Understanding The Bible
Clarence E. Mason's "OLD TESTAMENT
The History of Israel: Part 9b
THE 400 SILENT YEARS:
AFTER MALACHI TO CHRIST (432 to 5 or 4
Return to Syllabus
Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible
- THE 400 SILENT YEARS: AFTER MALACHI, TO CHRIST (432-5 or
- PERSIAN PERIOD, 432-332 B.C.
- Decline of Persian power after continued unsuccessful
war with Greece.
- Internal administration of Palestine in
hands of corrupt high priests.
- HELLENISTIC PERIOD, 332-63 B.C.
(The Greek period of the Times of the Gentiles in Daniel - the belly and
thighs of brass.)
- Palestine under Alexander, 332-323 B.C.
- 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.
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
- 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.
- Alexander dies, 323 B.C.
- Palestine under Alexander’s successors, 323-165
- 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).
- Palestine under the Ptolemy s, 323-304 B.C.
(Some major events)
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- Palestine under the Seleucids, 204-165 B.C. (Some
- 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
- Seleucus IV Philopater (187 -175 B. C.),
- 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
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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,
- ROMAN PERIOD, 64 B.C. - A.D. 325
(Roman period of the Times of the Gentiles in Daniel - the legs of
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Return to Syllabus
200 Manor Avenue
Langhorne, PA 19047
United States of America
Notes" Study materials on this website are made available
here free, through the generosity of Cairn University,
and may be copied for use in Bible study groups, in limited numbers, providing
that no charge is made for them. No further distribution or use
of these materials is allowable under U.S. or International Copyright
Law without the express permission of Cairn University.