Time Line - Historical Overview
TANAKH - OLD TESTAMENT SURVEY
Welcome to the FOURTH in a series of talks on a Survey of Old Testament History, as viewed through Jewish eyes.
So far, we have explored the creation and the Fall of Man, the spread of sin through the earth, and GOD’s call to Abram renamed Abraham, whose generations through Isaac and Jacob would inherit the Promised Land. We saw the sins of Jacob’s sons and their move away from the temptations of Canaan, to a sheltered place set aside for them in Egypt where they would grow into a numerous people. We saw their afflictions in Egypt and their rescue by GOD through His servant Moses, brought out by GOD’s mighty arm and outstretched hand, through 40 years of hardship in the wilderness, to return to conquer the Promised Land, a land flowing with milk and honey.
Following their return, we saw Israel’s downward spiral - a repeated spiral of sin, oppression, repentence, deliverance, and silence - the time of the Judges. Finally, when the people called for a king, GOD provided one, namely Saul, a foolish headstrong man - but GOD warned the people of the result when they sought to replace GOD the King with an earthly king like the nations around them.
Finally in the last session, we observed a lowly shepherd, David, humble but with a heart for GOD. Small as he was in the beginning, the strength of his spirit in his knowledge of GOD gave him victory over the Philistine giant Goliath. And as King Saul declined, young David increased, though David was tried and tested through affliction. We saw David acclaimed by all Israel as King of a unified nation. But while David did great deeds as king, he also sinned and was judged by GOD for his sin - though GOD never removed His promise from David.
Finally, we witnessed the remarkable scene at the threshing floor of Araunah, on Mt. Moriah in Jerusalem, where David’s punishment by the Angel of GOD was stopped by David’s sacrifice - on the site where the Jewish Temple would later be built.
One purpose of the Historical Overviews is to trace the "seed of the woman" which GOD speaks of in Genesis 3 - the miraculous deliverer who one day would come to crush the head of the serpent Satan. A second purpose is to observe that the GOD of all creation is not a God far off but is very near, acting in history. Here we review important dates that lead us to the time of the Temple in Jerusalem.
In order to place the events of this final session in the historical chronology of the entire Hebrew Scriptures, we offer the following chart listing important dates.
At this point, a note is in order. In all the dates mentioned in this session, we use the term "BC," which indicates a date numbering before the supposed year of the birth of Christ. Those who follow Rabbinic Judaism, however, prefer to give the same date as "BCE" or "Before the Common Era", in order to avoid any mention of the title "Christ," in whose name, so many Jews have been persecuted down through the centuries.
1) Using the narrative of the Hebrew Scriptures, the OT, as authority - the inspired Word of GOD - the Jewish people by tradition calculate that Creation occurred 5763 years ago. This is the year 5763 of the Jewish Calendar.
2) GOD’s call to Abraham occurred about 2100 BC
3) The Exodus out of Egypt occurred in 1440 BC
4) David became King in Jerusalem about 1011 BC
5) Following Solomon’s death, the breakup of the unified kingdom occurred in 931 BC
6) The end of the Northern Kingdom with the conquest by Assyria occurred in 722 BC
7) The Babylonian Exile of the Southern Kingdom occurred beginning in 605 BC
8) The first return from Babylon to Jerusalem occurred 70 years later in 535 BC.
2. Kings of Israel
Briefly, we trace the Kings of the twelve tribes of Israel -
* From foolish Saul;
* to the period when Saul and David were BOTH anointed by GOD, though Saul still reigned;
* through the reign of David, whom we choose to paint GREEN - a man after GOD’s own heart! (This is the present point in our narrative.)
* Following David’s death, David’s son Solomon reigned. We will discuss Solomon in a moment - a king who started off well enough, but later did things which would result in the Kingdom being broken in two. So we paint Solomon YELLOW turning to RED!
* The broken kingdom we display as a fractured and broken egg. We list the 10 tribes which gathered in the Northern Kingdom, "ISRAEL," and we show the one that GOD left with Judah in the Southern Kingdom, namely Benjamin.
(Remember that the Northern Kingdom would fail first, then the Southern Kingdom.
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3. OT Jerusalem
Here are a few VIEWS of OT Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.
