Detailed Intertestamental Timeline With Notes on Judaism Part 2

The Intertestimental Period 400 - 4 BC (Part 2)

Timeline With Notes on Judaism 165-64 BC

by Rusty Russell

HISTORICAL TIME CHART (Historical with an emphasis on Judaism) 3 Part Series.
Note: The dating is approximate and follows certain events in Palestine, Rome, Greece, Persia, Egypt, and China. The Notes in blue are a commentary on the effect of hellenization on the Jewish people.


164Antiochus Epiphanes dies
160Judah: Judas Maccabeus is killed in battle against Syrians. His brother, Jonathan, leads the Jews (to 143).
157Judaea becomes an independant principality
155China: Early writings are compiled, including important Taoist manuscripts.
154The Jews in Egypt build a temple at Leontopolis
149Rome's third Punic war against Carthage begins (ends 146)
Rome's fourth Macedonian war
Macedonia becomes a Roman province
146Romans destroy Carthage
145Egypt: Ptolemy VII rules under the regency of his mother, Cleopatra II. Ptolemy VIII seizes the throne (to 116) and marries first Cleopatra II and then her daughter Cleopatra III.
143Judea: Simon Maccabeus, elder brother of Judas and Jonathan, leads the Jews (to 134).
141Judea: Jews liberate Jerusalem. Judea proclaimed an independent kingdom.
140China: Emperor Wu Ti expands the empire (to 86).

NOTES: The New Heroes

Mattathias and His Sons
- Northwest of Jerusalem was the little town of Modin. Among the most devoted Jews were the "Hashmonaim" or Hasmoneans (prob. a descendant of Hashmon) who were descended from the priests
- The aged Mattathias had five sons: Simon, Eliezer, Judah, Johanan, and Jonathan
- They knew that the Syrians would be arriving in their town soon too

- The dreaded moment finally arrived. The Syrian soldiers came to the most public meeting place for religious observance and erected an altar while the men of Modin were gathered there.
- The soldiers brought out a pig and Mattathias was ordered to sacrifice it to Zeus in honor of Antiochus
- Mattathias did not move and at that moment a young Jew stepped forward (Hellenized Jew) and asked permission to perform the sacrifice.
- It is obvious what must happen next. The sacrificial meat must be eaten and those who refused would be executed.
- At that moment the aged Mattathias, who was standing near the captain of the troops, snatched the sword out of the captains hand and thrust it through the body of the traitor. As the captain moved to stop him Mattathias stabbed him too. The sons of Mattathias suddenly rushed the soldiers and killed them all with the help of some other Jews and completely demolished the altar.

Beginnings of Real Opposition
- The famous cry of Mattathias was "whoever is for God, let him come unto me"
- The call echoed over the entire land, across the hills and in the caves and wherever the Hasidim were hiding, the Jews of Modin left for the wilderness knowing that the soldiers' deaths would be avenged
- Peasants from all around joined the Hasmonean band.
- They began to attack small troops of Syrian soldiers
- One added trait was that they decided to defend themselves on the Sabbath (the rest of the Jews welcomed this change in policy)
- This was the only hope for the preservation of the Jewish people

Judah the Maccabee "The Hammer of God"
- About 167 BC old Mattathias died (in the hills) just a year after the revolt
- The leadership moved to Judah who had distinguished himself above all others in the band
- For some reason he had acquired the surname "Maccabee" The reason is under speculation for example:
a. The first letters of the phrase that was inscribed upon his banner, "who is like unto Thee among the mighty, O Lord?"
b. Derived from "Makkabet" the Hebrew word for hammer Judah was the hammer God used to smite the Syrians
- Judah became one of the greatest military leaders of all time. He was as inspiring a general as David
- He united the Jews and fought for the independence of Israel
- The saying, "the praise of God was in their throat, and a double-edged sword was in their hand"

Notes: The Miraculous Victory

The First Test of Strength
- The Syrians brought in one force after another and tried to corner the Jewish army
- The Jews would fast and pray before battle
- They would fight with bravery as no other for the righteous cause. Victory after victory.
- Their army grew in number and arms. Many who wouldn't fight now joined them

