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Vol. 1
Bringing Understanding to the Life of Jesus With
This Easy-to-use Comprehensive Resource
On the Historical, Cultural, and Jewish Issues that
Shaped His Ministry Environment
William H. Heinrich


Last update was on April 7, 2015

Please Notice:
This e-Book is still a work in progress and is considered to be about 98% finished.
Updated editions will be uploaded throughout 2015 which, when completed, will
also feature about 30 educational video links by various scholars and specialists.
If, in the meantime, you encounter any errors or technical difficulties, kindly send
a description to the author at drbillheinrich@gmail.com. Your comments are
highly appreciated. Thank you.

Click here to go directly to the Tables of Content.

Please note
Myseries of the Messiah may be too large (113 +/- PDF megabites) to be
viewed as a single volume, which is why it is offered as two single
volumes. Furthermore, depending on the Internet band width in your area,
you may not be able to download this e-Book as a single volume. But
downloading it as two smaller volumes should be possible.
If you have found Myseries of the Messiah helpful, kindly pass it on to
your pastor, missionaries, and students of biblical studies. Prayerfully
consider a donation so others will benefit from this work. Thank you.

Heinrich, William H., 1947Mysteries of the Messiah / by William H. Heinrich
Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data:
2. Biblical History
1. First Century Judaism
3. Roman History
4. Theology
5. Hermeneutics and Apologetics
6. Ancient Middle East Cultural Studies
7. Biographical references
1997 2015 by William H. Heinrich. All Rights Reserved
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced for commercial purposes without
the prior permission of the publisher, except as follows: Individuals may copy and paste a section or
download the entire e-Book for the purpose of private study, research, or for classroom use.
Appropriate credit (title of this website/e-Book and authors name) must be given. Any fees charged
must be limited to paper and ink and additional fees shall be considered an infringement of
international copyright.
Fair Use Statement
This site may contain copyrighted materials, the use of which has not always been specifically
authorized by the original copyright owners. We are making their material available in an effort to
advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, and social
justice issues, etc. of the subject matter. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such
copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. While every effort has
been made to trace copyright holders and seek permission to use illustrative material, the author and
publisher apologize for any inadvertent errors or omissions and would be glad to rectify these in
future editions.
In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit
to those who have expressed an interest in receiving the included information for research and
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Published by
Evidence of Truth Ministries, Inc.
P O Box 1 Witmer, PA 17585-0001 United States

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard
Bible, a/k/a HCSB, Copyright 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used
by permission. HCSB is a federally registered trademark of Holman Bible Publishers.

It is good to be highly educated; it is better to be educated from on high;

but it is best to be both.
- Author Unknown

Welcome to Mysteries of the Messiah website/e-Book where you will gain a deeper understanding
of the Jewish, cultural, and political issues that shaped the ministry environment of Jesus. This
document is the culmination of 17 years and thousands of hours of research and writing, to help you
attain a deeper understanding of the words and work of Jesus our Messiah. Furthermore, this site will
be continually updated as additional information is obtained. Volumes 1 & 2 of this website/e-Book
More than 30 video mini-lectures by leading scholars by the end of 20151
More than 900 words and phrases explained
Hebraic style of poetry restored in appropriate passages
More than 100 biblical difficulties and hard sayings carefully explained
More than 150 questions are answered concerning issues of the culture, Judaism,
and the political environment, including some that students may have overlooked.
6. ALL Biblical passages appear in bold red font
7. More than 500 ancient extra-biblical quotations appear in bold blue font that
provide insight into the religious, cultural and political environment of Jesus.
8. A 20+ page of extra biblical quotations and inscriptions.
9. More than 250 photographs, many of which were taken by the author
10. Nearly 100 maps and illustrations
11. More than 2,600 single-spaced pages
12. Thirty-three appendices including one for recommended topics for future research
13. More than 5,500 footnotes, many with multiple references
14. More than 750,000 words in the entire manuscript
15. More than 500 listings on 65 pages in Works Cited
16. Seven Tables of Content in 77 pages with more than 1,500 hyperlinked titles
17. More than 12 A Lesson in First Century Hermeneutics explanations
18. More then 300 Mystery Unveiled blue boxes with thought-provoking insights

This e-Book was written for a broad audience, but especially for pastors and students who might
have limited English skills. They will to receive an excellent Western seminary-level education on
the life and times of Jesus of Jesus in His cultural context. It is my hope that as you study, your
knowledge and faith will grow in our King of kings and Lord of lords.
Rev. Dr. William H. Bill Heinrich

1. Downloading Mysteries of the Messiah will not include the videos. Readers must have access to the Internet to connect to the

Unit 01
Introduction to this Website
Chapter 01
First Things First

01.01.00.A STILL LIFE WITH BIBLE by Vincent Van Gogh. (c. 1883-86). The
sole purpose of this e-Book is to help the reader better understand Jesus and His
message, that it may transform the reader to the desires of his Creator.

01.01.01 Welcome
Welcome to one of the most comprehensive e-Books on the life and times of Jesus. You will
discover the fascinating historical, cultural, and religious background that shaped His ministry
environment. It goes deep into an overwhelming supply of ancient literary and archaeological
evidence that not only sheds light on the subject, but also supports the historical accuracy of the
biblical accounts.

Video Insert


01.01.01.V1 Mysteries of the Messiah Trailer. A few quick and interesting comments by some of
the scholars and teachers you will meet in this e-Book. (2:56) Click here.

For believers, their faith will be enriched as mysterious riddles are explained. For those who disagree
with the substance of this work, a far more enlightened understanding of Jesus and Christianity is
revealed. Therefore, both committed believers and committed skeptics are in for a real treat.

Video Insert


01.01.01.V2 Delighed that you are here. Be sure to see these welcome and introduction
comments by the author, Dr. William H. Bill Heinrich. () Click here.

01.01.02 Why the name Mysteries of the Messiah?

King Solomon once said that there is nothing new under the sun, so why the mysterious name of this
website? That is a great question and I am so glad you asked. In addition, there is an old adage that
If new, it is untrue;
If true, it is not new.
In ths e-Book, the term Mystery or Mysteries does not denote an unknowable thing, but what has
been withheld or withdrawn from common knowledge and cannot be known without special
explanation.2 There is nothing mystical about Jesus. The name was selected, because as one
2. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament. 1:78.

studies Jesus in His historical and cultural context, sudden clarity comes to passages that were once
cloudy. A fresh revelation of life comes to His words and work. What today might be mysterious to
some, has been known to a few others throughout history. The author, and those who contributed to
this project, passionately advocate that the Bible is to be believed and trusted because it is the only
written Word of the living God. This e-Book/website is intended to bring greater understanding of
the gospels by illuminating the cultural context in which Jesus lived and ministered.

01.01.03 How to Use this site

Please see the link titled How to Use this Site on the Home page, upper right corner. It presents
the following ways you will be able to find what you are looking for:
1. As I understand, computers and Internet services are different when it comes to search
engines. On my computer, I go to the ribbon in the upper right hand corner and look for a
icon of a magnifying glass beside to lines (2 books).
2. Then a small window pops up with the words inside Search in this document.
3. Type the biblical reference you are looking for. Be sure to use only these abbreviations
two letters and a period for the gospel books:
Mt. = Matthew
Mk. = Mark

Lk. = Luke
Jn. = John

4. Using the abbreviated style, type the name of the gospel book and chapter number
followed by a colon. In this manner, for example, Mt. 1: will be distinguished from Mt. 1
which will also give you Mt. 1:18.
5. Avoid using verse numbers as your number may be within a range of numbers and,
therefore, will not be found. For example, Mt. 5:5 is within Mt. 5:4-10 and consequently
will not be found. Instead, look for Mt. 5: and scan through the document until you come to
Mt. 5:4-10.

Please note:
Key words and phrases in the biblical text that are underlined have explanations in the
paragraphs that follow. Below is an example taken from Luke 12:13-21, although only verse
13 is used for this illustration. Notice that the phrase, divide the inheritance is
underlined. The underline means that this phrase is explained further down. Therefore,
scroll down in the text until you find Divide the inheritance. In some cases, that
explanation is down a page or two, in other cases it might be fifteen pages or more.

09.03.02 Lk. 12:13


Someone from the crowd said to Him, Teacher, tell my brother to divide the
inheritance with me.
Here is the underlined biblical phrase with commentary:
Divide the inheritance. It was not uncommon for people to take their problems and
conflicts to a respected rabbi. It was also a common practice for itinerant rabbis to travel from
village to village where they would serve in a judicial capacity and render decisions on civil
and religious matters.
The Romans had given the Jews sufficient autonomy concerning judicial matters with the
authority to enforce compliance to a decision if necessary. In this case, a man requested Jesus
to act as judge in a family matter of inheritance. Jesus refused to render a decision, not
because He was unqualified or unconcerned, but because He focused on those who have no
right to judge others.

01.01.04 Citation
The following citation method is suggested for your work: Authors name, E-Book title, Website
address, Unit number, Chapter number, Section number, followed by the biblical reference. Note
that each category is separated by a period. For example:
Heinrich, William H. Mysteries of the Messiah. www.mysteriesofthemessiah.com 04.01.03.
Lk. 1:1-4 Date Retrieved.

NOTE: Some style manuals do not suggest unit or chapter numbers. However, due to the size of this
e-Book and the method of divisions, it is suggested that writers who cite this work add unit number,
chapter number, and section number immediately after the website name (for example: 01.01.06).
01.01.05 Statement of Purpose
It is the purpose of this study to investigate the historical and cultural context of the life and times of
Jesus. For those who may not be familiar with these areas of study, some revelations may be
challenging. Therefore, lets follow the words of the prophet Isaiah (1:18) Come now, let us reason
together. Allow the Spirit of God to move in your heart as you study with an open mind. You will
attain a greater understanding of the gospels and the life of our Savior. The goal is to have you, the
reader, gain knowledge and understanding of the desires of Jesus.
01.01.06 Endorsements
The endorsements are listed under the ENDORSEMENTS tab of this website. Drs. Gilbert Peterson,
Edward Kabakjian, and Bryant G. Wood, each observed the progress of this project for more than a
decade. Dr. Shaheen was among the first to have access to this material for his students who have
limited English skills. The insights and suggestions by these and other scholars have contributed to
this work.
01.01.07 Preface
Christians today have little understanding of what daily life was like for Jesus and other Jewish
peasants. Back then people were held in economic slavery with limited religious freedom. Jesus was
born at a time when rabbis and teachers throughout the ancient Middle East3 believed that a Messiah
would come and deliver them from foreign oppressors. The subject was actively debated among the
rabbis, who held a wide variety of philosophies and theologies. In addition, Jewish scholar Philo
was writing his Neo-Platonist philosophies while the Essenes wrote of an end-of-the-age apocalypse
in their Dead Sea Scrolls. It is not surprising then, that many false messiahs appeared which gave the
people good reason to question Jesus. Add to the religious mix, the two most significant rabbis of the
Second Temple Period, Rabbis Hillel and Shammai and their students, were having constant
theological debates and arguments concerning petty issues of life.
There were also numerous riots initiated by nationalistic Jewish Zealots and the threat of full scale
wars and famine. In the midst of this pain and suffering, Roman taxation reduced the Jewish peasants
to economic slaves. These social and religious influences created the was the perfect chaotic
3. In this e-book, the term ancient Middle East is used for what is commonly referred to in other books as ancient Near
East. The reason is that some students may not be acquainted with the term Near East as it appears to be out of date and
can no longer be found on modern maps.

environment for Jesus to give His message of hope, salvation and eternal life. Flavius Josephus, the
first century Jewish historian, confirmed that it was a culture near the edge of chaos and which
contributed to the social and political tension of that time.
Understanding Jesus in His context gives depth and understanding to His words and work. Those
who claim the Bible is not relevant for today, they, in essence, acknowledge their lack of
understanding of life in first century Israel (then called Judaea).4 Few realize that todays Middle
East tensions and conflicts pale in comparison to the days of Jesus. Yet this e-Book, with its various
explanations, illustrations, and photographs, will only touch the tip of the proverbial iceberg in
describing the challenging life and times of Jesus.
01.01.08 Acknowledgments
I wish to say that it is impossible for anyone to complete a work of this magnitude without the
assistance of friends, historians, archaeologists, and peers, who are scholars in their own academic
disciplines. This work would not be what it is today, if it was confined to my limited talents.
Therefore, I express joyful gratitude to the many fine associates and scholars who have provided
significant input and support. This work is the result of an interesting journey.
Once upon a time, shortly after God created dirt, I was a student at Valley Forge Christian College.
One day I happened to hear my professor, Dr. Daniel McNaughton, tell another student that he
doubted that any more than two or three percent of todays authors of biblical books research original
sources. Rather, most will quote the opinion of another author. That ten-second sound bite changed
my methodology of research. I was determined not to write an opinion of someone elses opinion,
but cite original quotations wherever possible. Therefore, when researching the events that
surrounded the life of Jesus, I reviewed the writings of those who lived and wrote close to the time
and location of Jesus. I also examined their philosophies and biases. Because of the passing comment
by Dr. McNaughton, this work contains hundreds of ancient extra-biblical quotations.
Later, while in graduate school at Lancaster Bible College, I wrote a term paper that went bad. It
was on the historical and cultural background of the infancy narratives of Jesus. The topic absolutely
captivated me. The paper grew and eventually became a masters thesis. Learning the first century
historical and cultural environment became a passion. In the process I was privileged to obtain the
teaching notes, books, audio tapes, and/or videos from several prominent scholars. In addition, I was
privileged to sit under the instruction of Drs. Bryant Wood and James McGahey of Lancaster Bible
College. The former also the advisor for my masters thesis.

4. Some ancient writers use the term Judea in the broadest sense. Examples are found in Pliny the Elder, Natural History,
5.15.70; Strabo, Geographia, 16.4.21; and Dio Sassius, Roman History, 37.15.2.

I would be remiss if I did not say that Dr. Wood has decades of archaeological field experience in the
Middle East and is the director of Associates for Biblical Research. He authored many articles in
academic journals such as Bible and Spade and Biblical Archaeological Review. Among his many
credits are ninety articles in the prestigious Zondervan Archaeological Bible. Another archaeologist,
friend, and scholar is Professor Gordon Franz. Like Dr. Wood, he has authored dozens of academic
journals, has years of field experience, and is a contributing staff member of Associates for Biblical
Research. For more information, please visit www.BibleArchaeology.org.
Many times I traveled to Israel where a number of excellent scholars, such as Drs. Paul Wright,
Steven Notley, and SeJin Kohl of Jerusalem University College, taught the land of the Bible as if it
were the fifth gospel. While there, Israeli native and tour guide Arie bar David became my friend and
personal tutor as we traveled together throughout the country. We visited the significant and
interesting biblical sites, including those that are off the beaten path.
Credit must be given to the scholarship of Dr. Dwight Pentecost of Dallas Theological Seminary,
which was especially helpful in this research, as well as a set of notes and audio tapes by Messianic
scholar Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum. Like Arie bar David, Dr. Fruchtenbaum has a rich Jewish heritage
that illuminates the Scriptures, especially the words of Jesus. The lectures from another Messianic
scholar, Dr. John Fischer, were also very enlightening. In one of my visits to the Old City of
Jerusalem, I happened to met Dr. Doug Bookman who graciously gave me a copy of his teaching
However, this e-Book is available only because a dedicated team of editors who spent hundreds of
hours enriching this work. It did not take them very long to realize that English is this writers
second language. My appreciation goes to Elana Beckett, Shirley Shenberger, and Bonnie Krepp for
their editorial comments, as well as to my dear cousin, Anita Hermann, a retired education professor
from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.
Two scholars reviewed this manuscript from outside the box, and presented questions and insights
I had not considered. One of them, my friend of more than four decades, Dr. Ed Kabakjian, is a
retired professor of education. He shared his thoughts from an educators perspective and offered
pragmatic suggestions and insights. In fact, he became so involved that once he traveled with my
wife Paivi and me to Israel, just so he could better critique this work. His critical thinking and
analysis is always insightful. I also appreciate the comments posed by the late Dr. Gilbert Peterson,
retired professor, president, and chancellor of Lancaster Bible College. During his career he traveled
to Israel some thirty-three times. He was not only a great scholar and teacher, but also a wonderful
friend who spent many hours reviewing this beast of a manuscript.

Today, so much of the academic world is known for its skepticism and humanism. These fine
scholars, however, stand on Scripture as the inspired, infallible, inerrant, Word of God.5 No teacher
is ever successful unless they have had some fine tutors, and I have been blessed with the best of the
In the course of time, Mysteries of the Messiah, has grown to have a life of its own. As it progressed,
a number of scholars captured its potential and made contributions on video. Their mini-lectures add
a whole new perspective to academic study which had become available worldwide only with the
advent of the Internet. I am thankful for the following scholars and specialists who shared their
knowledge and expertise on videos that are linked to this e-Book.
Darrell Bock, Author, Professor of New Testament Research
Dallas Theological Seminary
Avinoam Boyer, Curator
Katzrim Archaeological Village, Katzrim, Israel
Gary Byers, Adjunct Professor, Archaeologist, Author
Faith Theological Seminary
Associates for Biblical Research
Gordon Franz, Adjunct Professor, Author, Archaeologist
Various Colleges
Associates for Biblical Research
Doug Finkbeiner, Professor
Lancaster Bible College
Capitol Seminary
Petra Heldt, Author, Professor
Hebrew University
Michael Keating, Research Engineer
Precision Connector, Inc.
Malcolm Lowe, Author, Professor
University of the Holy Land
5. The three terms are defined as follows: 1. Inspired means that all books of the Bible are the ideas of God expressed in
the terms and words of the individual authors. 2. Inerrant means that the Bible contains no errors, it is entirely true in all it
affirms, and 3. Infallibility means that the Bible is unfailing in its purpose. These attributes are extended to the original
writings, also known as autographs.

John Metzger, Professor, Author, Ministry Representative
Cornerstone Bible College
Ariel Ministries
Allen Philipp, Teacher
Messianic Fellowship, Tiberias, Israel
Majd Shufani, Historian, Tour Guide
Nazareth Village, Nazareth, Israel
John Soden, Chair of Biblical Studies
Lancaser Bible College
Jakob Steinberg, Rabbi
Katzrim Archaeological Village, Katzrim, Israel
Joe Wehrer, Adjunct Professor, Ministry Representative
Mount Zion School of Ministry, Bridges for Peace
Bryant Wood, Archaeologist, Author, Director of Research, Adjunct Professor
Associates for Biblical Research
Various Colleges including Lancaster Bible College
Paul Wright, President, Professor
Jerusalem University College, Jerusalem, Israel
Joel Ben Yosef, Historian, Tour Guide
Kibbutz Ein Gev, Israel
All the contributions of so many who came by my side are now available for you because of a
talented computer and Internet technician, Austin Ginder. He too caught the vision of this project and
has made it available on the world-wide-web. Skip Bond, Brandon Sauder, and Amanda Mitchell
provided video expertise. Diana Clegg contributed her artistic skills in the illustrations she drew.
And for the many others who supported me with prayers, technical assistance, wise counsel, and
financially, thank you so much. Whatever rewards come from this project, these are shared with you.
Whatever merits and deficiencies are found in this project, the former is greater and the latter are
fewer because of the generous help and constructive suggestions of so many. My opinions are not
necessarily those of the contributors and vice versa. As was previously stated, few historians and
writers have been privileged to receive the level of scholarship and expertise that has been afforded
to me.

Finally, I am grateful to my loving wife, Paivi. We met in Jerusalem while I was working on this and
another research project. She was nearing the end of ten years of ministry to the poor and Holocaust
victims. She has a heart of gold and is an encourager who gave up many hours while I was absorbed
in books and glued to the computer. Yes, biblical research can have its unexpected blessings, such as
a beautiful sunset wedding along the Sea of Galilee and a life-long partner in ministry. And for her
and all those who came along beside me in this endeavor
I give thanks to my God for every remembrance of you, always praying with
joy for all of you in my every prayer, because of your partnership
in the gospel from the first day until now.
Phillipians 1:3-5


Unit 01
Introduction to this Website
Chapter 02
For Inquiring Minds

01.02.00.A PRAYING HANDS by Albrecht Durer. For those who have naturally
inquiring minds, there may not be a better image than this one of praying hands.

01.02.01 Why is this Study Important?
A child was once asked to describe Jesus. He answered by saying that Jesus was the first Christian
who went to Sunday school every Sunday. Unfortunately, there are many who have that same
opinion today. It is most difficult understand the times, the events, the personalities, the social issues,
and many other factors that were significant to first century Jewish people in Israel.
We have a tendency to place those of history in our own cultural context. This was illustrated so
well by a 13th century artist who depicted a biblical event within his own 13th century European
culture. His 13th century depiction of Saul and his men fighting the Amorites (below) is ridiculous to
modern students, but was thought to be realistic in the lifetime of the artist.


FIGHTING NAHASH AND THE AMORITES as found in the Crusaders Bible
(1 Sam. 11:11). They are shown with typical medieval armor, castle, and weapons.
The reason for soldier hanging from the catapult is unknown. Throughout history
artists have depicted biblical characters dressed as contemporaries. The Crusaders
Bible is at the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York.
While this image is ridiculous to the modern reader, some modern concepts of the life and times of
Jesus are equally obscure, like the child who thought Jesus was the first Christian who went to
Sunday school. Yet mature adults cannot envision Jesus wearing a prayer shawl with strings, or am
image of Him wearing a phylactery. In His day, all orthodox Jewish men wore them. Fortunately,

archaeology and other modern research disciplines have opened new horizons of understanding for
students of Scripture. This text presents the historical Jesus as He truly lived.
Jesus was an orthodox Jew who intermingled with the Gentile Greeks and Romans who also lived in
the Jewish land. Some of His actions had profound implications to them, which are not readily
identifiable by word studies. A change of perception and understanding is required by the modern
reader because we tend to interpret the words and miracles of Jesus from a Western-Christian point
of view, but seldom think of them from a first century Jewish, Greek or Roman point of view.
This e-Book was written for the student who has a basic knowledge of the Bible, and the gospels in
particular. Without that foundational knowledge, this e-Book may be somewhat overwhelming. But
for the student who has the basics, this will be an exciting resource. The established Bible teacher
will find that this e-Book provides historical and cultural insights that are often missed in other texts.
But one might ask, Why study the historical and cultural environment in which Jesus ministered?
There are several reasons outlined below. The reader will,
1. Learn the context of His words and actions. Understanding the context gives clarity and
meaning to His instructions and their application for your life.
2. Get to know who Jesus was as a human and learn to know Him better on a personal
3. Find their faith become stronger through knowing that all the activities surrounding
Jesus life including the things He did had been predicted centuries earlier.
4. Learn to understand many of the allegories, parables,6 figures of speech, and other
literary devices used by the gospel writers.7
5. Understand solutions to many problematic verses that have been labeled as biblical
difficulties. The gospels were not written with difficulties. These arose in the course of time
as man became more distant from the first century historical and cultural setting.

6. See Appendix 10, The Parables of Jesus.

7. An excellent resource for a comprehensive biblical study is Ethelbert W. Bullingers book, Figures of Speech Used in the Bible.
(Grand Rapids: Baker. 1898, 1995).

Most commentaries are a blend of hermeneutical8 and exegetical9 explanations with the focus on
word studies and figures of speech. The historical and cultural aspects all too often are not given
sufficient attention. This study will clarify these points, resulting in a new and deeper understanding
of the gospel narratives. There are more than a dozen mini-lessons titled, A Lesson in First
Century Hermeneutics that aid the reader in understanding how the gospel writers interpreted
their own Hebrew Bible. The term hermeneutics, for the purpose of this manuscript, is the study of
how a passage was understood by those with whom Jesus conversed and taught.10
It is good to know what the gospels have to say, but it is even better to understand what they mean.
Words have histories. Only on rare occasions can a word be tied down to an unchangeable meaning
when considering all of the changes of culture and language. For example, consider the simple word
table. In Greek this noun has a secondary sense a bankers table, as in Matthew 25:27, where the
money exchangers are literally, the men who sit at tables.11 One would have to know the cultural
context to understand the meaning of the word. Could there be any possibility that this is where the
word banker originated? Could the temple aristocrats have been private bankers? Knowledge of
the cultural practices will enhance the understanding of the words and actions of Jesus.12 Three
examples are presented in the following video.13

Video Insert


01.02.01.V The Importance of Context. Messianic scholar Timothy Hegg discusses the
importance of understanding the Jewish roots and cultural context of the Bible, and presents
three examples. (10:27) Click here.

8. Hermeneutics is the art and science of interpreting any text. It is derived from the Greek word hermeneuo, and is further
defined as the study and statement of the principles on which a text is to be understood. Bruce. Hermeneutics. 1:640;
Zuck, Basic Bible Interpretation. 19.
9. Exegesis is the critical and analytical explanation of any text.
10. Bruce, Hermeneutics. 1:640.
11. Neill, Interpretation. 81.
12. For further studies on the science and art of interpreting ancient cultures, see an excedllent article by McQuilkin, Limits
of Cultural Interpretation. 113-24.
13. Messianic scholar Timothy Hegg (www.TorahResource.com) discusses the importance of understanding the entire Bible
in a Jewish context. He presents three examples, 1. The terms lift up and glory (Jn. 17:5, 22, 24) 15.01.07, 15.01.08, and
15.01.09; 2. The Last Supper (Lk. 22:17-20) 14.02.05 and 14.02.05.Q1. How was the Passover Seder observed? 3. The
unclean woman who touched the helm of Jesus garment (Lk. 5:24b-34) 08.06.05.

01.02.02 The Researchers Challenge
Concerning the author: Writers, scholars, and researchers, try as they might, are seldom as
objective as think they are. This seems to be especially true in politics and religion. In this case, the
author asked several individuals to help him be objective. Furthermore, just as the author analyzed
ancient writers for their philosophies and biases, he has his own. Therefore, it is important to state
that he is a Christian. But it is even worse than that he is an evangelical Christian. At this point, a
brief spiritual resume is in order and it is brief.
Once upon a time, in the 1960s, he came to faith is a small country church in eastern Pennsylvania.
Then, in 1973 he was healed instantly of an occasional but painful back problem. Twenty-one years
later he was diagnosed with a huge 16 cm. (6+ inches) late stage 4 chondrosarcoma tumor in his left
hip a cancer with almost zero percent survival rate. The result of five surgeries, he lost his left hip,
left leg, the upper lobe of one lung and several chunks of the other, but was given a second chance of
After all that, in the summer of 2001 he returned to Israel for additional research. When he returned
home, nodules were discovered again throughout both lungs and this time doctors said it was
hopeless. After all, there is a limited amount of lung tissue that can be removed after which life is no
longer viable. Friends at church prayed for him as they had done so many times before. When he
returned to the medical center three months later, all the nodules were gone and there have been no
additional signs of chondrosarcoma. So hopefully you can understand that he may need a little help
keeping biased opinions out of his writing.
Concerning this study: Cultural customs varied among the Jewish people from area to area and
even within ancient Israel (Judaea). This study became more difficult when considering that customs
change, even if ever so slowly, from one century to another. For example, some ancient writings state
that only boys were educated in Jerusalem, but in Galilee both boys and girls were educated. But
when was that? To add confusion to the cultural mix, not all Jewish sects agreed with this position
and, therefore, not all parents in Galilee educated both boys and girls.14 Consequently, if an ancient
document would be found that states a certain position on educating children in Galilee, the
researcher cannot assume that it represents the opinion of all the people.
On another issue, in the process of reviewing hundreds of ancient extra-biblical (non-biblical)
writings, the challenge was to avoid attributing a custom or belief to the time of Jesus when it did not
belong to that time period. As Darrel Bock and Gregory Herrick said, Because we cannot be sure
14. The Jerusalem Talmud records that by the end of the second century and early first century B.C., the president of the
Sanhedrin, Simeon ben Shetah, along with Rabbi Judah ben Tabbai, required compulsory education for all boys to the age of
sixteen. See Education in 02.03.04 for further details.

that ideas from a later period were also present in an earlier period, information coming from these
sources needs to be used with caution to avoid the danger of projecting concepts back into an earlier
period.15 Learning the multifaceted environment of culture, politics, and religion has become as
much of an art as a science adds understanding to the definition of hermeneutics.
For the purpose of this study, the ideal writer of yesteryear quoted herein was one who lived in the
land of Jesus and at the time of Jesus. The further in time and geographical distance an ancient writer
was from the life of Christ, the more suspect that writers manuscript becomes. That does not negate
it but it does raise the bar for discerning critique. Universally, scholars discredit writings after the
sixth or seventh centuries because they are little more than fanciful legends. There are hundreds of
ancient manuscripts in the possession of universities and museums pretending to provide additional
detail to the life and ministry of Jesus.16 Remember, Jesus said that there would be false teachers.
There are essentially three methods of study to biblical studies. The options and methods used here
are as follows:
1. The chronological approach is one whereby the time line is the focus. This approach of
when did it happen helps the student organize the sequence in the ministry and life of
Jesus. For example, Matthew 4:11, Mark 1:13, and Luke 4:13 are each a concluding
statement about the wilderness temptation. The next verse in each of these three synoptic
gospels states that Jesus then went to Galilee. However, there was an eight to twelve month
time period between the desert and Galilee narratives which are filled in by John 1-4.17
However, it is important to understand that in ancient Jewish thinking, chronology was not as
important as the message.
2. The thematic or topical approach is one whereby the question Why? is the focus. In this
form of study, all similar subjects are grouped together so the reader acquires a better
understanding of issues important to Jesus.

15. Bock and Herrick, Jesus in Context. 20.

16. Two examples are: 1) Ron Charles, who has gathered scores of fanciful legends and myths, mostly written between the
sixth and sixteenth centuries, that pertain to the life of Christ in his book titled The Search: A Historians Search for Historical
Jesus. (Self-Published, 2007). 2) Nicholas Notovich, whose book, The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ. Trans. (Virchand R. Gandhi,
Dover Pub.) is a so-called historical accunt of when Jesus went to Asia to study between the ages 13 and 29.
17. If we had only the synoptic gospels, we could conclude that the time period of Jesus ministry was about 18 to 20 or 22
months. With the gospel of John, we know Jesus ministered for a minimum of three and a half years. Bookman, When God
Wore Sandals. CD Trac 4 and 5.

3. The geographical approach is one whereby the question Where did it happen? is the
focus. The synoptic gospels focus mainly on the Galilee area and the book of John is focused
mainly on events in Jerusalem. Unfortunately, the Why? question becomes a secondary
matter in this approach.
Mysteries of the Messiah is a blend of topical and chronological approaches. In the early days of this
study, the chronological approach was used throughout the entire manuscript. However it quickly
became cumbersome for study because the subjects were disconnected. So this study was changed to
a topical approach with the exceptions of the early years and Passion Week.
01.02.03 The Analysis of Ancient Writings
In this research, great care was taken to authenticate the reliability of sources. With both mythical
and legendary information appearing real in various sources, especially on the Internet, it is quite
easy to arrive at conclusions that differ from historical truth. For example, while researching Joseph
of Arimathea, it was obvious that he was a member of the Sanhedrin and did not agree with the high
court on the fate of Jesus. Information beyond what is presented in the Bible has been found to be
highly speculative. One source says that he was the younger brother of the Virgin Mary. Another
indicates that he had attained wealth by shipping tin from Great Britain to various Roman cities.
Furthermore, he is said to have been instrumental in getting a church started in the British Isles
somewhere between the years 37 and 62 or 63.
In this research, many legends were uncovered that are an attractive and tantalizing mixture of
minimal truth and maximum fiction.18 Joseph of Arimatheas relationship with the Sanhedrin is true,
but everything else is creative fiction. There are no early and reliable records that confirm his
relationship to Mary and neither is there a reliable source for him having been a shipping tycoon.
Furthermore, standard history has repeatedly demonstrated that Christianity did not come to Britain
until centuries later. If this account were true, it would mean that the founding of the church in
Britain predated the founding of the church in Rome.
So where did this fanciful story originate? Historians believe the connection between Joseph and
Britain originated in the writings of the early church father Tertullian. More importantly, those same
scholars strongly believe this legend was not made by Tertullian personally, but was inserted by a
copyist or editor centuries later.

18. For further studies on the challenges on obtaining historical truth when reality is not readily ascertained, see Osborne,
Historical Narrative and Truth in the Bible. 673-88.

Another challenge of this research has been the phenomenal amount of information that was
processed. This data represents a wide variety of viewpoints and great care was taken to determine
what information was truthful, reliable and acceptable, and what needed to be discarded. Several
important factors were considered.
1. It was assumed that the gospel narratives were written with integrity and accuracy, as the
authors were motivated to communicate the events of Jesus with both historical and
theological accuracy. Each of the four gospels writers focus on the life of Jesus, as
understood of a death, resurrection, and ascension perspective. The events recorded in the
gospels are significant as they build up to the climax of His death, resurrection, and
ascension. The core of the gospels is the collections of events that form the climax of His
work of salvation (death, resurrection, and ascension). However, unlike the opinions of
critical scholars, the gospels narratives are not false stories created to present theological
truths, but are clearly historical accounts. Yet, archaeological and literary evidence confirms
the historical accuracy and truth of the entire Bible both Testaments.
2. Ancient writings, such as the Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, Josephus, Dead Sea Scrolls,
other works and authors are considered as primary historical and cultural sources
recognizing, however, their theological and/or political value could be tainted to reflect the
ancient writers personal doctrine and purpose. These extra-biblical sources are for literary,
historical and cultural understanding, although the historical accuracy of some works is
3. Since the ancients obviously did not write for the modern inquiring and analytical mind,
frequently there are gaps in history where no information is available. Therefore, when one
gospel left a historical gap, we are dependent upon another gospel to provide the necessary
information, if available.
4. Finally, some scholars have been concerned with the gospels as primary sources,
because, after two thousand years, the original manuscripts are lost. The same was said of
many Old Testament books. However, the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls (discussed later)
demonstrated that the Old Testament Scriptures were faithfully transmitted without errors,
other than a misplaced ink stroke here or there. Therefore, it can be assumed that the New
Testament books were also faithfully transmitted without errors.19

19. That is not to say that translators do not have their share of difficulties. For further study of their challenges, see Metzger,
Persistent Problems Confronting Bible Translators. 273-84.