IN THIS Topographic Map of Jerusalem, note the Seven Hills which surround Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, reading counterclockwise -
click on graphic to enlarge
(1) Mount Zion;
(2) The Mount of Evil Counsel;
(3) The Mount of Offense (or Abomination);
(4) The Mount of Olives;
(5) Mount Scopus;
(6) French Hill; and somewhat NW off the map,
(7) Nabi Samwil, the traditional burial site of the Prophet Samuel.
IN THIS ARTIST’S VIEW of the City Of David, which slopes down to the Hinnom Valley to the left (not shown), note David’s Stronghold which sits high up and is surrounded by walls. The Temple Mount (later built by Solomon) appears in the distance at right.
B. SOLOMON -
Following the death of David, we pause briefly to summarize the rule of his son Solomon, on the way to the establishment - and the fall - of the Northern and Southern Kingdoms.
1. Solomon’s Wisdom
When Solomon, David’s 2nd son by Bathsheba, became king, the Hebrew Scriptures tell us that Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of his father David, except that he sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places. The king went to Gibeon to sacrifice, because he had not finished building the house for the LORD.
When the LORD appeared to Solomon at Gibeon in a dream, asking what the king wished the LORD to give him, Solomon asked for wisdom to judge the people, and to discern between Good and Evil. GOD responded not only with that, but also by giving him riches and honor. (1 Kings 3) There was no one like Solomon that had wisdom and understanding of all things.
Hiram king of Tyre sent servants to Solomon and sent him cedar and cypress lumber to build a house for Solomon, and also a house for the LORD, tasks which took 20 years to complete. When the LORD’s house was completed, the LORD blessed it.
Solomon expanded and fortified many of the cities of Israel, and extended his kingdom.
2. Solomon’s Sins
But Solomon ALSO did things that were NOT RIGHT before the LORD.
* He gathered many horses and chariots, as if he could win a war by the king’s strength alone.
* He married many foreign wives from ruling houses of other surrounding nations, as a means to build political alliances. And he built temples to the gods of his wives (two we know of) on a hill to the south of Mt. Moriah, known to this day as the Mt. Of Offense.
In response, the LORD spoke to Solomon, that GOD would tear the kingdom from him. GOD would NOT do it in Solomon’s days, for the sake of David. Also GOD would not tear away ALL the kingdom, but He would leave one tribe to Solomon’s son. (1 Kings 11)
C. SURROUNDING NATIONS AFTER DAVID
Following King David’s death and the breakup of the unified kingdom (931 BC), history records Egypt was not involved in Palestinian affairs, at least until King Asa (Judah) and Baasha (Israel). During David’s reign, the Aramaens (Damascus) became active, and during Ben-Hadad’s reign (900-841) he beseiged Israel twice, and earlier treatied with Asa (Judah) against Baasha (Israel).
But Aram’s activities were increasingly threatened with the emergence of Assyria, beginning with Assyria’s first westward assault on the upper Euphrates in 901 BC. So that when Ben-Hadad began to rule about 900 BC in Damascus, all of Upper Mesopotamia was firmly under Assyrian control.
The 50 year period that followed, then, was consumed with attempts at treaties between Aram (Damascus) standing between Palestine and Assyria, and the Palestinian states, in order to ward off Assyrian expansion westward (through the reigns of Jehoshaphat of Judah and Joram of Israel). After 858 BC, Assyria under Shalmaneser became virtually unstoppable, though Shalmaneser encountered stiff opposition in three attacks in 849-845, defeating Hazael of Aram (Damascus) only in 841 BC, when he brought Jehu of Israel also under tribute.
Egypt during that period attempted to assert its influence through alliances with Aram (Damascus) and the Northern and Southern Kingdoms. But Egypt from 850 to 715 BC was hopelessly fragmented due to internal power struggles - and from 818 until about 715 there existed two parallel governments of Egypt - so was unable to exert any strong influence outside its own borders.
Indeed, in the days of King Hezekiah of Judah, when Assyria came up against Jerusalem, Assyria warned against any reliance on Egypt, described as a "crushed reed," saying if a man were to lean upon it, it would go into his hand and pierce it. (2 Kings 18:21)
D. FALL OF NORTHERN AND SOUTHERN KINGDOMS -
1. Northern Kingdom -
Indeed, it took place exactly as GOD said it would. And it only took the pride and greed of a man, and the foolishness of his friends, to accomplish it.
