Time Line - Historical Overview
Between the Books
As we approach the end of the Hebrew Scriptures, our narrative extends a slight bit further, spanning the great ravine between the Hebrew Scriptures and the Br’it Hadashah, the Good News. There are several important events which occur there - dark in the history of the Jewish people, nevertheless leading to a remarkable event in Messiah, the miraculous deliverer, at the other side of that ravine.
We choose to limit our remarks to the more significant events. Finally, we focus on the progress of the Holy Seed leading to that remarkable event.
1. Ezra and the Oral Law
Precisely when GOD foretold, 70 years after the start of the exile in Babylon of the kingdom of Judah, their captor Cyrus King of Persia released them, sending them back with the necessary means to rebuild Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple. (The first Jewish Temple, remember, was destroyed by the Babylonians, so this is the start of the Second Jewish Temple.) (Ezra 1)
On their return, Ezra the scribe gathered all the people and read and sought to instruct them in the meaning of the Law of Moses. Understand that this was necessary not strictly because they had drawn away from GOD’s word during the good life in Babylon (which they surely had), but rather because in the 70 years of captivity in Babylon, they lost the knowledge of Hebrew, the language in which the Law of Moses was written.
Out of Ezra’s effort to comment on and explain the Law of Moses grew a school of scribes founded by Ezra. Following his death, two succeeding generations of Ezra’s school led to important commentaries of the Law: the Mishnah and the Talmud, important aids to students of the Law.
But in their zeal, Hebrew scholars sought to turn these commentaries, in particular the Talmud, into what is known as the Oral Law - a law around the Law - claiming that this too came from GOD, whispered in the ear of Moses by GOD, but recorded only 1,000 years later! [Sadly some branches of Judaism address the Oral Law (given by men) above the Written Law (given by GOD)!]
But Moses himself put away all such speculation about a "law from GOD which was not written down" -
"These are the statutes and ordinances and laws which the LORD established between Himself and the sons of Israel through Moses at Mount Sinai." (Lev.26:46)
"You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you." (Deut.4:2)
"Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; You shall not add to nor take away from it." (Deut.12:32)
Nevertheless, the Talmud and the Mishnah are useful for instruction.
Some 50 years after the return from the exile, there still remained Hebrews in Babylon where they prospered, even after the LORD commanded them to return. The Book of Esther documents the plot by Haman, the first Gentile seeking to destroy the Jews. But the LORD nevertheless turned that affliction into victory!
Now, some may question whether Haman was truly the first Gentile to seek their destruction - that this questionable honor might instead belong to, say, Pharaoh of Egypt, also a Gentile. But Pharaoh sought to enslave the Jews in order to complete his building projects, not to destroy them.
3. Greek Language
Alexander the Great, king of Macedonia, in 340 BC began his great conquest, conquering the allied Greek states, the Persian Empire, the Mediterranean coast and Egypt, central Asia, and extending his conquest all the way to India. By his conquests, he extended the Greek culture throughout the known world. The Greek language would be the important means to communicate far and wide the knowledge of the arrival of Messiah.
As knowledge of Hebrew diminished and as the Greek language increased, a group of 70 Hebrew and Greek scholars gathered near the middle of the 3rd Century BC to translate the five books of Moses into Greek. The work was extended in the 2nd century BC to include the entire Hebrew Scriptures. This version of the OT is known as the Septuagint (or "70" in Greek).
5. Roman Roads
Beginning about 264 BC, the new Roman civilization began to extend its power, into Africa by 205 BC, and into Greece by 133 BC. By 31 BC, the Roman Empire was fully established. The Romans brought with them a system of roads extending almost throughout the known world, important to enable the spread of the Good News of Messiah.
But the absolute domination of Roman rule in Palestine MEANT the Jewish nation no longer controlled their own destiny, and could rule their people only with the permission of local Roman governors.