One of the major resources is the writing of the first century historian, Josephus. His work time and
time again reflects accurate information, yet on occasion his bias appears, such as with exaggerated
population estimates. However, if it were not for his writings, our knowledge of Jewish history
especially in the Greek and Roman Periods would be drastically reduced. Much of what we know
today of certain events and persons important to Jewish history was detailed for us by him and are
not mentioned by any other source. Whatever his biases and exaggerations might be, these are
minimal in the overall body of knowledge he recorded.
Concerning rules of interpreting (a/k/a hermeneutics) ancient works, both biblical and extrabiblical, it should be noted that the rules in the biblical period sometimes differ in some cases from
what scholars use today. Examples of hermeneutics of the biblical era are illustrated throughout this
e-Book where explanations of related Scriptures are needed.
A Lesson in First Century Hermeneutics:20
Here is an important note for todays readers: While college text books have been written on the
science and art of hermeneutics, three rules (one of which is negative) are listed below.
1. The first is related to a question often posed by Sunday school teachers, What does the
text say to me? This question, as insightful as it may seem, is hardly appropriate. While the
intent is to gain spiritual meaning, it assumes the imposition of our understanding upon the
text. The significant question to ask is What did the text mean to the author? In order to
determine the biblical authors meaning one must determine who is speaking (the subject); to
whom (indirect object); and then answer the questions of when, how, and why; which will
enhance meaning as it will include history and culture.
2. A rule of interpretation not to be used is known as the Rule of First Use. It assumes that
the use of a word in the first place in the Bible applies to all subsequent applications. The
fallacy is that this negates the context of the word every time thereafter a horrific violation
of hermeneutics. Each application must stand on its own merit. Therefore, Come now, and
let us reason together (Isa.1:18).
3. Finally, another rule is to remember that words have meaning in context with other words.
It has often been said that a verse taken out of context is a pretext and, therefore, can lead to
errors in understanding. Note the following example:
Major Premise:

All Americans are fat

20. See 01.03.04 Table of Hermeneutical Principals Used by First Century Jewish Writers.

Minor Premise:

John is fat
John is an American

Obviously John could be from any country in the world. Improper mixing of verses out of
context will always lead to erroneous conclusions.
Many believe the entire Bible literally, when in fact, they accept its teachings literally. Some
passages are figurative, others are intended to be factual and literal, but all are colored by the context,
history, and culture, both pagan and Jewish. No word-for-word translation can be successful in
presenting a literal translation because many nuances of the original language do not have
corresponding words in other languages. Scholars often go to great lengths to determine the meaning
of Greek and Hebrew words in the context but may understate the historical and cultural influences.
New Testament studies cannot be fully understood without a foundational knowledge of the Old
Testament and the first century Jewish culture. This work is an attempt to bring forth the full
dynamics of the words and works of Jesus by placing them in the historical and religious context of
His day. The lesson in hermeneutics ends with the following sign.
< -------------------------------------------- >
(Note: This symbol represents the end of every hermeneutic lesson)

01.02.04 Priority of Writings

As previously stated, writings closest to the life of Christ in time and distance are considered to be
the most reliable. Conversely, so-called insights written after the fifth or sixth century cannot be
considered, even if these do not disagree with Scripture. This is standard procedure in all academic
disciplines of biblical study. The sources used are listed below from the most reliable to the least.
1. Bible
2. The Mishnah and selected Jewish writings
3. Dead Sea Scrolls (Extra-Biblical Writings; 200 B.C.-A.D. 70)
4. Flavius Josephus (A.D. 47-100)
5. Philo of Alexandria (20 B.C. A.D. 50)
6. Various Church Fathers
7. Old Testament Apocrypha (also known as Deuterocanonical Books)
There is, however, an important point to consider in the prioritizing of resources. It is unfortunate
that some Christian scholars believe that the Jerusalem and Babylonian Talmuds do not reflect
Jewish life at the time of Jesus. The fact is that Jewish writings reflect opinions of that time, of

Inter-Testaamental Period, and the later early Christian Period. Great discernment is therefore
required, but these works should not be discarded. Note the following comments found on a Jewish
website: The Talmud is, then, the written form of that which in the time of Jesus, was called the
Traditions of the Elders, by Rabbi Michael L. Rodkinson.21
More information is presented on this subject 02.02 Biblical And Extra-Biblical Writings.
A Final Comment on Writings
This manuscript has survived computer crashes, freeze-ups and a host of other challenges. This work
is truly one of love and a calling, not for personal gain. The value of the extra-biblical books, dozens
of photographs and seemingly endless explanations will provide you, the reader, with insights into
the world of Jesus. Hopefully, this in turn will enable you to think, pray and minister to others with a
greater level of knowledge, insight and spiritual awareness.
01.02.05 Abbreviations
For the benefit of those readers who are not fully acquainted with various sources, abbreviations in
this book have been limited and their shortened or full names are frequently posted. Some titles of
books and articles in the footnotes may be shortened. Abbreviations used are as follows:
Biblical Abbreviations
Old Testament
1 Sam.
2 Sam.
1 Kg.
2 Kg.
1 Ch.
2 Ch.

1 Samuel
2 Samuel
1 Kings
2 Kings
1 Chronicles
2 Chronicles


21. http://www.come-and-hear.com/navigate.html. Retrieved April 11, 2012.

Song of Solomon





1 Tim.
2 Tim.
1 Pet.
2 Pet.
1 Jn.
2 Jn.
3 Jn.

1 Timothy
2 Timothy
1 Peter
2 Peter
1 John
2 John
3 John

New Testament
1 Cor.
2 Cor.
1 Thess.
2 Thess.

1 Corinthians
2 Corinthians
1 Thessalonians
2 Thessalonians

Explanation of the Identification of the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS)

The DSS and related fragments are identified with the following methodology:
1. The cave number where the scroll or scroll fragment was discovered.
2. The letter Q following the cave number separates the artifact from all other ancient
writings found elsewhere in Israel.
3. Artifact identification by letter(s) and number(s)
For example, the identification of 1QJub refers to the fragment found in Cave 1, at Qumran, and
the Jub is the extra-biblical book of Jubilee. At times a particular set of letters or name will be
attached as well, such as CD for Zadokite Document, also known as the Cairo Document of the
Damascus Covenanters

Other Abbreviations
Multifarious Abbreviations

Anno Domini
Ante Meridiem


Post Meridiem

In the year of our Lord22

Also known as
Before noon
Before Christ
About, around, approximate
Compare to or see
For example
New International Version Study Bible (1984)
Holman Christian Standard Bible

Abbreviations Clarified
At this point it should be noted that a few books have more than one title. In particular, the extrabiblical book of Ecclestacius is also known as Jesus, the Son of Sirach, or ben Sirach, or The
Wisdom of Jesus, or the Son of Sirach, or just plain Sirach. Readers who wish to cross-reference their
studies will find a lack of consistency in the titles of this early second century (B.C.)23 writing. In this
e-Book, the title has been abbreviated to Ben Sirach.
The reader must be aware that the Psalms of Solomon and the Wisdom of Solomon, are not two
different titles for the same book, nor are these related to any biblical books. However, like other
Pseudepigraphical books, these contain occasional references to biblical verses and stories.
Concerning the writings of secular authors, scholars will use borth English and Latin names, and
occassionaly abbreviate them as well. For example, Philos work, In the Embassy of Caius, is also

22. See 03.06.02.

23. Some scholars argue for a writing period between 100 and 50 B.C., rather than a second century B.C. era.

known as Embassy of Gaius, and by its Latin name, Legatio ad Gaium.24 In this e-Book the title In
the Embassy of Gaius is used. Another is Origins book titled Against Celsus, which is also known
by its Latin name, Contra Celsum.
Over the years, some books acquired more than one title. For example, the Second Book of Esdras
is also known as the Fourth Book of Ezra.25 In this e-Book the title 4 Ezra is used. Another is the
Jerusalem Talmud which is also known as the Palestinian Talmud, since it was written in Jerusalem
after Emperor Hadrian renamed the land Palestinia. Between the two Talmuds, Babylonian editon is
universally considered to be the most comprehensive resource and any references identified only as
Talmud, refer to this work.

24. The advent of the Internet has improved the resources for historical studies. For an exhaustive listing and translation of
ancient Roman and Greek writings, see http://www.attalus.org/info/sources2.html. Retrieved October 15, 2014.
25. See http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/r/rsv/rsv-idx?type=DIV1&byte=3652195. Retrieved October 15, 2014.


Unit 01
Introduction to this Website
Chapter 03
Tables Of Content


Champaigne, 1648. Just as there is more to life than the Ten Commandments, so
likewise there is more to the study of the gospels than these Tables of Content.


Please note --If this is your first time at this website, it is suggested that you first read the following two
sections, which are located above.
01.01.03 How to Use this Site
01.01.04 Citation
Kindly note that subjects have been hyperlinked to bookmarks for the convenience of the reader.
The Tables of Content are as follows:
01.03.01 Table 1 of Biblical Passages and Commentary
01.03.02 Table 2 of Photographs and Illustrations
01.03.03 Table 3 of Maps
01.03.04 Table 4 of Hermeneutical Principals Used by First Century Jewish Writers
01.03.05 Table 5 of Answers to Questions Presented by Critics and Analytical Thinkers
01.03.06 Table 6 of Video Mini-lectures by Archaeologists, Historians, Scholars, and
Other Contributors.
01.03.07 Table 7 of Selected Sermon Themes and Sub-Themes
01.03.01 Table 1 of Biblical Passages and Commentary
Unit 01 Introduction to this Website and E-book
01.01 First Things First
01.02 For Inquiring Minds
Unit 02 Cultural Background Studies
02.01 People Groups
02.01.01 Introduction
02.01.02 Arabs (See Idumeans)
02.01.03 Diaspora
02.01.04 Elders
02.01.05 Epicureans

02.01.06 Essenes
02.01.07 Gentiles
02.01.08 Greeks
02.01.09 Hasidim

02.01.10 Hellenists
02.01.11 Herodians
02.01.12 Idumeans
02.01.13 Jews
02.01.14 Pharisees
02.01.15 Romans
02.01.16 Sadducees
02.01.17 Samaritans
02.01.18 School Of Hillel
02.01.19 School Of Shammai
02.01.20 Scribes
02.01.21 Sicarii
02.01.22 Zealots

02.02 Biblical And Extra-Biblical Writings

02.02.01 Introduction
02.02.02 Ante-Nicene Fathers
02.02.03 Apocrypha
02.02.04 Bible
02.02.05 Codex
02.02.06 Dead Sea Scrolls
02.02.07 Deuterocanonical Books
02.02.08 Didache
02.02.09 Gemarah
02.02.10 Gnosticism
02.02.11 Gospels
02.02.12 Hebrew Bible
02.02.13 Jewish Writings
02.02.14 Josephus
02.02.15 Midrash
02.02.16 Mishnah

02.02.17 New Testament (NT)
02.02.18 Oral Law
02.02.19 Old Testament (OT)
02.02.20 Oral Tradition
02.02.21 Pentateuch
02.02.22 Philo
02.02.23 Pliny The Younger
02.02.24 Pseudepigrapha
02.02.25 Septuagint
02.02.26 Talmud
02.02.27 Tanakh (See Hebrew Bible)
02.02.28 Targum
02.02.29 Torah
02.02.30 Tosefta

02.03 Significant Cultural Elements

02.03.01 Introduction
02.03.02 Agriculture
02.03.03 Economy
02.03.04 Education
02.03.05 Ethnic Diversity
02.03.06 Family
02.03.07 Government
02.03.08 Language
02.03.09 Messianic Expectations
02.03.10 Occupations And Trades
02.03.11 Religious Institutions

02.04 Differences Between First Century Roman-Greek And Jewish

02.04.01 Introduction
02.04.02 View Of God

02.04.03 Significant Writings & Truth
02.04.04 Position Of Man, View Of Life
02.04.05 Individualism vs. Community
02.04.06 Sabbath Day Observances
02.04.07 Work And The Purpose Of Education
02.04.08 Views Of Body, Soul, And Spirit
02.04.09 Understanding History And The Future
02.04.10 Divine Healing
02.04.11 Human And Divine Relationships

Unit 03 Historical Background

03.01 Ancient Judaea (4000 1040 B.C.)
03.01.01 Introduction
03.01.02 c. 4000 B.C. +/- Adam And Eve
03.01.03 2100 1850 B.C. Abraham
03.01.04 1876 1446 B.C. Sojourn In Egypt
03.01.05 1446 B.C. The Exodus; The Torah; Moses And A Pagan Seer
Predict The Redeemer
03.01.06 1446 1050 B.C. Judges Rule Gods People

03.02 First Temple Period And Exile (1040 515 B.C.)

03.02.01 1049 931 B.C. The United Monarchy
03.02.02 931 586 B.C. The Divided Monarchy
03.02.03 8th Century B.C. Isaiah
03.02.04 733 B.C. Israel Falls To The Assyrians; Israelites Deported To
The East; 723 B.C. Israel Ends
03.02.05 701 B.C. Assyrian Attack
03.02.06 626 B.C. Jeremiah Begins His Ministry
03.02.07 612 B.C. Assyrian Nineveh Falls To Babylon And Media
03.02.08 605 B.C. Judea Falls To The Babylonians; First Deportation Of
Jews To Babylon
03.02.09 597 B.C. Second Deportation Of Jews To Babylon With Daniel
And Ezekiel

03.02.10 587 B.C. Third Deportation; Solomons Temple and Jerusalem
03.02.11 587 516 B.C. The Exilic Period
03.02.12 6th Century B.C. Religion Of The Zoroaster
03.02.13 580s And 570s B.C. Edomite Invasions Into Jerusalem
03.02.14 539/538 B.C. Babylon Falls To The Persians (Persian Empire
539-331 B.C.)
03.02.15 723 539 B.C. Summary Of Significant Developments Of
Assyrian And Babylonian Captivities

03.03 Second Temple Period (515 B.C. A.D. 70)

03.03.01 538 444 B.C. Exiles Return To Judea; Temple Reconstruction
03.03.02 515 B.C. Second Temple Completed
03.03.03 459 445 B.C. Ezra And Nehemiah
03.03.04 444 B.C. Prophecy Concerning Jesus And His Ministry
03.03.05 443 B.C. +/- Malachi
03.03.06 400 B.C. +/- Hebrew Bible Is Canonized.

03.04 Inter-Testament Background (c. 400 B.C. A.D. 30)

03.04.01 Introduction
03.04.02 350 B.C. Persians Capture Jerusalem
03.04.03 341 270 B.C. Epicurus
03.04.04 334 B.C. Summary Of Developments Of Persian Domination
That Shaped Jewish Life In The First Century.
03.04.05 334 63 B.C. Alexander The Great And The Hellenistic Period
03.04.06 334 B.C. Persia Falls To Alexander The Great
03.04.07 332 B.C. First Samaritan Temple Built
03.04.08 331 B.C. Alexander The Great Conquers Tyre And Judaea
03.04.09 323 B.C. Death Of Alexander The Great
03.04.10 319 B.C. Jewish Families Taken To Egypt; Ptolemy Dynasty Of
Egypt Rules Judaea; The Parthian And Roman Empires Begin To

03.04.11 311 B.C. Greek Seleucid Era Begins
03.04.12 301 B.C. Greek Seleucid Control Of The Holy Land Is Secured
03.04.13 283 B.C. Ptolemy Philadelphus, King Of Egypt; Septuagint
Translation Of Scripture
03.04.14 Third Century B.C. Greek Influences Challenge Jewish Values
And Traditions
03.04.15 200 B.C. Non-Rabbinic Writings Begin: Dead Sea Scrolls,
Apocrypha, And Pseudepigrapha
03.04.16 198 B.C. Syria And Jerusalem Come Firmly Under The Control
Of The Greek Seleucids
03.04.17 176 164 B.C. Antiochus IV Epiphanies, King Of Syria Controls
03.04.18 171 B.C. Zadokite Priesthood Ends; Temple Priesthood Sold;
The Essenes
03.04.19 167 B.C., December, Antiochus IV Desecrates Temple
03.04.20 The Maccabean Revolt; Hanukkah 25 Years Of Military
Battles And Guerrilla Wars Begin
03.04.21 164 B.C. Greek Persecution Ends; Limited Jewish Independence

03.05 Jewish Sovereignty And Roman Conquest (c. 164 B.C. A.D.70)
03.05.01 Introduction
03.05.02 164 B.C. December; Temple Consecrated; Sanhedrin Resumes
03.05.03 162 B.C. Hellenized Jews Kill 60 Hasidim Jews
03.05.04 153 B.C. Jonathan the High Priest and Governor, Jewish AntiSemitism Grows
03.05.05 143 135 B.C. Maccabean Revolt Ended, Simon Reigned
03.05.06 135 63 B.C. True Independence; Rule of the Hasmoneans
03.05.07 135 104 B.C. Rule of John Hyrcanus; Samaritan Temple
03.05.08 104 102 B.C. Rule of Aristobulus I
03.05.09 102 76 B.C. Rule of Alexander Jannaeus
03.05.10 90 88 B.C. Jewish Civil War; 80 Women And 800 Pharisees

03.05.11 76 67 B.C. Queen Alexandra Salome Reigns; Pharisees Control
the Temple
03.05.12 Summary Influence of Hellenistic Reform (331 63 B.C.) that
shaped Jewish life in the First Century
03.05.13 67 63 B.C. Civil War Between Aristobulus II and John
Hyrcanus II; Roman Invasion
03.05.14 63 B.C. Honi, the Jewish Miracle Worker killed
03.05.15 63 B.C. Romans Order Attempts To Kill Infant Boys Because Of
Prophecy Of A New-Born King
03.05.16 63 B.C. Rome Conquers Judah; Hyrcanus II Installed as Ruler of
03.05.17 63 B.C. A.D. 312 Roman Period
03.05.18 53 B.C. Parthians Attack and Kill the Roman General Crassus
03.05.19 50 B.C. Rabbi Nehumias Accurately Predicted the Messiahs
03.05.20 47 B.C. Antipater Procurator of Judaea

03.05.21 47 B.C. Herod Becomes Military Commander; Executes

Hezekias, Massacres Selected Members Of The Sanhedrin
03.05.22 44 B.C. Julius Caesar Assassinated; Augustus Reigns
03.05.23 43 B.C. Antipater Murdered; Another Parthian Threat
03.05.24 42 38 The Roman Poet Virgil Predicts A Coming Messiah
03.05.25 40 - 39 B.C. Brief Parthian Invasion of Jerusalem; Herod (the
Great) given Roman Military to Fight Parthians, Jewish Freedom
Fighters, and Bandits.
03.05.26 37 4 B.C. Conquest and Rule by Herod the Great
03.05.27 30 20 B.C. School of Hillel; School of Shammai
03.05.28 24 21 B.C. Famine in Judaea
03.05.29 20 B.C. Treaty Established between Rome and Parthia
03.05.30 20 B.C. Leadership Change in Sanhedrin

03.05.31 20 19 B.C. Herod the Great Begins Temple Remodeling and


03.05.32 22 10 B.C. Construction of the Artificial Seaport Harbor at
03.05.33 Summary of the Political Tensions among Various People Groups
at the time of Jesus.

03.06 The Advent Of John The Baptist And Jesus (7-5 B.C.)
03.06.01 7 6 B.C. John The Baptist Is Born; Roman Peace
03.06.02 6 5 B.C. The Birth Of Jesus
03.06.03 5 4 B.C. Mary, Joseph, And Jesus Flee To Egypt
03.06.04 4 B.C. The Death Of Herod The Great
03.06.05 4 B.C. Jews Revolt At Passover; Thousands Killed
03.06.06 4 B.C. A.D. 41 The Divided Monarchy
03.06.07 4 B.C. A.D. 6 Herod Archelaus Ethnarch Rules Over Judea,
Samaria, And Idumea
03.06.08 4 B.C. A.D. 34 Herod Philip Tetrarch Rules Over Northern
03.06.09 4 B.C. A.D. 39 Herod Antipas Tetrarch Ruled Over Galilee
And Perea
03.06.10 2 B.C. Sepphoris Becomes The Seat Of Government
03.06.11 4 (End) 3 B.C. Mary, Joseph, And Jesus Return From Egypt
03.06.12 0 There Is No Year Zero
03.06.13 A.D. 1 Greeks Form A Trade Embargo Against Jews
03.06.14 A.D. 6 Jewish Revolt Against Archelaus; Zealot Movement
03.06.15 A.D. 6 8 Jesus Goes To The Temple
03.06.16 A.D. 6 10 Coponius Replaces Herod Archelaus As Procurator
Of Judea
03.06.17 A.D. 6 15 Annas Appointed High Priest
03.06.18 A.D. 7 Samaritans Defile The Temple
03.06.19 A.D. 12 Artabanus III Becomes The King Of The Parthian
03.06.20 A.D. 14 37 Tiberius Caesar Of The Roman Empire

03.06.21 A.D. 16 17 Eleazar Ben Ananus Appointed High Priest
03.06.22 A.D. 18 36/37 Josephus Bar Caiaphas Appointed High Priest
03.06.23 A.D. 18 Herod Antipas Builds Tiberias
03.06.24 A.D. 19 Jews Rioted In Rome
03.06.25 A.D. 22 31 Sejanus, The Arch Enemy Of Tiberius Caesar
03.06.26 A.D. 26 36 Pontius Pilate Procurator Of Judaea
03.06.27 A.D. 27 The Ministry Of Jesus, The Christ Begins

Unit 04 The Early Years Of Jesus

04.01 Introduction
04.01.01 Introduction; The World Stage is Set; Johns Prologue
04.01.02 Jn. 1:1-2 The Eternality Of God.
04.01.03 Jn. 1:3-18 The Word Of God Became The Person Jesus.
04.01.04 Lk. 1:1-4 Introduction By Luke

04.02 The Genealogies Of Jesus

04.02.01 Introduction
04.02.02 Mt. 1:1-17 The Genealogy Of Jesus As Recorded By Matthew
04.02.03 Lk. 3:23b-38 The Genealogy Of Jesus As Recorded By Luke

04.03 The Births Of John The Baptist And Jesus

04.03.01 Lk. 1:5-17 (c. 6 4 B.C.) The Birth Of John Foretold
04.03.02 Lk. 1:18-25 Zechariah Made Speechless
04.03.03 Lk. 1:26-38 Nazareth; Mary Told Of Conception
04.03.04 Lk. 1:39-45 Village In Judea; Mary Visits Elizabeth
04.03.05 Lk. 1:46-56 Mary Gives Praise To God
04.03.06 Lk. 1:57-66 John The Baptist Is Born And Named
04.03.07 Lk. 1:67-80 Zechariah Prophesies Of Johns Ministry
04.03.08 Mt. 1:18-25a Joseph Is Told Of Marys Conception
04.03.09 Lk 2:1 Bethlehem (c. 6 5 B.C.); The Registration (Or Census)
04.03.10 Lk. 2:4-7 Bethlehem: The Birth Of Jesus
04.03.11 Lk. 2:8-14 Bethlehem: Angels Proclaim The Birth

04.04 The Christ Child Is Honored And Consecrated
04.04.01 Lk. 2:15-20 Bethlehem; Shepherds Honor The Infant Jesus
04.04.02 Lk. 2:21 Jesus Circumcised And Named
04.04.03 Lk. 2:22-24 Jerusalem; Jesus Is Presented In The Temple
04.04.04 Lk. 2:25-35 Jerusalem: Simeon Expresses Joy Of The Birth
04.04.05 Lk. 2:36-38 The Temple: Anna, The Prophetess Of Asher
04.04.06 Mt. 2:1-8 Jerusalem (c. 4 2 B.C.): The Magi Seek Jesus
04.04.07 Mt 2:9-12 The Star Of Bethlehem: The Magi Honor Jesus

04.05 The Great Escape And Return

04.05.01 Mt. 2:13-15 Escape To Egypt
04.05.02 Mt. 2:16-18 Bethlehem: Herod Orders The Slaughter Of Young
04.05.03 Mt. 2:19-23; Lk. 2:39-40 Nazareth: Return To Nazareth
04.05.04 Mt. 2:19-23; Lk. 2:39-40 From Egypt To Nazareth

04.06 The Boyhood Years Of Jesus

04.06.01 Introduction
04.06.02 Lk. 2:41-50 Jerusalem: Jesus Visits Temple
04.06.03 Lk. 2:51-52 Nazareth: Growing Up In Nazareth

04.07 Village Life In Nazareth

04.07.01 Daily Life In Nazareth

Unit 05 The Early Ministry Of Jesus

05.01 The Ministry Of John The Baptist
05.01.01 Introduction
05.01.02 Lk. 3:1-6 (Mt. 3:1-3; Mk. 1:2-4) John Declares His Ministry
05.01.03 Mt. 3:4-6 (Mk. 1:5-6) Along The Jordan River: John Baptizes
05.01.04 Lk. 3:7-14 (Mt. 3:7-10) John Continues To Preach Repentance

05.02 The Introduction And Temptations Of Jesus
05.02.01 Introduction
05.02.02 Lk. 3:15-18 (Mt. 3:11-12; Mk. 1:7-8) John Announces The
05.02.03 Mt. 3:13-17; Lk. 3:23a (Mk. 1:9-11) From Galilee To
Jordan: Jesus Is Baptized
05.02.04 Mt. 4:1-11; Mk. 1:13b (Lk. 4:1-13) Wilderness Mountain: The
Devil Tempts Jesus

05.03 The Witness Of John The Baptist

05.03.01 Jn. 1:19-28 Bethany: John Explains His Ministry
05.03.02 Jn. 1:29-34 John Introduces Jesus

05.04 The Ministry of Jesus Begins

05.04.01 Introduction
05.04.02 Jn. 1:35-51 The First Disciples

05.05 Jesus Reveals Himself

05.05.01 Introduction
05.05.02 Jn. 2:1-11 The First Miracle In Cana
05.05.03 Jn. 2:12 Interlude At Capernaum
05.05.04 Jn. 2:13-25 First Temple Cleansing, Merchants Driven Out
05.05.05 Jn. 3:1-21 Nicodemus And His New Birth
05.05.06 Jn. 3:22-36 Jesus And John In Judea
05.05.07 Lk. 3:19-20 John The Baptist Imprisoned

Unit 06 - The Ministry Of Jesus Accelerates

06.01 The Ministry Of Jesus Begins In Galilee
06.01.01 Introduction
06.01.02 Jn. 4:1-3 Judea: Jesus Leaves For Galilee By Way Of Samaria
06.01.03 Jn. 4:4-26 The Village Of Sychar; The Samaritan
06.01.04 Jn. 4:27-38 Spiritual Food

06.01.05 Jn. 4:39-42 Samaria: The First Woman Evangelist
06.01.06 Jn. 4:43-45 Galilee: Jesus Returns To The Provincial District Of
06.01.07 Jn. 4:46-54 Cana: Boy Healed In Capernaum
06.01.08 Mt. 4:12-17; Lk. 4:14-15 (Mk. 1:14-15) Capernaum

06.02 Rejection In Nazareth

06.02.01 Introduction
06.02.02 Lk. 4:16-30 Nazareth: Jesus Rejected In His Home

06.03 The Ministry Of Jesus Accelerates In Galilee

06.03.01 Lk. 5:1-11; Mt. 4:18-22 (Mk. 1:16-20) Sea Of Galilee: Peter
And The Catch Of Fish
06.03.02 Mk. 1:21-22 (Lk. 4:31-32) Jesus Teaches At Capernaum
06.03.03 Mk. 1:23-28; Lk. 4:33-37 Man Delivered From A Demon
06.03.04 Mk. 1:29-31; Lk. 4:39 (Mt. 8:14-15) Peters Mother-In-Law
06.03.05 Mk. 1:32-34 (Mt. 8:16-17; Lk. 4:40-41) Many Are Healed

06.03.06 Mk.1:35-38 (Lk. 4:42-43) Jesus Goes Out To Pray

06.03.07 Mt. 4:23-25 (Mk. 1:39; Lk. 4:44) Jesus Travels Throughout
06.03.08 Mk. 1:40-45 (Mt. 8:1-4; Lk. 5:12-16) The Leper Is Healed, A
Messianic Miracle
06.03.09 Lk. 5:17; Mk. 2:2-4a; Lk. 5:17-19 (Mt. 9:1-2) Capernaum: The
Paralytic Is Healed Problem ??
06.03.10 Mk. 2:6-12 (Mt. 9:3-8; Lk. 5:21-26) Scribes Question Authority
Of Jesus
06.03.11 Mk. 2:13-14 (Mt. 9:9; Lk. 5:27-28) Region Of Galilee: Matthew
Is Called

Unit 07 Opposition Against Jesus Grows

07.01 Jesus Stuns The Jewish Leadership

07.01.01 Introduction
07.01.02 Lk. 5:29-30; Mt. 9:12-13 (Mk. 2:15-17) Eating With Sinners
07.01.03 Lk. 5:33-39 (Mt. 9:14-17; Mk. 2:18-22) Disciples Not Fasting
07.01.04 Jn. 5:1-15 Jerusalem: April A.D. 28, The Second Passover
07.01.05 Jn. 5:16-29 Resurrection And Life
07.01.06 Jn. 5:30-47 Discussion Of Authority

07.02 The Sabbath Challenge

07.02.01 Introduction
07.02.02 Mt. 12:1-8; Mk. 2:23-28 (Lk. 6:1-5) Galilee: Plucking Grain
On Sabbath
07.02.03 Mt. 12:9-14; Mk. 3:1-6; Lk. 6:6-11 Healing On The Sabbath

07.03 Jesus The Master Teacher

07.03.01 Introduction
07.03.02 Mk. 3:7-12; (Mt. 12:15-21) Bay Of The Parables
07.03.03 Lk. 6:12-16 (Mk. 3:13-19) Hills Near The Sea: Jesus Appoints
12 Disciples
07.03.04 Lk. 6:17-19 Great Crowds Gather
07.03.05 Mt. 5:1-12 (Lk. 6:20-23) Capernaum: Sermon On The Mount

Unit 08 Topical Issues

08.01 Warning The Religious Leaders
08.01.01 Introduction
08.01.02 Lk. 6:24-26 Woes Pronounced
08.01.03 Mt. 5:13-16 Salt And Light Of Believers
08.01.04 Mt. 5:17-20 The Law And Gospel
08.01.05 Mt. 5:21-26 The Sixth Commandment
08.01.06 Mt. 5:27-30 The Seventh Commandment
08.02 Marriage, Divorce, Oaths And Forgiveness
08.02.01 Introduction
08.02.02 Lk. 16:14-18 Pharisees Scoff At Parable: Divorce Issues
08.02.03 Mt. 5:31-32 (Mt. 19:9; Mk. 10:12) Divorce Issues

08.02.04 Mt. 19:1b-10 (Mk. 10:2-9) Pharisees Question Divorce
08.02.05 Mt. 19:10-12; Mk. 10:10-12
08.02.06 Mt. 5:33-37 Honesty Without Swearing Or Oaths
08.02.07 Mt. 5:38-42; Lk. 6:31 Retaliation Forbidden
08.02.08 Mt. 5:43-47; Lk. 6:32-36; Mt. 5:48 Love For Enemies

08.03 Righteousness, Prayer, And Fasting

08.03.01 Introduction
08.03.02 Mt. 6:1 The Principles Of Righteousness
08.03.03 Mt. 6:2-4 The Principle Of Giving Alms
08.03.04 Mt. 6:5-15 The Principle Of A Model Prayer (The Lords
08.03.05 Mt. 6:16-18 The Principle Of Fasting

08.04 Concerns Of Life

08.04.01 Mt. 6:19-23 Spiritual Treasures
08.04.02 Mt. 6:25-34 Avoiding Anxiety
08.04.03 Lk. 6:37-42 (Mt. 7:1-5) Hypocritical Judging
08.04.04 Mt. 7:6 Inappropriate Concerns
08.04.05 Mt. 7:7-12 Persistence Of Prayer
08.04.06 Mt. 7:13-14 The Narrow And Wide Gates Of Life
08.04.07 Mt. 7:15-20; Lk. 6:45; Mt. 7:21-23 Testing Religious Leaders
Cf. Mt. 18:11 Problem ?? Code xyx
08.04.08 Lk. 6:46; Mt. 7:24-27; Wise And Foolish Builders

08.05 Astonishing Power And Authority

08.05.01 Mt. 7:28-29 Crowd Is Astonished
08.05.02 Lk. 7:1-9; Mt. 8:11-13; Lk. 7:10 Centurions Healed
08.05.03 Lk. 7:11-17 Nain: Widows Only Son Raised From Death
08.05.04 Lk. 7:18-23 (Mt. 11:2-6) John The Baptist Questions
08.05.05 Lk. 7:24-28; Mt. 11:12-15; Lk. 7:29-30 Jesus Praises John

08.05.06 Lk. 7:31-35 (Mt. 11:16-19) Jesus Reproves Rejection
08.05.07 Lk. 7:36-50 Anointing By Sinful Woman
08.05.08 Lk. 8:1-3 Galilee: Women Provide Support

08.06 Of Nature, Demons, And Healings

08.06.01 Introduction
08.06.02 Mk. 4:35-41 (Mt. 8:23-27; Lk. 8:22-25) Sea Of Galilee: Jesus
Calms The Sea
08.06.03 Mk. 5:1-20 (Mt. 8:28-34; Lk. 8:26-39) Gerasa: Demon-Possessed
08.06.04 Mk. 5:21-24a (Mt. 9:18-19; Lk. 8:40-42) Jairus Begs Jesus To
08.06.05 Mk. 5:24b-34 (Mt. 9:20-22; Lk. 8:43-48) Women Touches

08.06.06 Mk. 5:35-43 (Mt. 9:23-26; Lk. 8:49-56) Capernaum: Jairus

Daughter Raised
08.06.07 Mt. 9:27-31 Two Blind Men Healed
08.06.08 Mt. 9:32-34 Mute Man Healed The Second Messianic Miracle

Unit 09 Turning Point In The Ministry Of Jesus

09.01 Rejection Of Jesus And His Message
09.01.01 Introduction
09.01.02 Mk. 3:20; Mt. 12:22-24 (Lk. 11:14-23) Capernaum: Is Jesus A
Demon Or Son Of David?
09.01.03 Mt. 12:25-28; Lk. 11:20; Mt. 12:29-32 The Unpardonable Sin
09.01.04 Mt. 12:33-37; Mk. 3:20-21 Words Reflect The Heart
09.01.05 Mt. 12:38-42 (Lk. 11:29-32) The Sign Of Jonah
09.01.06 Mt. 12:43-45; Lk. 11:27-28 Need For Moral Reform
09.01.07 Mt. 12:46-50(Mk. 3:31-35; Lk. 8:19-21) Jesus Tells True

09.02 Jesus Announces Woes; Leaders Attempt Entrapment
09.02.01 Lk. 11:33-36 Inner Righteousness
09.02.02 Lk. 11:37-52 Six Woes: Hypocrisy Condemned
09.02.03 Lk. 11:53-54 Leaders Try To Trap Jesus
09.02.04 Lk. 12:1-12 Warning Against Hypocrisy

09.03 Prophetic Parables And Actions

09.03.01 Introduction
09.03.02 Lk. 12:13-21 Faith Of The Foolish Rich Man
09.03.03 Lk. 12:22-34 Trusting Gods Providence
09.03.04 Lk. 12:35-40 Parable Of Watchful Servants For Wedding
09.03.05 Lk. 12:41-48 Exhortation To Watchfulness
09.03.06 Lk. 12:49-53 Division Predicted
09.03.07 Lk. 12:54-59 Discern The Times Correctly
09.03.08 Lk. 13:1-5 Urgency Of Repentance
09.03.09 Lk. 13:6-9 Unfruitful Fig Tree
09.03.10 Lk.13:10-17 Stooped Woman Healed
09.03.11 Mt. 13:10-17 (Mk. 4:10-12; Lk. 8:9-10) Purpose Of Parables
09.03.12 Mk. 4:33-34; Mt. 13:34-35 Parables Fulfill Prophecy
09.03.13 Mt. 13:1-9 (Mk. 4:1-9; Lk. 8:4-8) Sea Of Galilee: Parable Of The
09.03.14 Mt. 13:18-23 (Mk. 4:13-20; Lk. 8:11-15) Parable Of Sower
09.03.15 Mt. 13:24-30 (Mk. 4:26-29) Parable Of The Wheat And Tares
09.03.16 Mt. 13:36-43 Parable Of The Wheat And Tares Explained
09.03.17 Mt. 13:31-32 (Mk. 4:30-32; Lk. 13:18-19) Parable Of The
Mustard Seed
09.03.18 Mt. 13:33 (Lk. 13:20-21) Parable Of The Yeast
09.03.19 Mk. 4:21-25 (Lk. 8:16-18) Parable Of The Lighted Lamp
09.03.20 Mk. 4:26-29 Parable Of The Seed Growing
09.03.21 Mt. 13:44 Parable Of The Hidden Treasure

09.03.22 Mt. 13:45-46 Parable Of Valuable Pearl
09.03.23 Mt. 13:47-50 Parable Of The Dragnet
09.03.24 Mt. 13:51-53 Parable Of Treasures

09.04 The Cost Of Following Jesus

09.04.01 Mt. 8:18-22 (Lk. 9:57-62) Cost Of Following Jesus (Foxes
Have Holes.)
09.04.02 Lk. 9:59-62 (Mt. 8:21-22) (Let The Dead Bury The Dead.)