After GOD’s decree against Solomon but before the king died. GOD spoke to a servant of Solomon, Jereboam, saying that the LORD would tear the kingdom from the hand of Solomon’s son and give ten of the tribes to Jereboam, leaving only Judah and one other. Only in return, Jereboam must listen to all that GOD commands, to walk in His ways, and to do what is right in GOD’s sight by observing His statutes and His commandments. If that is done, then GOD would give to Jereboam an enduring house as He had built for David, and GOD would give Israel to Jereboam (that is, the ten northern tribes). In this way, GOD would afflict the descendants of David, but not always. (1 Kings 11)
A remarkable promise indeed!
When Solomon’s son Rehoboam went to Shechem after his father’s death for all Israel to make him king, the people asked if he would reduce their taxes and their burden and the hard service that Solomon had placed upon them. Though the Elders recommended that Rehoboam grant their request, he instead took the advice of worthless young men who grew up with him. Rehobom replied instead that he would add, not reduce, the people’s burden, that he would discipline them with cruel whips. The people responded:
"What portion do we have in David?
"We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse;
"To your tents, O Israel! Now look after your own house, David!"
(Do these words sound familiar? Remember the words of the worthless man Sheba who called out to King David on his return from his flight from Absalom!)
From this point, the story of the Northern Kingdom goes all down hill to disaster!
After the people made Jereboam king over all but the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, Jereboam feared the people would return to Jerusalem in order to offer sacrifices at the House of the LORD, and their heart would return to Jerusalem and to Judah. So the king made two golden calves, he set one in Bethel and the other in the northern region of Dan, and he said,
"Behold your gods, oh Israel, that brought you up from the land of Egypt." (1 Kings 12:25-33)
(Those were Aaron’s exact words at Mt. Horeb when the people grew impatient while the people waited for Moses to come down off the mountain, and Aaron fashioned the Golden Calf.)
And Jereboam made priests from among all the people who were not of the sons of Levi.
In response to this and other sins of Jereboam against GOD, the LORD sent a prophet to utter a curse against the profaned altar at Bethel -
* A descendant of David, Josiah, would come;
* On that altar, Josiah would sacrifice the priests of the high places who burned incense there;
* As a sign, the altar would split apart and the ashes upon it would be poured out.
When Jereboam stretched out his hand from the altar to command the prophet be seized, Jereboam’s hand dried up so he could not draw it back! The altar also was split apart and the ashes were poured out. (1 Kings 13:1-5)
We will not list or describe all the kings of Israel, the Northern Kingdom, only the more prominent ones. In any event, there were no good kings there, only a few who did some bad and some good.
Ahab the son of Omri became king over Israel, and reigned in Samaria for 32 years. He married Jezebel, daughter of the king of the Sidonians, who brought the worship of Ba’al to the Northern Kingdom. He followed all the sins of Jereboam. He erected an altar for Ba’al in the house of Ba’al which he built in Samaria. And Ahab also made the Asherah, evil before GOD’s eyes. (1 Kings 16:29-34)
In response, GOD called forth the prophet Elijah to announce to Ahab a famine for a long time, until Elijah himself would call it to end. Elijah fled from Ahab to a desert where the ravens brought him food, and later a widow. In the third year, GOD called him to return to Ahab where Elijah called the priests of Ba’al and of the Asherah to meet him at Mt. Carmel.
There, they held a great contest between Ba’al and GOD, Creator and Ruler of all the universe. Following the LORD’s dramatic demonstration of his power, when He sent down fire upon the sacrifice on the altar to the LORD and licked up all the water, Elijah slew the priests of Ba’al. Afterwards, Elijah restored the rain in the land once more.
