books are Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther.

Ezra. The Book of Ezra is devoted to events occurring in the land of Israel at the time of the return of Jews, from the Babylonian captivity and subsequent years, covering a period of approximately one century, beginning in 538 BC. The Persian King, Cyrus, issued an edict in that year., for the return of the exiled Jews to Judah and Jerusalem. The temple, which had been destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC, began being rebuilt in 535 BC, and was completed in 515 BC. Ezra was a Jewish scribe and priest; he was a descendant of Aaron, and was well-versed in the Law of Moses. He was commissioned by King Artaxerxes of Persia to return to Jerusalem and restore the Law for the Jewish people (Ezra 7:1-16). Ezra returned to Jerusalem in 458 BC. The time of writing was from about 457 to 444 BC.

Nehemiah. The Book of Nehemiah was likely written between 420 and 400 B.C. It continues the story of Israel’s return from the Babylonian captivity, and the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem, which were also destroyed in 586 BC by Nebuchadnezzar. Nehemiah was the Jew who was appointed as the Governor of Judah, in 444 BC. He was appointed Governor by the Persian King Artaxerxes, and was serving as the King’s cupbearer (he tasted the King’s food to make sure that it was not poisoned). Nehemiah went to Jerusalem in 444 BC, and completed the rebuilding of the walls of the city in 443 BC.

Esther. The events of this book took place in Persia, which is current day Iran. Its author is anonymous, however, some believe Mordecai, (Esther’s cousin and guardian), wrote it. It was written approximately 470 BC in Persia. The key personalities are Esther, Mordecai, King Ahasuerus (or Xerxes), and Haman. The book is a post-exile story about Jews who stayed behind, after most returned to Jerusalem after captivity. Babylon was conquered by Persia, and Esther miraculously became the queen of the land. She was a brave young woman who saved her people from being exterminated. She became the queen of Persia around 475 BC, after winning a beauty contest. Esther’s cousin, Mordecai, saved the king’s life once, when two men in the palace tried to attack him (see Esther 2:21-23). He also played a big part in helping Esther stand up for her people. Haman is the villain of the story. He came up with a plan to kill every Jew in Persia. He built a tower, which he was going to use to hang Mordecai. But, Haman got the justice that he deserved; he was hung from his own tower (see Esther 7:9-10). After helping to save his people, Mordecai was promoted to second in rank to only the King (see Esther 10:2-3). As a Jewish maiden who had become the wife of the powerful king, Esther reached a crossroads of faith. Dare she stand up for the Lord and His chosen people? Or would she just blend into society as Persian royalty?

From 722 BC, when the northern ten tribes of Israel were taken captive by Assyria, until 586 BC, when the southern two tribes were taken captive by Babylon, until 539 BC, when Babylon was defeated by Medo-Persia, the Jews were under the control of world empires. Greece defeated the Persians in about 330 BC, and became the next world empire; they controlled and influenced the Jews in the culture of the Greeks until Rome became the next word empire. Jews became the writers of the New Testament of the Bible (minus Luke, a gentile), and wrote their scriptures in Greek, to include some Aramaic verses. While in exile, many Jews lost their knowledge of their native Hebrew language. Prior to their deportation in 586 BC, some Jews were also speaking in Aramaic, as recorded in 2 Kings 18:26 (713 BC) and Isaiah 36:11 (710 BC).

Consider the oppression of the Jews while they were under the rule of the Greek Empire. The temple that had been rebuilt in 515 BC was desecrated by the Greeks in 167 BC. That event is recorded in the Old Testament book of Daniel, in Chapter eleven, verse 31. A second account is provided by a Jew, by the name of Matthew, in the New Testament book of Matthew, Chapter 24, verse 15. Most Jews do not accept the writings of Matthew, from a spiritual standpoint. However, the facts of Matthew are very consistent with the account of Daniel.

The following notes come from the writings of Dr. John MacArthur, as he discusses Daniel, Chapter, Verse 31, and Matthew, Chapter 24, Verse 15.

11:31 DEFILE THE SANCTUARY. Antiochus’ soldiers, no doubt working with apostate Jews, guarded the temple, halting all worship, while others attacked the city on the Sabbath, slaughtering men, women and children. Soldiers desecrated Israel’s temple, banned circumcision and daily sacrifices (1 Macc. 1:44–54), and sacrificed a pig on the altar. The Syrians on Chislev (Dec. 15, 167 B.C.), even imposed an idol statue, in honor of the Olympian god Zeus, into the temple. Jews called it “the abomination that causes desolation,” i.e., emptying or ruining for Jewish worship. ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION. Antiochus’ soldiers profaned God’s temple by spreading sow’s broth on the altar and banning daily sacrifices (cf. 8:14 and see note there) as described in 1 Macc. 1:44–54. Both Daniel and Christ said this atrocity was only a preview of the abomination that would happen later, under the final Antichrist (9:27; Matt. 24:15).