Unit 10 Conflicts Increase; Ministries Of The Disciples Begin

10.01 The Disciples Begin To Function As Apostles
10.01.01 Introduction
10.01.02 Mk. 6:1-6a (Mt. 13:53-58) Nazareth: Jesus Rejected Again
10.01.03 Mt. 9:35-38 (Mk. 6:6b) Need For Workers
10.01.04 Mt. 10:1-4; Mk. 6:7 (Lk. 9:1-2) Disciples Given Power To Heal
10.01.05 Mt. 10:5-15 (Mk. 6:8-11; Lk. 9:3-5) Disciples Instructed
10.01.06 Mt. 10:16-33 Disciples Warned
10.01.07 Mt. 10:34-39 Conflict And Sacrifice
10.01.08 Mt. 10:40-42 (Mk. 9:41) Receiving Disciples
10.01.09 Mt. 11:1; Lk. 9:6; Mk. 6:12-13 Disciples In Action
10.01.10 Mk 6:14-16; Lk 9:9b (Mt. 14:1-2) Perea: Herod Curious About
10.01.11 Mk. 6:17-29 (Mt. 14:3-12a) Death Of John The Baptist
10.01.12 Lk. 9:10a; Mk. 6:30-34; Lk. 9:11 (Mt. 14:12-14; Jn. 6:1-4)
Bethsaida: The Disciples Return
10.01.13 Mk. 6:35-36; Jn. 6:5-7; Lk. 6:13; Jn. 6:8-9; Mk. 6:39-43; Jn.
6:14; Mk. 6:45; Jn. 6:15 (Lk. 9:12-17) The Sea Of Galilee Near
Bethsaida. 5,000 Fed
10.01.14 Jn. 6:16-18; Mk. 6:48a; Jn. 6:19a; Mk. 6:48b-52; Jn. 6:21b (Mt.
14:23b-27) Sea Of Galilee: Jesus Walks On Water
10.01.15 Mt. 14:28-33: Sea Of Galilee; Peter Walks On Water
10.01.16 Mt. 14:34-36; Mk. 6:53-56: Plain Of Gennesaret Or Galilee,

10.01.17 Jn. 6:22-59 The Mystery Of Jesus Crossing
10.01.18 Jn. 6:60-66 Offended Disciples Turn Away
10.01.19 Jn. 6:67-71 Peter Affirms His Faith
10.01.20 Mk. 7:1-13 (See Also Mt. 15:1-9) Spring, A.D. 29
10.01.21 Mk. 7:14-16; Mt. 15:12-16; Mk. 7:18b-23
10.01.22 Jn. 7:1 Ministry In Galilee
10.01.23 Mk. 7:24-26a; Mt. 15:22b-28: Tyre And Sidon: Canaanite
10.01.24 Mk. 7:31-37; Mt. 15:31 Galilee And The Decapolis Deaf Man
10.01.25 Mk. 8:1-10 (See Also Mt. 15:29-39) Northeast Hills By The Sea;
Feeding Of 4,000
10.01.26 Mt. 16:1-4; Mk. 8:13; Magada: Pharisees and Sadducees Ask For
A Sign
10.01.27 Mk. 8:14-15; Mt. 16:7; Mk. 17-21a; Mt 16:11-12 Pharisees And
Yeast In Bread
10.01.28 Mk. 8:22-26 Bethsaida Blind Man Healed With Spit And The
Laying On Of Hands
10.01.29 Mt. 16:13-20 (Mk. 8:27-30; Lk. 9:18-20) Caesarea Philippi
10.01.30 Mt. 16:21-23 (Mk. 8:31-33; Lk. 9:21-22) Caesarea Philippi:
Suffering Foretold
10.01.31 Mk. 8:34-9:1; (See Also Mt. 16:24-28; Lk. 9:23-27) Caesarea
Philippi Burdens Of Discipleship

01.03.02 Table 2 of Photographs and Illustrations

Unit 01 Introduction to this Website and E-book
01.01 First Things First
01.01.00.A. Still Life with Bible

01.02 For Inquiring Minds

01.02.00.A. Praying Hands
01.02.01.A. A 13th Century Depiction Of Saul And His Men Fighting
Nahash And The Amorites


Unit 02 Cultural Background Studies

02.01 People Groups
02.01.00.A. Christ And The Young Child
02.01.05.A. Fragment Of Philodemus Epicurean Writing
02.01.16.A. Evidence Of Sadducean Extravagance
02.01.16.B. Sadducean Tomb Inscription
02.01.17.A. Ruins Of The Samaritan Temple
02.01.17.B. The Samaritan Torah Scroll

02.02 Biblical And Extra-Biblical Writings

02.02.00.A. Jesus Heals the Leper
02.02.03.A. The Heliodorus Stele
02.02.05.A. The Codex Sinaiticus
02.02.06.A. Young Scholars Examine An Ancient Jar

02.03 Significant Cultural Elements

02.03.00.A. Children In A Synagogue School
02.03.08.A. The Name Jesus In Old Semetic Script
02.03.11.A. Illustration Of Various Religious Groups And Their
Relationship To The Sadducees

02.04 Differences Between First Century Roman-Greek And Jewish

02.04.00.A. Salomes Exotic Dance

Unit 03 Historical Background

03.01 Ancient Judaea (4000 1040 B.C.)
03.01.00.A. The Sacrifice Of Isaac
03.01.04.A. Illustration From An Egyptian Tomb
03.01.05.A. Plaster Fragments Of The Balaam Tel Deir Alla Inscription

03.02 First Temple Period And Exile (1040 515 B.C.)
03.02.00.A. Samuel Anoints David
03.02.01.A. The King David Fragment
03.02.05.A. Captured Israelites Honor King Sennacherib
03.02.05.B. Sennacheribs Record Of His Siege Against Jerusalem
03.02.08.A. Israelites March Into Babylon
03.02.09.A. The Babylonian Chronicle For The Years 605-595 B.C.
03.02.14.A. The Cyrus Cylinder (538 B.C.)
03.02.14.B. The Tomb Of Cyrus The Great
03.02.15.A. A Tablet From Babylon Reads If I Forget Thee, O

03.03 Second Temple Period (515 B.C. A.D. 70)

03.03.00.A. The Rebuilding Of The Temple
03.03.03.A. An Excavated Section Of Nehemiahs Wall

03.04 Inter-Testament Background (c. 400 B.C. A.D. 30)

03.04.00.A. A Greek-Seleucid War Elephant In Battle
03.04.05.A. A Mosaic Of Alexander the Great vs. The Invincible King
Darius III
03.04.17.A. Coins Of Antiochus IV Epiphanies
03.04.20.A. A Coin Of King Antiochus VI

03.05 Jewish Sovereignty And Roman Conquest (c. 164 B.C. A.D.70)
03.05.00.A. Sea-Going Ships Of Hasmonean Days
03.05.02.A. The House Of The Maccabees Family Tree

03.05.07.A. Jewish Coins With Greek Motifs

03.05.09.A. A Model Of A Hasmonean Merchant Ship

03.05.09.B. The First Bilingual Jewish Coin.

03.05.12.A. Hellenistic Art-Fresco In A Jewish Tomb
03.05.12.B. An Illustration Of The Home Of A Sadducee
03.05.13.A. Coin Of John Hycranus II.

03.05.25.A. The Caves Of Mount Arbel
03.05.26.A. Ruins Of The Herodian Palace-Fortress
03.05.26.B. A Copper Coin Of Herod The Great
03.05.26.C. An Illustration Of Caesarea Maritima
03.05.26.D. A Model Of Herods Hippodrome
03.05.26.E. Ruins Of The Hippodrome In Jerash
03.05.26.F. A Model Of Herods Theater
03.05.26.G. The Temple Ruins Of Emperor Augustus
03.05.26.H. Statuettes Of Healing Gods
03.05.31.A. The Machpelah
03.05.31.B. A Model Of Herods Temple

03.06 The Advent Of John The Baptist And Jesus (8-4 B.C.)
03.06.00.A. Birth Of The Savior
03.06.04.A. Family Tree Of Herod The Great
03.06.04.B. NASA Graphic Of The Lunar Eclipse On March 12, 4 B.C.
03.06.14.A. Coin Of Tiberius Caesar
03.06.26.A. Coins Of Pontius Pilate

Unit 04 The Early Years Of Jesus

04.01 Introduction
04.01.00.A. Christ In The Garden Of Olives

04.02 The Genealogies Of Jesus

04.02.00.A. An Angel Visits The Virgin Mary
04.02.03.A. Genealogical Chart Of Matthew And Luke

04.03 The Births Of John The Baptist And Jesus

04.03.00.A. Mary Visits Elizabeth
04.03.01.A. The Burial Ossuary Of Miriam
04.03.01.B. A Temple Incense Vessel
04.03.03.A. A Second Century Katuvah
04.03.06.A. A Common Writing Tablet

04.03.09.A. A Relief Stone Carving Of A Roman Census
04.03.09.B. Roman Census Edict In Egypt (Papyrus 904)
04.03.10.A. The Church Of The Nativity
04.03.10.B. A Modern Cave Stable
04.03.10.C. Clay Model Of Mother In Childbirth
04.03.10.D. A Typical Stone Manger
04.03.11.A. An Ancient Watchtower

04.04 The Christ Child Is Honored And Consecrated

04.04.00.A. The Birth Of Jesus Is Announced By An Angel
04.04.01.A. Field Of The Shepherds, Early Spring
04.04.01.B. Field Of The Shepherds, Early Summer
04.04.03.A. Bowl Fragment With Inscribed Korban And Two Birds
04.04.03.B. A Mikvah
04.04.03.C. Model Of Temple Southern Steps
04.04.03.D. The Southern Steps As Seen Today

04.05 The Great Escape And Return

04.05.00.A. Joseph, Mary, And Jesus Return From Egypt

04.06 The Boyhood Years Of Jesus

04.06.00.A. Jesus And Temple Leaders
04.06.02.A. Modern Bar Mitzvah Celebration In Jerusalem
04.06.03.A. Shepherd Boys In Authentic First Century Costume

04.07 Village Life In Nazareth

04.07.00.A. Jesus Growing up in Nazareth
04.07.01.A. A Natural Forest Typical Of First Century Woodlands
04.07.01.B. A First Century Carpenter At Work
04.07.01.C. Tools For Wood And Stone Work Of A Carpenter
04.07.01.D. A Plow And Yoke For Two Donkeys


04.07.01.E. Two Arabs Plowing In The 1920s As In Biblical Times

04.07.01.F. Typical Woodworking Tools
04.07.01.G. First Century Stone Masons (Carpenters)
04.07.01.H. The Cardo Maximus In Sepphoris
04.07.01.I. The Kitchen Of A Rabbis House
04.07.01.J. The Interior Of A Typical Jewish Home
04.07.01.K. The Ancient Nazareth To Capernaum Road

Unit 05 The Early Ministry Of Jesus

01 The Ministry Of John The Baptist
05.01.00.A. John The Baptist Preaches In The Desert
05.01.03.A. The Locust Or Fruit Of The Carob Tree

05.02 The Introduction And Temptations Of Jesus

05.02.00.A. The Baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist
05.02.02.A. A Reconstructed Threshing Floor
05.02.02.B. Two Boys Winnowing Wheat
05.02.03.A. The Baptismal Site Of Jesus
05.02.04.A. The Inscribed Pinnacle Stone Of The Temple
05.02.04.B. An Illustration Of A Priest With A Trumpet Upon The
05.02.04.C. The Traditional Temptation Site Of Mount Quarantania
05.02.04.D. The Syrian Brown Bear
05.02.04.E. The Caracal Lynx

05.03 The Witness Of John The Baptist

05.03.00.A. John The Baptist Preaching In The Wilderness

05.04 The First Disciples

05.04.00.A. Jesus and His First Disciples

05.04.02.A. Dead Sea Scroll Son Of God Fragment 4Q246

05.05 Jesus Reveals Himself

05.05.00.A. Jesus Drives Out The Temple Merchants
05.05.02.A. Two Ritual Stone Water Vessels
05.05.02.B. Floor Mosaic Of The God Dionysos (Left) Presenting Grapes
And Wine
05.05.04.A. Floor Plan Of Herods Temple
05.05.04.B. A Model Of The Temple And Court Of The Women
05.05.04.C. A Roman Relief Of A Banker At Work
05.05.04.D. The Theodotus Inscription
05.05.05.A. Dead Sea Scroll 4Q414 With Baptismal Liturgy
05.05.05.B. Early Israelite Incense Burner Adorned With Snakes
05.05.05.C. The Greek God Aselepius With Staff And Snake
05.05.05.D. First Century Mikvah
05.05.05.E. Fifth Century Cross-Shaped Baptistery
05.05.07.A. Ruins Of The Machaerus Palace-Fortress

Unit 06 The Ministry Of Jesus Accelerates

06.01 The Ministry Of Jesus Begins In Galilee
06.01.00.A. Jesus Teaches His Disciples
06.01.02.A. The Road Into Sabaste, Samaria
06.01.03.A. Samaritan Mannequins In White Costumes
06.01.07.A. A Mosaic Of A First Century Fishing Boat
06.01.07.B. The So-Called Jesus Boat
06.01.07.C. A Roman Milestone at Capernaum
06.01.07.D. Inscription Of The Roman Milestone

06.02 Rejection In Nazareth

06.02.00.A. The Road From Nazareth To Jerusalem
06.02.02.A. The Seat Of Moses And The Bema Stone

06.02.02.B. The Seat Of Moses
06.02.02.C. The Reconstructed Nazareth Synagogue
06.02.02.D. The Traditional Cliff Of Nazareth

06.03 The Ministry Of Jesus Accelerates In Galilee

06.03.00.A. Jesus And His Disciples In A Fishing Boat
06.03.01.A. An Illustration Of Night Fishing With A Trammel Net
06.03.01.B. An Illustration Of How Fish Are Caught In A Trammel Net
06.03.01.C. Casting A Standard Net
06.03.01.D. Cleaning Fishing Nets
06.03.01.E. An Old Illustration Of Fishermen Fishing With A Cast-Net
06.03.02.A. Synagogue At Capernaum
06.03.02.B. Ruins Of The Roman Bathhouse At Capernaum
06.03.02.C. Basalt Grinding Stones
06.03.02.D. Cache Of Glass Vessels
06.03.02.E. Decorated Plaster Pieces From Peters Home
06.03.04.A. Octagonal Byzantine Foundations Over Peters Home
06.03.08.A. Egerton Papyrus 2 Fragments
06.03.09.A. Typical Outside Steps To The Roof
06.03.09.B. Roman Roof Tile
06.03.09.C. Fragment Roof Tile With Tenth Roman Legion Inscription

Unit 07 Opposition Against Jesus Grows

07.01 Jesus Stuns The Jewish Leadership
07.01.00.A. Jesus Teaching In The Temple
07.01.03.A. An Old Wineskin
07.01.04.A. Ruins Of The Pool Of Bethesda
07.01.04.B. The Interior Of The Ruins Of The Pool Of Bethesda
07.01.04.C. Asclepius Artifacts From The Pool of Bethesda
07.01.04.D. Coins Of John Hyrcanus II
07.01.04.E. Statuettes Of Healing Gods

07.02 The Sabbath Challenge
07.02.00.A. Jesus And His Disciples Plucking Grain

07.03 Jesus The Master Teacher

07.03.00.A. Cornerstone
07.03.01.A. A Sign Of Modern Observance Of Ancient Purity
07.03.02.A. The Bay Of The Parables
07.03.03.A. Chart Of The Disciples According To The Gospel Books
07.03.05.B. The Popular Site Of The Sermon On The Mount
07.03.05.C. The Actual Site Of The Sermon On The Mount

Unit 08 Topical Issues

01 Warning The Religious Leaders
08.01.00.A. Jesus Warns The Jewish Leaders
08.01.03.A. The Dead Sea Salt Mountain
08.01.03.B. A City Upon A Hill
08.01.04.A. Illustration Of Two Hebrew Letters With Serifs
08.01.05.A. Photo of the Hinnom Valley
02 Marriage, Divorce, Oaths And Forgiveness
08.02.00.A. Jesus Teaches The Crowds
08.02.03.A. A First Century Bill Of Divorce

03 Righteousness, Prayer, And Fasting

08.03.00.A. Jesus Teaches Principles Of Life

04 Concerns Of Life
08.04.00.A. Jesus Challenges A Religious Leader
08.04.02.A. Wild Flowers Of Israel
08.04.02.B. A Typical Clay Oven
08.04.05.A. Traditional Bread
08.04.08.A. Black Basalt Sand Of The Sea Of Galilee
08.04.08.B. Synagogue Cornerstone At Shilo


05 Astonishing Power And Authority

08.05.00.A. Jesus With Friends In The House Of Simon
08.05.02.A. Ruins Of The Roman Bath House In Capernaum
08.05.04.A. Dead Sea Scroll Fragment No. 4Q521
08.05.06.A. Relief Of Mourners Beside A Deceased Person
08.05.07.A. The Ruins Of Magdala

08.05.07.B. The Ruins Of The Magdala Fish Market

08.05.07.C. A First Century Alabaster Bottle
08.05.07.D. First Century Magdala Synagogue Stone

06 Of Nature, Demons, And Healings

08.06.00.A. Jesus Commands The Winds And The Waves
08.06.02.A. A Model Of A Herodian Grain Ship
08.06.02.B. Crosswind Warning Sign
08.06.03.A. Hill Of The Swine
08.06.03.B. Gadara Coin With Word Naumachia
08.06.03.C. Village Ruins Of Gadara
08.06.03.D. A Mosaic Floor Featuring A Variety Of Animals, Including A
Wild Boar.
08.06.03.E. A Relief Of Sacrificial Animals, Including A Pig
08.06.03.F. Ruins Of The Original Kursi Memorial
08.06.03.G. The Ruins Of The 6th Century Kursi Memorial
08.06.05.A. The Author With Phylactery And Prayer Shawl

Unit 09 Turning Point In The Ministry Of Jesus

09.01 Rejection Of Jesus And His Message
09.01.00.A. Jesus Foretells The Destruction Of Jerusalem
09.01.03.A. The Peaceful Sea Of Galilee At Sunset
09.01.03.B. Chart Of Comparative Acceptance Rejection Attitudes Of
Jewish Leadership Toward Jesus

09.01.05.A. The Ancient Seal Of Solomon Carved In Stone

09.02 Jesus Announces Woes; Leaders Attempt Entrapment

09.02.00.A. Jesus Discusses The Law With The Pharisees
09.02.02.A. The Tomb Of Zechariah

09.03 Prophetic Parables And Actions

09.03.00.A. Jesus Teaches As A Sower Sows
09.03.08.A. Herods Aqueduct Pipe
09.03.14.A. An Illustration Of Terraced Land
09.03.14.B. Olive Trees On Terraced Hillside
09.03.15.A. Wheat And Tares

09.03.17.A. Young Mustard Flowers

09.03.19.A. First Century Herodian Oil Lamp
09.03.21.A. The Treasures Of The Copper Scroll
09.03.23.A. Dragnet

09.04 The Cost Of Following Jesus

09.04.00.A. Jesus Said, Come Unto Me
09.04.01.A. A Relief Of A Roman Eagle
09.04.02.A. A Reconstructed Family Cave-Tomb
09.04.02.B. A Wooden Ossuary
09.04.02.C. Limestone Ossuaries In A Family Tomb

Unit 10 Conflicts Increase; Ministries Of The Disciples Begin

10.01 The Disciples Begin To Function As Apostles
10.01.00.A. Jesus Walks On Water At Night
10.01.02.A. A Typical Farm Plow
10.01.11.A. Ruins Of The Machaerus Palace-Fortress
10.01.11.B. The Burial Site Of John The Baptist In Samaria
10.01.13.A. Mosaic Of The Miracle Of The Multiplication


10.01.13.B. The Archaeological Site At Bethsaida

10.01.14.A. The Dead Sea Scroll Fragment 7Q5, Known As The Jesus
10.01.20.A. The Remains Of Pilates Aqueduct
10.01.20.B. Inscription Of The Korban Solved
10.01.26.A. A Memorial To The Feeding Of The 4,000
10.01.29.A. The City Gates Of Megiddo
10.01.29.B. Banias And The Cave Of Pan
10.01.29.C. Niches For The Idols Of Pan And Other Greek Gods
10.01.29.D. A Mosaic Of The God Pan Before The Tiger-Drawn Chariot
of Dionysius

01.03.03 Table 3 of Maps

Unit 02 Cultural Background Studies
02.01.03.Z Map Of The Two Jewish Diasporas

Unit 03 Historical Background

03.02.01.Z Comparison Maps Of Davids Empire To Herods Kingdom
03.04.17.Z Map Of The Regions Of The Decapolis Cities
03.05.05.Z Map Of The Holy Land Under Hasmonean Domination
03.05.26.Z Map Of Fortresses By The Hasmoneans And Herod the Great
03.06.06.Z The Division Map Of Herods Kingdom

Unit 04 The Early Years Of Jesus

04.04.06.Z Map Of The Popular Route From Ur And Babylon To Jerusalem
04.05.02.Z A Map Of The Holy Familys Route To/From Egypt

Unit 05 The Early Ministry Of Jesus

05.02.03.Z The Madaba Mosaic Map Depicting Bethany Beyond The Jordan
05.03.01.Z Map Of The Travel Route Of John The Baptist


Unit 06 The Ministry Of Jesus Accelerates

06.01.02.Z Map Depicting The Ancient Tribal Areas Of Zebulun And Naphtali
06.02.02.Z Map of the Evangelical Triangle
Unit 07 Opposition Against Jesus Grows
07.03.05.Z Map Of Major Roads In 1st Century Israel

Unit 10 Conflicts Increase; Ministries Of The Disciples Begin

10.01.23.Z. Map Of The Travel Route Of Jesus Through The Decapolis

01.03.04 Table 4 of Hermeneutical Principals Used by First Century Jewish Writers

Unit 04 The Early Years Of Jesus
04.04.04.X A Word Play Known As A Mnemonic
04.05.02.X Use Of A Double Reference
Unit 05 The Early Ministry Of Jesus
05.01.02.X The Major Prophet Speaks

Unit 08 Topical Issues

08.01.03.X Examples Of Metaphors Used By Jesus
08.01.04.X The Significance Of Letter Serifs
08.01.06.X Understanding The Concept Of Light And Heavy
08.03.04.X The Mystery Of Ipsissima Verba And Ipsissima Vox
08.04.07.X Understanding Parables

Unit 09 Turning Point In The Ministry Of Jesus

09.01.05.X1 Figures Of Speech
09.01.05.X2 Clarification Of Old Testament Passages
09.02.02.X Quoting The Overview Of Scripture
09.03.11.X The First Principle Of A Parable

01.03.05 Table 5 of Answers to Questions Presented by Critics and Analytical Thinkers
If you are a skeptic and question who Jesus was, then hopefully this website will bring answers to
your life. You might be overwhelmed at the phenomenal amount of evidence there is about Him. But
this evidence is often hidden within the cultural context. For example, I have often been told that
Jesus never claimed to be God, meaning deity as being separate from messiah. That is true in the
sterile analytical vacuum of a literary microscope, but within the religious and cultural environment,
His words and actions frequently revealed His deity. This website explains those hidden details.
Therefore, consider the seminary professor who once asked, Did Jesus know that He was God?
Had he understood first century Jewish culture and how Jesus communicated His deity, he would
have known the answer. Critics and inquiring minds have always been confronted with passages
they did not fully understand and, therefore, often made inaccurate interpretations.
Now for those who believe they have read just about everything there is on the most significant
person in history, hopefully this website will reinvigorate your quest to know Him more fully.
However, regardless of where you are in your spiritual journey and/or academic career, if my work
does not bring you into a closer relationship with our Lord, then I have failed miserably. You may
not agree with all my comments and interpretations, but you do have to agree that Jesus is Lord of
Lords, King of Kings, and He desires to be the personal Savior of every person.
Keep in mind that we, in the Western tradition, study and examine the Scriptures with logic and
reasoning. However, while this is important, Jesus created meaning with the use of metaphor,
simile, dramatic stories, and parables to teach the theology of the Kingdom of God, more than He did
with logic and reasoning. Clearly there is a bridge to be crossed for the reader to fully understand the
words of Scripture that can be incorporated with the Holy Spirit.
I am indebted to both those with whom I agree as well as those with whom I disagree. Both have
expanded my field of understanding. Those with whom I disagree have challenged me to further
study and research for truthful answers. On some issues I am very dogmatic in my opinion, and on
other issues there is plenty of room for further research. John said in his gospel These are written
that you may believe. (Jn. 20:31) and so it is with this book. Enjoy!


Theological Issues Related To The Gospel Narratives

04.01.03.Q1 Was/is Jesus God?
04.01.03.Q2 How can it be said that no one has ever seen God (Jn. 1:18) when other
passages clearly indicate otherwise?
04.03.08.Q5 What is the significance of the virgin birth?
04.03.10.Q1 Why was Jesus born?
04.04.07.Q1 Concerning Matthew 2:9-12, did God approve of the Magis use of
04.05.04.Q1 How could Matthew say that a prophet (Isaiah) identified Jesus as a
Nazarene when there was no Nazareth when the prophet lived?
05.02.03.Q1 Why was Jesus baptized? Mt. 3:13-17; Mk. 1:9-11; Lk. 3:21-23a
05.02.03.Q2 Why did Jesus have to wait past age 30 to begin His ministry?
05.02.04.Q1 In Matthew 4:6 and Luke 4: 10, did Satan speak the truth?
05.02.04.Q2 Was Jesus capable of committing a sin?
05.03.01.Q1 Why did John the Baptist say he was not Elijah (Jn. 1:21), but Jesus
said that he was (Mt. 11:13-14; Mk. 9:13)?
06.03.09.Q1 How did the mere phrase Your sins are forgiven, proclaim Jesus as
07.01.04.Q1 What is the significance of this invalid man having suffered for thirtyeight years?
07.01.04.Q2 Why did the invalid man at the Pool of Bethesda not need faith to be
09.01.03.Q1 What was the significance of the Beelzebub discussion?
10.01.24.Q1 Why did Jesus spit?
08.03.04.Q3 How can the Kingdom of God be a future event if it has already arrived?
08.03.04.Q2 Is the prayer of Matthew 6:9-13 the same as the prayer in Luke 11:2-4?

Questions Concerning The Birth And Childhood Of Jesus

04.02.02.Q1 What is the purpose of a genealogical listing (Mt. 1:1-17)?
04.02.02.Q2 Is there a mistake in Matthew 1:11concerning the name of Jeconiah?
04.02.02.Q3 Concerning Matthew 1:9, was Uzziah really the father of Jothan?
04.02.02.Q4 Why did Matthew omit names from his genealogical list?

04.02.02.Q5 Do some biblical genealogies suggest hidden messages (Mt. 1:1-17)?
04.02.02.Q6 Why did Matthew include four women of less than favorable character?
04.02.03.Q1 What are the three genealogical interpretations of Matthew and
04.02.03.Q2 Why is Josephs father named Heli in Luke 3:23 but is named Jacob in
Matthew 1:16?
04.03.04.Q1 Why was it important for Mary to visit Elizabeth?
04.03.06.Q1 When was John the Baptist born and why is this date significant (Lk.
04.03.07.Q1 Was there a connection between the family of John the Baptist and the
Essenes (Lk. 1:67-80)?
04.03.08.Q1 What wedding customs in Galilee shaped the betrothal of Mary and
Joseph (Mt. 1:18-25a)?
04.03.08.Q2 Why could Joseph not have stoned Mary to death (Mt. 1:18-25a)?
04.03.08.Q3 Why do the gospels fail to call Jesus the Prince of Peace as
predicted in Isaiah 9:6 (see Mt. 1:18-25a)?
04.03.08.Q4 Can the concept of the virgin birth be supported historically (Mt.
04.03.08.Q5 What is the significance of the virgin birth (Mt. 1:18-25a)?
04.03.08.Q7 How does one explain other so-called virgin births in history (Mt. 1:1825a)?
04.03.08.Q8 Could the idea of a virgin birth have been borrowed from pagan sources
as critics claim (Mt. 1:18-25a)?
04.03.08.Q9 If Jesus was born of a virgin, why did the Apostle Paul not refer to it?
(Mt. 1:18-25a)?
04.03.09.Q1 Did Luke make an error concerning Quirinius (Lk. 2:1-7)?
04.03.09.Q2 Why was Quirinius appointed to the rulership position of the Roman
district of Syria?
04.03.09.Q3 Why did Joseph have to return to Bethlehem for a Roman census?
04.03.10.Q2 When was Jesus born (Lk. 2:1-7)?
04.03.10.Q3 Where was Jesus born (Lk. 2:1-7)?
04.04.06.Q1 How does the prophecy in Matthew 2:6 agree with Micah 5:2? (2x)

04.04.06.Q2 Could the magi have come from Arabia, rather than from Parthia in the
04.04.06.Q3 Who were the wise men/magi?
04.04.06.Q4 Why were the wise men/magi interested in a Jewish Messiah (Mt. 2:18)?
04.04.07.Q1 Concerning Matthew 2:9-12, did God approve of the Magis use of
astrology? 2x
04.04.07.Q2 Was Herod the Great guilty of treason?
04.05.02.Q1 Where in Egypt did Mary, Joseph, and Jesus go (Mt. 2:13-15)?
04.06.02.Q1 How did Jesus attain the incredible knowledge that He displayed at the
temple when He was merely twelve years old?
04.07.01.Q1 Why do the Gospels not give details of the childhood or young adult
years of Jesus?

When Biblical Passages Seem Not To Agree 04.02.02.Q3 Concerning Matthew 1:9, was Uzziah really the father of Jothan?
04.04.06.Q1 How does the prophecy in Matthew 2:6 agree with Micah 5:2? (2x)
05.02.04.Q3 Whose account of the temptations is accurate, Lukes or Matthews?
05.03.02.Q2 How does John 1:29 reconcile with Luke 7:19?
05.05.05.Q3 In light of Romans 10:9, was it possible for Nicodemus to become
born again?
05.05.05.Q4 Why does John 3:16 say that God loves the world and John 9:39 says
that Jesus came to this world to judge it?
07.02.02.Q2 Did Mark make a mistake in 2:26 when he made a historic reference
to the days of Abiathar the high priest?
07.03.03.Q1 Do the gospels agree on the names of the disciples?
07.03.05.Q2 How does one explain the apparent Sermon on the Mount
disagreement between Matthew 5:1 and Luke 6:20?
08.02.07.Q1 Did Moses quote Hammurabi, and if so, how does this affect the words
of Jesus in Matthew 5:18?
08.03.04.Q1 Why did Jesus pray, do not bring us into temptation, (Mt. 6:13) when
James said that God doesnt tempt us (James. 1:13-14)?
08.03.04.Q2 Is the prayer of Matthew 6:9-13 the same as the prayer in Luke 11:2-4?
08.05.04.Q1 What is the miracle or mystery of Dead Sea Scroll 4Q521?

08.05.02.Q1 Who met Jesus, the centurion or the Jewish elders?
08.06.03.Q3 Why are there name variations for this region (Gadarenes)?
08.06.03.Q4 Were there one or two demoniacs?
08.06.06.Q1 Was the daughter of Jairus dead or asleep?
09.02.02.Q1 Why did Jesus refer to passages in the Bible that do not exist?
10.01.05.Q1 Which is correct: To take a staff, or nothing . . . except a staff?
10.01.26.Q1 Does Mark 8:12 conflict with Matthew 12:39 and 16:4?

Questions Of History, Culture, And Religion

02.01.14.Q1 What were the four levels of Pharisees?
02.01.06.Q1 How did a one become a member of the Essene sect and how does this
relate to the Pharisees?
03.05.18.Q1 What happened to those who violated the second Jewish temple?
05.01.04.Q1 How did the religious leaders appraise someone they suspected to be a
new self-appointed rabbi or wanna-be messiah?
05.03.02.Q1 Was the baptism by John similar to the baptism ritual that the Jews
performed when a proselyte joined them?
05.04.02.Q1 What were the Jewish expectations of the Messiah? (see
05.05.02.Q1 Why did Mary pose the question to Jesus?
05.05.02.Q2 Where was Joseph, the legal father of Jesus?
05.05.02.Q3 Did the wine that Jesus created, contain alcohol?
05.05.02.Q4 What is the difference between wine and strong drink?
05.05.02.Q5 What is the significance of the first miracle?
05.05.04.Q1 What is the evidence against the existence of a temple banking
05.05.05.Q1 How could an evil symbol of a snake of Numbers 21:4-9, be
associated with Jesus crucified upon a Cross?
05.05.05.Q2 Should Nicodemus have known or suspected anything about a new
05.05.06.Q1 What happened to the disciples of John the Baptist who did not follow

05.05.06.Q2 Did Jesus baptize anyone?
06.02.02.Q2 The Sabbath Days walk -- How far did they take Jesus?
07.02.02.Q1 Were there non-Sabbath Sabbath Days?
08.02.03.Q1 Did polygamy exist in the first century?
08.02.07.Q2 Who challenged Jesus in various public discussions?
09.01.03.Q1 What was the significance of the Beelzebub discussion?
10.01.19.Q1 Why did Jesus chose Judas Iscariot?
10.01.24.Q1 Why did Jesus spit?
10.01.24.Q2 What were the Jewish perceptions of the messiah?
10.01.28.Q1 What was the purpose of the two-step healing process in Mark 8:22-26?
Questions Concerning Difficult Ideas, Words, Phrases, And Actions
06.01.07.Q1 What was the purpose of the miracles performed by Jesus?
06.01.08.Q1 What is the Kingdom of Heaven?
06.01.08.Q2 Is there a difference within the phrases Kingdom of God/Heaven?
06.02.02.Q1 What was the unseen miracle in Nazareth?
06.03.04.Q1 Why is healing Peters mother-in-law to be considered more than a
healing miracle?
06.03.08.Q1 Why did Jesus heal the man, but not declare forgiveness of his sins?
06.03.08.Q2 What were the three messianic miracles that first century Jews
believed the Messiah would perform?
06.03.08.Q3 How did the Psalms of Solomon influence people?
08.02.06.Q1 What was a difference between the vow, the oath, and a ban?
08.03.04.Q3 How can the Kingdom of God be a future event if it has already arrived?
09.01.05.Q1 What was the sign of Jonah?
09.01.05.Q2 Is the phrase three days and three nights to be interpreted literally or
is it a figure of speech?

Questions You May Not Have Considered

07.01.04.Q3 Did Jesus demonstrate His power over the Greek god Asclepius?
07.03.01.Q1 Did Jesus teaching method, the dialectic argument, originate with
07.03.03.Q2 Was Judas Iscariot a Jew or an Idumean?

07.03.05.Q1 What are the differences between Old and New Testament blessings?
08.06.03.Q1 Was Gerasa really the home of the pig farmers?
08.06.03.Q2 What is significant about the demons entering the pigs?
08.06.03.Q5 If Jesus cursed Capernaum, Chorizim, and Bethsaida, why didnt He
curse Gadara?
08.03.01.Q1 Are all rabbinic writings reflective of the time of Jesus?
08.03.03.Q1 Why isnt there a strong teaching on tithing in the New Testament?
08.04.07.Q1 What was the verbal formula exorcists used in casting out demons?
08.04.07.Q2 Why did Jesus teach with parables?
08.05.02.Q1 Who met Jesus, the centurion or the Jewish elders?
08.05.04.Q1 What is the miracle or mystery of Dead Sea Scroll 4Q521?
08.05.05.Q1 In Matthew 11:11 and Luke 7:28, what is meant by the question, There
is none greater than John?
08.06.02.Q1 Did Jesus experience an earthquake and a storm at the same time?

Questions And Explanations Related To Hermeneutics The Art And Science Of

02.02.06.Q1 Why is the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls so significant?
02.02.16.Q1 Why are some Jewish writings similar to New Testament
08.03.04.Q4 What is the significance of verbal statements, ipsissima verba and
ipsissima vox?
09.02.02.Q1 Why did Jesus refer to passages in the Bible that do not exist?

The Teaching And Ministry Of Jesus

02.02.03.Q1 Did Jesus quote from the Apocrypha?
02.03.04.Q1 How did one become a rabbi or a disciple of a rabbi?
09.01.05.Q1 What was the sign of Jonah?
09.01.05.Q2 Is the phrase three days and three nights to be interpreted literally or
is it a figure of speech?
10.01.03.Q1 Concerning Matthew 9:38 and Luke 10:2, who is the Lord of the
10.01.11.Q1 What is the mystery of John the Baptist?