When Elijah fled from Jezebel to a far-off place, GOD spoke to him from the gentle breeze, telling of a judgment which would come -
1) From Hazael king of the Arameans;
2) from Jehu son of Nimshi (a general in Ahab’s army); and,
3) from Elisha (a prophet whom Elijah would call). (1 Kings 17-19)
Later, Jehu struck the house of Ahab as the LORD announced, and the evil wife of Ahab Jezebel, who brought the worship of Ba’al into the Northern Kingdom, died at the hands of officials in the king’s household. (2 Kings 9:30-37)
Except for perhaps the remarkable deeds of the prophet Elisha, there is not much more to report about the Northern kings, until the end.
In the latter days of Israel, Menachem reigned 10 years in Israel. During his reign, he paid tribute to the king of Assyria to support him - as the new ruler of Assyria Tiglath-pileser III (Pul in the OT) began a campaign to defend Assyria’s northern borders, restore order in Babylonia, and regain control of Syria. In the Biblical account, Pul agreed. (2 Kings 15:17-22)
Later, Pekah became king in Israel after he murdered Menachim’s son Pekahiah, and reigned 20 years. Pul of Assyria for a second time campaigned in Palestine (the first during Menachim’s reign) and captured Gaza. Against a threat by Pekah of Israel and Rezin of Damascus, King Ahaz of Judah appealed for Assyria’s protection. This time, Assyria agreed to support King Ahaz and Damascus was defeated. (2 Kings 16:5-7 )
But Pekah foolishly broke a treaty with Assyria previously made by Menachim, refusing to pay the tribute. Within 6 years, Assyria returned and quickly conquered vast areas of Aram (Damascus) and Palestine.
Tempting though it may be to seek the aid of a strong foreign power against a threatening neighbor, IN RETURN for that aid one must pay tribute - WITHOUT CEASING! (Such a relationship is known as a "suzerain-vassal state.")
But Hoshea conspired against Pekah and killed him, becoming in his place king over Israel as a suzerain-vassal state of Assyria. (2 Kings 15:29-30) But when Shalmaneser V succeeded Pul as king of Assyria, Hoshea refused to pay tribute to Assyria and instead sent messages to SO king of Egypt.
(Hoshea forget an important principle - "Once a suzerain-vassal state, ALWAYS a suzerain-vassal state!" There is an important warning that accompanies that principle. When a suzerain-vassal state switches its allegiances, it does so at its own great peril!) Assyria invaded the whole land, and in Hoshea’s 9th year, captured Israel and carried them away to exile in Assyria. (2 Kings 17:1-6).
Assyria re-populated Samaria with mixed races of other lands. In this way, the LORD brought an end to the Northern Kingdom, about 722 BC.
2. Southern Kingdom
In the terrible days which followed the breakup of the unified kingdom, though the LORD broke away the 10 northern tribes, He always kept the lamp burning in Jerusalem, remembering His promise to His servant David.
The story of the Southern Kingdom, however, is not much better then the North. We can number seven kings who did bad as well as good deeds, and only one who did good deeds only. We will describe only the more notable ones.
Following the death of Solomon’s son Rehoboam, the first king of Judah/Benjamin after the breakup into the Northern and Southern Kingdoms, and after Abijam his son, Asa became king of Judah and reigned 41 years. The Hebrew Scriptures tell us Asa did what was right in the LORD’s sight.
He put away the male adult prostitutes from the Land, He removed all the idols his fathers had made. He removed his mother from being queen mother when she made a horrid image as an Asherah. But he did not take away the high places.
When Baasha king of Israel made a treaty with Ben-hadad of Damascus to beseige Jerusalem, Asa paid tribute to Ben-Hadad instead to attack the Northern Kingdom, so that they withdrew. (1 Kings 15:9-22)
[Sad that in those declining days, the Northern and Southern Kingdoms (both part of the same heritage, you understand) from time to time would attack one another.]
Jehoshaphat the son of Asa became king of the southern kingdom and ruled 25 years. Though he followed his father’s ways, he did not take away the high places, and people still sacrificed and burned incense there. The remnant of the Sodomites who remained in Asa’s time, Jehoshaphat removed. (1 Kings 22:41-50)
One time, when the King of Moab stopped paying tribute of sheep to King Jehoram of Israel, Jehoram sent word to Jehoshaphat to come out with him against Moab. [We suppose that at this time the sheep from Moab were used for the sacrifice in the Temple in Jerusalem.] They marched for seven days to reach the King of Edom to join with him. They despaired when they were without water for the men or the cattle with them.
