Clarence E. Mason's "OLD
The History of Israel: Part
9b of 9
THE 400 SILENT YEARS:
AFTER MALACHI TO CHRIST (432 to 5 or 4 B.C.) COMMENT
E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of
- THE 400 SILENT YEARS: AFTER
MALACHI, TO CHRIST (432-5 or 4 B.C.)
- PERSIAN PERIOD, 432-332
- Decline of Persian power
after continued unsuccessful war with Greece.
- Internal administration
of Palestine in hands of corrupt high priests.
- HELLENISTIC PERIOD, 332-63
(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.
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 (“notable horn”),
- 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
- Palestine under
Alexander’s successors, 323-165 B.C.
- 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).
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 colonization.
- 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 them.
- 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 major events)
- 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.), unimportant.
- 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 worse.
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.
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. 11:32 ).
- 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
- 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, 62 B.C.
- 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
- 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,
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