10.01.12.Q1 Is there a wilderness near Bethsaida?
10.01.23.Q1 Why did Jesus go to the regions of Tyre and Sidon and later to the
Decapolis cities?
01.03.06 Table 6 of Video Mini-lectures by Archaeologists, Historians, Scholars, and Other
Please note: Videos are available only online and accessibility is subject to the quality of
Internet service. About 30 videos will be linked to various topics within this e-Book by
the end of 2015.
01.01.01.V1 Mysteries of the Messiah Trailer. A few quick and interesting
comments by some scholars and teachers who contributed you will
meet in this e-Book. (2:56)
01.01.01.V2 Welcome and introduction comments by the author, Dr. William
H. Bill Heinrich. ( )
01.02.01.V The Importance of Context. Messianic scholar Timothy Hegg
discusses the importance of understanding the Jewish roots and
cultural context of the Bible, and presents three examples. (10:27)
02.02.06.V Dr. Bryant Wood discusses the significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls
in terms of understanding the life and times of Jesus, AND that these are
overwhelming evidence that the Scriptures have been faithfully
translated and transmitted for the past 2,000 years. ( )
02.03.08.V Dr. John Soden presents unique insights into the Greek and Hebrew
languages ( )
02.04.01.V The Ethnic Diversities of Jerusalem. Dr. Petra Heldt discusses the
ethnic diversities of Jerusalem a melting pot city of many cultures.
Introduction by Dr. Bill Heinrich. (10:25).
03.01.03.V The Importance of the Abahamic and Dividic Covenants to First
Century Jews. Dr. Darrell Bock discusses how the first century Jewish
people viewed the importance of their two ancient covenants. (3:27)

03.05.12.V A scholar will discuss the effect of the influx of Hellenism, Maccabean
Revolt, and the establishment of the major religious sects in Jerusalem. Emphasis can
be on how the secular culture influenced the Jewish people is a similar manner as the
secular culture is influencing the church today. Since this is a rather broad subject,
this could be two separate videos.
03.05.31.V Professor Gary Byers discusses the expansion of Herods temple of
the first century and Dr. Paul Wright discusses the Temple Mount as it is
today. But first, a discussion of Herodian buildings and an introduction
by Dr. Bill Heinrich. ( )
04.01.03.V Professor John Metzger discusses the Deity of Jesus in the Old
Testament and eternity past (27:39).
04.03.11.V1 Dr. Bill Heinrich discusses the Tower of the Flock and the fields of
the shepherds near Bethlehem. ()
04.03.11.V A scholar will discuss the mystical star that appeared to the shepherds
at the field and tower, as either being the Shekinah Glory of God on an angel of
God. Code xyx
04.03.22.V A scholar will discusses the wedding imagery of the Messianic
Banquet. Code xyx
04.04.03.V Dr. Paul Wright discusses the southern steps of the temple and
mikvah and Dr. Bryant Wood discusses the ritual baths and baptisms
among the Essenes at Qumran. Introduction by Dr. Bill Heinrich. ( )
04.04.04.V The Nicanor Gate of the Temple. Professor Gary Byers discusses two
gospel events that occurred at the Nicanor Gate: the dedication of Jesus
(04.04.04) and the presentation of the woman caught in adultery.
(11.02.16). (20:45)
04.04.06.V Insights into Selected Biblical Difficulties. Dr. Joe Wehrer discusses
Jewish hermeneutics to clarify three so-called biblical conflicts in the
gospels. (11:06)

04.07.01.V1 Mr. Majd Shufani explains the research that was done to build the
reconstructed Nazareth Village. He then explains the Greek term tekton, meaning carpenter, and type of activities the carpenter performed.
04.07.01.V2 Mr. Majd Shufani describes the typical first century house in
Nazareth. Dr. Bill Heinrich adds comments concerning another house of
that era. ()
05.05.04.V1 Professor Gary Byers and Dr. Paul Wright discuss what scholars
believe was a private banking system affiliated with the religious
establishment in the temple. Introduction by Dr. Bill Heinrich. ( )
05.05.04.V2 Professor Gary Byers discusses the cleansing of the temple. ( )
06.01.03.V The Samaritan Woman at the Well. Professor Gordon Franz discusses
the preparation days of the Samaritan Passover known as the Festival of
Zimmuth Pesah when Jesus met the Samaritan woman. (3:06)
06.03.01.V Mr. Joel ben Yosef demonstrates casting a cast-net into the Sea of
Galilee. ()
A scholar discusses first century industries, namely fishing and basalt products, from
the Sea of Galilee area, the international trade route Via Maris, (through tribal areas
of Naphtali and Zebulun; Isa. 9:1), and how these factors helped spread the gospel.
Discussion to include Israel as a land bridge between the two seas, the
Mediterranean Sea to the west and the Northern end of the Arabian Desert to the east.
To be located.
06.03.08.V Professor John Metzger discusses the three Messianic miracles
that the Jews of the Inter-Testamental Period believed the Messiah
would be able to perform. (27:37)
07.01.04.V1 Dr. Paul Wright discusses the invalid man who spent 38 years at
the Pool of Bethesda. (3:58)
07.01.04.V2 Professor Gordon Franz discusses the man who was an invalid
for 38 years as a reflection of the nation of Israel. (11:49)

07.02.01.V Insights into the Sabbath Regulations. Dr. Malcolm Lowe discusses
some unique insights that pertain to the Sabbath controveries. (7:51)
07.03.05.V A scholar explains the phrases fence around the Torah and Fence
around the Ten Commandments.
08.01.06.V A scholar discusses understanding the Concept of Light and Heavy.
08.03.04.V The Significance of Ipsissima Verva and Ipsissima Verba. Dr. Joe
Wehrer discusses the significance of Ipsissima Verba and Ipsissima
Vox tobiblical interpretation. (11:39)
A scholar explains Matthew 11:12, The kingdom of heaven has been suffering
violence, and the violent have been seizing it by force.
Single or double video
A scholar explains Luke 7:32 (08.05.06.V) and the funeral and marketplace
processions, including the phrase, You played the flute
08.06.03.V1 Professor Gordon Franz discusses the interesting issues of Gadara,
including the clarification of names, the first evangelist to the Gentiles of
this region, and the mystery of Gadaras harbor. (6:52)
08.06.03.V2 Mr. Joel ben Yosef discusses the unique mystery of the harbor of
Gadara. Introduction and cultural background comments by Dr. Bill
Heinrich. ( )
08.06.05.V Three Jewish teachers, discuss the custom of Jewish men wearing
fringes, or strings, on their garments. Moderated by Dr. Bill Heinrich. ()
09.03.04.V A scholar discusses a typical first century wedding. Introduction to
include Bills experience in Haifa, summer, 2000. Discussion to stress the importance
of the appropriate garments. Code xyx
10.01.28.Q1 A scholar discusses healing by spit on the eyes and laying on of hands;
the reason for a two-step healing.
10.01.29.V Dr. John Soden discusses the imagery of the Gates of Hades
relative to the coming crucifixion of Jesus. ()

01.03.07 Table 7: Selected Sermon Themes and Sub-Themes
There are obviously an endless number of sermon themes and sub-themes that can be derived from
the gospels and the life of Jesus. Since many of these topics are best presented with additional
references outside the gospels, where appropriate, those references are included. Therefore, this
listing is not comprehensive, but merely an introduction. The best sermons are based always upon
Scripture and guided by the Holy Spirit.
Please note: Hyperlinked reference numbers that begin with 11 or higher will only function in the
single volume edition.
Evangelistic Themes
An Invitation Into The Kingdom Of God, Or The Messianic Banquet?
The Marriage Feast (Mt. 22:1-7 / 13.03.07)
The Royal Occasion Mt. 22:2 / 13.03.07)
The Messianic Banquet (Lk. 14:16-24 / 12.02.06)
Significant Trees
The Tree Planted Is Conversion (Ps. 1:3; Mt. 15:13 / 10.01.21)
The Tree Pruned Is Chastisement (Lev. 25:3; Jn. 15:3 / 15.01.01)
The Tree Cut Down Is Judgment (Lk. 13:7 / 09.03.09)
The Tree Uprooted Is Exposure (Jude 12)
Two Great Hours For Mankind
The Hour Of Giving Life Is Present (Jn. 5:25 / 07.01.05)
The Hour Of Judgment Is Future (Jn. 5:28 / 07.01.05)
a. Jesus Is The Son Of God As The Life Giver.
b. Jesus Is The Son Of Man As The Judge.
Forgiveness Of Sins
The Unbeliever Is Already Condemned (Jn. 3:18 / 05.05.05)
Gods Wrath Is Upon The Unbeliever (Jn. 3:36 / 05.05.06)
Jesus Paid The Price Of Sin For The Unbeliever (Jn. 3:16 / 05.05.05)
Salvation Is Available For Everyone (Lk. 1:77 / 04.03.07; Tit. 2:2)
Whoever Believes Is Saved (Mk. 16:16 / 18.02.01)
a. Not Of Mans Merit Or Works
b. Divine Grace, But Unmerited Favor
The Spirit Of Life
The Spirit Of Regeneration Gives Life (Jn. 3:5 / 05.05.05)
The Spirit Of Indwelling Sustains Life (Jn. 4:14 / 06.01.03)
The Spirit Flowing Out Conveys Life To Others (Jn. 7:38 / 11.02.14)

Life Received From Christ Jesus
Life From Christ (Jn. 3:14-15 / 05.05.05)
Life Received By Faith (Jn. 5:47 / 07.01.06)
The New Birth
The Work Of The Spirit Of God (Jn. 3:5 / 05.05.06)
The Word Of God Is The Means (1 Peter 1:23)
Only By Faith In Christ Jesus (1 Jn. 5:1)
Salvation Is Only By Receiving Christ (Jn. 1:12-14 / 05.05.02-04)
New Life In Christ Jesus
Imparted In Regeneration (Jn. 3:3 / 05.05.06)
Assured In The Word Of God (1 Jn. 5:13)
Perfected In Glory (2 Cor. 5:4)
The Kingdom Of God Is Free To Everyone
A Love Gift To The World (Jn. 3:16 / 05.05.06)
A Ransom Paid For Everyone (1 Tim. 2:6)
To Be Proclaimed To The World (Mk. 16:15-18 / 18.02.01)
An Invitation To Everyone (Jn. 10:9 / 11.02.27)
Three Qualities Of Divine Love
Love Of Compassion For Sinners (Rom. 5:6)
Love Of Complacency In Sons (1 Jn. 3:1)
Love In Communion In Obedient Ones (Jn. 14:23 / 14.02.18)
Jesus Is Our Peace
Blessed Are The Peacemakers (Mt. 10:13 / 10.01.05)
a. By His Blood On The Cross
b. In Person, At Gods Right Hand
c. On His Throne And By His Rule
The Sword Of Matthew 10:34 (Mt. 10:34 / 10.01.07)
The Great Separations Between God And Man
Sin Separates Man From God (Isa. 59:2)
Sinners Need Repentance (Lk. 8:3 / 08.05.08)
Was There Grace In The Old Testament? (Heb. 11)
a. The Great Faith Chapter Of The Old Testament
b. Where There Is Great Faith By Imperfect Men, There Is Great Grace By God
Two Amazing Prodigal Sons
Under Law, Expelled And Condemned (Deut. 21:20)
Under Grace, Received And Forgiven (Lk. 15:11-24 / 12.03.06)

Two Amazing Final Words Of Jesus
On The Cross It Is Finished (Jn. 19:30 / 16.01.18)
On The Throne It Is Done (Rev. 21:6)
Two Invitations
Salvation: Come To Me (Mt. 11:28 / 12.01.04)
Discipleship Come After Me (Mk. 1:17 / 06.03.01)
Man As A Vessel
The Ruined Man The Marred Vessel (Jer. 18:4; Jn. 3:7 / 05.05.05)
The Humbled Man The Empty Vessel (2 Kg. 4:3; Lk. 1:35 / 04.03.03)
The Regenerated Man The Clean Vessel (Isa. 66:20; Jn. 15:2 / 15.01.01)
The Tale Of Two Seekers
The Sinner Seeking The Savior (Lk. 19:2 / 12.04.06)
The Savior Seeking The Sinner (Lk. 19:10 / 12.04.06)
a. The Sinner Is Conscious Of His Need
b. Grace Is Offered For Salvation
The Comparison Of Two Whites
The Hypocrite Is One Who Is Whitewashed (Mt. 23:27 / 13.05.04)
The Repentant Sinner Is Washed White (Rev. 7:14)
The Three Coming Judgments
The Coming Judgment Of The Nations (Mt. 25:32 / 14.01.09)
The Coming Judgment Of The Church (2 Cor. 5:10)
The Coming Judgment Of The Dead (Rev. 20:12)
a. Judgment Before The Judgment Seat Of Christ
b. Judgment Before The Throne Of Christs Glory
c. Judgment Before The Great White Throne
The Calling To Be Fishers Of Men
Called To Be Fishermen Evangelists (Mt. 4:19 / 06.03.01)
Following To Be Fishermen (Mk. 1:17 / 06.03.01)
To Catch Men For Christ (Lk. 5:10 / 06.03.01)

Devotional Subjects
Christ As Prophet, Priest, And King
As Prophet, Jesus Speaks From God To Man (Lk. 24:19 / 18.01.11)
As Priest, Appears Before God For Man (Heb. 9:14-15, 24)
As King, Will Rule Over Man For God (Jn. 1:49 / 05.04.02; Rev. 19:16)

Life In Relation To Jesus
Jesus, The Source Of All Life (Jn. 7:37-38 / 11.02.14)
Jesus, The Sustenance Of All Life (Jn. 7:37 / 11.02.14)
Jesus, The Pattern Of All Life (1 Pet. 2:21)
Jesus, The Object Of All Life (Phil. 1:21)
Divine Fullness For Gods Sanctified People
Jesus Is Our Resource For His Fullness Of Grace (Jn. 1:16 / 04.01.03)
Jesus Is Our Privilege For His Fullness Of Blessings (Rom. 15:29)
Jesus Is Our Portion Of His Joy (Jn. 15:11 / 15.01.02)
The Two Stewards
The Wise And Discriminating Steward (Lk. 12:42 / 09.03.05)
The Wasteful And Unjust Steward (Lk. 16:1 / 12.03.07)
The Threefold Unity
Children In One Family One Father (Jn. 20:17 / 18.01.07)
Sheep In One Flock One Shepherd (Jn. 10:16 / 11.02.28)
Disciples In One School One Teacher (Jn. 13:13-35 / 14.02.08-12)
The Triune God Active In The Sinners Salvation (Lk. 15:4-32 / 12.03.04-06)
The Shepherd Seeking The Work Of The Son (Lk. 15:4-7 / 12.03.04)
The Woman Finding The Work Of The Holy Spirit (Lk. 15:8-18 / 12.03.05)
The Father Welcoming The Work Of The Father (Lk. 15:11-32 / 12.03.06)
The Woman At The Feet Of Jesus (Lk. 7:37-46 / 08.05.07)
She Stood Before Him In Confession
She Wept At His Feet In Penitence
She Washed His Feet In Servitude And Humiliation
She Wiped His Feet In Devotion
She Kissed His Feet In Affection
She Anointed His Feet In Adoration
Miracles At The Cross
One Sinner Saved
Three Hours Of Darkness Judgment Of Sin (Mt. 27:45 / 16.01.16)
The Rendering Of The Temple Veil Access To God (Mt. 27:51 / 17.01.02)
The Opening Of Graves Pledge Of Resurrection For Everyone (Mt. 27:52 / 17.01.03)
The Hand Of The Lord On Behalf Of His People
He Is Strong To Save (Mt. 14:30-31 / 10.01.15)
He Is Skilled To Heal (Mt. 8:3 / 06.03.08)
He Is Mighty To Keep (Jn. 10:27-28 / 12.01.09)
He Abundantly Supplies (Ps. 109:28)

The Christians Influence In A Dying Culture
To Be Like Jesus (Mt. 5:45 / 08.02.08)
To Be A Light Of The World (Mt. 5:13 / 08.01.03)
To Be A Salt Of The Earth (Mt. 5:14-15 / 08.01.03)
Good Works Seen By The World, Honored By God (Mt. 5:16 / 08.01.03)
To Catch Men For Christ (Lk. 5:10 / 06.03.01)
To Be A Diligent Soul Winner (Mk. 4:29 / 09.03.05)
The Believers Incredible Possessions
Life That Cannot Be Destroyed (Jn. 10:28 / 12.01.09)
A Relationship That Cannot Be Broken (Jn. 1:12 / 04.01.03)
A Peace Which Cannot Be Taken (Jn. 14:27 / 14.02.19)
An Inheritance That Cannot Be Defiled (1 Pet. 1:4)
The True Believer In Christ Jesus
He Comes To Christ (Mt. 11:28 / 12.01.04)
He Believes In Christ (Jn. 3:16 / 05.05.05)
He Receives Life From Christ (Jn. 3:36 / 05.05.06)
He Confesses He Owns Christ (Rom. 10:9)
He Is In Christ (Rom. 8:1)
He Will Be With Christ (Jn. 17:24 / 15.01.09)
The Lords Supper
The Feast Of Remembrance (Mt. 26:26-27 / 14.02.05)
The Banquet Of Celebration (Acts 20:7)
The Pledge Of Anticipation (1 Cor. 11:26)
Growing Faith In Gods Provision
With God All Things Are Possible (Lk. 1:37 / 04.03.03; Cf. Gen 18:14; Job 42:2)
The Person And Work Of Jesus
The Godhead Of The Son, Jesus
He Is The Eternal Word (Jn. 1:1 / 04.01.02)
He Is The Great I Am (Jn. 8:58 / 11.02.20)
He Is The Word / God (Jn. 1:1 / 04.01.02)
He Was With God (Jn. 1:1 / 04.01.02)
He Is The Only Begotten Son (Jn. 3:16 / 05.05.05)
The Results Of The Cross
Jesus Has Given A Ransom For Everyone (1 Tim. 2:6)
Jesus Tasted Death For Everyone (Heb. 2:9)

Jesus Acquired Lordship Over Everyone (Jn. 17:2 / 15.01.07)
Jesus Provided Salvation For Everyone (Tit. 2:4)
There Is A Gospel For Everyone (Mk. 16:15 / 10.01.29)
The Pre-Eminence Of Christ
Jesus Existed In Eternity Past (Jn. 1:1-4 / 04.01.02-03)
Above All Powers, Angels, And Principalities (Eph. 1:21; Heb. 1:4)
As Lord, He Is To Be Owned And Worshiped By Everyone (Phil. 2:2; Rev. 5:8)
The Ascended And Exalted Christ
Jesus Ascended And Is On The Right Hand Of The Father (Lk. 22:69 / 15.03.11;
Acts 2:33-34)
As The Son, He Is Glorified (Heb. 1:5)
As The King, He Is Enthroned (Ps. 2:6-7)
As The High Priest, He Is Crowned (Heb. 2:9)
As Lord, He Is To Be Owned And Worshiped By Everyone (Phil. 2:2; Rev. 5:8)
Jesus, The Great Loving Shepherd
The Great Shepherd Is His Title In Resurrection (Heb. 13:20)
He Is The One Shepherd (Jn. 10:16 / 11.02.28)
He Leads His Sheep (Jn. 10:4 / 11.02.26)
He Knows Them And They Know Him (Jn. 10:14 / 11.02.27)
He Defends And Preserves Them (Ps. 23:4)
He Will Not Surrender (Jn. 10:28 / 12.01.09)
Sheep In His Flock
Searched For And Found By The Shepherd (Lk. 15:4-6 / 12.03.04)
All Purchased By His Blood (Acts. 20:28)
Hearing And Following Him (Jn. 10:27 / 12.01.09)
The Ministry Of Christ
He Came To Serve And Give (Mt. 20:28; Lk. 22:27 / 14.02.06)
As Servant He Took The Lowest Place (Jn. 13:5 / 14.02.07; Phil. 2:7-8)
He Serves His People In Heaven (Lk. 12:37 / 09.03.04; Rom. 8:34)
Jesus Will Return
He Will Come For His People (Jn. 14:3 / 14.02.14; 1 Thess. 4:16-17)
He Will Come With His People (Col. 3:3; Zech. 14:5)
He Will Reward His Servants (Rev. 22:12; 2 Tim. 4:8)
He Will Punish Sinners (2 Thess. 2:7-8; Jude 14-15)
He Will Judge The World (Ps. 96:13; Rev.19:11-16)
The Believers Can Rest In Christ Jesus
Rest In Conscience In Coming To Jesus (Mt. 9:28 / 08.06.07)

Rest In Heart When Depending On Jesus (Mt. 11:29 / 12.01.04)
Rest In Communion When Resting In Christ (Jn. 13:23 / 14.02.10)
To Rest In Peace Is To Be With Jesus Forever (Heb. 9:9)
On Death And Dying
The Sinners Death
He Dies In His Sin (Jn. 8:24 / 11.02.18)
He Is Separated From God (Isa. 59:2)
His Hope Will Perish (Prov. 9:7)
His Will Face Judgment (2 Pet. 2:9)
He Awaits Judgment (Heb. 9:27; Rev. 20:16)
The Intermediate State Of Believers, Between Death And Resurrection
A State Of Existence Comforted (Lk. 15:25 / 12.03.06)
A State Of Consciousness All Live (Lk. 20:38 / 13.04.03)
A State Of Blessing (Phil. 1:23)
A State Of Companionship With Christ (2 Cor. 5:8)
The Dead In Christ
They Shall Rise First (1 Thess. 5:16)
They Shall Rise Incorruptible (1 Cor. 15:42)
They Shall Have A Spiritual Body (1 Cor. 15:44)
They Shall Be Clothed With Their House In Heaven (2 Cor. 5:2)
They Shall Be Like The Body Of Christs Glory (Phil 3:21)
They Shall Bear The Image Of The Heavenly (1 Cor. 15:49)
Dynamic Words Of Jesus
His Words Of Grace, Neither Do I Condemn You (Jn. 8:11 / 11.02.06)
His Words Of Pardon, Your Sins Are Forgiven (Lk. 7:48 / 08/05.07)
His Words Of Life, Lazarus, Come Out (Jn. 11:43 / 12.03.11)
His Words Of Power Come Out Of Him (Lk. 4:35 / 06.03.03)
His Words Of Peace, Peace, Be Still (Mk. 4:39 / 08.06.02)
Disciples Of Jesus
Made Disciples At Conversion (Mt. 28:19 / 18.02.01)
Continuing In The Word Proves Disciples (Jn. 8:3 / 11.02.16)
Bearing The Cross Manifests Disciples (Lk. 14:26 / 12.03.02)
Love Is The Identifier Of Discipleship (Jn. 13:35 / 14.02.12)
Fruit-Bearing Is The Evidence Of Discipleship (Jn. 15:8 / 15.01.01)

To Be A Disciple Of Jesus
To Forsake All And Follow The Lords Calling (Lk. 5:11 / 06.03.01)
To Follow The One Who Went Before Us (Jn. 10:4 / 11.02.26)
To Follow Is The Mark Of A Servant (Jn. 12:26 / 13.02.06)
To Follow In Light Of Danger (Lk. 22:54 / 15.03.05)
We Are Witnesses In Testimony
We Are Called To Be His Witnesses (Lk. 14:28 / 12.03.02)
We Are To Testify That We Know (Jn. 3:2 / 05.05.05; Acts 26:16)
We Have The Spirit To Co-Witness To Christ (Jn. 15:26-27 / 15.01.03)
A True Witness Saves Souls (Prov. 14:25)
A False Witness Has No Testimony (Mk. 14:56-57 / 15.03.07)
Watching And Working Until He Returns
Watching While The World Is Asleep (1 Thess. 5:5)
Watching For The Lords Return (Lk. 12:37 / 09.03.04)
Called By The Master To Work (Mt. 21:38 / 13.03.04)
Everyone Has Their Service (Mk. 13:34 / 14.01.06; 1 Cor. 3:6)
To Be Laborers Of Good Seed (Lk. 8:2 / 08.05.08)
Ministry In The Home
Love And Honor In The Home (1 Tim. 5:4)
To Honor Parents (Eph. 6:1-2)
Testimony To Friends And Neighbors (Mk. 5:19 / 08.06.03)
Let Your Light Shine At Home (Mt. 5:15 / 08.01.03)
The Four Witnesses To Jesus
By The Father (Jn. 8:18 / 11.02.17)
By The Spirit (Jn. 15:26 / 15.01.03)
By The Scriptures (Mt. 26:54. 56 / 15.02.08-09)
By The Saints (Jn. 20:27 / 18.01.16)
What Christ Gives His People
His Life For Their Redemption (Jn. 10:11 / 11.02.28)
His Body For Their Sustenance (Jn. 6:51 / 10.01.17)
His Peace For Their Enjoyment (Jn. 14:27 / 14.02.19)
His Example For Their Pattern (Jn. 13:16 / 14.02.08)
His Word For Their Sanctification (Jn. 17:8, 17 / 15.01.08)
His Glory For Their Home (Jn. 17:22 / 15.01.09)
The Work Of The Holy Spirit
To Convict Sinners (Jn. 16:8 / 15.01.04)
To Teach The Saints (Jn. 16:13 / 15.01.04)
To Glorify Christ (Jn. 16:14 / 15.01.04)

Preaching The Hard Sayings Of Jesus
When Grace Is Not Fair (Mt. 20:1-15 / 12.03.09)
For The Love And Hate Of Family (Lk. 14:26 / 12.03.02; Mt. 10:37 / 10.01.07)
The Sin Of Unforgiveness
The Parable Of The Unforgiving Servant (Mt. 18:23-25 / 11.02.10)
The Unforgivable Sin (Mt. 12:31-32 / 09.01.03)
The Parable Of The Good Samaritan (Lk 10:30-35 / 15.01.05)
The Pharisee And Tax Collector In Prayer (Lk. 18:10-14 / 12.03.17)
The Sin Of Apathy
The Parable Of The Rich Man And Lazarus (Lk. 16:19-31 / 12.03.08)
Men Often Esteem What God Abhors (Lk. 16:15 / 08.02.02)
The Unique Place Called Calvary (Lk. 23:33 / 16.01.10)
The Price Of Our Salvation (1 Cor. 6:20)
The Pass Into Gods Presence (Heb. 10:19)
The Propitiator Of Our Guilt (Rom. 3:25)
The Peacemaker For Our Reconciliation (Col. 2:20)
The Power Of The Christian Life (Heb. 13:12)
The Provider Of Our Blessings (Eph. 1:7)
The Plea Of Our Testimony (1 Cor. 15:1)
The Mystery Of Calvary (Lk. 23:33 / 16.01.10)
Sin Was Removed (Heb. 9:26)
Satan Was Defeated (Col. 2:14-15)
God Is Satisfied (1 Jn. 4:10)
The Law Was Magnified (Gal. 3:13)
Love Was Manifested (Jn. 3:14-16 / 05.05.05)
Self Was Crucified (Gal 2:20)
The World Was Transfixed (Gal. 6:14)
Heaven Opened (1 Pet. 3:18)
Peace Was Made With God (Col. 1:20)
Forgiveness Provided (Lk. 24:46-47 / 18.02.02)
Communion Assured (Eph. 2:13)
Cleansing Procured (Rev. 1:5)
Healing Secured (Isa. 53:1-6)
Glory Entered (Rev. 7:14)

The Prayer Of Desperation: Lord Help Me (Mt. 15:25 / 10.01.23)
The Repentant Sinners Prayer (Lk. 18:13 / 12.03.17)
The Feeble Saints Prayer (Ps. 17:8)
The Ignorant Scholars Prayer (Ps. 25:4)
The Soldiers Prayer (Ps. 25:2)
The Troubled Disciples Prayer (Mt. 14:30 / 10.01.15)
The Petition To Our Lord (Lk. 22:40-43 / 15.02.03)
Prayer Men Should Always Pray (Lk. 18:1 / 12.03.16)
Prayer Is A Sin-Killer (Ps. 116:18)
Prayer Brings Divine Power (Acts 1:14; 2:1)
Prayer Gains In Victory (Neh. 4:9)
Prayer Removes Obstacles (Acts 12:5)
Prayer Promotes Holiness (Eph. 6:18; Phil. 4:6)
Prayer Brings Blessings (Jas. 5:17-18)
Prayer Brings Healing (Jas. 5:15)
Prayer And Labor For The Gathering Of The Great Harvest (Mt. 10:36-38 / 10.01.07)
Jesus Is Our Example In Life (Jn. 13:15 / 14.02.08)
He Is Our Example In Love (Jn. 13:34 / 14.02.12)
In Humility (Phil. 2:5-8)
In Self-Denial (Rom. 15:2)
In Helping Each Other (1 Jn. 3:14-17)
In Wrongful Suffering (1 Pet. 2:21)
In Serving Others (Jn. 13:15 / 14.02.08)
In Testimony (Jn. 17:18 / 15.01.08)
To Follow In His Example (Jn. 12:26 / 13.02.06)
Go Beneath The Waters (Mt. 3:15-16 / 05.02.03)
The Challenges - Triumph Of Temptations (Mt. 4:1)
Endure The Rejection Peace Of Nazareth (Lk. 4:29 / 06.02.02; Jn. 15:18 / 15.01.03)
The Misunderstanding Faith As With Simon (Lk. 7:39 / 08.05.07)
Pass Through The Sorrow Healing Of Betrayal (Heb. 10:7; 2 Cor. 12:8)
Stand In Scorn And Suffering Reward Before Authorities (Jn. 19:13 / 16.01.05)
Suffer Unjust Persecution And Death For Eternal Rewards (Jn. 19:17 / 16.01.07)
Come To Me And I Will Give You Rest (Mt. 11:28 / 12.01.04)
He Gives Rest From A Guilty Conscience (Heb. 9:26)
He Gives Rest From The Fear Of Judgment (Rom. 8:1)
He Gives Rest From The Fear Of Death (Heb. 2:14)
He Gives Rest From Anxiety (Phil. 4:6-7)
He Gives Rest From Unbelief (Heb. 4:3)
He Gives Rest From Defeat (2 Chron. 14:7)

Birth Of Jesus
This Child Is Set For The Falling And Rising Of Many (Lk. 2:34 / 04.04.04)
He Is The Falling Or Rising; The Destruction Or Salvation. He Is
A Light To Israel In A Cloud To Israel, But Darkness To The Egyptians (Ex. 14:20)
A Consuming Fire To Purify His People, But A Scorching Fire To Enemies (Mal 4:1-6)
Life To Those Who Receive Him (Jn. 3:36 / 05.05.06); Wrath To Those Who Reject Him
(Rev. 6:16)
A Cornerstone For Those Who Focus On Him (1 Pet. 2:6) But A Stumbling Stone For
Others (Rev. 2:8)
Jesus Is Precious To Those Who Believe (1 Pet. 2:7); But Despised By Unbelievers (Isa.
Jesus Was Accepted By One Thief On The Cross, But Rejected By The Other (Lk. 23:4243 / 16.01.14)
He Gives Eternal Rest For Believers, But Eternal Destruction For Unbelievers (2 Thess.
Misc. Sermons
Looking Up In Faith At The Savior (Jn. 3:14-15 / 05.05.05; 12:32-33 / 13.02.07)
Victory Through Faith In Christ Jesus (Jn. 5:4 / 07.01.04)
The Love Of God
He Loves Us With An Everlasting Love (Jer. 31:3)
He Loves And Blessed All The Children (Mt. 19:14 / 12.04.01)
He Loves The Sick, As He Healed Them (Mt. 20:30-34 / 12.04.05)
He Loves Those In Sorrow, As He Comforted Them (Lk. 7:13-15 / 08.05.03; Jn. 11:23,
34-36 / 12.03.10)
He Loves He Weary, As He Gives Them Rest (Ps. 23:2)
He Loves The Sinners, As He Died For Them (Rom. 5:8; Lk. 23:33 / 16.01.10; Jn. 10:15
/ 11.02.28; Jn. 15:13 / 15.01.02)
He Loves Those Who Love Him (Prov. 8:17)
He Is Preparing A Place For Those Who Love Him And Are Obedient That They May Be
With Him Forever (Jn. 14:1-3 / 14.02.14; Jn. 17:24 / 15.01.09)
You AreIf You Do (Jn. 15:14 / 15.01.02)
We Are Fruitful Branches With Christ (Jn. 15:5 / 15.01.01)
We Are Prevailing Supplicants By Abiding In Christ (Jn. 15:7 / 15.01.01)
We Are Faithful By Obedience With His Word (Jn. 15:10 / 15.01.02)
We Are Persecuted By Identifying With Christ (Jn. 15:20 / 15.01.03)

Counting The Cost Of Following Jesus (Lk. 14:28 / 12.03.02)
It Cost Elijah Persecution From Jezebel (1 Kg. 19:2)
It Cost John The Baptist His Head (Mt. 14:3-10 / 10.01.11)
It Cost Paul And Silas Pain And Imprisonment (Acts 16:23)
It Cost Stephen His Life (Acts 7:60)
It Cost John Torture And Exile (Rev. 1:9)
It Cost Paul Desertion (2 Tim. 4:16)
It Cost Jesus His Cross (Phil. 2:8)
Faith They Believed
The Man Believed The Word Jesus Has Spoken To Him (Jn. 4:50)
The Centurion Believed Jesus For His Servants Healing (Mt. 8:8, 13 / 06.03.04)
The Man With The Withered Hand Believed, Obeyed, And Was Healed (Mt. 12:13 /
The Blind Man Believed Jesus (Mt. 9:28-29 / 08.06.07)
The Syro-Phoenician Woman Took The Puppies Place Before Jesus (Mt. 15:26-28 /
The Ten Lepers Obeyed And Were Healed (Lk. 17:14 / 12.03.14)
Zachaeaus Believed And Was Saved (Lk. 19:5-9 / 12.04.06)
The Dying Thief Chose To Believe In Jesus (Lk. 23:42-43 / 16.01.14)
Loving One Another (Jn. 13:34 / 14.02.12)
Love In Obedience To A New Command (Jn. 13:34 / 14.02.12)
The Evidence Of Discipleship (Jn. 13:35 / 14.02.12)
The Debt That Is To Be Paid (Rom. 13:8)
The Grace In Which We Abound (1 Thess. 3:12)
The Proof Of Being God-Taught (1 Thess. 4:9)
The Mark Of Being Born Again (1 Pet. 1:22)
The Sign Of Son-Ship (1 Jn. 3:2)
The Stamp Of Heavens College (1 Jn. 4:7)
The Witness That The Love Of God Is In Us (1 Jn. 4:12)
Proof Of Conversion: Be Converted (Mt. 13:15 / 09.03.11)
The Thessalonians Gave Up Their Idols (1 Thess. 1:9)
The Egyptians Burned Their Books Of Magic (Acts 19:19)
The Corinthians Gave Up Greek Lifestyle (1 Cor. 6:11)
Zacchaeus Gave Up His Cheating (Lk. 19:8 / 12.04.06)
Saul Of Tarsus Gave Up His Persecution (1 Tim. 1:13)
Roman Christians Gave Up Service Of Sin (Rom. 6:17)
Colossians Gave Up Their Enmity To God (Col. 1:21)

Saints Dependence Without Me You Can Do Nothing (Jn. 15:5 / 15.01.01)
As Sinners, We Need The Atoning Savior To Justify Us (Rom. 4:25)
As Saints, We Need The Savior To Sanctify Us (Jn. 17:19 / 15.01.08)
As Soldiers, We Need The Equipping Our Lord Gives Us (Eph. 6:10-11)
As Servants, We Need Jesus To Send Us (Jn. 20:21 / 18.01.15)
As Stewards, We Need Jesus To Preserve Us (2 Tim. 1:12)
As Supplicants, We Need The Holy Spirit To Inspire Us (Rom. 8:26)
As Seekers, We Need His Instructions In Divine Things (1 Cor. 2:9-14)
Special Promises
Essential Belief In Christ Jesus
Required Faith (Heb. 11:6)
The Cornerstone (Jn. 3:16 / 05.05.05)
No Condemnation For Those In Christ Jesus (Jn. 3:18 / 05.05.05)
Faith And Obedience Leads To Eternal Life (Jn. 11:25-26 / 12.03.10; 6:47 / 10.01.17)
The Blessings Of Being A Blessing
To Bless Others Is To Bless Jesus (Mt. 25:40 /14.01.09)
Our Lord Will Repay (Prov. 19:17; 11:25; Lk. 14:13-14 / 12.02.05; Mt. 10:42 / 10.01.08)
His Promise To Return
His Second Coming (Heb. 9:28)
Could He Come At The Feast Of Trumpets? (1 Thess. 4:16; Appendix 5)
He Is Coming Soon (Rev. 22:12; Lk. 12:40 / 09.03.04)
The World Will Hear The Gospel (Mt. 24:14 / 14.01.04)
His Home -- Our Home (Jn. 14:2-3 / 14.02.14)
The Gospel Will Be Proclaimed To All Mankind (Mt. 28:16-20 / 18.02.01)
Discernment And Decisions
The Holy Spirit Is Our Guide (Jn. 16:13 / 15.01.04)
Test Everything (1 Thess. 5:21-22; 1 Jn. 4:1-2, 6)
The Spiritual Man Makes Judgments (1 Cor. 2:14-16)
Wisdom And The Gift Of Discernment In Judgment (Jn. 7:24 / 11.02.12)
What Is Wrong With Do Not Judge? (Mt. 7:1 / 08.04.03)
God Wants Us To Ask Him (Jer. 33:3; Jas. 1:5)
The Holy Spirit Is Our Counselor/Guide (Jn. 14:16-17; / 14.02.17)
Seeking First The Kingdom Of God (Mt. 6:33 / 08.04.02)
Follow The Peace (Rom. 8:6; Isa. 26:3)

How To Prove Your Love To God
If You Love Him, You Will Obey Him (Jn. 14:21 / 14.02.17)
a. No Obedience = No Love
The Love Of God Produces Good Works/Fruit. (Jn. 15:8 / 15.01.01)
To Love The Unlovely (Jn. 13:35 / 14.02.12)
Your Good Works Is A Testimony (Mt. 5:16 / 08.01.03)
Essential Of Eternal Life
Whoever Believes (Jn. 3:16, 36 / 05.05.05; 05.05.06; 11:25-26 / 12.03.10)
The Reward Of Sin Is Still Death (Rom. 6:23)
Personal Empires Will Fall (1 Jn. 2:17)
Know Jesus = Know Peace (1 Jn. 5:11-12)
To Tithe Or Not To Tithe
Not To Tithe Is To Rob God (Mal. 3:8-10)
The Second Tithe (Deut. 14:22)
Blessings Follow Obedience (Mal 3:10)
Charity/Offering Above A Tithe (Lk. 6:38 / 08.04.03)
Each Person To Decide Cheerfully (2 Cor. 9:7)
How To Receive Forgiveness
Our Forgiveness Is The Key To Gods Forgiveness (Mt. 6:14 / 08.03.04)
a. To Forgive Others First
Confession Of Sin (1 Jn. 1:9; Acts 2:38)
A Successful Prayer Life
Meeting Gods Conditions (Jn. 15:7 / 15.01.01; Mt. 7:8 / 08.04.05)
If You (Mt. 21:22 / 13.02.05)
Know What To Pray (Jas. 1:5)
Pray In The Spirit (Eph. 6:18; Rom. 8:26)
Pray In Secret (Mt. 6:6 / 08.03.04)
Love Your Enemies (Lk. 6:35 / 08.02.08)
Gods Desire For You
For You To Desire God (Jn. 6:40 / 10.01.17)
Pursue The Kingdom Of God (Mt. 6:33 / 08.04.02)
To Pray Always (1 Thess. 5:16-17)
To Be Captured By Him (Gal. 1:3-5)
To Tell Others About Jesus (Mt. 28:18-20 / 18.02.01)
To Be Transformed Into His Image (Rom. 12:2)


Unit 02
Cultural Background Studies
Chapter 01
People Groups

02.01.00.A. CHRIST AND THE YOUNG CHILD by Carl Bloch. Saint Augustine
once said that Jesus died for everyone of us, as if there was only one of us. His life,
message, and sacrifice was for everyone regardless of age, occupation, or ethnicity.
02.01.01 Introduction. The Holy Land in the first century consisted of several Jewish subgroups,
along with a variety of Gentile ethnic groups. The following definitions clarify people groups
discussed in this e-book. They represent religious, cultural, and political bodies that influenced the
first century Jewish culture and shaped the ministry environment of Jesus. Not all are mentioned in
the gospels, but nonetheless, their influence was present, and sometimes quite powerful.
02.01.02 Arabs (see Idumeans)
2.01.03 Diaspora. The term refers to Jews who were dispersed from their Holy Land, either
forcefully or by free choice.26 By the end of the Inter-Testamental Period there were two Jewish
Diasporas. The Western Diaspora, located in the area from Tarsus and Ephesus in modern Turkey
to modern France, was dominated by the Hellenistic culture. The Eastern Diaspora, located in a
region encompassed by eastern Turkey, Egypt, and Babylon, was dominated by rabbinic law and
lore. Both cultural groups had a tendency to confront each other, especially when in Jerusalem.