Jehoshaphat called for a prophet, and Elisha was brought forth. Elisha called for trenches to be dug, that the valley be made full of trenches. Elisha announced that, though there be no wind nor rain, the valley would be filled with water for them to drink, both the men and animals. And if that was only a slight thing, the LORD would give them also the Moabites.
It happened in the early morning that water came by way of Edom, and the trenches were full. When the Moabites arose to fight, the water opposite them appeared red as blood. Thinking the three tribes that opposed them had slain each other, the Moabites came to the camp of Israel. But the Israelites arose and struck the Moabites, so that they fled. (2 Kings 3)
When Jehoshaphat reached the lookout over the wilderness, they saw there were corpses lying on the ground, that no one had escaped. When they came to take their spoil - goods, garments, and valuable things - they were three days taking the spoil. They returned to Jerusalem with joy, because with GOD’s help they had triumphed over their enemies. (2 Chron.20:24-30)
It is from this event we believe that the phrase, "Jumping Jehoshaphat" comes.
After several kings came Ahaz king of Judah, who reigned in Jerusalem 16 years. During the reign of Pekah king of Israel, Ahaz became king over Judah.
We have heard of Ahaz earlier concerning Pekah and Aram of Damascus and the alliance with Assyria. Ahaz did what was evil in the LORD’s sight, even to making his son pass through fire, according to the abominations of the surrounding nations.
But what makes evil King Ahaz notable was a meeting attended by the prophet Isaiah (who incidentally brought with him Isaiah’s young son to that fateful meeting). Isaiah was sent by GOD to reassure Ahaz in the expected combat against him. He told Ahaz not to fear, that Aram of Damascus depended upon Assyria.
To provide reassurance that the LORD would accomplish what He promised, GOD asked Ahaz himself to name a sign, but Ahaz refused. GOD responded, asking, "Is it not enough that you also try the patience of GOD?" and named a sign Himself -
A long-term prophecy
"Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name IMMANUEL.
"He will eat curds and honey at the time He knows enough to refuse evil and choose good." (Isaiah 7:14a-15)
This is clearly a miraculous event, so that the child himself must be miraculous.
A near-term prophecy for good -
"For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken." (vs.16)
(Here, the boy Isaiah is referring to is Isaiah’s young son.)
But the prophecy doesn’t end there. There is a mid-term prophecy of judgment -
"The LORD will bring on you, on your people, and on your father's house (Judah) such days as have never come since the day that Ephraim separated from Judah, the king of Assyria."
"And it will come about in that day, that the LORD will whistle for the fly that is in the remotest part of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria.
"And they will all come and settle on the steep ravines, on the ledges of the cliffs, on all the thorn bushes, and on all the watering places.
"In that day the Lord will shave with a razor, hired from regions beyond the Euphrates (that is, with the king of Assyria), the head and the hair of the legs; and it will also remove the beard.
"Now it will come about in that day that a man may keep alive a heifer and a pair of sheep;
"and it will happen that because of the abundance of the milk produced he will eat curds, for everyone that is left within the land will eat curds and honey.
"And it will come about in that day, that every place where there used to be a thousand vines, valued at a thousand shekels of silver, will become briars and thorns.
"People will come there with bows and arrows because all the land will be briars and thorns.
"And as for all the hills which used to be cultivated with the hoe, you will not go there for fear of briars and thorns; but they will become a place for pasturing oxen and for sheep to trample." (Isaiah 7:17-25)
[We include all this to show the extent of GOD’s judgment because of the sins of the Southern Kingdom. But there is much more here than we have time to analyze.]
Hezekiah the son of Ahaz became king of Judah and reigned 29 years in Jerusalem. Though Ahaz had done evil, Hezekiah did right in the sight of the LORD - well almost!
He removed the high places. He broke down the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah. He broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for the sons of Israel had done evil by burning incense to it. He opened the doors of the house of the LORD, and he restored the service in the Temple. The Hebrew Scriptures report he clung to the LORD and did not depart from following Him. (2 Kings 18:1-8)
In the 4th year of Hezekiah’s reign, Shalmaneser of Assyria beseiged Samaria (Northern Kingdom) and captured it and carried away Israel into exile in Assyria. Later, Sennacherib king of Assyria seized all the fortified cities of Judah. In reply, Hezekiah promised to pay any tribute Assyria demanded. He paid 300 talents of gold.