24:15 ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION. See notes on Daniel 9:27; 11:31. This phrase originally referred to the desecration of the temple by Antiochus Epiphanes, King of Syria, in the second century B.C. Antiochus invaded Jerusalem in 168 B.C., made the altar into a shrine to Zeus, and even sacrificed pigs on it. However, Christ clearly was looking toward a yet-future “abomination of desolation.” Some suggest that this prophecy was fulfilled in A.D. 70, when Titus invaded Jerusalem and destroyed the temple (see note on v. 2). However, the Apostle Paul saw a still-future fulfillment (2 Thess. 2:3, 4), as did John (Rev. 13:14, 15)—when the Antichrist sets up an image in the temple during the future tribulation. Christ’s words here, therefore, look beyond the events of A.D., 70 to a time of even greater global cataclysm that will immediately precede His second coming to earth (cf. vv. 29–31).

Antiochus Epiphanes was a Greek king of the Seleucid Empire who reigned over Syria from 175 BC until 164 BC. He is famous for his brutal persecution of the Jews. Consider the following article that discusses the oppression of the Greeks and Syrians on Israel. The Maccbees were Jews. Consider the comment on Chanukah, also spelled Hanukkah.

https://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/israel/history-10.htm

333 BC-143 BC – Greek Rule

From the year 180 BC until 161 BC the Maccabees rebelled against the Syrian king Antiochus IV, who persecuted the Jews. He launched a campaign to crush Judaism, and in 167 BC he sacked the Temple. At the end of the period, after the rebels had conquered Judah and Jerusalem, the Temple was re-inaugurated. The Jewish holiday of Chanukah, also spelled Hanukkah, is based on these historic events.

In 168 BC, Antiochus, being defeated in his plans against Egypt, turned his anger against Palestine, and undertook the extermination of the Jewish religion and the complete Hellenizing of Judea. The walls of Jerusalem were thrown down, but the old city of David was fortified and occupied by a Syrian garrison. The observance of Jewish rites, the Sabbath, and circumcision, was prohibited. Those who resisted were put to death. In December 168, at the great altar of burnt offering in the temple of Jerusalem, a pagan altar was built, and on the 25th Chisleu sacrifices were offered on it.

Even after having suffered greatly from other kingdoms and nations, Jews still hold strongly to the promise that was given to them by Moses in 1451 BC, in the book of Deuteronomy. Consider the following verses:

Devarim 7:6 Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB)

6 For thou art an Am Kodesh unto Hashem Eloheicha; Hashem Eloheicha hath chosen thee to be an Am Segullah (Treasured People) unto Himself, above all people that are upon the face of ha’adamah.

Deuteronomy 7:6 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

6 For you are a people set apart as holy for Adonai your God. Adonai your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his own unique treasure.

Deuteronomy 7:6 New Living Translation (NLT)

6 For you are a holy people, who belong to the Lord your God. Of all the people on earth, the Lord your God has chosen you to be his own special treasure.

Jews also hold to the writings of Moses, that they believe to be given to him by God, and date back to 2126 BC. Consider the following verses from the Book of Genesis:

Bereshis 12:3 Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB)

3 And I will bless the one blessing you, and curse him that curses you; and kol mishpochot haadamah shall be blessed through you.[T.N. There is a brocha in this verse that many do not know but that every true follower of Moshiach should know.]

Genesis 12:3 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

3 I will bless those who bless you, but I will curse anyone who curses you; and by you all the families of the earth will be blessed.

Genesis 12:3 New Living Translation (NLT)

3 I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.”

Jews believe that the promises of Genesis 12:3 flow to them from Abraham (the object of this verse, Gen 12:1-2), through the bloodline of his son, Isaac, and his grandson, Jacob, who become known as Israel, per Genesis 32:28. The Jews also believe that by being the chosen people of God, He will use their bloodline to bring the promised Messiah into the world (Isaiah 7:14; 9:7). Jews also believe that they will inherit a place of key significance during the, “yet future,” Kingdom of God (Zephaniah 3:8).

Consider the words, “Judah” and “Judea.”

Prior to the exile of Jews from Jerusalem, the tribes of Judah and Benjamin made up the southern kingdom of Judah.

After the Captivity the name, Judea, was applied to the whole of the country west of the Jordan (Haggai 1:1, 14; 2:2). But under the Romans, in the time of Christ, it denoted the southernmost of the three divisions of Palestine (Matthew 2:1, 5; 3:1; 4:25), although it was also sometimes used for Palestine generally (Acts 28:21).
The province of Judea, as distinguished from Galilee and Samaria, included the territories of the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, Dan, Simeon, and part of Ephraim. Under the Romans it was a part of the province of Syria, and was governed by a procurator.

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