26. Mills and Michael. Messiah and His Hebrew Alphabet. 104.

02.01.03.Z MAP OF THE TWO JEWISH DIASPORAS. By the end of the InterTestamental Period the Jewish people had spread over a large region from the Persian
Gulf to Western Europe. The eastern rabbinic Jewish Diaspora tended to clash with
their western Hellenistic counterpart. Courtesy of International Mapping and Dan
02.01.04 Elders. In the first century, every village had a group of elders27 who functioned as a
judicial body, had general administrative duties, and represented the village to their Roman
overlords. It was also their responsibility to insure that all villagers remained faithful to the teachings
of Moses. Theologically, they were more aligned with the Pharisees and their Oral Law than with the
02.01.05 Epicureans. The Epicureans were Greeks who followed the philosophy of life developed
and taught by the Athenian teacher Epicurus (341-270 B.C.). The purpose of his philosophy was to
bring stability to an unstable social environment caused by the death of Alexander the Great and the
empire division that followed. The religions of the Greeks and Romans had lost their vitality and
never succeeded in changing the heart. Philosophy, a subject loved by the Greeks, comforted a few
but seldom changed the heart.
In response to the hard issues of life, the philosophy of Epicureanism,29 Greek apicuros,30 exalted
self-indulgences as the ultimate goal in life. Some six decades before the birth of Jesus, Julius Caesar
told the Roman senate that there was no future life after death; no immortality of the soul.31 One
needs to live for the present. Therefore, by the time Jesus came on the scene, there was a discouraged
Gentile audience waiting to listen. They accepted Him, and within a century the Gentile church
exploded in numbers, far outpacing the number of Jewish believers.
Into the volatile Middle East came Philodemus (110 - 30 B.C.), an influential Epicurean philosopher
and poet to the Roman world in the century prior to the time of Jesus. He was born in Gadara, the
Greek city where Jesus healed the demoniac and 2,000 swine committed suicide in the Sea of
Galilee. He, as other Epicurean philosophers, promoted the common saying that pleasure is the
27. See 03.05.11.
28. Shepherd, Elder in the New Testament. 2:73-75.
29. De Lacy, Epicureanism and the Epicurean School. 3:2-3; Bruce, New Testament History. 39-41.
30. Lang, Know the Words of Jesus. 196.
31. Geikie, The Life and Words. 1:28.

beginning and end of living happily. Epicureanism is essentially a feelings-based philosophy of life.
It states that all experiences related to pain are directly associated with evil while pleasure is
associated with the highest good. The function of wisdom is to measure the cost of pain and to best
achieve the full pleasure of life. Happiness was totally a human responsibility and achievement
because the gods were not interested in what people did.32


Epicureans believed that the sole purpose of life was the pursuit and achievement of
pleasure. Internet Photo: www.bibleistrue.com
Historians have said that by the first century (B.C.), Gadara was equal to Athens in philosophy, art,
and other aspects of Greek culture. Certainly this underscores the significant influence Hellenism33
had upon the Jewish people. It rivaled Judeo-Christian ethics throughout history and, today, it is
embodied in popular humanistic philosophies. The Syrian King Antiochus IV Epiphanes (reigned

32. http://www.bibleistrue.com/qna/pqna63.htm Retrieved March 13, 2012.

33. The Greek word Hellen means Greek. Bietenhard, Greek. 2:124.

175-164 B.C.) attempted to replace Judaism with Hellenistic Epicureanism.34 There is no record that
Jesus ever encountered promoters of this philosophy, although He probably did while traveling
through the Greek cities of the Decapolis. The Bible does indicate, however, that the Apostle Paul
had dialogues with such philosophers in Athens (Acts 17:18). Among the Jewish people, the
Hellenists and Sadducees endorsed this lifestyle while maintaining some Jewish traditions for
cultural reasons.
02.01.06 Essenes. The origin of the Essenes is a subject of debate among scholars, as some believe
the group broke from the early Sadducees, while others believe the group separated from the early
Pharisees. The former point to Dead Sea Scroll 4Q MMT that dates to the Hasmonean Period.35 This
scroll is believed to have been written 2nd century B.C. by conservative Sadducees and it was sent to
their Hellenistic brothers in Jerusalem. In it, the Essenes compared Hasmonean rules to biblical
rules, and said that Gods rules would result in divine blessings. The scroll pertains to those who
would not accept the rulings of the Hasmonean, and this suggests that the Essenes came out of the
early Sadducean movement.
However, other scholars believe the Essenes were a group of Jews who separated from Pharisees
early in the second century B.C. and they were the descendants of a group known as the hasidim.36
Like the Pharisees, their primary concern was purity and strict observance of the Mosaic Law,
although they differed on some doctrines and practice. The name Essene, is thought to have
originated from the breastplate that was worn by the high priest.37 They were descendants of the
Zadokite Dynasty and some of them moved to the desert regions of Damascus after Antiochus IV
Epiphanes killed the High Priest Onias III around 171 B.C.38 Others relocated to the wilderness near
the Dead Sea to escape persecution by the Hasmoneans (ruled 163-63 B.C. in Jerusalem).39 The first
members of the Essenes were priests, but by the time of Alexander Jannaeus (104 B.C to 76 B.C.)
many others joined the group. According to Philo and Josephus,40 approximately four thousand

34. DeLaney, Dictionary. 2-3; Cressey, Epicureans. 1:465.

35. Fischer, The Gospels in Their Jewish Context. (Lecture on CD/MP3). Week 5, Session 2.
36. See 02.01.14 Pharisees; Bruce, New Testament History. 65-66, 96.
37. Schmaltz and Fischer, Messianic Seal. 12.
38. Schmaltz and Fischer, Messianic Seal. 10-13; Bruce, New Testament History. 55.
39. Schmaltz and Fischer, Messianic Seal. 10-14.
40. Josephus, Wars. 2.8.4.

Essenes lived in Israel,41 but archaeological studies reveal that only about three hundred lived in
Qumran. That leaves a majority of them to have lived in other areas such as the western part of
Jerusalem, Damascus, Alexandria, and Cairo,
Josephus said they established their own orthodox theology,42 which was considerably more
restrictive than the Oral Law, but like the Oral Law, was held as superior to the Mosaic Law.
Furthermore, they held Moses almost equal to God.43 The Essenes were highly disappointed by the
spiritual corruption of both the Pharisees and Sadducees in Jerusalem as well as the leaders of
government. They had such a great disdain for the religious establishment that they chose not to be
involved in any sacrifices or religious observances in the temple. This was in part because the
Essenes adopted a 365 day calendar as opposed to the 360 day calendar used by the rest of the Jewish
world. This mean that their festivals were observed at different times of the year. In response, the
ruling Sadducees excluded them from worship at the temple which intensified the hatred between
Since the temple was the only place where sacrifices could be made for the atonement of sins, the
Essenes taught that any Jew could abolish his or her sins by repentance and strict observance of the
laws of Moses. However, this abolishment of sin would occur only if the repentant Jew observed the
Essene interpretation of Scripture and practiced the Essene laws. They coined phrases in observance
of these laws, such as, sons of light, sons of darkness, and Belial, 45 a name given to Satan (cf. 2
Cor. 6:14-15). In addition, they called themselves The Way, The Elect, The New Coventers,
and the Yahad (Heb. meaning those who have become one).46 They considered themselves to be
the voice in the wilderness, calling upon people to repent from sin and return to the one true God.
As to their daily activities at Qumran, they arose at sunrise in the nearby caves, where they slept
every night, and then came to the community center. They spoke no words, prayed certain prayers,
and performed their assigned tasks until about 11:00 a.m. In this communal village, they held all
property in common, shunned trade, wore white garments, and maintained a strict lifestyle of work,

41. Cited by Charlesworth, Jesus within Judaism. 60.

42. Josephus, Antiquities. 18.1.5 (18-22).
43. Ironically, Moses is a prophetic picture or type and shadow of Jesus. See comparisons in Appendix 2.
44. Crutchfield, The Essenes. 104-07; Bruce, Essenes. 1:478.
45. Schmaltz and Fischer, Messianic Seal 10-14; The name Belial in Hebrew is Bee-Yaal, and means utterly worthless.
46. Schmaltz and Fischer, Messianic Seal 18.

study, and worship.47 Then they had a ritual bath and a communal meal in strict order. The evening
meal was the same as the previous one. Strict discipline was their way to earn salvation and
encourage the coming of the messiah, which was the major emphasis of their theology.
They believed that God demanded purity and holiness, but such virtues needed to be developed by
their own efforts and not by His grace. Their worldview was rather Calvinistic in that they believed
they were predestined to be the holy sons of light, being the exclusive ones to enjoy the blessings and
approval of God, while those outside their group were damned unto death.
As to the messiah, they had difficulty separating the Old Testament prophecies that referred to Him
as a suffering servant from those that referred to Him as a victorious king. So they concluded that
there would be two messiahs: the messianic king who would be a descendant of David and the other,
a descendant of Aaron who would be a priest and suffering messiah.48 The messiah of Aaron would
restore the temple and the messiah would lead the sons of light into war against the sons of darkness,
and the present evil age would end, Rome would be defeated, and the Davidic Kingdom would be
restored.49 The Essenes, as well as so many other Jewish people, had four faulty concepts of their
1. They were interested in a messiah who was only for the Jews
2. They were interested in a messiah who would accept every Jew
3. They were interested in a political messiah who would overthrow the Romans
4. They were interested in an economic messiah who would restore the prosperity their
forefathers enjoyed during the reign of King David and, hence, the name, son of David.
The phrase son of David was an allusion to the Davidic Covenant that was expected to be

47. Buchanan, Essenes. 2:152-55; Connick, The Message and Meaning of the Bible. 116; Bruce, Essenes 1:478.
48. Buchanan, Essenes. 2:152-55; Harrison, Essenes. 2:370-74; A few scholars do not agree with the two messiah
concept, including L. D. Hurst of the University of California, Davis, who believes that the Qumran texts do not necessarily
support the two messiah viewpoint. See http://www.ibr-bbr.org/files/bbr/BBR_1999_09_Hurst_QumranMessiah.pdf.
Retrieved October 10, 2013. See also Geikie, The Life and Words of Christ 1:459-61.
49. Mellowes and Cran, Producers. From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians. (DVD). Part 1.
50. The messianic title Son of David appears in the following three groups of passages in the gospels where it is always
reflective of the Davidic Covenant: 1) In various healings by Jesus Mt. 9:27; 12:23; 15:22; 20:30-31; Mk. 10:47-48; Lk. 18:3839. 2) In connection of the harassment the religious leaders gave Jesus Mt. 22:42-43, 45; Mk. 12:35, 37; Lk. 20:41, 44, and 3)

They wanted a messiah who would pander to Israel, but instead, they were confronted by a Messiah
who confronted Israel and consequently, they rejected Him. The Essenes were also observers of
the end-times, as they believed the messiah would come and destroy the Romans. Therefore, the
Romans considered this non-violent group potentially dangerous and killed thousands of them after
the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. They would have faded into history long ago if it were not
for their Dead Sea Scrolls which were discovered in the years 1947 to 1956 (See 02.02.06). Note that
messiah is with a lower case m because they did not associate deity with him.
Critics have long said that phrases such as sons of light did not exist in the first century Jewish
world, but were inserted in the gospels by later editors. When the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered,
the truth was revealed those phrases were in common use in the days of Jesus.

02.01.06.Q1 How did a one become a member of the Essene sect and how does this relate to the
The Essenes, like the Pharisees, were very legalistic. How a young man became a full pledged
member of the Essene community would generally not have any interest to the study of the life of
Jesus, until one scholar51 concluded that the Pharisees may have had similar requirements of
membership. If so, that presents insights of their Pharisaic attitudes as revealed in the gospels.
Therefore, if it is possible to review the Essene requirements, we can look backwards and obtain a
better understand of the Pharisees.
There are some interesting common factors between the Essenes and the Pharisees. It is common
knowledge that both groups originated in the early second century (B.C.) in response to the advances
of the Hellenistic culture. Both groups were separatists and, in fact, the name Pharisee originated
from the Hebrew phrase meaning the Separated ones. Both groups were also highly legalistic in their
doctrines and lifestyle.
Fortunately, the Dead Sea Scrolls, written by those Essenes living in the Qumran community near the
Dead Sea, contained two important documents that tell us much about their lifestyle and the
requirements for entrance into their community of believers. According to the Damascus Document
and the Manual of Discipline, the Essenes had the following beliefs and practices:
The praise the crowds gave Jesus at His entry into Jerusalem Mt. 21:9, 15; Mk. 11:10. See Rogers, The Davidic Covenant
in the Gospels, Bibliotheca Sacra. Part 1 of 2. 158-78.
51. Moseley, Yeshua: A Guide to the Real Jesus and the Original Church. 86-88.

1. They categorized members as priests, Levites, Israelites, or proselytes.52
2. The minimum age of admission was twenty.53
3. New members had to learn and observe all admission requirements.54
4. Once a candidate felt he was ready for membership, he had to pass a preliminary
examination. Evidently notes were carefully taken as the exam was administered by a
5. The candidate was required to give an oath of loyalty, after which he was informed of the
secrets of the community.56
6. Upon the completion of the ceremonial oath, the candidate was on a two-year probationary
7. Any transgressions during this time could result in either temporary or permanent
expulsion from the community.58
8. All supervisory scribes had to be between the ages of thirty and fifty.59
9. Since supervisory scribes were experts of the Hebrew laws, as well as the community
rules, they could either bind or loose the judgment of a transgressor60
10. Supervisory scribes as well as judges collected charitable gifts from the community and

52. Dead Sea Scrolls, Damascus Document 13:12; 14:3.

53. Dead Sea Scrolls, 1 Qsa. 1, 8; This age limit may have been derived from Numbers 1:3.
54. Dead Sea Scrolls, Damascus Document 13:1, 2; 15:5, 6.
55. Dead Sea Scrolls, Damascus Document 13:11, 12; 15:11.
56. Dead Sea Scrolls, Damascus Document 15:6.
57. Dead Sea Scrolls, Damascus Document 20:1-13; MD 1QS 4:24 7:25.
58. Dead Sea Scrolls, Damascus Document 20:1-13; MD 1QS 4:24 7:25.
59. Dead Sea Scrolls, Damascus Document 14:8.
60. Dead Sea Scrolls, Damascus Document 13:10; 9:18, 22; 12:12.

distributed them to the needy.61 They also functioned as shepherds of the flock and, in that
sense, they were like a pastor or rabbi.62
While these legalistic requirements cannot be imposed upon the Pharisees per se, these do give some
insight as to what a legalistic group might have required of a new candidate.63 Scholars are
examining these requirements with the possibility that very similar procedures existed for new
Pharisee candidates.
02.01.07 Gentiles. This term refers to any person who was not a Jew or a Samaritan.64 It is from the
Latin word genus meaning of the same birth or race, as well as from the Greek word ethnos, meaning
heathen. Ethnos is also translated to the English word ethnic.65 Jewish views of the Gentiles differed
between two Jewish schools of biblical interpretation. The School of Shammai66 taught that there
was no possible salvation for the Gentiles, which was in total agreement with the Essenes. The
School of Hillel,67 however, taught that the mercy of God was extended to the Gentiles if they obeyed
the Noahide Commandments; and if so, they could worship God in the Court of the Gentiles.68
02.01.08 Greeks. The Greek culture had spread throughout the Mediterranean world during the three
centuries before Christ, primarily because of the military victories of Alexander the Great. The
Greeks believed in a variety of gods who were quickly accepted by all conquered peoples with the
exception of the Jews. The Greek cities along the Jordan River were originally Canaanite cities, and
they also accepted the Greek culture and religions. By the time Jesus was in His ministry, pagan
thought and reason had made major inroads into Jewish environment and theology.69

61. Dead Sea Scrolls, Damascus Document 14:13.

62. Dead Sea Scrolls, Damascus Document 13:10.
63. Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. 260.
64. See 02.01.17.
65. Miethe, The Compact Dictionary of Doctrinal Words. 98.
66. See 02.01.18.
67. See 02.01.17.
68. The Noahide Commandments were and continue to be, in the opinion of orthodox Jews, divine laws that Gentiles need
to obey to obtain favor with God if they did not want to convert to Judaism. See Appendix 17 for more information.
69. Pasachoff & Littman, Jewish History in 100 Nutshells. 49-51; Blaiklock, Greece 2:824-25; Strange, Greece. 2:566-67.

Finally, the Greeks and Romans had great difficulty understanding the Jewish faith. They could not
understand how anyone could worship a god they could not see, and that deity did not behave as they
did. Their thoughts were expressed very well by Tacitus, a Roman historian, who wrote Histories
between the years A.D. 69 and 96. He made the following comments about them.
The most degraded out of other races, scorning their national beliefs, brought to them
their contributions and presents. This augmented the wealth of the Jews, as also did the
fact, that among themselves they are inflexibly honest and ever ready to show
compassion, though they regard the rest of mankind with all the hatred of enemies.
They sit apart at meals, they sleep apart, and though, as a nation, they are singularly
prone to lust, they abstain from intercourse with foreign women; among themselves
nothing is unlawful. Circumcision was adopted by them as a mark of difference from
other men. Those who come over to their religion adopt the practice, and have this
lesson first instilled into them, to despise all gods, to disown their country, and set at
nought parents, children, and brethren. Still they provide for the increase of their
numbers. It is a crime among them to kill any newly-born infant. They hold that the
souls of all who perish in battle or by the hands of the executioner are immortal.
Tacitus, Histories 5.5
02.01.09 Hasidim. Also known as Hassidim, or Hassideans, they were an orthodox Jewish group
that became popular in the third century B.C. They were also a reaction to the growing influential
Greek culture (Hellenism) and their primary focus was to bring a revival to the Jewish people so that
they would return to their orthodox faith; their goal was the purification of their faith.70 The name
means pious ones and it is believed to have formed the religious nucleus of the Maccabean Revolt,
the Essene movement, and the Pharisees. Some scholars believe that the Hasidim were probably the
religious group that was the closest to biblical Judaism.71 But by the first century A.D., the
Hassideans had become nearly extinct.72

70. Cate, A History of the New Testament and its Times. 75.
71. Safrai, The Jewish Cultural Nature of Galilee in the Frist Century. 180.
72. House, Chronological and Background Charts of the New Testament. 73.

02.01.10 Hellenists. The Hellenists were Jewish people who abandoned the laws of Judaism and
accepted the Greek culture 73 (Hellenism comes from the Greek word hellen meaning Greek).74 They
believed the laws of Moses prevented them from enjoying the full pleasures of life promoted by the
Greeks and, later by the Romans. For example, young men at times desired to participate in the
public baths or play in the Greek games to obtain the perfect body. But since the athletic games were
played in the nude, they were embarrassed and could not assimilate into the Greek-Roman
community.75 Since the Gentiles believed circumcision was disgusting, those Jewish men who
rejected their orthodox faith and embraced Hellenism endured a surgical procedure known as
epispasm, in which the marks of circumcision were removed.76 They could then participate in the
Greek games and not be identified as being Jewish. For that reason orthodox Jews accused them of
abandoning the holy covenant.
Hellenists were almost indistinguishable from their Greek neighbors. During the Maccabean Revolt
they fought with the Greeks of Syria against the Hassidim and Hasmonean family. By the time of
Jesus, their religious allegiance was with the Romans and Sadducees and, in fact, many Sadducees
were Hellenistic.
02.01.11 Herodians. This was a small political non-religious group, sometimes known as the
Boethusians, after Boethus,77 whose daughter Mariamne was one of the ten wives of Herod the
Great. But some scholars believe the name Boethusians was just another name for a group within
the Sadducees (Acts 4:1; 23:12-14).78 These two opinions could very well be in agreement with each
other, as at times specific details are less clear than is desired.
The Herodians were Roman sympathizers and individuals of prestigious status in the royal court,
who always promoted their so-called rightful claims to the Jewish throne. They were neither
Roman agents nor servants.79 They are mentioned three times in the gospels as opponents to Jesus
73. Amir, The Term IOUDAISMOS: A Study in Jewish-Hellenistic Self-identification. 38; See also 03.04.05 334 63
B.C. Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic Period.
74. Bietenhard, Greek. 2:124. See also Acts 6:1.
75. Niswonger, New Testament History. 24.
76. http://www.bibarch.com/glossary/MI/epispasm.htm; July 20, 2012.
77. Simon, the son of Boethus, was the high priest from 22 5 B.C. The family had incredible political power.
78. Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. 59.
79. Farrar, Life of Christ. 346-47; Blizzard, Judaism - Part 1 Yavo Digest. 1:5, 7.

(Mt. 22:16; Mk. 3:6, 12:13) and Josephus mentioned them as those of Herods party.80 The entire
group was wiped out during the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.
02.01.12 Idumeans. The Idumeans, also known as the Edomites, were descendants of Esau.81
Previously they moved from the Petra region in modern Jordan, westward into the Negev Desert of
southern Israel. There they were eventually absorbed into the larger Arab people group. For that
reason, some scholars have traditionally said that the Arab people per se did not exist in the biblical
land of todays Israel/Palestine during the first century. One of the reasons the Jews hated Herod the
Great was that he was an Idumean a hated descendant of Esau. The larger group known as Arabs
was a nomadic people who lived in the area that is modern day Saudi Arabia. Undoubtedly, the best
known Idumean in Jewish history was Herod the Great.
02.01.13 Jews. In the Old Testament Period, particularly in the book of Esther, the name was
associated with all Israelites, but it originally was applied to only those who came from Judea.82 A
similar association is found in the older book of Daniel (3:8, 12). In the New Testament era, the
name is one of cultural and religious identity. A Jew was one who was not a Samaritan (Jn. 4:9), nor
a Gentile (Gal. 2:14; 3:28; Acts 14:1, 5), nor a proselyte (Acts 2:10). He had to be of the lineage of
Abraham and, hence, his race, nationality, and religion were all equal components of his identity.83
Jews considered themselves to be the chosen people and, therefore, by the time of Christ they
thought of themselves as a privileged people.
It is important to note variations of thought among the Jewish people. Those living in Jerusalem
were more legalistic and conservative, than their Galilean counterparts, but the former were also
more appeasing to the Roman establishment. Those living in Galilee and Perea,84 on the other hand,
were more lax in their theological viewpoints, but considerably more nationalistic, especially those
in the northern mountains of Galilee. The cradle of Roman anti-sentiment was in the mountainous
areas of Galilee.

80. Josephus, Antiquities. 14.15.6; Hiebert, Herodians. 3:145.

81. Thompson, Idumea. 2:682.
82. Some ancient writers use the term Judea in the broadest sense. Examples are found in Pliny the Elder, Natural History,
5.15.70; Strabo, Geographia, 16.4.21; and Dio Sassius, Roman History, 37.15.2.
83. Gasque, Jew. 2:1056.
84. In the days of Jesus, Perea was often referred to as the region of Judea across the Jordan.

Outside the country of Judaea, Jewish people in the Diaspora held a wide range of viewpoints. In
Babylon they were conservative as they were in Jerusalem, whereas elsewhere theological
viewpoints ranged from Hellenisticl to orthodox.
At times it can be somewhat challenging to understand precisely who the gospel writers are referring
to when they speak of the Jews. John, for example, uses the term for the following people groups:
1. In reference to all of those who are descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
2. In reference to those Jews living in Judea, as opposed to those living in Galilee, Perea, or
3. In reference to Jewish leaders, namely the leading Pharisees, but not all Pharisees.
Therefore, the context of the term the Jews is very important. An unfortunate example in church
history is that all the Jewish people have been blamed for the decisions made by their leaders.
02.01.14 Pharisees. The Pharisees were the dominant Jewish party that consisted of a number of
religious sects, from the early second century B.C. until A.D. 70. They first appeared in 1 Maccabees
9:13 and 2 Maccabees 14:6. They developed as a result of opposition and persecution by the Greek
dictator Antiochus IV Epiphanes who was overthrown in the Maccabean Revolt in 164 B.C.85
Understandably, the name Pharisee comes from the Hebrew perushim, perusin or perusim meaning
separated or detached.86 Some scholars believe this group evolved from the previous Hassidean
movement87 and was known for seven major characteristics:
1. Separation. They considered themselves the separated ones, who emphasized strict
adherence to the Mosaic laws pertaining to purity, Sabbath observance, prayer, tithing, and
separation from anyone who was Hellenistic. There were four levels of Pharisees,88 and the
upper echelon is referred to in this e-Book as the leading Pharisees. They were so

85. http://www.myjewishlearning.com/holidays/Jewish_Holidays/Hanukkah/History.shtml Retrieved September 20, 2014;

See also Josephus, Antiquities. 11.4.8; 13.10.5-6; Babylonian Talmud, Kiddushin 66a.
86. Moseley, Yeshua: A Guide to the Real Jesus and the Original Church. 86.
87. See 03.04.17; House, Chronological and Background. 73.
88. See 02.01.14.Q1 below.

legalistic, pious, and self-righteous that they avoided the Am Ha-Aretz, meaning the common
2. Legalism. Due to the encroachment of Hellenistic (Greek) cultural values into Jewish life,
the Pharisees promoted legalistic observance of Jewish laws on both the national and
personal level.90 An example of their legalism was recorded by the first century historian,
Josephus. He noted that once more than six thousand of them refused to take the oath of
allegiance to Caesar or Herod.91 They were willing to lay down their lives for the religious
laws. It is uncertain how many other Pharisees, if any, did take the oath of loyalty. They
considered themselves to be the honored ones who were called to practice and honor the
Priestly Code of Ezra, with an emphasis on the Oral Laws.
3. They were social and cultural liberals.
4. They were religious conservatives.
5. They hated Rome. They believed that if they could not fortify their cities against the
Roman occupiers, they they would fortify their laws to keep the Greco-Roman culture out.
6. They tried to be spiritual while the Sadducees tried to maintain their religious bureaucracy.
7. Most Pharisees were sincere, honest synagogue leaders who cared for their people, while
the leading eschalon were the ones with whom Jesus had multiple conflicts.
8. Many Pharisees were also scribes, judges, magistrates, teachers, rabbis, and priests. The
people willingly put all power and authority into the hands of their rabbis, as orthodox Jews
still do today. In fact, twice scribes are referred to as the scribes of the Pharisees (Mk. 2:16;
Acts 23:9).
The ultra-conservative Pharisees, especially those of the School of Shammai, who were highly
critical of Jesus because He associated with sinners those Jewish people who did not hold to the
strict adherence of the Oral Laws. They had the following objections:

89. Moseley, Yeshua: A Guide to the Real Jesus and the Original Church. 86.
90. Finkelstein, The Pharisees. 145.
91. Josephus, Antiquities. 17.2.4.

1. They were not permitted to have a continued relationship, unless absolutely necessary,
with a sinner.
2. They were not to eat any food that was not tithed, especially if it came from a sinner.
That meant a Pharisee could not enjoy a dinner in the home of a sinner.
3. They were not permitted to invite a sinner to their home.
4. The best relationship a Pharisee could have with a sinner was none.
5. The Pharisees believed that wealth was the result of Divine favor, therefore, contact with
poor people should be avoided.
6. No animal could be sacrificed in the temple if the owner had taken it from non-Jewish land
or it crossed heathen territory.
The leading Pharisees were usually synonymous with the teachers of the Law,92 which is why it can
be difficult to distinguish them from the scribes.93 While most leading Pharisees considered
themselves scribes, not all scribes considered themselves Pharisees.94 They were scholars of the
biblical text.95 Whenever Jesus confronted them, He confronted the aristocratic leadership.96 Most of
the Jewish people obeyed codes of conduct and religion according to the Pharisees, even though they
did not formally belong to this religious sect.97 While some aristocratic Pharisees, such as the
Herodians, were comfortable with the Romans, and Josephus said that a majority was fiercely
patriotic and hated the foreign yoke with an impassioned bitterness.98
The Pharisees were divided into two major theological schools of thought.

92. Mt. 3:7; 15:1; Mk. 2: 16, 24; Lk. 11:38.

93. Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. 59.
94. Moseley, Yeshua: A Guide to the Real Jesus and the Original Church. 93-94.
95. Bruce, Josephus, Flavius. 69-71; Major, Manson, and Wright, The Mission and Message of Jesus. 601-02; Josephus, Wars.
1.5.2; Mishnah, Aboth. 2:5.
96. Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. 259, n 42.
97. Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. 258.
98. Read the full account of Josephus pertaining to the Pharisees in Antiquities. 18.1.3 (12-15).

1. Beit Hillel (School of Hillel) 99
2. Beit Shammai (School of Shammai)100
The upper echelon of the Pharisees consisted of men who had become religiously and politically
corrupt and were under constant rebuke by Christ. They held the Oral Law in higher esteem than the
written Mosaic Law. It was to this latter group that Jesus most frequently applied the word hypocrite,
from the Greek hupokrites, meaning actor or pretender.101 All confrontations Jesus had with the
leading Pharisees were related to the Halakhah, the regulations that pertained to the daily life
activities.102 It should be noted that among these religious leaders were Simon, who made a banquet
for Jesus (Lk. 7:37), and others who warned Jesus of Herods attempt to kill Him (Lk. 13:31). They
are often referred to in this manuscript as the leading Pharisees, the Pharisee elitists, or the
aristocrats of the Pharisees,103 as opposed to the common Pharisees, many of whom became
followers of Jesus. The Pharisees were by no means a homogeneous group.
As previously stated, some, but not all Pharisees, had a degraded view of the common peasants who
they referred to as sinners, because they frequently did not obey every minute detail of the Oral
Law. Therefore, they avoided contact with the common Jewish peasants. This may be why Jesus
referred to the common people as sheep without a shepherd (Mt. 9:36). Yet, in spite of this, many
Pharisees sided with the masses.104

99. See 02.01.17.

100. See 02.01.18.
101. Herbert, Hypocrite. 109-10; Lang, Know the Words of Jesus. 172-73.
102. Bruce, Jesus Past. 69-71; Lee, The Galilean Jewishness of Jesus. 106-07.
103. Other Jewish writers also criticized the leading Pharisees as found in 1 Enoch 102:9-10; Testament of Moses 7:3; Tosefta,
Menahot 13:22. This is a recommended subject for further study in Appendix 33.
104. Josephus, Antiquities. 13.10.6.

They believed in the supernatural, angels, eternity, a resurrection of all souls, and that man has
control of his decisions and actions, but that God ultimately controls all things. One rabbinic
Pharisee went so far as to say that he believed a body would arise with the same clothing in which it
was buried, but others argued against this point.105 They accepted all the books of the Old Testament,
which are commonly known as the Law, Prophets, and Writings, and they were the teachers in the
synagogues throughout the country. By the time Jesus was in His ministry, the Sadducees controlled
the temple, but the Pharisees, led by Rabbi Hillel, won the hearts of most of the people.
Named after their founding rabbis, these schools of theology held opposing opinions on how certain
written and oral commandments were to be practiced. Their varied opinions are preserved in the
Mishnah. The Pharisees, whom Jesus addressed, were the Oral Law traditionalists who had become
aristocratic and powerfully similar to the Sadducees, whom they greatly disliked. The religious
ideology of the Pharisees ranged widely as some were condemned by both Jesus and by some of their
own leaders in the third century (A.D.).106 The School of Shammai held it was unlawful to comfort
the sick or visit the mourner on the Sabbath, but the School of Hillel permitted it. In the case of a
violation, the school of Shammai demanded physical punishment whereas the Pharisees, as strict and
legalistic as they were, offered a milder punishment that was often in the form of a monetary fine.107
Those who confronted Jesus on healing on the Sabbath were most likely to be followers of Shammai,
rather than Hillel.
The Apostle Paul proudly maintained his status as a righteous Pharisee (Phil. 3:5; Acts 22) and, as a
Pharisee, he was a messenger of God to the Gentiles (Gal. 1:16). It should be noted that among the
Pharisees were those who were devoted to Jesus,108 and they were probably followers of Hillel.
Those who planned evil against Him were probably of Shammai and the aristocratic followers of

105. Jerusalem Talmud, Kethuboth 35a; Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. 749.
106. Mishnah, Sotah. 3:4; Babylonian Talmud, Sotah. 22b.
107. Geikie, The Life and Words of Christ 2:106.
108. Jn. 3:1, 19:38-39, Acts 5:34, 23:6-8.

The Pharisees believed they had three obligations to strictly observe to find favor with God:
1. Tithing, known as Neeman.109
2. Observance of all Levitical laws, known as Chabher (a/k/a Chabber).110
3. The practice of purity, which included separation from people considered to be impure.
In summary, the Pharisees (compare to 02.01.16 Sadducees) were,
1. In strong opposition to Hellenism
2. Had great disdain for the Romans
3. Generally middle class although the leadership was aristocratic
4. Theologically progressive but within the Pharisee sect there was a diversity of opinions
5. Believed in the entire Old Testament (Hebrew Bible)
6. Affirmed the resurrection of the soul and heaven
7. Held a mythlogical belief that Abraham was seated at the gates of hell waiting to make
sure no Jew would enter. To have been born a Jew meant automatic rights to the eternal
Messianic Kingdom.111
8. Believed in a final judgment for non-Jews, angels, etc.
9. Some Pharisees affiliated with the common people (am-ha-arets)112 and sought converts
(except for the leadership). However, the leading Pharisees had great disdain for them and
separated themselves from them.
10. Estimated to be over 6,000 in number who belonged to a chebher or chabher,113 which
was their association or fraternity.114
109. Lee, The Galilean Jewishness of Jesus, 112; Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. 216.
110. Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. 215-17.
111. Fruchtenbaum, The Jewish Foundation of the Life of Messiah: Instructors Manual. Class 6, page 6.
112. Lang, Know the Words of Jesus. 173; Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. 145; Geikie, The Life and Words of Christ

11. Many Pharisees were self-educated laymen.
12. They believed that their Oral Law (a/k/a Mishnah) superceded the authority of the Old
Testament. Jesus referred to them as hypocrits 115 because, while they made the laws a
heavy burden for the common people, they created loopholes for themselves.116
Theologically speaking, the leading Pharisees canonized their own interpretation of the

02.01.14.Q1 What were the four levels of Pharisees?