But when Hezekiah later refused to pay, Assyria sent a large army to Jerusalem. Assyria cried out to Hezekiah, "On whom do you rely, that you have rebelled against me, relying on Pharaoh of Egypt? For the LORD said to me, go up against this land and destroy it. - - - Has anyone of the gods of the nations delivered this land from the hand of Assyria?" (2 Kings 18:13-25, 33)
The servants of Hezekiah came to Isaiah who responded with the LORD’s words -
"Do not be afraid because of the words that you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed Me.
"Behold, I will put a spirit in him so that he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land. And I will make him fall by the sword in his own land." (2 Kings 19:6a-7)
And Assyria departed!
Once again, Assyria came with messengers to Hezekiah with similar words. (Many of Assyria’s words are not fit to repeat!) When Hezekiah prayed to the LORD for help, Isaiah came with GOD’s response.
Short term prophecy for good -
'Then this shall be the sign for you: you shall eat this year what grows of itself, in the second year what springs from the same, and in the third year sow, reap, plant vineyards, and eat their fruit. (vs.29)
Long term prophecy -
'And the surviving remnant of the house of Judah shall again take root downward and bear fruit upward.
'For out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant, and out of Mount Zion survivors. The zeal of the LORD shall perform this. (vs.30-31)
Prophecy of judgment against Assyria -
"He shall not come to this city or shoot an arrow there; neither shall he come before it with a shield, nor throw up a mound against it.
"By the way that he came, by the same he shall return, and he shall not come to this city," declares the LORD.
"For I will defend this city to save it for My own sake and for My servant David's sake." (vs.32-34)
Then it happened that night that the Angel of the LORD went out and struck 185,000 in the Assyrian camp, so that they were found dead in the morning. Sennacherib departed and went home. One day when he was worshipping to his god, two killed him with the sword. (Who says that GOD doesn’t work in history?)
WHEN HEZEKIAH saw that Sennacherib had come and that he intended to make war with Israel, Hezekiah cut off the supply of water to the city from the springs outside the wall. He rebuilt the wall and strengthened it and erected towers on it. Deep within the eastern wall, he dug a deep tunnel within the wall itself, so that the water from the Gishon spring might flow in a protected place to the pool of Siloam below, without interference from outside. [Hezekiah’s Tunnel exists to this day!]
Nevertheless, though Hezekiah did what was right before the LORD, the Hebrew Scriptures report that his heart was proud. As a result, when the envoys from Babylon came to inquire of the wonder that had happened, foolish Hezekiah showed them everything, even all that was in his treasure house! (Isaiah 39:1-8)
When Isaiah heard what Hezekiah had done, the LORD rebuked Hezekiah saying,
"Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and all that your fathers have laid up in store to this day shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left," says the LORD.
"And some of your sons who shall issue from you, whom you shall beget, shall be taken away; and they shall become officials in the palace of the king of Babylon." (Isaiah 39:6-7)
This is the prophecy of the exile of the Southern Kingdom to Babylon that was to come.
As the Southern Kingdom sank lower and lower, doing more and more evil in GOD’s eyes, there came a brief time of sunlight in the life of Judah, an oasis - brief as GOD counts time - when a young boy of eight years, Josiah by name, became king of Judah. He reigned in Jerusalem for 31 years.
The Hebrew Scriptures record that Josiah did right in the sight of the LORD and he walked in the way of his father David. Though not all that Josiah did was good, he is known as the last good king of Judah. (For he did something quite foolish just at the end of his reign.)
During his reign, when they discovered the book of the law hidden in the Temple, Josiah cried out in anguish and remorse as he heard the words recorded in the book. When he cried out to the LORD, GOD responded that, since Josiah had humbled himself when he heard the words that the LORD had spoken against that place: That the LORD would delay His judgment, and that Josiah would complete his reign and be gathered to his grave in peace, before the judgment. (2 Kings 22)
Josiah called for all the people to gather, and he read to them all the words of the book of the covenant. Then he purged the Temple of all the vessels of Ba’al, of Asherah, and all the host of heaven, and he burned them outside Jerusalem. He did away with all the idolatrous priests. He broke down the houses of the male cult prostitutes. He defiled all the high places where the priests had burned incense.