The battle of Emmaus
- Antiochus realized that he had a full scale rebellion and it must be suppressed (bordered Egypt)
- At that time the Parthians in the northeast were seeking independence from the Seleucid empire
- Antiochus empowered his able general Lysias to stop the Judean revolt and guard his capital city
- Lysias also underestimated the strength of the Maccabean forces and instead of going himself he sent two commanders Nicanor and Gorgias.
- The neighboring peoples were so sure of the Syrian victory that merchants came with large sums of money to buy Jewish prisoners as slaves.
- In the dead of night Judah came (knowing the terrain) and annihilated the Syrian forces.
- Enormous stores of booty fell into the hands of the Maccabean soldiers.
- The greatest result of the victory at Emmaus was the road to Jerusalem was now open

The First Hanukkah "Festival of Lights"
- With singing the Maccabean army came to Jerusalem being in enemy hands for 3 years
- The high priest Menelaus fled, as did the Hellenized Jews and all the pagan residents just as almost 3 years earlier the Jews fled for the hills.
- The Temple was cleansed and the worship was re-established
- They removed every sign of paganism and destroyed the altar that was defiled by pagan sacrifices. They also ground the statue of Antiochus/Zeus into dust and erected a new altar
- On the 25th of Kislev (165 BC) they rededicated the Temple and celebrated the dedication feast called Hanukkah (from "hannak" which means "to dedicate") for eight days

The Miracle of Hanukkah

- According to the Talmud the priests had only enough unpaganized oil to light the Temple Menorah for one day but it burned miraculously for eight days (until the priests could prepare more ceremonial oil)
- The 2nd Book of the Maccabees (which was written considerably later than the event) emphasized the battles and the victory of Judaism
- Hanukkah is still an important holiday for the Jews today

135First Servile War - revolt of Roman slaves in Sicily crushed (to 132).
Judea: John Hyrcanus, son of Simon Maccabeus becomes high priest in Jerusalem rules (to 104).
133Rome begins to expand her empire eastward
130The Pharisees begin to emerge as a sect
124China: philosophical teachings of Confucius become official.
Mithridates II (the Great) conquers Scythia, adds it to the Parthian Empire, and makes a treaty with Rome
120Hyrcanus repudiates the Pharisees and declares himself a Sadducee
116Egypt: PtolemyVIII dies; Ptolemaic empire is split up; years of strife follow.
111China: Eastern and southern areas are subjugated (to 110).
Africa: War breaks out between Rome and Jugurtha, King of Numidia (N. Africa)
110India: Munda kings reign in the Deccan, central region (to 225 AD).
108Wu Ti, emperor of China, conquers Korea.
106Galus Marius elected Roman consul and sent to Africa.
105Marius and Sulla defeat the Numidian Jugurtha. He's taken to Rome & executed.
104Judea: Aristobulus I is king (to 103).
103Judea: Alexander Janneus rules (to 76).
Second Servile War (to 99) - a revolt by slaves in Rome.
100China: A general history and standard religious texts are compiled, along with a list of Chinese literature.
91War between Rome and Italian cities.
90Judea: Revolt of Pharisees occurs.
89Rome: Roman army under Sulla regains control of Italy; all Italians are granted Roman citizenship.

NOTES: The Peace That Was Never Peace

The Hostility of the Pagans
- All of Jerusalem's neighbors gladly helped the Syrians fight the Jews whenever they had the chance.
- Jews were being heavily persecuted everywhere. In Jaffa 200 Jews were drowned (danger everywhere)
- Judah sent expeditions against any threats and then news came of the approaching Syrian army

The Siege of Jerusalem
- Lysias (Antiochus' general) was leading a larger army than the Jews had ever met
- Judah gathered his entire force to meet the Syrians not far from Jerusalem
- The Maccabeans fought heroically. Judah's brother Eliezer hacked his way through to the elephant that was supposedly carrying King Antiochus' son and he stabbed the elephant but then lost his life
- It was a hopeless struggle against overwhelming odds
- The Jews retreated to the walls of Jerusalem for safety
- Lysias besieged the city (hoping to starve the Maccabeans into submission)

Lysias' Offer of Peace
- While Lysias was besieging Jerusalem, news had reached him that a large army was coming against Antioch, the capital of Syria. Anxious to go to defend it he offered the Jews a treaty of peace:
a. Withdraw the laws against the observance of Judaism
b. Syria would not interfere with the conflicts between the Hellenizing Jews and the Hasidim
c. Menelaus would be removed from the office of high priest and executed
d. Judah and his other leaders would not be punished for rebelling
e. But the walls of Jerusalem would be leveled to the ground
f. Syria was to remain the sovereign power in Judea (and appointed mild Hellenistic high priests)