Like most people, this writer had once believed that all Pharisees were the same, but this was hardly
the case.118 Some constantly confronted Jesus while others gave Him aid. Some Pharisees were also
scribes who read the Scriptures in the synagogue.119 Pharisees permitted a wide degree of divergent
opinions as shown by the differences between the Schools of Hillel and Shammai. According to the
third century (A.D.) respected Rabbi Pin Hasben Jair, there were four characteristics of separation (a
core doctrine of the sect) that all four levels of Pharisees had to endorse.120 Those characteristics
1. Heedfulness leading to diligence,
2. Diligence to cleanliness,

113. Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. 215-17.
114. Josephus, Antiquities. 17.2.4; Lang, Know the Words of Jesus. 172-73.
115. See the discussion on hypocrites / hypocrisy in 08.03.04 (Mt. :5-15).
116. Fruchtenbaum, The Jewish Foundation of the Life of Messiah: Instructors Manual. Class 20, page 11.
117. Lee, The Galilean Jewishness of Jesus, 13.
118. There are two reasons why many have equated the Pharisees with a group of Jewish leaders who were filled with
hypocrisy and hatred: 1) The gospels clearly indicate this group often confronted Jesus and planned to kill Him, and 2) the
doctrine of replacement theology and anti-Semitic attitudes promoted by the church. These two biased conditions led to a
horrible conclusion the inability to recognize the variations of other Pharisaic individuals, such as Joseph of Aramathea and
Nicodemus, and give them appropriate credit for their righteous attitudes and acts.
119. See an Illustration Of Various Religious Groups And Their Relationship To The Sadducees at 02.03.11.A.
120. Cited from Moseley, Yeshua: A Guide to the Real Jesus and the Original Church. 88; Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the
Messiah. 67-68, 215-18.

3. Cleanliness to separation, and
4. Separation to holiness.
It is not until one gets deeper into the study of first century Judaism, that he learns of the Schools of
Hillel and Shammai, and how these theologians interacted with Jewish society and Jesus. By
knowing the basic beliefs of these two theological schools, one can often determine which question
or statement presented to Jesus came from which school.
However, unfortunately throughout history the condemning word hypocrisy used by Jesus against
the leading Pharisees has been used by the church to condemn all the Pharisees and all the Jewish
people. But in fact, most Pharisees like Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, were godly people who
simply wanted to live right before God and man.121 Most of the issues Jesus had with the Pharisees
originated with the upper echelon, that is, the policy-makers and leaders of the sect. Therefore, the
four levels of Pharisees are explained below:122
1. The neeman, meaning trustworthy, was the entry level and required the endorsement of
all membership obligations before three members in good standing.123 During this time, the
candidate was not permitted to be the guest of a common Jew, known as an am ha-aretz, and
would certainly not be found in the home of a Gentile, tax collector, or sinner. Some priests
and high priests were so prideful that they wore silk gloves when among people or presiding
over sacrifices, so they would not become defiled by those repulsive and degrading common
people.124 He had to tithe faithfully on everything he earned and ate.125 This stage was also
known as heedfulness leading to diligence. Slaves and women were permitted to join this
association, but only at this level.
2. The second level of entry was called for wings and at this stage the candidate had to
diligently practice the ritual of washing his hands before eating and before touching ritually
clean food.126 This stage was also known as diligence leading to cleanliness. Incidently, the
121. See Lk. 13:31; 7:36; 11:37; 14:1; Jn. 3:1; 19:38-39; Acts 5:34; 23:6-8. See also Gamaliel in Acts 5, the teacher of the
Apostle Paul.
122. Moseley, Yeshua: A Guide to the Real Jesus and the Original Church. 88, 112-13.
123. Babylonain Talmud Bekakoth, 30b (Soncino ed.).
124. Geikie, The Life and Words of Christ 1:89.
125. See additional rules on tithing in the Mishnah, Maaserot 1.1.
126. Tosefta, Demai. 2:11; Encyclopedia Judaica Jerusalem: Keter Publishing House 7:1489-90.

Law of Moses did not require such extremism.
3. In the third level, a candidate was a probationary member for either thirty days or one year.
This stage was also known as cleanliness leading to separation.
4. If a person wanted to reach the pinnacle of the hierarchy, he had to take two vows:
a. To tithe faithfully
b. Maintain and promote ritual purification.
This fourth level was the upper echelon of Pharisees, who firmly believed they had arrived at
perfected holiness. They had moved from separation leading to holiness. These individuals
generally had sufficient wealth that they could live a separated life that would not get
polluted by associating with common Jewish people who did not always observe ritual
cleansing laws.
While the membership of the Pharisees was merely 6,000, there were literally thousands more who
faithfully observed Pharisee doctrines. Josephus noted that,
On account of which (the Pharisee) doctrines, they are able greatly to persuade the
body of the people; and whatsoever they do about divine worship, prayers, and
sacrifices, they perform according to their direction; insomuch that the cities gave great
attestations to them on account of their entire virtuous conduct, both in the actions of
their lives and their discourses also.
Josephus, Antiquities 18.1.3 (15)127
Other groups who followed basic Pharisee doctrines included the Essenes who lived in a number of
communities including west Jerusalem, Damascus, Qumran, and elsewhere.128 Another group was
the Therapeutae, a Jewish sect who lived throughout the Diaspora, including a large community in
Alexandria. The final group that observed Pharisaic doctrines was the early Christians of both Jewish
and Gentile backgrounds. One Jew, who identified himself with the Pharisees although he was never

127. Parenthesis mine.

128. See 02.01.06.Q1 How did a one become a member of the Essene sect and how does this relate to the Pharisees?

a member, was Josephus. He observed the basic doctrines of the sect.129 Non-members were not
always as strict and legalistic as were the members.
As previously stated, the influx of Hellenism had disastrous consequences upon the Jewish people.
While the Sadducees endorsed many Hellenistic elements, the Pharisees saw themselves as the
restorers of the Law. Yet within the Pharisaic world there were many divisions and theological
opinions. Amazingly, while they are justly criticized for their legalistic harshness, they should be
noted for their kind and responsible landmark decisions. These include:130
1. Concerning the punishment for a crime, the Pharisees interpreted the phrase an eye for an
eye (Ex. 21:24; Deut. 19:21)131 metaphorically, and permitted compensation or punishment
in the form of a financial settlement.132 However, the Sadducees demanded exact
2. They ordered for husbands to pay support for their wives after a divorce. This lowered the
divorce rate. This is noteworthy, because Joseph considered a divorce which would have
been expensive, as opposed to accusing her of adultery which would have cost him nothing
and saved his family honor.
3. The promotion of education for both boys and girls, (see Education 02.03.04).
4. Required education for boys to the age of sixteen.
5. If the brother-in-law of a widow refused her the Levirate marriage rights (Deut. 25:5-9),133
the Pharisees permitted her to spit on the ground in front of him while the Sadducees
demanded she spit in his face.
6. If an animal died, the Pharisees said that the owner may use the carcass for any purpose
except for food (Lev. 7:24), but the Sadducees said any use results in the strict penalties of

129. Josephus, Life 8.

130. Moseley, Yeshua: A Guide to the Real Jesus and the Original Church. 134-35.
131. Lev. 24:20; Mt. 5:38-42; 08.02.07.
132. Financial settlements are found in passages such as Deut. 22:29.
133. See also Babylonian Talmud, Yevamot 16a.

7. The final example of harshness is that the Sadducees demanded that false witnesses be put
to death while the Pharisees permitted punishment by eighty scourgings.134 The irony is that
the Sadducees acquired false witnesses to testify against Jesus.
The Pharisees have been criticized and condemned for their actions against Jesus. However, it was
the leading Pharisees who were against Jesus, because as other Pharisees came to faith in Him, they
warned Him of impending danger. The Pharisees, like the Essenes, were a very legalistic religious
sect. An example of legalism is found in 02.01.06.Q1 that describes the entrance procedure for new
Essene members. Scholars are examining these requirements for the probability that very similar
procedures existed for new Pharisee candidates.
When the temple was destroyed in A.D. 70, only the Pharisees survived the slaughter. In the early
days of the First Revolt (A.D. 66) the Messianic believers had escaped to Pella and avoided the
conflict, but the Sadducees, Herodians, and Essenes were wiped out by the Romans. Consequently,
all forms of Judaism today have their roots in the first century Pharisees.135 In fact, todays Rabbinic
Judaism is distinctly different from Inter-testamental and biblical Judaism.136
It is important to stress that most synagogue leaders were righteous Pharisees who loved their people.
Criticisms by Jesus were generally directed the the aristocratic leadership of the Pharisees. Most of
the Jewish people obeyed codes of conduct and religion according to the Pharisees, even though they
did not formally belong to them.137
Finally, among those who considered themselves Pharisees were Zachariah, the father of John the
Baptist, Hillel and his son, Simeon, Simeons Gamaliel was also a Pharisee and the renouned teacher
for the Apostle Paul.138
02.01.15 Romans. The Roman Empire139 belted the Mediterranean Sea, at times called a Roman
lake, and extended into Europe. It eventually included twelve language groups and was of a size that
134. Mishnah, Makkoth 1.3 and 1.5; See 15.03.07.
135. Finkelstein, The Pharisees. 142-45.
136. Scott, Jr. Jewish Backgrounds of the New Testament. 21.
137. Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. 115.
138. Geikie, The Life and Words of Christ 1:73; Wyatt, Pharisee. 3:822-29.
139. The historical periods of Rome are as follows: Roman Kingdom 753-509 B.C.; Roman Republic 509-27 B.C.; Roman
Empire 27 B.C. A.D. 476.

Rome could hardly administer. In 63 B.C., the Roman General Pompey easily took control of
Jerusalem on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) in a battle that cost the lives of twelve thousand
men, women, and children. The Romans were seen as a friend by some, as an enemy by others; but
soon all discovered them to be incredible oppressors. The military might they brought forth was a
fearful peace known as Pax Romana140 which meant peace to Rome and quiet to the provinces.141 At
the head of this incredible empire was a single man, Octavianus Caesar now better known by his
imposing title, Caesar who ruled as absolute lord and dictator. The continuous challenge, however,
was to maintain peace over the three rebellious Jewish provinces of Galilee, Perea, and Judea.
Between the years 63 B.C. and the so-called First Revolt in A.D. 66, there were 13 revolts.142
As to philosophical and religious values, the Romans adopted beliefs from the Greeks, Etruscans,
and Epicureans.143 They accepted and spread the Greek culture with all its gods and goddesses.
While many still believed in these religious myths, agnosticism144 became increasingly
commonplace. Emperors considered themselves to be gods and by the end of the first century (A.D.),
Emperor Domitian required his subjects to offer sacrifices to him and to call him Lord and God.145
The Roman world was one wherein a small aristocratic group controlled the wealth and power while
a massive peasantry produced a large agricultural surplus and, to a smaller extent, the other necessary
products. The common people in occupied lands, such as the Jews of Judaea, were essentially
economic slaves. They were taxed so heavily that they lived in constant poverty without any hope of
escape. Hence, they had a dire hope that a messiah would come to deliver them.146 Any action or
discussion that could have been interpreted as a revolt resulted in death. The Romans were especially
sensitive to a revolt, not only for national pride, but also because the Jewish land was the frontier to
the rising Parthian Empire in the east. And Israel was the most problematic region they had to govern
riots and rumors of riots and rebellions were constantly in the air.

140. Lang, Know the Words of Jesus. 423.

141. Lee, The Galilean Jewishness of Jesus. 72-73; Mellowes and Cran, Executive Producers. From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians.
(DVD). Part 1.
142. See Appendix 25 for a listing of false prophets who had messianic expectations and for a partial listing of revolts and
social disturbances from 63 BC to AD 135.
143. The Etruscans lived centuries earlier northwest of Rome. Their influence continued but was minimal.
144. Agnosticism is the belief that the existence of God is unknown and probably unknowable.
145. Metzger, New Testament. 61.
146. Crossan, Who Killed Jesus. 39.

Historians tend to be cruel in their comments about the Romans, and do not give them credit or grace
for anything. And in fact, Roman oppression was cruel. However, they did make some attempts to
be considerate of their Jewish subjects. For example,
1. Emperor Augustus and his wife sent brazen wine vessels to the temple in Jerusalem along
with other costly gifts.147 Philo says that Augustus personally also provided two lambs and
an ox for sacrifice, but Josephus said the cost was borne by the Jewish people.148
2. No demand was ever made upon the Jews, except during the reign of Caligula, for them to
worship the emperor. All other people groups of the empire, including the Samaritans,
worshiped the emperor along with local deities.
3. All the emperors, to and including Vespasian, attempted to honor Jewish sensitivities by
not minting coins for Judea that had the image of the emperor, but only his name and
traditional Jewish emblems. However, coins minted in other provinces did have his image
and often his claim of divinity. For example, in the year 4 B.C. Emperor Augustus minted a
coin with his image and the words son of God, meaning he was the son of the god
Apollo.149 These coins were at times carried by pilgrims to Jerusalem festivals where they
became the subject of debate and controversies. Such a coin was given to Jesus one with
the idolatrous image on one side and the legend of Jewish subjection on the other.150
4. The Romans respected the Jews by not bringing any image that represented the emperor or
Rome. Unfortunately, as is explained elsewhere, Pilate violated this policy shortly after he
took control of Judea. Nonetheless, the Romans for the most part, honored this practice. For
example, when Vitellius, the legate of Syria marched against Aretas, an Arabian king, he was
about to cross Jewish lands. Since Roman soldiers always carried the likeness of the
emperor on their standards, the Jews objected. According to Josephus, he rerouted his march
as not to offend the Jews and the images of the emperor never entered Jewish lands.151

147. Josephus, Wars 5.13.6; Philo, Legat. Ad Cajum 37.

148. Philo, Legat. Ad Cajum 23; Josephus, Wars 2.10.4 and 17.2-46; Schurer, The History of the Jewish People. First Division,
149. Suetonius, Deified Augustus. 94.4; Franz, http://www.lifeandland.org/2009/02/the-angelic-proclamation-to-theshepherds-luke-28-15/
150. Geikie, The Life and Words of Christ 2:419.
151. Josephus, Antiquities 18.5.3.

5. The Romans granted the Jewish people religious freedom. Judaism was one of the
recognized religions of the empire, but not so with Christianity. Everyone had to worship
Julius Caesar as a son of a god, but not the Jewish people.152 In fact, Judaism was under
Roman protection as evidenced in two accountes reported by Josephus.
a. When the pagans residents of Dora erected a statue of the emperor in the
synagogue, the Jews went to the legate Petronius who ordered the statue to be
b. When a soldier destroyed a Torah scroll, he was put to death by the procurator
In response to Roman kindness, the Jewish people in the diaspora prayed for the emperor in their
synagogue services. It is unknown if the Jews in Galilee, Perea, and Judea did likewise.
02.01.16 Sadducees. The Sadducees appeared on the scene after the elimination of the Greek
Antiochus IV Epiphanes from power in Israel (ten northern tribes) and Judea (two southern tribes).
They were the descendants of the Hasmonean rulers who ruled Judea (163 63 B.C.) after the
Maccabean revolt. The members of this religious sect were in fact the ruling aristocratic politicalreligious party in Jerusalem and close friends of the Herodian family and the Romans. They held
prominent positions in the city. More importantly, they controlled the Sanhedrin and the temple.155 It
was through this political relationship that they were able to attain control of the Sanhedrin and high
priesthood in Jerusalem, and maintain both throughout the life of Christ until the Romans destroyed
them in A.D. 70.156 Control of the temple afforded them an incredibly lavish lifestyle, unimaginable
even for ancient times as shown by the glass artifact shown below.
The origin of the name Sadducee is somewhat mysterious. The once-held belief that the name was
derived from Zadok, a high priest in Solomons court has some serious etymological157

152. Mellowes and Cran, Producers. From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians. (DVD). Part 1.
153. Josephus, Antiquities 19.6.3.
154. Josephus, Antiquities 20.5.4; Wars 2.12.2.
155. Josephus, Antiquities. 18.1.4.
156. Moulder, Sadducees. 4:278-81.
157. See Etymology in Appendix 26.

difficulties.158 Recent scholarship suggests that the name could refer to the righteous ones because
it emphasizes religious purity and because the Sadducee direct descendants of the Hasmoneans.
Some scholars believe the name Boethusians was just another name for a group within the
Sadducees (Acts 4:1; 23:12-14), because the House of Boethus was a highly influential family.159
These two opinions could very well be in agreement with each other, as at times specific details are
less clear than is desired. Nonetheless, they were ruthless and did whatever was necessary to protect
their position and status.160 The Essenes referred to them as the wicked priests in their Dead Sea
Scrolls.161 There are five major aspects to the powerful Sadducees:162
1. They were social conservatives

158. Guignebert, The Jewish World in the Time of Jesus. 162; Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. 123-24.
159. Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. 59; See Boethusians in Appendix 26.
160. Moulder, Sadducees. 4:278-81.

161. Schmaltz and Fischer, Messianic Seal. 22.

162. Bookman, When God Wore Sandals. CD Trac 6.



partially melted glass pitcher of exquisite design and craftsmanship was found in the
burned ruins of the home of a Sadducean priest. Molded glass jug signed by Ennion,
probably of Sidon. RIGHT: The recreated drawing of the pitcher as in its original
design: dark lines reflect actual remains and the light lines are of the upper portion.
This was obviously owned by one of Jerusalems wealthiest families. Photograph
and illustration courtesy of the Israel Museum.
2. They were supporters of the Romans, and in fact, the high priest Caiaphas was a Roman
3. They were liberal in their theology. In fact, so liberal that some have said they gave only
lip service to the Torah.

4. Their greatest condemnation was that they were Hellenistic; they enjoyed the Greek
lifestyle but covered it with Jewish traditions.163
5. While the Pharisees controlled the local synagogues, the Sadducees controlled the temple
and all its wealth; the Pharisees tried to be spiritual while the Sadducees tried to maintain
their religious bureaucracy. Because the Pharisees and Sadducees differed so much, there was
constant tension in the temple. Josephus said that the Sadducees had to submit to the
Pharisees method of performing ceremonial rituals, celebrations, and processions or the
masses would not have tolerated them.164 An example is found in the Mishnah: in the tractate
Sukkah, are the directions for the Feast of Tabernacles ritual. That includes the procedure of
the water libation that was be poured into one of two bowls located to the right at the top of
163. Visitors in Jerusalem today can see one of the homes of the Sadducees at the Wohl Archeological Museum. These
opulent homes, known today as the Herodian Mansions, are located a short walk from the Western Wall.
164. Josephus, Antiquities 18.1.4 (16, 17).

the altar ramp. However, one time King Alexander Jannaeus (reigned 105-79 B.C.) poured
the libation over his feet and all the prople threw their citrons at him.165 The Talmud
identifies the offender as a Sadducee (Boethusian).166 In response, he called his soldiers and
several thousand were massacred that day. While this took place a century before Jesus, the
Pharisees did not forget this or any other events of persecution by the Sadducees.167
Regardless of the evil passion of many in the temple, it should be noted that many Levites, priests,
and chief priests who were godly men, and not members of the Sadducees or corrupted Pharisees.
Josephus summarized the leading Pharisees and Sadducees as follows:
Of the first named schools, the Pharisees, who are considered to be most accurate
interpreters of the laws, and hold the position of the leading sect, attribute everything
to fate and God; they hold that to act rightly or otherwise rest, indeed, for the most part
with men, but that in each action fate cooperates. Every soul, they maintain, is
perishable, but the soul of the good alone passes into another body, while the soul of the
wicked suffer eternal punishment.
The Sadducees, the second of the orders, do away with fate together, and remove God
beyond, not merely the commission, but the very sight of evil. They maintain that man
has the free choice of good and evil, and that it rests with each mans will whether he
follows the one or the other. As for the persistence of the soul after death, penalties in
the underworld, and rewards, they will have none of them.
The Pharisees are affectionate to each other and cultivate harmonious relations with
the community. The Sadducees, on the contrary, are, even among themselves, rather
boorish in their behavior, and in their intercourse with their peers are as rude as to
aliens. Such is what I have to say on the Jewish philosophical schools.
Josephus, Wars 2.8.14 (163-166)168
Concerning the Sadducees and their belief in the resurrection, the historian said,

165. Mishnah, Sukkah 4:9.

166. Babylonian Talmud, Sukkah 48b. See Boethusian in Appendix 26.
167. Geikie, The Life and Words. 2:637-38.
168. Neusner, Josephus Pharisees. 279.

But the doctrine of the Sadducees is this That souls die with the bodies; nor do they
regard the observation of anything besides what the law enjoins them, for they think it
an instance of virtue to dispute with those teachers of philosophy whom the frequent.
Josephus Antiquities 18.1.4 (16)
The family clan of Annas was extremely greedy and wealthy. They were the envy of those who
achieved the lifestyles of the rich and famous, as expressed in modern terms. As priests of the
temple, they had afforded themselves a lifestyle beyond the imaginations of both the common people
and modern scholarship. Annas, who was a Sadducee, converted the Gentile Court of the temple
into a commercial market of animal sales, moneychangers, and pedestrian traffic. By cleansing the
temple, Jesus demonstrated His Messianic authority, to which neither the Romans nor the Sadducees
offered a strong challenge. While He taught one should not use force, in the temple, He did. The
reason was that the cleansing was not so much an act of reformation or purification, but a symbolic
gesture of pending judgment. In doing this, He not only displayed His divine intention, but also
confirmed the words of judgment spoken by the Old Testament prophets.169 The prophetic act that
symbolized destruction was also reflective in Jeremiah 4:5-5:31; 7:14; 25:1-38; 26:1-24; Ezekiel 4:17:27; and Micah 3:9-12. Witness would have connected the cleansing with the prophets.

02.01.16.B. SADDUCEAN TOMB INSCRIPTION. A tomb inscription of a first

century A.D. Sadducee that reads, Enjoy your life. Illustration courtesy of the Israel

169. See Jer. 8:10; 14:18; 23:11, 33-34; 32:31-32; 34:18-19; Lam. 4:13; Ezek. 22:26; Zeph. 3:4; Zech. 14:21; Testament of Levi
14:1-8; Josephus, Antiquities 20.8.8; Targum of Jeremiah 7:1-11.

The attitude held by some Jews, including the Sadducees, was that they were Gods chosen elite and
all other people were as spittle. This is reflected in the Pseudepigrapha book of 4 Ezra. It reads as
All this I have spoken before you, O Lord, because you have said that it was for us that
you created this world. As for the other nations, which have descended from Adam,
you have said they are nothing, and that they are like spittle, and you have compared
their abundance to a drop from a bucket. And now, O Lord, behold, these nations,
which are reputed as nothing, domineer over us and devour us. But we your people,
whom you have called your firstborn, only begotten, zealous for you, and most dear,
have been given into their hands.
4 Ezra 6:55, 58
The next verse in this passage is most interesting. It asks the question Why? In light of a
messianic expectation at this time, was this ancient writer alluding to such a redeemer?
If the world has indeed been created for us, why do we not possess our world as an
inheritance? How long will this be so?
4 Ezra 6:59
Some scholars believe Johns account of the cleansing is the same event recorded by the other gospel
writers in the Passion Week. They have concluded that it is out of sequence for theological
reasons.170 It is the literary style of John to tie various narratives to religious feasts.171 On the other
hand, the texts are more naturally understood if interpreted as two distinct cleansings. For example,
according to Mark (11:17) Jesus was extremely condemning of the corrupt temple authorities, which
lends credence to the conspiracy by them to have Him arrested and killed.172
170. Bloomberg, The Historical Reliability. 195; The interpretation commonly promoted is that the historicity of the biblical
record was modified to serve a theological purpose.
171. Passover in Jn. 2:13, 6:4, 11:55; Tabernacles in Jn. 7:2; Dedication in Jn. 10:22; Unidentified feast in Jn. 5:1. If the feast in
Jn. 5:1 is a Passover, then the ministry of Jesus would demand a minimum of three and a half years and possibly as long as
four and a half years. An excellent resource for understanding how the Jewish festivals reflect the life of Jesus and His
message, see Victor Buksbazen, The Gospel in the Feasts of Israel. Bellmawr, NJ: Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, 2004.
Another book is Bruce Scotts The Feasts of Israel also published by Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. Finally, another
recommended source is Edward Chumneys fine book titled, The Seven Festivals of the Messiah. Shippensburg, PA: Destiny
Image, 1998.
172. Bloomberg, The Historical Reliability. 171-73; Sanders, Jesus and Judaism. 61-76.

Being a Sadducee was not necessarily an easy task, regardless how much power the Sadducees had in
controlling the temple and being Roman pawns. The fact remained that all temple services were at
the direction of the Pharisees. Most certainly the Sadducees were not very delighted with having the
Pharisees tell them what to do and when to do it. The politics and in-house squabbling within the
temple was phenomenal and often escapes modern scholarship. There was constant bickering and
rivalry, not to mention a long history of animosity between the two religious groups.173
Finally, an important aspect to note is that the Sadducees were extremely rigid in judging others. In
fact, they even had their own penal code.174 That is precisely how Josephus described them. Speaking
of Ananus, a/k/a Annas, he,
Took the high priesthood, was a bold man in his temper, and very insolent; he was also
of the sect of the Sadducees, who are very rigid in judging offenders, above all the rest
of the Jews.
Josephus, Antiquities 20.9.1 (199)
Similar words were written about three or four decades before Jesus was born by an unknown author
who said,
Why are you sitting in the council of the devout, you profaner?
And your heart is far from the Lord,
Provoking the God of Israel by lawbreaking;
Excessive in words, excessive in appearance above everyone,
He who is harsh in words in condemning sinners at judgment.
Psalms of Solomon 4:1-2
Clearly, the Sadducees had a well established reputation of corruption by the time Jesus began to
minister. They were the primary instigators and final actors before the Romans to have Jesus
crucified. In summary, the theological and social positions of the Sadducees (compare to 02.01.14
Pharisees) were,175

173. Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. 262-66.

174. Megillah, Taanith 10; Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. 127.
175. Lang, Know the Words of Jesus. 326.

1. Their theology reflected strong influences of Epicurean philosophy and other popular
Greek ideas.176
2. Wealthy aristocrats; by the early first century A.D., the Sadducees had become an elite
social-religious group who controlled the temple and were interested only in their own
wealth, power, and welfare.177
3. Theologically conservative but gave only lip service to the Old Testament laws, yet they
had no problem accepting Hellenism.
4. Theologically, the Sadducees believed only in the Torah and gave no credibility to any
other books of the Hebrew Bible, nor did they give credibility to the Oral Law.178 They said
that books such as Daniel, Ezra, and Esther were foreign, implying that they contained
imported ideas from the Persians.
5. Denied the resurrection of the soul.179 And by denying the resurrection and immortality in
general (Acts 23:8), they also renounced the messianic hope.
6. Denied belief in final judgment, angels, etc.
7. They were separated from the common people who were called the am-ha-arets, meaning
the unlearned.180 They had no concern for them, nor did they feel obligated to intercede to
God for their behalf.181
8. Few in number
9. Were very friendly to, and in co-operation with, the Romans
10. They believed that whatever wealth, power, status, and influence they acquired were
blessings of God, but they would have to strive for them by whatever means possible.

176. Farrar, The Life of Christ. 41, 349.

177. See an Illustration Of Various Religious Groups And Their Relationship To The Sadducees at 02.03.11.A.
178. Moulder, Sadducees. 4:278-81, Schmaltz and Fischer, Messianic Seal. 22.
179. Josephus, Antiquities. 18.1.4 (14-17).
180. Bailey, Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes. 292; Geikie, The Life and Words of Christ 2:348.
181. Moulder, Sadducees. 4:278-81.

Therefore, not only did the Sadducees not believe in an eternity, but in doing so, they denied any
messianic hope. That, coupled with their Hellenistic ideals and lifestyle, explains why they sought to
destroy the work of Jesus by whatever means possible and were the major oppressors of the early
church.182 They were arrogant and rude to Jews of other sects and, as Josephus said, to foreigners
who came to Jerusalem.183 When Jesus was before Pilate, it was they who cried, Let His blood be
upon us and our children. Their wish came true because the Romans killed every one of them with
the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70.
Finally, the common Jewish peasants hated the ruling Sadducees who were seen as the corrupt
occupiers of the temple; puppets of the occupying Romans. The only limited friends they had were
several aristocratic Pharisaic families. Since the Jews did not have a ruling king, their only leadership
was the Pharisees. Hence, Jesus said they were without a shepherd. The term sheep without a
shepherd is found in a number of Old Testament accounts,184 but few prophets were as dynamic in
their use of this term as was Ezekiel in 34:1-10.
02.01.17 Samaritans. The Samaritans claimed to be descendants of Jacob, his son Joseph, and his
two sons Ephraim and Manesseh. (cf. Jn. 4:12)m but it was an impure claim. In 722/21 B.C. the
Assyrians conquered the ten northern Israelite tribes, known collectively as Israel.185 In an attempt to
destroy the culture and prevent possible future uprisings, the Assyrians deported a vast majority of
the ten Israelite tribes far to the east. For similar reasons, they imported five foreign tribes from other
conquered lands.186 The Israelites who were not deported intermarried with their new neighbors and
their descendants became known as the Samaritans,187 named after the land of Samaria in which they

182. Mt. 22:23; Mk. 12:18; Acts 4:5; 23:8

183. Josephus, Wars. 2.8,14. Josephus, at times makes a passing comment on foreigners living in the land, such as their
presence in Galilee. See also Wars 3.3.2 (41).
184. Num. 27:17; 1 Kg. 22:17 = 2 Chron. 18:16.
185. New International Version Archaeological Study Bible. (notes) 1737.
186. Gaster, Samaritans. 4:190-93.
187. As of this writing, the total population of the Samaritans is under one thousand. They still practice their religious rituals
such as Passover sacrificial offerings, as during the time of Christ. They claim to be descendants of the tribes of Levi,
Ephraim, and Manasseh. They further claim to have maintained a continuous priesthood from Aaron (brother of Moses)
through Eleazar and Phinehas until the 17th century A.D.
188. Cf. 2 Kg. 17; see also 03.02.04; Anderson, R. T. Samaritans. 303; La Sor, Samaria. 4:298-303.

Concerning the Samaritan religion, they followed the Jewish Torah, but with several significant
1. The Samaritans removed all references pertaining to Jerusalem from their Torah.
2. The Samaritans believed that Mount Gerizim instead of Jerusalem was the divine location
to offer sacrifice and worship God.
3. They believed Mount Gerizim was where God created Adam and Eve.
4. The Samaritans also believed Mount Gerizim was where Abraham offered Isaac, and every
Samaritan child knew where the thicket bush was where the ram got caught.
5. While the Samaritan Torah was modified from the Jewish edition, there is agreement
between the two holy books on more than two thousand other passages.189 Ironically, this
reflects accuracy of transmission and translation over many centuries to the modern Bible
6. After the Babylonians took the captured Jews of Jerusalem and Judea to Babylon in 585
B.C., the Jews changed their Hebrew alphabet to the Aramaic Square Script. Since the Old
Testament until that time wase written in the older Hebrew script, the Samaritans felt the
Babylonian Jews polluted the Scriptures by making this change. Therefore, the Samaritan
form of writing is a much older version of Hebrew, but it too, has undergone some changes
throughout history.190
7. The Samaritans, like so many others in the ancient Middle East, believed that God would
send someone soon to restore their land and people. That someone was called the Taheb or
Restorer a great prophet of the end-time whom Moses referred to in Deuteronomy 18:15.191
8. Concerning ritual purity, the Jews were insistant on ritual purity on a variety of issues, but
not so the Samaritans. They accepted Greek coins with pagan deities, temples for pagan

189. Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. 19 n. 27.
190. Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. 18-20.
191. Bruce, New Testament History. 34-35; Scott, Jr. Jewish Backgrounds of the New Testament. 200. See also 06.01.03.

worship, and even the name Sabaste is the Greek name for Augusta or Augustus.192 These
things the Jews desperately opposed, and they hated the Samaritans for accepting them.
9. The Samaritan calendar is different from the Jewish one, making the festival observances
at different times than Jewish ones.193

02.01.17.A. RUINS OF THE SAMARITAN TEMPLE. The ruins of the Samaritan

temple lay beneath the Byzantine ruins in the foreground. The Byzantine church was
built to honor the Samaritan temple. Photograph by the author.
Therefore, the Samaritans, like the Sadducees, the Pharisees, the Essenes of Qumran, and all the
smaller related religious groups considered themselves to be Israelites, between the years 250 B.C.
and A.D. 200.194 However, the Samaritans did not take on the name Jew. If the religious
differences were not enough to cause conflicts, actions by both sides intensified the hatred and
conflict. The following is an abbrieviated list of repulsive actions.

192. Geikie, The Life and Words of Christ 1:51, 117.

193. Scott, Jr. Jewish Backgrounds of the New Testament. 200.
194. Charlesworth and Evans. The Pseudepigrapha and Early Biblical Interpretation. 22.

1. When the Jews returned from Babylon to Israel to rebuild the temple, a Horonite
(Samaritan) by the name of Sanballat harassed them with the help of a garrison in Samaria
(Neh. 4:2).195
2. When the Greek General Alexander the Great conquered this part of the world, he
destroyed the Samaritan cities but left Jerusalem untouched.196
3. But a little more than a century later during the Maccabean Revolt, when the Jews fought
against the Syrian Greeks, they had to fight the Samaritans as well.
4. Furthermore, whenever the Samaritans had the opportunity at this time to capture Jews,
they sold them into slavery. This caused deep bitterness.
5. In 128 B.C. when John Hyrcanus became a Jewish governor and high priest, he destroyed
the Samaritan temple.197
6. In 107 B.C., Hyrcanus destroyed the Samaritan city of Shechem.198
7. In 63 B.C. when the Romans conquered the Jewish lands and the Samaritans again fought
against the Jews.199
8. When Herod the Great was crowned king of the Jews, the Samaritans fought with him
against the Jews.
9. Josephus recorded a number of accounts where the Samaritans attacked the Jews. In one
such case, when the temple gates were opened at midnight to accommodate the worshipers
195. Sanballat is among fifty biblical names whose existence has been verified by archaeological studies in a published article
by Lawrence Mykytiuk titled, Archaeology Confirms 50 Real People in the Bible. Biblical Archaeology Review. March/April,
2014 (40:2), pages 42-50, 68. This archaeological evidence confirms the historical accuracy of the biblical timeline. For
further study see the website for Associates for Biblical Research, as well as Grisanti, Recent Archaeological Discoveries that
Lend Credence to the Historicity of the Scriptures. 475-98. However, some scholars debate the identity of Sanbalat as there
was more than one individual of importance by this name. For example, there is a Sanbalet mentioned in the Elephantine
Papyri; a literary work written by Jews who escaped the Babylonians and Persians in the 6 th century to live on the island of
Elephantine in southern Egypt. The name also appears in the Wadi Daliyeh papyri (4 th cent. B.C.).
196. Kelso, Samaria, City of. 5:238.
197. Some scholars believe Hyrcanus destroyed the Samaritan temple in 108 B.C.
198. Kelso, Samaria, Territory of. 5:242; Lang, Know the Words of Jesus. 283.
199. Gaster, Samaritans. 4:191-96.

with their Passover lambs, a number of Samaritans entered and desecrated the temple by
throwing human bones throughout the sanctuary.200 This sacrilege occurred shortly after
Coponius, the first procurator after Anchelaus was deposed.
10. At this time it was common practice that priests would give trumpet and fire signals from
the pinnacle of the temple to mark the beginning of the Sabbath, the beginning of a month,
and special festivals. The fire signals were repeated from one hill-top community to another,
and within minutes all Israel knew when that the Sabbath had begun.201 The Samaritans
would at times set off a false signal, much to the anger of the Jews who had been deceived.
11. At times when Jews traveled from Galilee through Samaria on their way to Jerusalem,
they were beaten and sometimes killed, although leaving the Holy City and returning to
Galilee was always seen as a good thing by the Samaritans.
Little wonder then, that by the time Jesus came on the scene the social tension was extremely
volatile. This is seen in John 8:48, when the accusers referred to Jesus as a Samaritan. It was in the
cultural context and connection that, in rabbinic demonology, a leading demon was named Shomroni,
which was also used to refer to either a demon or Samaritan.202 Obviously this reflects the tension
between the two groups. Yet according to John 4 and the book of Acts, missionary efforts in Samaria
were successful in the early years of the church.203
In light of these hostilities, the words and work of Jesus were absolutely profound. Imagine what the
Jews thought when Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan, or when He healed the ten lepers,
and only the Samaritan returned to thank Him. Jesus was not only a profound person to the Jews, but
also to the Romans who were quietly watching Him with the help of the Herodians.

200. A.D. 6 or 7; Josephus, Antiquities. 18.2.2; Geikie, The Life and Words of Christ 1:293.
201. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament. 2:113.
202. Fruchtenbaum, The Jewish Foundation of the Life of Messiah: Instructors Manual. Class 16, page 2.
203. Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. 19-21.