He also defiled Topheth, which is the valley of ben-Hinnom just south of the city - We know the name today as "Gehenna," a precursor of the flaming abyss where GOD will send Satan for all eternity - that no man in future might make his son or daughter pass through the fire for Molech.
Josiah also destroyed the horses dedicated to the sun, and he burned the chariots of the sun with fire. The altars on the roof which the kings of Judah had made, and the altars in the two courts of the Temple that Manasseh had made, the king broke down and smashed and threw their dust into the river Kidron.
He broke down the sacred pillars of Ba’al and cut down the Asherim. The king also defiled the high places on the Mount of Abomination which Solomon had built to the evil gods of three of his foreign wives. He tore down the altar at Bethel and the high place that Jereboam had built, in order for Jeroboam to draw the people of the Northern Kingdom away from the Temple in Jerusalem - demolishing their stones and grinding them to dust.
Josiah removed the mediums and spiritists and the idols and all the abominations that were in the land of Judah and within Jerusalem.
Then he commanded all the people to celebrate the Passover to the LORD. It is written that such a Passover had not been celebrated from the days of the Judges, nor all the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah. (2 Kings 23:1-24)
Before Josiah, there was no king like him who turned to the LORD with all his heart and all his soul and all his might, according to all the Law of Moses. And there was none like him to arise after him.
Nevertheless, the LORD did not turn from his fierceness and anger, because of the provocations of Manasseh, and the LORD said He would remove Judah also from His sight, even as He removed Israel. And He would cast off Jerusalem, the city which He had chosen, and the Temple of which He had said He would put His Name. (2 Kings 23:25-27)
[Our readers should surely recall at this point the parallel of the suffering which David’s son Absalom had felt, when David refused to allow his son to see the King’s face!]
THEN PHARAOH Neco of Egypt went up to do battle against the king of Assyria at the river Euphrates. Neco chose to travel along the King’s Highway which is located along the shore, to pass by Carmel. But foolishly, King Josiah went to intercept Neco’s superior army at the pass at Meggido hoping stop him. And so Neco killed Josiah there.
FOLLOWING THE DEATH of good King Josiah, the final days of Judah and the Southern Kingdom were bleak indeed. We will try only to trace the highlights. Our chief aim in these final passages is to locate and identify ONE IN PARTICULAR, at almost the very end, one who affects the tracing of the Holy Seed, all important in the deliverance of Israel - and indeed of all the nations!
The final lurches and downward spiral of the Southern Kingdom politically were due to the struggle for power between Egypt and a new force in the canvas of the Middle East, namely Babylon. The ultimate reason for Judah’s demise, however, lay on spiritual grounds, on Judah’s continued idolatry, despite repeated warnings of the prophets.
After Josiah came Jehoahaz, Josiah’s son, who ruled in Jerusalem only 3 months! Pharaoh Neco in Egypt imprisoned him in Egypt where he died, and Neco imposed a tax on Judah. (2 Kings 23:31-33)
Pharaoh Neco made Eliakim king, Josiah’s son, who reigned 11 years in Jerusalem. But Neco changed Eliakim’s name to Jehoiakim, to show Pharaoh’s power over him. Jehoiakim taxed the land and gave it to Pharaoh Neco. (2 Kings 23:34-37)
Four years after Jehoiakim came to power, Nebuchadnezzar came to Jerusalem and placed it under tribute. Jehoiakim remained loyal to Babylon for some years, but later rebelled. Nebuchaednezzar came quickly with troops, and he bound Jehoiakim with shackles and took him to Babylon. Though Jehoiakim later relented, as punishment the Temple was stripped of many of its sacred articles which were taken to pagan temples in Babylon. (We read of these same sacred articles in the narrative of Daniel, in the time of Balshazzar.) This was the FIRST exile to Babylon, which occurred in 605 BC.