Judah Refuses
- The new council in Jerusalem called a meeting over the peace offer (high officers, scribes, & elders)
- The people wanted it but Judah and the others did not trust Syria or the aristocratic Jews who would be coming back into power that began the whole conflict
- Judah insisted that the simple (farmers and peasants) retain political power
- Judah lost the debate and the council decided to accept the terms of peace
- Judah and a few of his followers left the city

The Disillusioned Hasidim
- It didn't take a lot of time for them to discover that Judah had been right
- Immediately, with the new high priest Alcimus in power, the Maccabean soldiers disarmed, the wall leveled, and Judah gone, the true intents came to pass. The new leaders were forced to step down and the old leaders came back into power.
- Alcimus had many of the Hassidic leaders seized and executed
- The people sought out Judah again and a great civil war began again

17. The Death of Judah
- Alcimus felt the tension and appealed to Syria, and Syria sent an army
- Judah led his army again into victory on the 13th of Adar (established as a half holiday)
- But this was Judah's last military victory
- The Hasidim had somewhat compromised in political power as long as religious freedom was granted
- Judah's followers were not as numerous again and he couldn't possibly stand against the Syrian force
- Judah went out to meet the army of Syria with only eight hundred men. Judah died in battle

NOTES: Results of their Courage

A Fighting Remnant
- The death of Judah ended the first phase of the Maccabean Revolt
- Judah's brothers: Simon, Jonathan, and Johanan, with a small army had fled across the Jordan. The Syrians and the Jewish officials considered them outlaws.
- Jonathan had succeeded Judah and was a constant threat to the Jewish leaders

A Memorial
- The Maccabees go down in history as those that heroically went against the odds and also the early Hasidim who died as martyrs were the first martyrs in history to die for religious freedom.
- The common people were awakened to the fact that they were the stronger group and had a share in political power (a feeling for democracy)

Religious Ideas
- Loyalty to the faith was strengthened (More of a separation between Jew and Greek thought)

88Anatolia: Rome'sFirst Mithradatic War (to 84).
Rome fights Mithradates IV of Pontus.
Civil war is waged in Rome (to 82). Sulla is victorious.
87Anatolia: Sulla defeats Mithradates and takes Athens. China: Death of Wu Ti leads to a period of disorder.
83Anatolia: Rome's Second Mithradatic War (to 81).
Romans successfully invade Pontus.
82Sulla becomes dictator of Rome. He launches a vicious attack on all his opponents and many are killed.
78Rome: Sulla dies. Revolt of Lepidus is defeated by Pompey fhe Great, who rules with Crassus.
India: Most of northern India is under the rule of Kanishka l of Kushan dynasty (to 100 AD).
76Judea: Saiome- Alexandra rules (to 67).
74Anatolia: Rome's Third: Mithradatic War (to 64).
Mithradates takes Bithynia, which Rome claims.
73Anatolia: Lucullus and the Roman army defeat Mithradates and occupy Pontus. Rome: Spartacus leads slave revolt in Third Servile War (to 71);
Spartucus is crushed by Pompey and Crassus.
70Rome: Birth of Virgil, poet (dies 19 B.C.). His most famous work is the Aeneid, the story of Aeneas after the fall of Troy.
67Judea: Hyrcanus II rules. Civil war breaks out between his forces and those of his brother Aristobulus II.
65Pompey and the Roman army invade Syria and conquer Palestine.
Rome: Birth of Horace (dies 8 B.C.), poet and satirist. He wrote Ars Poetica and Odes.
64Judea: Pompey captures Jerusalem, annexes Syria and Judea.
Aristobulus II, King of Judea, dies;
Mithradates IV of Syria commits suicide; and Hyrcanus II becomes high priest of Judea with Antipater as civil adviser.

NOTES: Jonathan - Death of Salome Alexandra (160 - 67 BC)

A Yoke Within

The Jews free themselves from a foreign yoke only to discover that a native yoke can be just as heavy

The Victory that Failed
- The heroic struggle of the Maccabees ultimately ended in defeat because the later Hasmoneans, thirsting for power and glory, lost touch with Jewishness, so that their actions cast dark shadows upon the memory of their ancestors.