02.01.17.B THE SAMARITAN TORAH SCROLL. Hosney Kohen, a future

Samaritan high priest in 1999, discussed the Samaritan faith and Torah Scroll with
the author. Photo by translator Arie bar David.
02.01.18 School of Hillel. Hillel, a/k/a Hillel the Elder, was one of the most important religious
leaders in Israel during the time of Roman occupation. He was born in Babylon around 50 B.C., but
some sources date his birth as early as 110 B.C., and he is believed to have died in A.D. 10. Because
Isaiah said that the law should proceed forth from Jerusalem (Isa. 2:3); Jerusalem became the center
of religious training. Hillel came to study in Jerusalem at the famous schools of Abtalion and
Schemaiah.204 About three decades before the birth of Jesus, he rose from the lowest ranks among
the rabbis and became President of the Sanhedrin.
Hillel is at times compared to Moses, as both supposedly lived to an age of 120 and Hillel studied
forty years and the last forty years he was a leader to his people. As such, there is an excellent
possibility that he or his students were in the temple when Jesus was there at the age of 12. He was
also from the line of David, of Shephatiah, the son of Abital a genealogical record that added to his
204. Geikie, The Life and Words of Christ 1:275.
205. Babylonian Talmud, Juchas. 19.2; Lightfoot, A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica. 3:35.

Hillels school of biblical interpretation held to the orthodox form of Judaism. He was a strict rabbi
with a strong leaning to charity and mercy along with some liberal ideas of the time. In fact, it has
been said that some of his ideas and ways of teaching the core values of the Torah was nearly
identical to those of Jesus.206 He was known for his kindness, gentleness, and influence during the
reign of Herod the Great (37 4 B.C.) and the childhood days of Jesus. He established an academy,
which was known for its compassion toward fellow Jews and moral Gentiles. Some scholars believe
that it was his son Simeon who served in the temple when Jesus was dedicated.207 The grandson of
Hillel, Gamaliel, trained the Apostle Paul, who was also a Pharisee.208 It appears that Jesus agreed
much more with the teachings of the School of Hillel than with the opposing School of Shammai.209
Since Hillels teachings are often similar to those of Jesus, some scholars have suggested that Jesus
received His ideas of ethics and morality from him. Others believe Hillel was a significant element
of the fullness of time phrase of Galatians 4:4b in that he brought many people in line with what
Jesus would be teaching. After the destruction of the temple, his followers became the dominant
influence in Jewish lives. Leaders of both the Schools of Hillel and Shammai claimed to have heard
a voice from heaven, even though on occasion they had strong contrasting interpretations of
Scripture. It is difficult to classify either one as liberal or conservative. However, Hillel had a
reputation for being kind and gentle while Shammai was impatient and abrasive.210 (See last
paragraph of 02.01.19 School of Schammai below.) One of the lasting contributions of Hillel was
his seven rules of biblical interpretation.211 Most Jewish scholars agree, however, these did not all
originate with him, but he popularize them. See Appendix 30 for the complete listing.
02.01.19 School of Shammai. Shammai (c. 50 B.C. A.D. 30) was a leading Jewish scholar during
the time of Herod the Great and Jesus. He was the embodiment of the narrow-minded legalistic
Pharisaic spirit.212 His school of biblical interpretation became popular about 30 B.C. and took
control of the Sanhedrin ten years later when Shammai was most powerful.213 Shammai, an
206. Moseley, Yeshua: A Guide to the Real Jesus and the Original Church. 111.
207. See Lightfoot, A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica. 2:31.
208. Falk, Jesus the Pharisee. 48.
209. Pixner, With Jesus Through Galilee. 32.
210. Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. 91; Babylonian Talmud, Shabbath 31a.
211. There are multiple sources that explain Hillels Rules of Interpretation. His seven rules were later expanded into thirteen
by Rabbi Ishmael. See Fischer, The Gospels in Their Jewish Context. (Lecture on CD/MP3). Week 11, Session 1.
212. Geikie, The Life and Words of Christ 1:276.
213. Fischer, The Gospels in Their Jewish Context. (Lecture on CD/MP3). Week 5, Session 2.

aggressive man with a rough personality, established an academy to promote his theology.
Essentially, this school introduced some new changes in the way the Mosaic Law was applied to the
common people. The Jerusalem Talmud reports that one member of this group practiced polygamy, a
severe change from the norm in first century Judaism.214 The rabbis of this school placed restrictive
rules upon the people (binding), which were released by the rabbis of Hillel (loosning). When
Jesus made harsh statements toward the Pharisees, it was generally to the School of Shammai.
Hence, there was not only conflict between the Pharisees and Sadducees, but also between these two
theological centers within the Pharisee sect.215 In A.D. 70 when the temple was destroyed, the
School of Shammai was also destroyed along with the Sadducees.216
Comparing the differences of Hillel and Shammai can be challenging for modern students because
they do not fit well in the conservative vs. liberal mold. Shammai and his followers tended to be
more strict in their interpretation of the Mosaic Law, Jewish traditions, and in their judicial
decisions. Hillel and his school were more liberal in their handeling of the law, but more lenient in
matters of interpretation and forgiving in judgment.
02.01.20 Scribes. In the early years of the Old Testament era, scribes were little more than
secretaries who functioned as copy writers and performed dictations.217 By the beginning of the Intertestmaental period, scribes were generally considered to be scholars of the Mosaic Law (Ezra 7:6;
Neh. 8:1), who had excellent writing skills, and by the first century they also functioned as lawyers
(Greek, nomodidaskalos), teachers of the Law, accountants, secretaries, journalists, historians,
librarians, and teachers.218 It is believed that most were clerks in a small middle-class society, but
some rose to wealthy and powerful prominence.219 The skill of writing became a monopoly for some

214. Falk, Jesus the Pharisee. 54. Harvey Falk reports that a Rabbi Eliezer was married, and in his later years he also married his
niece; but his first wife, whom he never divorced, outlived him. There is a well documented case of first century polygamy in
the religious establishment of the Pharisees, but it was not a common practice. See the Jerusalem Talmud, Yevamot 13.2 and
Sanhedrin 68a.
215. Farrar, Life of Christ. 307.
216. http://www.tyndale.cam.ac.uk/Tyndale/staff/Instone-Brewer/prepub/Sanhedrin%2043a%20censored.pdf. Retrieved
May 26, 2013.
217. 1 Chron. 2:55; 26:6; 27:32; 2 Chron. 34:13; Ezra 4:8-9, 17, 23; Ps. 45:1; Jer. 8:8; Nah. 3:17.
218. Hillyer, Scribe, Writing. 3:477-78.
219. Walton, Matthews, Chavalas. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament. 417-18.

families which insured wealth for future generations.220 In addition, the reading of the Scriptures in
local synagogues was done by scribes who were generally were members of the Pharisees.
Most people were closely aligned to the Pharisees because this religious group controlled the local
synagogues, and the people felt comfortable because they had studied the Written and Oral Laws
more than any other religious sect.221 Because Pharisees were usually synonymous with the teachers
of the Law,222 it is at times difficult to distinguish them from the scribes.223 Not all scribes were
Pharisees, but all the Pharisees who were members of the Sanhedrin were scribes (cf. Mt. 23:7-8).224
Whenever Jesus criticized the scribes and aristocratic Pharisees,225 He did so for the following
1. They imposed restrictive laws on people which they avoided themselves.
2. They built beautiful monument tombs for the prophets who were sent by God, but whom
they killed.
3. They kept knowledge of Gods Word essentially for themselves, and made themselves
judge and jury of biblical interpretation.
4. They were incredibly prideful in dress, in greetings, and in public places such as the
market and synagogue. The leading Pharisees were so self-righteous, that they often bathed
after being in public with the common people.
A scribe was called a Talmid, meaning a learned one, or the educated one. A scribe was also known
as a Chakham, meaning wise man because he studied all the laws and knew how to apply them to
daily life.226 They were literary professionals who were available for the purpose of writing legal
220. Hillyer, Scribe, Writing. 3:477-79.
221. Cited from Moseley, Yeshua: A Guide to the Real Jesus and the Original Church. 92.
222. Mt. 3:7; 15:1; Mk. 2: 16, 24; Lk. 11:38.
223. Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. 59.
224. Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. 236. Being a scribe was a family occupation, handed down from one generation to
another. For a list of families of scribes, see I Chronicles 2:55, and for a company of scribes, see 1 Maccabees 7:12.
225. Other Jewish writers also criticized the leading Pharisees as found in 1 Enoch 102:9-10; Testament of Moses 7:3; Tosefta,
Menahot 13:22. See also Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. 259, n 42.
226. Lang, Know the Words of Jesus. 173.

contracts. There were various divisions of scribes. For example, some scribes functioned as royal
secretaries (2 Sam. 8:17) and others were military scribes (Jer. 37:15). It appears that the art of
writing was a craft controlled by selected families. The Kenites had families of scribes living at
Jabez (1 Chron. 2:55) who appear to have kept a monopoly on their craft. However, in Jerusalem,
scribal schools trained priests and Levites who in turn, trained the people of the Law. Ezra could not
have taught the people the Law of Moses if there were no scribal schools in Babylon. Thankfulness
should be granted to the Levitical scribes who copied the books of the Old Testament (Deut. 17:18;
Jer. 8:8). They wrote various documents that pertained to the maintenance of the temple facility (2
Kg. 12:10; 2 Chron. 34:13).227
The famous leader, Ezra, for whom an Old Testament book is named, created this separate body
known as scribes or the sopherim. They copied Scriptures for all occasions, carefully counting every
letter to insure accurate transmission of the Sacred Word.228 By the first century they became known
as lawyers229 and doctors of the Law.230 Since nearly every aspect of Jewish life was controlled by
religious law, scribes were theological lawyers who were trained in the application of the Torah and
the Oral Law. Hence, they were also the authoritative expositors. They were often given the honored
position of reading the Scriptures in the synagogues and were authoritative consultants who settled
Scribes existed in all major religious parties, but most belonged to the Pharisees.232 Twice they are
referred to as the scribes of the Pharisees (Mk. 2:16; Acts 23:9), indicating that there were also
scribes of other religious groups. Although the New Testament seems to imply there were many who
were of the same Jewish party as the Pharisees, they were technically a trade guild and not a separate
religious party.233 They are best remembered for being extremely detail-oriented concerning religious
law, masters of hair-splitting details and theological debates. This explains why they were in

227. See also Josephus, Antiquities 12.3.3; cf. 11.5.1.

228. Freeman, The New Manners and Customs of the Bible. 420.
229. Mt. 22:35; Lk. 7:30; 11:45; 14:3.
230. Lk. 2:46; 5:17; Acts 5:34; Freeman, The New Manners and Customs of the Bible. 420-21; Guignebert, The Jewish World in the
Time of Jesus. 71.
231. Freeman, The New Manners and Customs. 420.
232. Metzger, B. New Testament. 48-49.
233. Hagner, Scribes. 4:360-61; Guignebert, The Jewish World in the Time of Jesus. 71.

constant discussions with Jesus, which ultimately led to their humiliation before their favorite
02.01.21 Sicarii. (See also Zealots 02.01.22). This group of freedom fighters was known as the
Sicarii to the Romans and as the Zealots to the Jewish people. Some scholars say that the names
are interchangeable, but are listed as two separate groups because other scholars say that the Zealots
were a subgroup within the Sicarii organization. Nonetheless, they were dedicated to eliminating
Hellenized Jews, overthrowing the Roman Empire to gain independence for Israel, as well as
reestablishing the Torah and the orthodox faith in Judaism.
Josephus identified them as a nationalistic group that was known for various terroristic murderous
activities.235 For example, they would walk in a crowded market, surround their victim who was
unaware of his situation and, on a given secret signal, pull out short thin daggers and assassinate the
victim. In fact, the name Sicarii is the Latin word meaning dagger or short sword.236 The group
would then walk away as if nothing had happened leaving the victim dead on the street. They utterly
terrorized Jerusalem.237 Luke mentioned a false messiah who led four thousand Sicarii terrorists in a
revolt that failed (Acts 21:38). The last of these hyper-Zealots was destroyed in A.D. 73 with the fall
of Masada.238
02.01.22 Zealots. (See also 02.01.21 Sicarii.) The Zealots were not only freedom fighters, but they
were extremely hostile to both the Romans, Herodians, and the wealthy aristocratic Jews of
Jerusalem namely the Sadducees.239 Their name was taken from 1 Kings 19:10, I have been very
zealous for the Lord God Almighty.240 They called themselves by the Hebrew term Gannaim or
Aramaic Qan anayya, which in Greek is Zelotai.241 Obviously the English word is derived from the
latter. Their rallying cry was No king for Israel but God. They believed it was a sin to pay taxes to
a pagan overlord and were determined to fight for their freedom.
234. Wilson, False Trials of Jesus. 18.
235. Josephus, Wars. 4.9; Antiquities. 20.8.6.
236. Bruce, New Testament History. 93.
237. Josephus, Wars. 2.13.3.
238. House, Chronological and Background Charts of the New Testament. 75.
239. Bruce, New Testament History. 94-95.
240. Pixner, With Jesus in Jerusalem. 126.
241. Bruce, New Testament History. 88.

While these first century terrorists first became organized and fought against Herod the Great in the
years 40-37 B.C., they did not become a political movement until Jesus was about eight or ten years
old. By then the Zealot name became identified with those who participated in the uprising of A.D.
6 led by Judas of Gamala, the son of Saripheus and Mattathias. This Judas (also known as Judas the
Galilean in Acts 5:37) said that Jews were a chosen people of God and, therefore, had no obligation
to pay taxes to the Roman government. This is the background of Matthew 22:17 when Jesus was
asked, Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? While the revolt failed, a Pharisee by the name of
Zadok joined Judas and together they formed a loosely knit religious political party which Josephus
called the fourth philosophy.242 They were trained to fight to their death and to recognize no
messiah except a messiah of the sword.243 From the time the Romans entered the land in 63 B.C.
until the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70, there were thirteen revolts244 and sixty claimants to the
title of messiah.245 Some historians say there were three major revolts that overshadowed dozens of
smaller ones. Only one of the Zealots, Menahem ben Hezekiah, claimed to be a descendant of
David.246 However, the greatest of these revolts became known as the First Revolt (A.D. 66),
which led to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple.
They originated in the Galilee region while Herod the Great was governor there before he became
king of the entire Jewish region, but became better organized under Judas in A.D. 6. Josephus said247
they were the most active freedom-fighting party at the time, convinced that God would help them
only if they helped themselves.248 Their concept of a messiah was one who would lead them to
military victory over Roman oppression. The concept of separation of church and State, or as
would have been said at that time, the separation of synagogue and state, did not exist at that time.
Religious faith was the primary motivation behind political movements; as is with radical Islamic
terrorists today. The center of the Jewish resistance movement was in the city of Gamala, located in
242. Josephus, Antiquities. 18.1.6 and 20.8.10.
243. Farrar, The Life of Christ. 442.
244. See Appendix 25 for a listing of false prophets who had messianic expectations and for a partial listing of revolts and
social disturbances from 63 BC to AD 135.
245. Geikie, The Life and Words of Christ 2:114.
246. Jerusalem Talmud, Berakhoth 2.4, 5a.18. Menahem ben Hezekiah was a major leader in the revolt of A.D. 66 (Josephus,
Wars 2.17.8). For more than a hundred years the Hezekiah family was involved in various revolts, and mutinies. This has
given credibility to some that they were of royal lineage as they claimed.
247. Josephus, Antiquities. 18.1.6 (23-25).
248. Golub, In the Days. 274.

the mountains east of Galilee, where in A.D. 66 more than five thousand Zealots chose to commit
suicide rather than die by the Roman sword.249 From this group came a disciple of Jesus by the name
of Simon who was referred to later as Simon the Zealot, to differentiate him from Simon Peter.250
The violent activities of the Sicarii / Zealots initiated the First Revolt.251 The last of these freedom
fighters died at Masada in A.D. 73, but their ideals and dreams of a restoration of a political dynasty
equal to that of King David continued. Six decades later the Jews were at war again, in what has
become known as the Second Revolt (A.D. 132-135). This revolt is also known as the Simon bar
Kokhba Revolt and resulted in the dispersion of all Jews and Christians from Jerusalem by the
command of the Roman General Hadrian.252

249. Pixner, With Jesus in Jerusalem. 126.

250. Pixner, With Jesus in Jerusalem. 126.
251. For more information on the Zealot movement, see Josephus, Wars. 2.4.1 and 4.4.1.
252. Donaldson, 4:1175-79; Crossan and Reed, Excavating Jesus. 190-92.


Unit 02
Cultural Background Studies
Chapter 02
Biblical And Extra-Biblical Writings

02.02.00.A. JESUS HEALS THE LEPER. Artist unlnown. A ninth century Penand-ink drawing depicts a leper with spots coming to Jesus for a healing. Vatican

02.02.01 Introduction. This study contains hundreds of quotations from ancient extra-biblical,
meaning non-biblical sources. The importance of these writings lies in the fact that they aid in the
understanding of the problems of daily first century life, including theological discussions, major
cultural, historical events, and the reaction of rulers and people to various problems. A brief
description of each source if given so the reader will understand why some of them are more reliable
and significant than others. For example, books such as the Didache and Mishnah are important
while others, such as the Gnostic writings, hold almost no historical value and are theologically
As stated previously, for the purpose of this study, the ideal writer of yesteryear quoted herein was
one who lived in the land of Jesus and at the time of Jesus. The further in time and geographical
distance an ancient writer was from the life of Christ, the more suspect his manuscript becomes.
However, that does not negate it but it raises the bar for discerning critique. For the purpose of this
study, nearly all writings after the sixth or seventh centuries were discounted. There are hundreds of
old manuscripts in the possession of universities and museums pretending to provide additional
detail to the life and ministry of Jesus. Nearly all of them are fanciful stories that should never have
been written.253
02.02.02 Ante-Nicene Fathers. The Ante-Nicene Fathers are those church leaders who were
influential prior to the Church Council of Nicea in the year 325. They discussed a wide variety of
theological and church issues. Since they lived within three centuries of Jesus, they present valuable
insight into the cultural and background setting, as well as early interpretations of Scripture. Some of
these writings are quoted in this e-Book.
02.02.03 Apocrypha. The Apocrypha254 is a collection of fourteen books255 written, for the most
part, during the Inter-Testamental Period in the Holy Land.256 It was the intent of the authors to write
253. Two examples are: 1) Ron Charles, who has gathered scores of fanciful legends and myths, mostly written between the
sixth and sixteenth centuries, that pertain to the life of Christ in his book titled The Search: A Historians Search for Historical
Jesus. (Self-Published, 2007). 2) Nicholas Notovich, whose book, The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ. Trans. (Virchand R. Gandhi,
Dover Pub.) is a so-called historical accunt of when Jesus went to Asia to study between the ages 13 and 29.
254. See Fritsch, Apocrypha. 1:161-66; Davies, Apocrypha. 1:161-65; Harrison, R. Apocrypha. 1:205-10; Charlesworth,
The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. Vol. 1 and 2; Metzger, B. ed., The Apocrypha of the Old Testament: Revised Standard Version.
255. The Apocrypha consists of the following books: (1) I Esdras, (2) II Esdras; (3) Tobit; (4) Judith; (5) Additions to the Book of
Esther; (6) The Wisdom of Solomon; (7) Ecclesiasticus, also known as The Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach, or simply as Sirach; (8)
Baruch, including the Letter of Jeremiah; (9) The Prayer of Azaraih and the Song of the Three Young Men; (10) Susanna; (11) Bel and the
Dragon; (12) The Prayer of Manasseh; (13) 1 Maccabees and (14) 2 Maccabees. Unfortunately, some authors ascribe other books to
this category.
256. Golub, In the Days. 240-41.

a message to an inner circle of the faithful, which could not be understood by outsiders. Hence the
Greek name apokryphos, meaning hidden or concealed.257 The Roman Catholic258 and Eastern
Orthodox Churches accepted them as inspired Scriptures.259 Protestants, however, recognized these
books only for the historical values, as they believe these add nothing of theological value to the
canonical Scripture.260 They enhance the understanding of the Greco-Roman-Jewish atmosphere and
are a witness to the faith of the Jewish people living in the second century B.C. Hence, these provide
essential historical background for understanding the Judaism of Jesus day and the Jewish matrix of
early Christianity.261 Each book must be evaluated for its worth and intended use in a particular
study. For example, the book of Judith is essentially a book of fables common in the days of Jesus,
whereas 1 and 2 Maccabees are both well-written, highly respected contemporaneous historical
accounts of the second century B.C.
Apocalyptic literature appears in both the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha. The very nature of the
word apocalyptic has the meaning of pending divine judgment and an end of the world.262 These
authors were convinced of the following:
1. They were living in the proverbial end times,
2. The Messiah would soon come,
3. The age of humanity was quickly coming to a close,
4. The events they witnessed in their day were signs of the struggles between God and the
evil one, and
5. In a final armed conflict God would win and righteous people would likewise be brought
into victory with God.
6. Then Satan and all Gentiles would be destroyed along with non-observant Jews.263
257. Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. 23.
258. The Roman Catholic Church, as late as 1546, embraced the Apocrypha as Scripture at the Council of Trent.
259. Davies, Apocrypha. 1:161-65; Bright, History of Israel. 455.
260. Fischer. The Gospels in Their Jewish Context. (Lecture on CD/MP3). Week 6, Session 1.
261. Foster and King, Binding and Loosening. 26.
262. Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. 16, 23, 779.

Two biblical books that are outstanding examples of apocalyptic literature are Daniel and the
Revelation.264 Like the Pseudepigrapha (described below), some Apocrypha books were written in
part to justify portions of Scripture that were embarrassing to the Jews. Since the Jews had elevated
their patriarchs to near deity level, they could not accept the fact that they were men who had sinned
and were extended forgiveness by the grace of God. This is reflected in the Pseudepigrapha books
and is evidence of the theological chaos that existed in the first centuries B.C. and A.D. Jerome
made this comment about these books in his Letter to Laeta.
They are not written by those to whom they were ascribed ... many faulty elements have
been introduced into them, and ... it requires infinite discretion to look for gold in the
midst of dirt.
Jerome, Letter to Laeta

263. Bright, A History of Israel. 454-56.

264. The book of Daniel was written by the prophet of the same name, after he and many others were taken captive into
Babylon in 605 B.C. However, critics maintain that since it is apocalyptic and prophetic in nature, it must have been written
after 170 B.C. as a historical description of the horrors unleashed by Antiochus IV Epiphanes. The Revelation was written in
A.D. 95 by John.

02.02.03.A. THE HELIODORUS STELE. LEFT: This stele, dated to 178 B.C., is
shown with the missing portions in place, and RIGHT: the portions discovered in
2005 and 2006. It illustrates the background of 2 Maccabees and demonstrates that
the book is an authentic and independent information source on this historical period.
The inscription marks the beginning of the Greek-Seleucid intervention of Jewish life
that eventually led to the Maccabean Revolt in 167 B.C. Heliodorus was ordered by
King Seleucus IV (reigned 189-175 B.C.) to remove the treasures from the Jewish
temple. The king called for the appointment of overseers in various provinces,
including Judea.
A number of older manuscripts, such as the Sinaitic, Vatican, and Alexandrian contain the
Apocrypha. The oldest Syriac version does not have it but newer ones do.265 It was first printed in
the English language in 1535 as part of the Coverdale Bible where it was placed between the Old and
New Testaments. It was often a part of the Protestant Bible, but solely for its historical value until
1827.266 By the end of the 1800s, all Protestant Bibles eliminated the Apocrypha but the Roman
Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Bibles continue to include it.
Two of the books within the Apocrypha category are 1 and 2 Maccabees. Some scholars have
questioned the reliability of these works, until the Heliodorus Stele was discovered. The inscribed
stone preserves part of a letter of King Seleucus IV Philopator (218-175 B.C.) that was written to a
Seleucid official, Heliodorus, who is believed to have been the assassin of the king. The account
provides the historical context for the royal official Heliodorus named in the miraculous story in 2
Maccabees, chapter 3. The communication was engraved in the stone stele for public display. In it
the king discusses the proper care of temples in his domain, specifically Coele-Syria and Phoenicia,
which included Judaea.267 The kings proclamation represents the beginning of royal policy of
religious exploitation and interference that would lead to the Maccabean Revolt a decade later.
Of course the historical accuracy of 1 and 2 Maccabees does not imply that other books within this
category have the same historical accuracy. Nonetheless, when researching cultural norms, it is
exciting to uncover historical accuracy as well.

265. Heysham, The Birth of the Bible. 31.

266. Davies, Apocrypha. 1:163; Heysham, The Birth of the Bible. 9-11.
267. Resig, Dorothy D. Volunteers and Missing Pieces to Looted Inscription. 64-67.

02.02.03.Q1 Did Jesus Quote the Apocrypha?
Some critics have stated that Jesus quoted or referred to the Apocrypha or Pseudepigrapha.268 Their
attempt is to imply He borrowed ideas and, therefore, His teaching was not of divine inspiration.
The question is how to explain that these books, written years before the birth of Jesus, have
references to concepts in the gospels? The answer lies in the fact that these books were written by
righteous Jews who had knowledge of the Old Testament and, therefore, incorporated some of these
teachings in their writings. What Jesus taught was based upon the Old Testament instruction and, in
fact, many themes were taught by rabbis prior to His coming.
Furthermore, it must be realized that even in pagan communities there were some social principles
that were godly. For example, the Chinese sage Confucius presented the Golden Rule269 in the
negative form, as did the Jewish sage Tobit long before Jesus arrived in Bethlehem. This most
certainly does not mean that Jesus derived His opinions from either source, as some critics would
contend. It does mean that these men were aware, to some degree, of divine principles. The fact that
there is a similarity does not mean Jesus endorsed them or relied on them. He was, and is, God. His
Words have existed throughout all eternity past.
Some scholars claim the two examples below prove that Jesus depended upon the Apocrypha in His
Mt. 5:34-35 But I tell you, dont take an oath at all: either by heaven, because it is
Gods throne; 35 or by the earth, because it is His footstool; or by Jerusalem, because it
is the city of the great King.
This is parallel to:
Ben Sirach 23:9 Do not accustom your mouth to oaths, nor habitually utter the name of
the Holy One.

268 Jesus is not the only One who quoted or made reference to non-biblical sources. For further study in apologetics, see
http://www.ask.com/wiki/Assumption_of_Moses?o=2800&qsrc=999&ad=doubleDown&an=apn&ap=ask.com. See also
http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=13&article=1179 Retrieved April 5, 2015.
269. Horne, Jesus: The Master Teacher. 102.
270. Quotations from the Apocrypha found in the Bible: The New Revised Standard Version with Apocrypha.

Many words of Jesus were similar to those of other righteous rabbis, as they all pursued the heart of
God as presented in their Hebrew Bible. Jesus was a Jewish rabbi.
Mt. 7:12 Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for
themthis is the Law and the Prophets.
This is parallel to, but in reverse of:
Tobit 4:15 And what you hate, do not do to anyone.
These examples in Ben Sirach and Tobit are similar to the words of Jesus because He and other
rabbis had a similar sense of righteousness based upon the Hebrew Bible. It should not surprise the
modern student that righteous Jews thought very much like Jesus.
Finally, it should be noted that many myths and legends throughout the centuries are attributed to the
Apocrypha. Creative writers and painters have attempted to enhance the holiness and miracles of
Jesus. Several examples are as follows: Italian artists show that dragons bowed down to Jesus; that
lions and leopards adored Him; that the roses of Jericho blossomed wherever He walked. Writers say
that when the Holy Family entered Egypt, all the idols fell off their pedestals and that many lepers
were healed when the family went by.
Biblical myths were created throughout history, but appear to have increased significantly in Europe
during the Middle Ages. There is hardly a museum or library in Europe that does not have some socalled true story of the Bible hidden somewhere in its archives. Nearly all point to the fulfillment
of the prophetic words of Jesus in His Olivet Discourse (Mt. 24), when He warned that false teachers
would arise.
The redeeming quality of these writings is that, in contrast, they are astonishing proof that the
biblical gospels were produced by authors who were guided by the Holy Spirit. It becomes obvious
that no creative mind can enhance the sacred script without degrading and distorting it. While
creative writers and painters attempted to honor Jesus, their fanciful stories tend to dishonor and
misinterpret Him.
02.02.04 Bible. The name was derived from the Greek word biblia meaning book. The earliest biblia
consisted of papyrus sheets fastened together and rolled around a wooden rod, or two wooden rods,
to form a scroll.271 By the second century A.D., sheets were sewn together (see 02.02.05.A) to form
271. Cosby, Interpreting Biblical Literature. 86.

the modern concept of a book. The earliest use of ta biblia (the books), is from the mid-second
century A.D. church father, Clement. In 2 Clement 14:2, he said, The books and the apostles
declare that the church ... has existed from the beginning.272
Today Bibles have the convenience of chapter and verse divisions. Most historical sources credit
Stephen Langton (1150-1228) for placing chapter divisions in the Vulgate Bible in the year 1228.
Then, in 1240, Hugh De St. Cher introduced verses in the Hebrew Bible. But it wasnt for another
three centuries, in 1551, that Robert Stephen introduced verses divisions in the Green New
02.02.05 Codex. A codex is the name of an early book when pages of paper or vellum were cut into
sheets and sown together. Eventually hard covers were added. Modern books have developed out of
the codex. Prior to the codex, most writings were on papyrus scrolls.

02.02.05.A. THE CODEX SINAITICUS. This Codex dating of the 4th century
contains the earliest complete copy of the New Testament and the Old Testament is
the Septuagint translation from the 3rd century B.C. The Scriptures were written in
columns, as chapter and verse divisions did not occur until centuries later.
02.02.06 Dead Sea Scrolls. This is a collection of scrolls and scroll fragments that were written
between the second century B.C. and A.D. 70, by the Essenes who lived in the village of Qumran
272. Bruce, Bible, 1:193.
273. Heysham, The Birth of the Bible 10.

along the northwestern side of the Dead Sea. While scholars have questioned whether the Essenes
wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls, technological evidence has revealed that they were the authors of the
Scrolls.274 The Scrolls were hidden when the Roman army was descending upon Qumran after the
destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. From the time Judaea ceased being a semi-autonomous
political state, these scrolls remained hidden until 1947, a year prior to the creation of the state of
Israel. After much negotiation, on the day of Israels independence the fledgling state purchased the
first scroll discovered which, incidentally, was the book of Isaiah. This may have been by divine
appointment since this book has two significant themes:
1. The return of Jews to Israel and
2. The coming of the Messiah.

02.02.06.Q1 Why is the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls so significant?

These scrolls contain fragments of every book of the Hebrew Bible, except for the book of Esther. In
some cases, entire books have been discovered on a single scroll (i.e., two copies of Isaiah). The
scrolls of Isaiah are critical in the field of apologetics, because these writings negate the argument by
critics who say that copyists had changed the Bible over the centuries. Until these scrolls were
discovered, the oldest biblical texts were from the ninth century A.D., but these are a thousand years
older, overwhelming evidence that the Old Testament was copied and transmitted throughout the
centuries with a high degree of accuracy.275
Another value of the Scrolls is that they help scholars understand Hebrew and Aramaic of the first
century. One of every six extra-biblical scrolls was written in Aramaic, the common language in the
time of Jesus. Since He spoke Aramaic and His words were later translated into Greek, scholars now
have better understanding of the translation of words or phrases which previously were questionable.
The Essene commentaries reveal how this group of ultra-orthodox Jews interpreted their Hebrew

274. For example, in 2010 a team of Italian physicists used a new scientific device known as a XPIXE, which is an acronym
for X-ray and Particle Induced X-ray Emission It tested the chlorine and bromide residue found on the leather parchment
on which the Temple Scroll was written. The physicists found that the ratio of the two elements to be the same as in Dead Sea
water which is many times higher than in fresh water or sea water. The conclusion is that leather was tanned by the Essenes,
and not elsewhere by others, who some say, may have written this document. See Temple Scroll Produced at Qumran.
Artifax. 25:4 (Autmun, 2010). 10; Discovery News. July 20, 2010.
275. See also http://www.deadseascrolls.org.il/featured-scrolls. Retrieved December 19, 2012.

Bible. While certainly not all Jewish people interpreted Scripture in the same manner, it does present
views that were under serious consideration and debate at the time of Jesus.276
The Scrolls also preserved a picture of daily life in the days of Jesus, without the influence of
Christian thought or beliefs. Scholars can acquire insights into the practices and thoughts of other
Jewish people of the time of Jesus. However, there is also some evidence that, prior to the Roman
destruction, accounts of the gospel of Jesus had arrived at the Essene community. Two or three small
papyri fragments were found which some scholars believe are from the gospels. Since the fragments
are from the first century, this suggests that Jesus was very popular and His reputation penetrated
every segment of Jewish society as indicated in the gospels.


authors grand-daughters Maggie (left) and Carlie Jo examine a certified reproduction
of a clay jar identical to the ones in which some of the Dead Sea Scrolls were hidden
for 2,000 years. Photograph by a very proud grandpa.
A number of phrases in the New Testament are also in the Scrolls. Phrases such as sons of light,
sons of darkness, the elect, lake (river) of fire, and light and darkness, were obviously well
276. Bruce, Dead Sea Scrolls. 1:372.

known before the advent of Jesus and the New Testament. Some critics have stated that these were
inserted in the New Testament by church fathers in the second and third centuries. However, the
Scrolls put that argument to rest, especially the one commonly known as The Manual of Discipline in
which many of these appear. Furthermore, the Scrolls and New Testament indicate that the rite of
induction into the church or Essene community by immersion (baptism) had no saving benefits. The
communal fellowship that was encouraged for believers by Luke (Acts 4:32-37) was required by the
Essenes. However, as stated previously, the most important significance is that they are the oldest
manuscripts of the Bible and clearly indicate an accurate transmission of Scripture throughout the

Video Insert


02.02.06.V Dr. Bryant Wood discusses the significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls in terms of
understanding the life and times of Jesus, AND that these scrolls are overwhelming evidence
that the Scriptures have been faithfully translated and transmitted for the past 2,000 years. ( )
Click here.

The Scrolls also provide scholars valuable information relating to the text of the Hebrew Bible as it
was understood in the time of Jesus and the two or three centuries previous. Furthermore, they
provide information and details that the Hebrew Bible does not have (e.g., Ps. 145:13 and 1 Sam. 1011). In addition, the Scrolls confirm the criticism written in the Talmud and Mishnah of the
corruption of the temple priesthood. This is important to understanding the criticisms Jesus directed
toward the religious leaders. There is no question that the discovery of the Scrolls is the most
important archaeological discovery since the ministry Jesus.
02.02.07 Deuterocanonical Books. Those writings are books accepted by the Roman Catholic
Church in addition to the thirty-nine Old Testament books. The Deuterocanonical books include
some writings classified as Apocryphal books, but not New Testament books.277 The term means
second canon, and some books in this category are also found in other classifications and with other
titles.278 For example,
1. 1 Esdras is a/k/a 3rd Ezra

277. House, Chronological and Background Charts of the New Testament. 84.
278. Fischer, The Gospels in Their Jewish Context. (Lecture on CD/MP3). Week 6, Session 1.

2. 4th Ezra is a/k/a 2nd Esdras
3. Ecclesiasticus is a/k/a Jesus, ben Sirach, Ben Sirach, The Wisdom of Jesus, the Son of
Sirach, or just Sirach.279
4. The Assumption of Moses is a/k/a the Testament of Moses
Furtunately, the Deuterocanonical books are generally of little value, but are mentioned here because
the serious student will encounter them from time to time, and should be aware of them.
02.02.08 Didache. The Didache, meaning The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles280is a small book
describing the community or church rule of order. It was written about the time John wrote the book
of Revelation, or possibly a decade or two later (A.D. 95-120), but it obviously describes the basic
instruction of the early church that were already well established.281 Its focus is on how Gentile
converts need to change their lives in order to belong to a Jewish-Christian fellowship.
Its value lies in how the early church interpreted the teachings of Jesus.282 The book begins with the
statement There are two ways, one of life and one of death.283 Notice the subject divisions of the
1. Chapters 1 through 6 explain the two ways of life and death, and that there is a huge
difference between them.
2. Chapter 7 is on baptism
3. Chapter 8 discusses prayer and fasting, and includes the direct quotation of the Lords
Prayer. The Jewish people already had a ritual of praying three times a day,284 now they
replaced their traditional prayers with the Lords Prayer. Since the Pharisees fasted on
Mondays and Tuesdays, early Christians fasted on Wednesdays and Fridays the fasting
tradition continued but they did not want to be identified with the Pharisees.
279. This book was written approximately 100-50 B.C. and resembles the book of Proverbs.
280. Cate, A History of the New Testament and its Times. 40.
281. One minority view argues for a date as early as A.D. 60, and another for a late date of mind second century.
282. Crossan and Reed, Excavating Jesus. 9.
283. Didache 1:1a.
284. See 08.03.04; Acts 3:1; 10:3, 30; Didache 8:3.