Upon Jehoiakim’s death in 598, his son Jehoiachin became king, and reigned 3 months in Jerusalem. But by that time, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had taken all the land from Egypt, from the brook of Egypt to the Euphrates. Babylon beseiged Jerusalem and took Jehoiakim captive. Babylon took all the treasures of the house of the LORD, and he led away into exile all Jerusalem, all the mighty men of valor, all the craftsmen and the smiths. (Included in their number was Daniel and his three friends.) Babylon left only the poorest people of the land. This second Babylonian exile occurred in 597 BC. (2 Kings 24:10-17)
Our readers should know that this Jehoiachin was also known as Jeconiah, given the derogative name of 'Coniah,’ meaning 'cutoff’ by Jeremiah -
Therefore thus says the LORD in regard to Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, "They will not lament for him: 'Alas, my brother!' or, 'Alas, sister!' They will not lament for him: 'Alas for the master!' or, 'Alas for his splendor!'
"He will be buried with a donkey's burial, Dragged off and thrown out beyond the gates of Jerusalem.
"Go up to Lebanon and cry out, And lift up your voice in Bashan; Cry out also from Abarim, For all your lovers have been crushed.
"I spoke to you in your prosperity; But you said, 'I will not listen!' This has been your practice from your youth, that you have not obeyed My voice.
"The wind will sweep away all your shepherds, And your lovers will go into captivity; Then you will surely be ashamed and humiliated Because of all your wickedness.
"You who dwell in Lebanon, Nested in the cedars, How you will groan when pangs come upon you, Pain like a woman in childbirth!
"As I live," declares the LORD, "Even though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah were a signet ring on My right hand, yet I would pull you off;
And I shall give you over into the hand of those who are seeking your life, yes, into the hand of those whom you dread, even into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of the Chaldeans.
"I shall hurl you and your mother who bore you into another country where you were not born, and there you will die.
"But as for the land to which they desire to return, they will not return to it.
"Is this man Coniah a despised, shattered jar? Or is he an undesirable vessel? Why have he and his descendants been hurled out And cast into a land that they had not known?
"O land, land, land, Hear the word of the LORD!
"Thus says the LORD, 'Write this man (Coniah) down childless, A man who will not prosper in his days; For no man of his descendants will prosper, sitting on the throne of David Or ruling again in Judah.' " (Jeremiah 18:22-30)
We shall speak more about Coniah in a moment, in connection with the Holy Seed.
When Nebuchadnezzar removed Jehoiachin and all of Jerusalem, he placed Jehoiachin’s uncle Zedekiah (a son of Josiah) as a puppet ruler of Judah, though the people still regarded Jehoiachin (Coniah) the true heir of the throne of David until his death. Zedekiah, evil like his brothers, was repeatedly warned by Jeremiah to accept Babylon, but instead rebelled.
In response, Babylon did not return immediately, but by 588 advanced on Jerusalem and began a seige which concluded with the fall of Jerusalem. This is the third (final) exile to Babylon, occurring in 586 BC.
Along the way, we observe the spectacle of the flight of Zedekiah in the dark of night through a hole in the wall. He fled as far as Jericho where he was recaptured, forced to watch the execution of his sons, and then himself was blinded and taken to Babylon. (2 Kings 25:1-7)
E. 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.]
E. CONCLUSION -
In these talks, we have sought to survey OT History viewed from a Jewish perspective. We have stood back and examined the sweep of history to show the outlines of GOD’s plan, that the LORD is not a God far off but very near, a personal God and one who acts in history.
Finally, we have sought to explore a mystery!
With regard to the "seed of the woman" first spoken of in Genesis 3, as the canvas of history gradually is unrolled, we try to examine exactly what we know at each point in history about the miraculous deliverer, the Messiah, and when we know it. For after all, we did not know everything in the beginning, but it has been gradually revealed to the Jewish people, and now to the Gentiles also, over the passage of time.
In our discussion these four sessions, we have now arrived at the very point of the arrival of the "seed of the woman" into the world, the time spoken by the Angel Gabriel to the prophet Daniel. But we must leave it to another speaker to continue the remarkable narrative which appears in the Br’it Hadashah, the Good News, a continuation of the Hebrew Scriptures - all part of the Word of GOD..
We hope this survey has been a blessing to you who are members of the audience, and also to our viewers.
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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