Jonathan and Hasmonean Ambitions
The Most Popular Man in Judea
- Jonathan led a small army in the Eastern Jordan wilderness and was a constant threat to the Hellenizing Jews and the Syrian forces.
- The Syrians failed to stop him time and again
- All the Jewish population exalted Jonathan as their hero and they were ready to follow him

The Great Diplomat
- Though Jonathan did not possess the military genius of his brother Judah he did possess a more valuable quality judging by the times (150-140 BC). He was a remarkable diplomat (peaceful negotiations).

- A civil war broke out in Syria and Jonathan came back into Judea

Judea and Rome
- Something interesting is that Jonathan and the Hasmoneans entered into an alliance with Rome (since they were both hostile to Syria). Jonathan knew better than to become "Rome's friends" but this would make the Syrians think twice about attacking them.
- But little did they know that later on they would have much more to fear from Rome than Syria.

Jonathan's Policy (Good and Bad)
- Jonathan's goals were for self government (more than the Hassidim had ever thought possible) where Judah's were for religious freedom. Jonathan improved the economic position of the Jews. He became high priest and ruler of the people and his family became the most powerful among the Jews.

Simon's Rule

The Great Assembly
- When Jonathan died (killed by a Syrian general) the Jews turned to (Hasmonean Family) the only son of Mattathias still alive, Simon. He was known for his calm wisdom though he was very old.
- Simon called together an extraordinary assembly of all leading Jews (important priests, prominent family members, known leaders, etc.) and this was the beginning stages of the great Sanhedrin.

The Election of Simon
- Simon was unanimously the favored choice for high priest and ruler.
- But the Hassidim wanted a priest from the family of Onias and a ruler from the line of David
- The son of Onias had fled to Egypt during the Maccabean struggle
- Simon was elected because they saw Gods hand in the Maccabees and they came up with the saying, "Ruler and high priest until a true prophet should arise."

Simon's Policy
- Simon was an old man so he couldn't lead the army in battle but he faithfully attended to priestly and civil duties.
- He left the fighting to his sons (one of them was John Hyrcan)
- Simon maintained the policy of his brother Jonathan

Policy and Politics

The New Generation
- Simon's death (135 BC) marked the end of the heroic age of the Hasmonean struggle.
- John Hyrcan became the next ruler and the Syrians agreed with him rather than the Hellenizing Jews
- Hyrcan promised to be an ally to Syria and to give up the pagan cities except Jaffa (the famous port city). The Hellenizing party now disappeared from the Jewish scene.

The Policy of Expansion

- Judah won religious freedom, Jonathan gained power for the Hasmonean family, and Hyrcan's reign began the policy of territorial expansion. The goal was greater national prosperity.
- The pagan cities that surround Jerusalem had controlled the commerce previously and hated the Jews.
- When Syria ran into problems again Hyrcan recaptured the cities and developed Jewish commerce.
- He soon conquered Edom where one of the great trade routes between Egypt and Asia was.
- To assure their loyalty Hyrcan compelled the Idumeans to adopt Judaism.
- But God's religion can never be forced on people.

New Political Parties

Those in Favor of Conquering
- Men of wealth wanted to expand their horizons (more money)
- Government officials who had intermarried with the wealthy (power and prestige)
- People who were seeking to become wealthy
- Patriots who wanted to conquer

Those Against Conquering
- The poor (shopkeeper, artisan, farmer) did not see any benefit for them in the conquests. They were reminded of the scribes' teaching that they should not seek war and wealth. All they ever saw from this was more wealth among the aristocrats and less devotion to God among the priests.
- Those who did not want to send their sons into war and pay more taxes to support it.

Which was more important, religious welfare or national strength?

The Pharisees
- Two political parties emerged
- The Scribes who were opposed to expansion was the Pharisees (probably from parosh "to separate."
- Separated from the pagans or separated from those that favored expansion.
- The Pharisees (spiritual descendants of the Hasidim) argued that their religion saved the Jewish people. Therefore everything must be subordinate to religion.
- They wanted not to force but to persuade by example.

The Sadducees
- Those who remained in complete charge of the government were the sadducees
- It is difficult to know where the name came from. They claimed to be descendants of Solomon's high priest Zadok. Zadok also means "righteous" so it may but doubtfully mean "righteous ones," there is another possibility is that it came from the Greek word meaning judges or controllers.
- The Sadducees argued that national power had saved the people and their religion. They were not opposed to Judaism and were for the forcing of Judaism on the pagans.