Herod, born in southern Palestine, was an Edomite, that is only half Jewish, and therefore was not qualified to rule the Jewish nation! Julius Caesar appointed Antipater, Herod’s father, Procurator of Judea in 47 BC and conferred on him Roman citizenship, an honor that followed also to Herod and his children. In 41 BC, Marc Antony made him Tetrarch of Galilee. While in Rome, Herod was made King of Judea by the Roman Senate and provided an army. Herod divorced his wife and married Mariamne, a princess of the priestly Hasmonean dynasty, descendants of Judas Maccabaeus, to further consolidate Herod’s power.
It was Herod in 19 BC who expanded the 2nd Jewish Temple. (Remember, it was originally built by Nehemiah in 516 BC on the return of the Jewish people from Babylon.)
THE STAGE IS NOW SET for the coming of the miraculous deliverer, the Messiah, who would crush the head of Satan.
7. Holy Seed
In order to complete our trace of the Holy Seed, we return once more to the last days of the Southern Kingdom and to Coniah, for an all-important comment.
Since GOD’s promise to King David, we have heard only once in this fourth session with regard to the "seed of the woman," the miraculous deliverer, who would in future come to rescue Israel and all mankind - namely, the all-important sign by GOD to King Ahaz. (Isaiah 7:14a-15)
Along the way, we have seen the prophecy GOD presented to King Hezekiah concerning the future exile in Babylon. (Isaiah 39:6-7)
[In this case and many others, GOD shows us that indeed there IS a God in heaven, one who reveals what will come before it happens!]
And in a prophecy by Jeremiah written to Jehoiakin (which the king read line by line, then proceeded to destroy - a prophecy we do not quote here) GOD warned of the coming exile to Babylon, that the land would be a desolation and a horror, but that they would come again once more to rebuild after 70 years. GOD would NOT cutoff Judah entirely. (Jeremiah 25:1-14)
With regard to the later restoration of Judah, the prophet Isaiah speaks:
Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, And a branch from his roots will bear fruit.
And the Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
And He will delight in the fear of the LORD, And He will not judge by what His eyes see, Nor make a decision by what His ears hear;
But with righteousness He will judge the poor, And decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth; And He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, And with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked.
Also righteousness will be the belt about His loins, And faithfulness the belt about His waist.
And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, And the leopard will lie down with the kid, And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little boy will lead them.
Also the cow and the bear will graze; Their young will lie down together; And the lion will eat straw like the ox.
And the nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra, And the weaned child will put his hand on the viper's den.
They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD As the waters cover the sea.
Then it will come about in that day that the nations will resort to the root of Jesse, Who will stand as a signal for the peoples; And His resting place will be glorious.
Then it will happen on that day that the Lord Will again recover the second time with His hand The remnant of His people, who will remain, From Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath, And from the islands of the sea. (Isaiah 11:1-11)
GOD here is clearly speaking of the miraculous deliverer, the Messiah. (Jesse, of course, is the father of David.)
With regard to where the miraculous deliverer would come from and some of what He would do -
"But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish; in earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He shall make it glorious, by the way of the Sea, on the other side of Jordan - Galilee of the Gentiles.
"The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them.
"Thou shalt multiply the nation, Thou shalt increase their gladness; They will be glad in Thy presence As with the gladness of harvest, As men rejoice when they divide the spoil.
"For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
"There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this."
The location is clearly indicated as the Galilee.
But what about Coniah, the "cut-off one," who had no more descendants to sit upon the Davidic throne? Here GOD accomplishes something remarkable concerning the Holy Seed. Instead of this FLAWED line of David, which came through Solomon, GOD chose to bring the Holy Seed ALSO by a SECOND line.
* The MOTHER would bring with her the heritage of the line of David.
* The FOSTER FATHER would bring with him the heritage of the Throne of David. (Understand, GOD Himself would be the father.)
[In the interests of time, we have been forced to omit many other important prophecies about the Holy Seed, the Messiah.]
This is a portion of a more extensive historical overview prepared by Mr. Charles Quigley. Select the more inclusive "sessions" for the TANAKH SURVEY (from the menu on the left) to view the overview in its entirety. This historical overview was originally created for oral presentations that cover Israel's history from its origin to a period leading to the 'Current Era' (CE). See note below on use of this presentation material.
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