How Did They Differ in Religious Views?
- The Sadducees were in favor of a strict interpretation of the Torah (willing to obey all)
- The Pharisees were for a liberal interpretation (general truths and principles). They wanted to extend these principles to every phase of life. They argued that there was also an oral Torah (to support their views) a set of traditions that had been handed down to them by the former scribes (who received from their predecessors all the way back to Moses).
- Pharasaic Judaism was difficult to live by because it insisted on piety in every conceivable action
- The Jewish people became divided on national, economic, and religious policy.

The Civil War

The Hated Hasmoneans
- As long as John Hyrcan lived there were not serious divisions. He remembered poverty.
- His sons were different being raised in a palace with much Greek education.
- They wanted to eliminate the Pharisaic party and their was mutual dislike.

- The life and actions of the later Hasmoneans caused the deeds of the earlier ones to be almost completely forgotten.

Aristobulus, Lover of the Greeks
- The one-year reign (104 BC) of Hyrcan's oldest son Judah showed the Pharisees what they were to expect.
- He preferred the Greek name Aristobulus
- He immediately threw three of his brothers into prison because of jealousy and two of them supposedly starved to death. A few months later another brother was brutally murdered in the palace. This kind of thing happened regularly among the pagan nations but it shocked and disgusted the Jews.
- In national policy Aristobulus continued to conquer more territory.
- He boldly assumed the title of king (though he didn't use the Hebrew Title "melech")
- The Jews sighed with relief when he died. But this left many problems on the horizon.

The Approaching Storm
- His successor was no better, Alexander Jannai (Jonathan was his Hebrew name changed to Jannai) was the only brother of Judah Aristobulus still alive in prison at his death.
- For 15 years Alexander Jannai extended his territory. All of Israel's pagan city boundaries and trade centers were under Jewish rule.
- In 89 BC. he campaigned against the Arabs to the south. He was ambushed and lost his entire army.
- The Pharisees seized upon this opportunity. On the following Succoth, while Alexander was officiating as high priest in the Temple, the people who were watching, struck him with the "etrogin" (citrons, fruit). He ordered the slaughter of hundreds of defenseless people.

Halfhearted Rebels
- The people rebelled and along with the help of Syria defeated Alexander and he fled to the hills.
- The Syrians (giving themselves credit for the victory) wanting to put the Sadducees into power caused thousands of the Pharisees to flee to Alexander. With their help Alexander came back defeating the Syrians and the others.
- He instituted an inquisition (hunt) against those who had rebelled earlier and many fled the country.
- Alexander made a horrible example of those he caught. At one party he crucified 800 Pharisees. This marked him as one of the cruelest tyrants in Jewish history because he used a pagan method of execution.
- The Jews were again moving toward losing their independence.

Good Queen Salome

Did Alexander Repent?
- Supposedly on his deathbed (76 BC.) Alexander advised his wife Salome Alexandra, whom he had appointed as successor, to dismiss the Sadducean advisors and to govern with the aid of the Pharisees.
- Whether it is true or not she did it and appointed Pharisees to the Sanhedrin (at that time it was legislature and supreme court combined).

The School Law
- The Pharisees immediately went to work on the Jewish government.
- They ended the policy of conquest
- They reformed the judicial system and any contamination's on Jewish life.
- They established the school law. Every young man was in duty bound to seek an education

Sadducean Resentment
- The Sadducees could not agree with any arrangement that left them out of control of the government.
- They believed that they were the only ones fit to rule. They also knew that the Pharisees would not forgive the murderous crucifixion of the other Pharisees.
- While the Pharisees were sure of the populations support, the army, the military leadership, and the wealthy in the land were all on the Sadducean side.

Hyrcan and Aristobulus
- Alexander had little faith in his oldest son Hyrcan or his youngest son Aristobulus. While Salome was alive Hyrcan was high priest and was favored by the Pharisees. Aristobulus possessed the military qualities and with the peaceful Pharisees in power he was quite restrained. The Sadducees all favored him.

The Calm Before the Storm
- For the 9 years of her rule (76-67BC) Salome was somehow able to maintain peace the two parties.

- When she died another civil war broke out.