4. Chapters 9 and 10 discusses the Communion service, and
5. Chapters 11 through 15 are on church organization and discipline.
The significance of the Didache has, unfortunately, been forgotten in the church today. It was
written to inform new converts the responsibilities of a new lifestyle that was expected of them. The
fact that communion follows baptism, underscores the point that it is intended only for the full
membership of the congregation. The rest of the book deals with administrative issues as well as
those who violated the biblical commands of a Christ-like life as briefly described in chapters 1
through 6.
02.02.09 Gemarah. This is the section of the Babylonian Talmud that explains the Mishnah (Oral
Law or Tradition of the Elders, i.e. Mt 15:1-2) and exists in two versions authored by two rabbinic
schools: one in Jerusalem and the other in Babylon. Each wrote independently of the other. The
result is that the Mishnah and Babylonian Gemarah together form the Babylonian Talmud, and the
Mishnah and Jerusalem Gemarah together form the Jerusalem Talmud. However, the Gemarah
reflects Jewish thought after the time of Jesus and is not significant in this study. On the other hand,
the Mishnah does reflect Jewish thought and legislative actions at the time of Jesus, and is therefore,
significant in this study. Segments of either Talmud that are based on the Mishnah are also quoted in
this study (See 02.02.16).
02.02.10 Gnosticism. This term refers to a philosophy from the Greek thinker, Plato (428-348 B.C.),
who suggested the contrast between the invisible world of ideas and the visible world of matter. By
the first century his ideas were formulated into two opposing modes of lifestyles:
1. Asceticism, which attempted to suppress all emotions because they were thought to be
related to matter and classified as evil, and
2. Sensualist, which was the indulgence of passions without regard to control or
consequences. The latter was an affront to Judaism. While these philosophies were a part of
the pagan Greek lifestyle at the time of Christ, they did not take on a Gnostic mythology until
later in the first century when the epistles were written.285
The two basic errors of Gnosticism are:
1. All matter, including mans body is evil when in fact Scripture states the human body is
the temple of God and, therefore, good.

285. Gundry, Survey of the New Testament. 60-62; Drane, Gnosticism 1:566-67.

2. Gnosticism teaches that salvation is an escape from the body with the use of special
The Bible states that salvation is only by faith in the resurrected Christ. In the Gnostic heresy known
as Cerinthianism, it was believed that the divinity of Jesus came upon Him at His baptism but left
shortly before His death.286 Other Gnostics said that since the body is evil Jesus did not exist, but
only appeared to exist. Finally, since the body was evil and the spiritual was good, there were no
applicable laws of human behavior; therefore, Gnosticism led many into sinful lifestyles.
Gnosticism never became an institutionalized movement or religion, nor was it popular in Palestine,
but it did exist.287 Likewise, there were Stoic and Cynic philosophers peddling their ideas from
community to community. This explains why Jesus referred to it indirectly, with general statements
on secrets and whispers (Mt. 10:26-27). They all claimed to have so-called higher knowledge
and wisdom secrets288 ideas and concepts written in various books289 things that Jesus warned
It was more popular in Greece, which is why the Apostle Paul addressed Gnostic philosophers in
Athens, whereas there is limited mention of it in the Gospels. Among Christians, there were those
who attempted to blend this philosophy with Christianity, but they were always labeled heretics.290
02.02.11 Gospel. The word gospel is from the Gree term euaggelion,291 meaning good news or joyful
news,292 but it is good news for those who accept it and bad news for those who reject it. The term is
from the Anglo-Saxon term meaning God-spell, or God story.293 The term Gospels refers to the four
286. New International Version Study Bible, 1906.
287. Martin, L. Hellenistic Religions. 37.
288. Renwick, Gnosticism. 484-85.
289. Of the many Gnostic books that have been written, in 1896 three manuscripts were discovered in Egypt. Known as the
Gospel of Mary, the Apocryphon of John, and the Sophia of Jesus Christ, these books were published in 1955.
290. Rudolf, Gnosis. 210, 293.
291. Barclay, A New Testament Wordbook. 41-42.
292. The good news is a theme throughout the New Testament, such as the good news of truth (Col. 1:5; Gal. 2:5), of hope
(Col. 1:23), of peace (Eph. 6:15), of promise (Eph. 3:6), and of salvation (Eph. 1:13). See also Richardson, Gospel. 100.
293. Miethe, The Compact Dictionary of Doctrinal Words. 99.

New Testament books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.294 The former three books are also known
as the synoptic gospels, because they see together a common message. The gospels were
written, copied, and circulated within the first century. Some accounts of Jesus were recorded by
only one writer, while others were recorded by all four writers. Each writer presented his account
from his unique perspective. Only Luke had any intention of writing a chronological account.
However, the chronology of events was considered to be a relatively minor point compared to the
words and works of Jesus.295 These four gospels were written for the following reasons:
1. The Jewish Oral Tradition accurately conveyed the Oral Law from generation to
generation. The Gentiles, however, did not have that tradition and, therefore, needed written
2. Although written separately, each clarifies and supplements the other books. Mark wrote
his book with an emphasis on historical events, even if these placed a negative light on the
disciples. Since he was writing to Gentiles, he explains many of the Jewish customs. Luke
wrote to a Greek audience to proclaim that Jesus was the Savior of all humanity whereas
John is a theological text that proclaims Jesus is the divine Son of God, and hence, he used
numerous I am statements.
3. The Jewishness of Jesus is portrayed differently in each text so that, when all are
considered, a broad view of Him is presented.296
Jesus is the coming Messiah who fulfilled prophecies.297 Matthew
wrote to the Jewish people for whom the Davidic line was important, and
furthermore, he wrote in five distinct teaching blocks.298 Some scholars say that
Matthew did not write in Hebrew (or Biblical Hebrew), but in a Jewish style,
meaning Mishnaic Hebrew.299
294. For further study, see Who Chose the Gospels: The Great Gospel Conspiracy.
http://www.slideshare.net/Athenagorus/who-chose-the-gospels-the-great-gospel-conspiracy. Retrieved March 4, 2015.
295. See also 01.02.03 The Analysis of Ancient Writings.
296. Daniel, A Harmony. 25-27.
297. See Appendix 7 Major Old Testament Prophecies Fulfilled by Jesus.
298. 1) Mt. 5-7 is on ethics; 2) Mt. 10 is on mission; 3) Mt. 13 is on kingdom parables; 4) Mt. 18 is on the new community;
and 5) Mt. 24-25 is the eschatological discourse. Matthew closed each discourse or block, with the phrse finished these
sayings (Mt. 11:1; 13:53; 19:1; 26:1); Bock, Jesus According to Scripture. 125, 153.
299. See Mishnaic Hebrew in Appendix 26.

Jesus is the suffering Servant. Mark wrote to the Romans who were
more interested in what Jesus did rather than what He taught. Therefore, words such
as immediately appear more than forty times. He recorded Peters preaching
without chronological order. Scholars almost universially agree that the book was
written in geographical sections.300
Jesus is the Savior of all humanity. Luke wrote to the Greeks who
idealized the perfect man and were also interested in historical accuracy. Therefore,
he begins his gospel record with the comment concerning his investigation and
chronological accuracy. He also mentioned the humanity of Jesus, such as being tired
or thirsty, which is reflective on his professional life as a physician,301 which added
respect to his work.
Jesus is the divine Son of God. John wrote to a general audience, but
emphasized the life of Jesus theologically with a greater focus on what He taught
than what He did opposite of Mark. John made use of the perfect number
seven,302 mentioning seven I am statements,303 seven discourses,304 and seven signs
or miracles.305
Three other significant points of study are that,
1. The gospels repeatedly attest to the historical reliability of the life of the Jews and
300. The sections are as follows: 1) the introduction to the book (1:1-13); 2) the ministry of Jesus in Galilee (1:14-6:6a); 3) His
missionary journeys (6:6b-10:52); 4) His ministry in Jerusalem (11:1-15:47); His Resurrection (16:1-8); and 6) an appendix
(16:9-20). Marks primary focus is on the deeds of Jesus rather than His teachings, and it is the shortest of the four gospels.
301. Concerning medical procedures available in the first century Israel, a number of good resources have been published by
the University of Haifa, Hebrew University, and the Israel Museum. For further study, see the articles published in
Michmanim, (English and Hebrew), Haifa, ISRAEL: University of Haifa (Vol. 13) May, 1999.
302. Bruce, Gospels. 2:582-83 and The Gospels. 3:16-18.
303. The Seven I AMs: Bread of Life (Jn. 6:35, 41, 48, 51): Light of the World (Jn. 8:12); Door of the Sheep (Jn. 10:7, 9);
Good Shepherd (Jn. 10:11, 14); Resurrection and the Life (Jn. 11:25); the Way, the Truth, the Life (Jn. 14:6) and the True
Vine (Jn. 15:1,5).
304. The Seven Discourses: new birth (Jn. 3:1-21); Works of God (Jn. 5:19-47); Bread of Life (Jn. 6:26-58); Water of Life (Jn.
7:11-52): Light of the World (Jn. 8:12-59); Good Shepherd (Jn. 10:22-39) and Upper Room Discourse (Jn. 131-17:26).
305. The Seven Signs: Water into Wine (Jn. 2:1-2); Healing the Noblemans Son (Jn. 4:46-54); Healing the Paralytic (Jn. 5:117); Feeding the 5,000 (Jn. 6:1-14); Calming the Storm (Jn. 6:15-21); Healing Man Born Blind (Jn. 9:1-14) and Resurrection of
Lazarus (Jn. 11:17-45).

2. Each gospel was written to address a specific need for some specific people also known
as contextualization.
3. Finally, the gospels are not letters, commonly known as epistles, but are a unique genre
of literature. Essentially, they are accounts or reports of the good news of Christ Jesus, or, as
one scholar has said, a kind of informative advertisement.306
It is generally agreed that all the gospels were written before A.D. 70, as evidenced by a constant
reference to the temple and its functions. Obviously, these references would be absent if written after
the destruction of the temple. Matthew and Mark, writers with some idealistic tendencies, would
certainly have recorded destruction and its profound influence upon the Church and Jewish people.
Jesus teachings, miracles, and resurrection were very important to Mark who wrote his gospel
during Neros persecution of Christians in Rome. The Roman Gentiles had a theological difficulty
with a deity who was crucified, but Mark addressed this issue. Luke was not a disciple of Jesus but
came to the faith through the teachings of the Apostle Paul. As a physician, he was a highly
educated and observant man who carefully researched various accounts before writing his gospel and
the book of Acts. His literary style is of the finest Greek, which is a reflection of his cultural and
educational background.
Some scholars have difficulties with the gospels concerning what is known as the Synoptic
Problem. The problem is that the books Matthew, Mark, and Luke (known as the Synoptics)
are in exact verbal agreement with each other in some passages, while in others they are somewhat
different. Hence, some believe that some narratives were copied from either another gospel (probably
Mark or Luke) or a source that has been lost in history. The Johannine Problem is similar in that
critics maintain that there are a number of points that do not agree with the Synoptic books. While
the book of John is often referred to a spiritual gospel, John obviously had a somewhat different
reason for writing it in the form as is found in Bibles today.307 These problems of various passages
are addressed throughout this e-Book. Each gospel writer gave his narrative from his unique
perspective concerning the major events in the life of Jesus to convince his audience that Jesus was
the focus of the Hebrew Bible and that all prophecies concerning the Messiah were fulfilled in Him.
Eusebius Pamphili (A.D. 263-339) was a renowned Roman historian and defender of the Christian
faith. For his many literary works, including Ecclesiastical History, he has become known as the

306. Mellowes and Cran, Producers. From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians. (DVD). Part 3.
307. Rensberger. The Politics of John. 394.

Father of Church History. He recorded the words of Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis (A.D. 70-155)
concerning the composition of the book of Mark.308
Papias was a disciple of John, the author of the fourth gospel and four other New Testament books
and, therefore, was well acquainted with the accuracy of the newly written Scriptures. Many decades
later, Eusebius included that information in his historical writings and said, for the benefit of modern
scholars, that the book of Mark was not written in chronological order, but for the benefit of his
audience. Note a portion of his comment:
This also the Elder said: Mark, who became Peters interpreter, wrote accurately,
though not in order, all that he remembered of the things said and done by the Lord.
For he had neither seen the Lord nor been one of his followers, but afterward, as I said,
he had followed Peter, who used to compose his discourses with a view to the needs (of
his hearers), but not as if he were composing a systematic account of the Lords sayings.
So Mark did nothing blameworthy in writing some things just as he remembered them;
for he was careful of this one thing, to omit none of the things he had heard and to state
no untruth therein.
Eusebius, Church History 3.39.14-15
Finally, Bible scholars today frequently refer to the meaning of various Greek words in the New
Testament. It is common knowledge that word studies greatly improve our understanding of the
Scriptures. However, there appears to be a fly in the proverbial ointment, and that is that according
to a number of early church fathers,309 including Eusebius, the book of Matthew was written in
Matthews first language Hebrew. Note his words,
But concerning Matthew, he writes as follows: So then Matthew wrote the oracles in
the Hebrew language, and everyone interpreted them as he was able.
Eusebius, Church History 3.39.16
Eusebius confirmed this again later when he said,

308. Cranefield, Mark. 267; Halley, Halleys Bible. 414.

309. Irenaeus (about 180); Papias (about 130); Pantaenus (about 200); Clement of Alexandria (about 150-215); Origen (about
186-254); and Tertullian (about 160-240).

Matthew published his gospel among the Hebrews in their own language, while Peter
and Paul were preaching and founding the church in Rome.
Eusebius, Church History 5.8.2
The ultimate challenge is for die-hard scholars to translate the Greek back into Hebrew to gain the
fine nuances that are often lost in translations. It is believed to have been originally composed in
A.D. 50, possibly earlier, and translated into Greek thirty or forty years later.310 Matthews gospel
was cited in the Didache and by a number of early church fathers.311
02.02.12 Hebrew Bible. This is more commonly known as the Old Testament to Christians and as
the Tanakh to Jewish people. The books are the same as in the Christian Old Testament, although it
has three divisions, a different book order, and some minor variations in chapter and verse divisions.
The divisions are as follows:
1. The Torah (Teaching): Known as the Five Books of Moses or the Pentateuch (Genesis,
Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy).
2. The Nviim (Prophets): Includes the historical books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel and
Kings; the three major prophets of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel; and the twelve minor
prophets of Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah,
Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.
3. The Ktuvim (Writings): Includes the books not listed above Psalms, Proverbs, Job,
the five scrolls (of Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther) Daniel, EzraNehemiah, and Chronicles.312
02.02.13 Jewish Writings. A collection of religious books that includes the Babylonian and
Jerusalem Talmuds, the Mishnah, the Midrash, and the Tosefta. But this collection does not include
the Apocrypha and the Pseudepigrapha. Most of these were written within four centuries of the life
of Jesus. Of particular interest, is that many sections of these writings reflect Jewish life before the

310. Wijngaards, Handbook to the Gospels. 9.

311. Clement of Rome (c. 95); Ignatius (c. 105-110); Polycarp (c. 120); Justin (c. 150); and in the Epistles of Barnabas (c.120).
312. Spangler and Tverberg, Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus. 40-42.

temple was destroyed. For example, the Jerusalem Talmud Moed Quatan 1:5 provides information
on the burial of the dead that give understanding to Matthew 8:21-22.313
Unfortunately, some scholars look back into the fifteen-century period of the Old Testament to find
various verses to support their interpretation of New Testament passages, yet refuse to seriously
consider rabbinic writings because, they claim, There were too many changes in the culture. The
irony is that some Jewish books (i.e. Mishnah) present incredible insights into biblical understanding
because they have preserved social-religious traditions that were common during the days of Jesus
and prior to the destruction of the temple.
There are four reasons why this classification of books should be studied.314
1. Some books have a sense of urgency similar to the New Testament concerning the
awareness of living near the end of time.
2. These writings show various Jewish opinions concerning the kingdom of God, a subject
obviously dear to the heart of Jesus.
3. The strength of Jewish traditions, combined with the political anticipations of national
freedom, was clearly revealed by some writers.
4. Some difficult passages and concepts of the New Testament are clarified by rabbinic
methods of interpretation. Some of these books provide cultural details that help flesh out
biblical narratives.
5. Finally, within Jewish literature is the general background against which the New
Testament can be understood. This understanding is beyond specific verses and passages, and
pertains to the macro-view of the newest Covenant.
02.02.14 Josephus.315 He was born as Josephus ben Mattathias, and by a series of unusual events he
retired in Rome as Flavius Josephus. He was of a priestly family which traced its descent from the
313. See 09.04.02.
314. For further study, see Scott Jr., J. Julius. On the Value of Intertestamental Jewish Literature for New Testament
Theology. Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society. 23:4 (Dec. 1980) 315-24.
315. There are two major methods in referring to the literary works of Josephus. The most common method was created by
William Whiston who divided each litary work into books, chapters, and paragraphs. For example, the death of James in
Antiquities of the Jews is found in Antiquities 20.9.1. Another method is the Loeb edition which divides each of Whistons books
into smaller sections. Therefore, the same account of James is found in Antiquities 20 (200) or 20.200.

Hasmoneans, a powerful family of the second and first centuries B.C. He was a brilliant scholar well
versed in the writings of the Greeks and the Romans. While not a theologian, he remained faithful to
the priestly ideals of the Jewish theocracy. He also served as a military general in Galilee in the early
days of the First Revolt (A.D. 66-70), and when he realized the Jewish cause was hopeless, he
encouraged his fellow Jews to make a truce with the Romans. But that failed. He also predicted that
Vespasian would eventually become emperor of Rome. While the Jews refused to consider his
advice, the Romans eventually rewarded him. After the fall of Jerusalem, he retired in Rome under
the imperial patronage and wrote his major works pertaining to the Jewish people for a Roman
audience. Of his four literary works, Wars and Antiquities are the most significant.
1. His first book, the Wars of the Jews, was written from A.D. 75-79. It covers important
people and events between the rise of Antiochus IV Epiphanes in 175 B.C. to destruction of
the temple A.D. 70.
2. The Antiquities of the Jews, written from A.D. 93-95, to help the Romans understand the
Jewish religion and way of life. It is also an apologetic work defending the Hebrew Bible. In
it he recorded many interesting historical accounts that are related to, but not mentioned in
the Old Testament narratives. It is a running history from earliest biblical history to the First
Jewish War. Josephus had access to the imperial library and referred to the works of other
writers, such as John of Damascus who was the historian for Herod the Great, and the Greek
historian Strabo.
3. The book Against Apion, is also an apologetic works,
4. Josephus also wrote a brief bioagraphy titled The Life of Flavius Josephus.316
Critics of his day, namely the Zealots and most Jewish people, considered him to have been a traitor.
Possibly his most outspoken critic was John of Giscala who personally financed a company of Zealot
soldiers to fight the Romans. John stirred up the people against Josephus and some historians claim
he even attempted to kill him. That may be the reason why Josephus was given a retirement in Rome
rather than in the Holy Land.317 Yet Josephus strongly defended the Jewish faith and people; he
shifted the blame of the revolt from the population at large (as the Romans perceived it) to a minority
of unwise leaders and Zealots.

316. Martin, L. Hellenistic Religions. 40-42.

317. Golub, In the Days. 328-29.

Josephus is frequently quoted by scholars because he presents detailed descriptions of places,
peoples, festivals, and other cultural events, as well as the socio-political environment in the two
centuries preceding Christ. He died shortly into the second century leaving a wealth of written
information. No study can be complete without his comments.318 The value of his work lies in two
1. Just as the Dead Sea Scrolls reflect first-century Judaism unchanged by Christian belief,
Josephus likewise has insights into the cultural, social, and political forces in which Jesus
lived. From his pen we have the oldest comments about Jesus, John the Baptist, and the death
of James, the half-brother of Jesus.
2. His writings, namely the Antiquities, clearly reflect his theology in that he believed in the
historical accuracy of the Old Testament, as it relates to secular historical accounts. His work
also agrees with other ancient writers concerning the Inter-Testamental Period. Therefore, it
can be assumed that his descriptions of the first century are equally accurate.
However, there is a note of caution for the serious research student: recent scholars have observed,
and this writer agrees, that Josephus is not without his biases.
1. It has been pointed out that his accounts of the population of various communities,
distances between communities, and the agricultural production of the land are, on occasion,
2. Also, he was careful not to blame the Romans for the uprising that led to the destruction of
Jerusalem and the temple. Why would he, since he was given a comfortable retirement and
spacious villa?
Josephus received his information from a variety of sources, including Nicholas of Damascus, the
personal historian for Herod the Great.319 Nonetheless, any reader must filter his biased opinions.
Critics of Josephus, however, tend to overlook other ancient writers who agreed with him. For
example, Marcus Terentius Varro (116 27 B.C.) was a wealthy Roman scholar who produced
seventy-four literary works on numerous topics, including agriculture. In his work, Agriculture, he
identified three areas in the Roman Empire where crop yields were one hundred fold. They are,

318. Schreckenberg, Josephus, Flavius. 2:1132-33; Stone, Josephus, Flavius. 3:696-97; Bruce, Josephus, Flavius. 2:816.
319. Josephus, Antiquities 16.7.1 (183).

1. Sybaris in Italy,
2. Gadara in Syria, and
3. Byzacium in Africa.
Varro mentioned Gadara as being in Syria because that region was under the governmental district of
Syria, as was Galilee at that time. More specifically, he wrote that in this region the crop yield was
a hundred to one.320 This observation would certainly have made Josephus proud. Another ancient
author who described the bounty of his land was Herodotus who said of Babylonia that,
In grain, it is so fruitful as to yield commonly two-hundred fold; and when the
production is the greatest, even three-hundred fold.
Herodotus, The Histories 1.93321
Scholars have noted that the comments by Josephus concerning the Essenes care for the poor and
needy is echoed in the Essene Damascus Document (14.14), which is additional evidence of the
historians care concerning accuracy. He remains one of the most important sources of information
concerning first century life in Judaea.322 His description of the Roman conquest of the ancient
Zealot city of Gamala is another excellent example of his historical accuracy. The city fell in A.D.
66 and remained undisturbed and lost in history.
Then, one day a military officer who was familiar with the writings of Josephus, flew over some
mountains that he recognized that Josephus described in the setting of Gamala. A short time later
archaeologists began to excavate the site in the late 1970s. They found his descriptions, such as
patched walls and filled-in buildings, precisely as he had described.323 Likewise, when he described
the Roman conquest of Masada, his details of the fortress palace, including various rooms and
destructive events that had occurred, have been found to be precise, even though he was not there.
He obtained his information from a number of individuals who were there and personally witnessed

320. http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Varro/de_Re_Rustica/1*.html Retrieved July 9, 2011.

321. Cited by Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament. 1:80.
322. Lee, The Galilean Jewishness of Jesus. 98; Bruce, Josephus, Flavius 2:816; Schmalz and Fischer, The Messianic Seal. 24;
Grant, M. Ancient Historians, 258.
323. Syon, Gamla: 30.

the conquest. Therefore, while some of his opinions are biased, most of his observations are
incredibly accurate.
In his youthful years, he placed himself under the instruction of the major religious sects of Judaea.
In his work Vita 2 (10-12) he claims to have studied with the Essenes, the Sadducees, the Pharisees,
and an individual by the name of Bannus, of whom little is known. Josephus had excellent reading
and writing skills for his day, considering the magnitude of writings he produced.324 While historians
have seen him as a Jewish Pharisee,325 a few others speculate that he may have quietly converted to
Christianity. In fact, some believe that at the time of these writings, he had been an Ebionite
Christian for many years.326 This, however, remains a minority view. His comments on the life of
Christ and related events have been subject of many scholarly discussions.327
02.02.15 Midrash. The Midrash is a Jewish commentary on the Old Testament. The name means to
investigate, search, or to study, based on the reference by the prophet Iddo (2 Ch. 13:22).
Synagogues had a room known as the bet Midrash, meaning house of interpretation, dedicated to the
study of Scripture.328 The tradition of the Midrash is, no doubt, as old as the written Scripture,329 but
by the first century it was the commentary on the Hebrew Bible.330
The Midrashim (plural form) are thought to be commentaries on historical narratives that evidently
were used extensively by Ezra (7:10) upon his return from Babylonian captivity. At the time, the
Torah was accepted as the sole authority of the Word of God. Some scholars believe the Midrashim
were part of the Oral Law and not recorded until the second or third century A.D.331
In later centuries, this document became a point of controversy between the Sadducees, who were
literal interpreters of the Torah, and the Pharisees, who upheld the Oral Law. The focus of attention
was on the application of the Mosaic books to daily life in a culture that had radically changed in the
324. Schreckenberg, Josephus, Flavius. 2:1132-33.
325. Josephus, The Life of Flavius Josephus. 3, 13, 15, 19, 21, 25.
326. Whiston, 9 - See footnote k.
327. For further study see Appendix 31.
328. Spangler and Tverberg, Sitting at the Feet. 25.
329. Harrison, Midrash. 351.
330. Goulder, Midrash and Lection in Matthew. 28.
331. Lee, The Galilean Jewishness of Jesus. 60-61.

fourteen centuries since Moses wrote them. While the Midrash is not mentioned in the New
Testament, it and the Oral Law were certainly at the root of some heated discussions between Jesus
and his opponents.332
02.02.16 Mishnah. It is a compilation of the oral laws333 as taught in many first century rabbinical
schools. These laws were the interpretation and application of the written laws of Moses. The name
Mishnah was derived from a Hebrew word meaning to repeat.334 But under the influence of the
Aramaic word tanna, the meaning was changed to learn.335 The Mishnah was built upon the rules
and regulations established by two other theological schools in Jewish history in the InterTestamental Period as well as the early Christian Period.336
1. The Sophrim, which was popular from 450 to 30 B.C., instituted thousands of rules and
regulations that pertained to every aspect of Jewish life. These were intended to build a
fence around the Torah as described in Mishnah, Aboth 1.1.
2. The Tannaim was a second school of rabbinic scribes who decided that the rabbis of the
Sophrim left too many holes in their laws. So the Tanniam rabbis added more restrictions.
This school started in 30 B.C. and continued to about A.D. 220.
These various rules and regulations became the Oral Law in the days of Jesus, and when written,
became known as the Mishnah.337 The development of the Mishnah is rather interesting and provides
insights into the religious environment of the gospels.
So many scribes, rabbis, and sages were killed in the two revolts (A.D. 67-73 and 132-135), that
there was deep concern among the survivors that the Oral laws would be lost if not written. Once
written, there are six major sections of the Mishnah, each called a tractate. The tractate Aboth is
considered to contain the oldest teachings and even has the names of sixty-five rabbis. Most scholars
believe that the entire collection of Oral Laws occurred between the years A.D. 90 and 200, and by
the year 220, Yhudah HaNasi (Judah the Prince) served as editor and compiled them as the

332. Coker, Midrash. 4:222-23.

333. See also Oral Law 02.02.18 and Oral Tradition 02.02.20.
334. Farrar, The Life of Christ. 241.
335. Mishnah Encyclopedia Judaica CD ROM 1997; See also Mishnah, Avot 3:8-9 See also 02.02.09.
336. Fruchtenbaum, The Jewish Foundation of the Life of Messiah: Instructors Manual. Class 8, pages 2-4.
337. Fruchtenbaum, The Jewish Foundation of the Life of Messiah: Instructors Manual. Class 7, page 13.

Mishnah.338 Since writing was a long and tedious work, it was finally completed in 279 by Johanan
bar Nappacha.
The writers were extremely devoted to accuracy when copying Scripture and commentaries. They
determined that their commentaries would accurately reflect daily religious life in Judea, Galilee, and
Perea without any trace of Greek philosophy or Christianity.339 It does, however, present various
rabbinic opinions such as the disputes between Rabbi Hillel and Rabbi Shammai whose teachings
were debated during the life of Jesus. In essence, the Oral Law reflects the traditions of the elders
(Mt. 15:1-3) although these were recorded and bound in book form at a later date.
This work has preserved elements of the Midrash, which is an earlier method of teaching the
traditional laws by means of a running commentary on the biblical text. There is some lack of
uniformity in the Mishnah because some teachers established certain portions prior to A.D. 220,
while other rabbis completed other section more than a century earlier.340 It was quickly accepted as
the authoritative code-law of Judaism.341 It focused on the outward purity and rules of rabbinic
Judaism to encourage God to bring His kingdom to earth and defeat the Romans.
There is caution to be noted. Not all the comments within the Mishnah and other Jewish writings
reflect life in time of Jesus. The greatest of care has been taken to discover those rules and
regulations that were in effect at the time of Jesus.342 Note these two examples:
1. Discussions by Rabbi Hillel and Rabbi Shammai and their peers are certain to be of His
2. On the other hand, some passages clearly state that certain events happened after the
destruction of the temple obviously after the time of Jesus. For example, an interesting
comment found in Sotah 9.15 discusses the moral cultural breakd-down of society prior to
the coming of the messiah.

338. Runes, The Talmud of Jerusalem. 6.

339. Lee, U. The Life of Christ. 78.
340. Danby, The Mishnah. 14, 25.
341. Neusner, A Midrash Reader. 9.
342. For example, see Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. 355.

Therefore, great caution has been taken to present an accurate cultural and religious picture in this eBook.

02.02.16.Q1 Why are some Jewish writings incredibly similar to New Testament teachings?
The answer is simple both are rooted in the Hebrew Bible. Are all rabbinic writings reflective of
the time of Jesus? Clearly the answer is no, and that makes discernment of those writings all the
more challenging. Some scholars have often stated that the Mishnah and Talmud were written
centuries after Jesus and, therefore, are not trustworthy sources for two reasons:
1. These writings idealize what first century Judaism should have been like.
2. Some beliefs of the Jews changed over time toward a Christian perspective.
What the scholars fail to acknowledge is that many of the Jewish teachings in the Mishnah and
Talmud were taught centuries before they were recorded. In fact, most originated long before the
time of Jesus. Mary and Joseph were righteous not only when Jesus was born, but throughout their
entire lives and they were faithful to Old Testament teachings. So were many other Jews and rabbis.
Therefore, it should not be surprising that both the New Testament and a number of Jewish writings
are similar.
02.02.17 New Testament (NT). The covenants of the Bible are, in fact, suzerainty covenants, which
are defined by covenant of unequal parties, where the stronger and more powerful party functions for
the benefit of the weaker one.343 The New Testament (Heb. Brit Chadash) includes the gospels
which, according the sequence of covenants was still within the Old Testament Period. The New
Testament Period did not begin until Jesus walked out of the tomb (many believe it began on the day
of Pentecost). The New Testament is the fulfillment of the Old Testament and its prophecies and
promises. This new covenant, which is the fulfillment of the old, must therefore be used to interpret
the Old Covenant. The gospels are placed in the New Testament, but historically, are in the Old
Testament Period. Jesus lived and functioned as an orthodox Jew under Old Testament rules and
02.02.18 Oral Law. (See also Mishnah 02.02.16 and Oral Tradition - 02.02.20). Today, and in the
days of Jesus, Jewish people believe that the Torah is divided into two parts: the written and the

343. Payne, J. B. Covenant (In the Old Testament). 1:1102-03; See Suzerainty Treaty in Appendix 26.

unwritten (known as the Oral Law).344 This was the Oral Law, also known as the Law of the lip, or
Torah Shebeal pih,345 which caused the greatest amount of confrontation between Jesus and the
Pharisees. It was considered by the Pharisees to be superior to the Mosaic laws, but was not honored
by the Sadducees. When the Jews returned from Babylonian captivity, they instituted this new set of
regulations to protect themselves from sinning against God, and later, from the influences of the
Greco-Roman culture. They felt that failure to protect themselves would most certainly cause them
to be exiled again.346 The irony is that the Oral Law was the major reason the Jewish leadership
rejected Christ, which led to their dispersal from the land in A.D.135.
There is a debate as to when the Oral laws originated. Most Jews believe it originated with Moses
while Christians believe it dates to the time of Ezra. When the Jews who had returned to Jerusalem
were gathered at the temple, Ezra read the Torah to them (Neh. 8). After the reading, he explained
the biblical text so that the people could understand what was being read (Neh. 8:8). The Torah by
this time was nearly a thousand years old and the language and customs had changed, making the
reading somewhat archaic. Hence, Ezras explanation of the Law became the foundation of the Oral
Many years later, in the first half of the second century B.C., Antiochus IV Epiphanes forced the
Greek culture upon the Jews. The need for a protective fence around the Torah became critical, as
the Jews strengthened their set of laws to insulate themselves from the pagan influences.347 These
enhanced the Oral Law, or Oral Tradition. The purpose of the additional laws was to serve as a
protectorate so that the religious authorities could punish anyone before he had the opportunity to
break one of the more serious laws of God, and thereby possibly cause the entire nation to suffer
divine punishment. While the intent of the Oral laws was good, in time, they become oppressive and
restrictive for the people whom they were intended to protect.348 To the Pharisees the Oral Law
superseded all Scripture, and therein was the foundation for the conflict with Jesus. In the Aboth 1:1
there is an interesting statement that clearly defines the Oral Law. It reads:
Moses received the Torah at Sinai and handed it on to Joshua, Joshua to elders, and
elders to prophets. And the prophets handed it on to the men of the Great Synagogue.
344. Chajes,The Students Guide Through the Talmud. 1.
345. Farrar, The Life of Christ. 241.
346. Danby, The Mishnah. 60-61; Neusner, A Midrash Reader. 4.
347. Lee, The Galilean Jewishness of Jesus, 77-79, 99-103..
348. Lee, U., The Life of Christ. 60-61.

They said three things: Be prudent in judgment. Raise up many disciples. Make a fence
around the Torah.
Mishnah, Aboth 1:1349
In the three centuries following the temple destruction in A.D. 70, six books of commentary law
were written and became known as the Mishnah, Tosefta, Mekilta, Sifra, Sifre, and the Baraita.
These oral traditions were well preserved by professional scribes,350 even though there were other
writers who attempted to remold and reshape Jewish history with writings known as the
Pseudepigrapha. Hence, the scribes preserved an excellent background on how the Torah was
interpreted and applied to daily life during the time of Christ.
Today, the various sects of the ultra-orthodox Jews, such as the Satmars, the Gerers, the Bratslavers,
and the Lubavitchers believe that the five books of Moses are absolutely divinely inspired. But they
also believe the Oral Law, that includes, the Talmud, are also divinely inspired and are bitterly
opposed to Christians and Messianic Jews.351 In that sense, the first century Pharisees live on.
Finally, most of the arguments Jesus had with the leading Pharisees pertained to the regulations of
daily life, known as the Halakhah.352 These were oppressive restrictions religious peaders promoted
rather than helping people find the purpose God has for their lives.
02.02.19 Old Testament (OT). The Hebrew Bible is a collection of religious and historical books
that were written over a fifteen hundred year period and compiled at the Council of Jamnia in A.D.
90 by prominent Jewish leaders, led by Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai. However, these were accepted
as early as 400 B.C., but were not in an official cannon format. It is believed that after the
destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 135, when Gentiles took control of the Jerusalem Church, the
Hebrew Bible became known as the Old Testament. The gospels and other Scriptures written since
the life of Christ became known as the New Testament. Nowhere in the New Testament is there a
reference to the Hebrew Bible as being replaced or called the Old Testament, but rather, it simply
referred to as Scriptures.353
349. Danby, The Mishnah. 446; Neusner, Rabbinic Judaism. 207.
350. Freeman, The New Manners and Customs. 420-21.
351. Schneider, Who are the Ultra-Orthodox? 15.
352. Lee, The Galilean Jewishness of Jesus, 107.
353. For example: Mt. 21:42; 22:29; 26:54, 56; Mk. 12:10; 15:28; Lk. 4:21; Jn. 2:22; 7:38,42; 10:35; 13:18; 17:12; 19:24, 28, etc.

02.02.20 Oral Tradition. (See Oral Law 02.02.18 and Mishnah 02.02.16) The Oral Tradition
was in place during the entire Second Temple Period (515 B.C. A.D. 70). The significance of the
Oral Tradition increased significantly after the Maccabean Revolt. The Pharisees had just emerged
as a significant religious sect and they emphasized additional rules and regulations that were
intended to prevent the rise of another Antiochus IV Epiphanes as well as an eviction from their land.
In the century after the destruction of the temple and deaths of many rabbis, the Oral Tradition was
written and became known as the Mishnah.
Critics have maintained that in the process of orally conveying history and religion from one
generation to another, changes and errors have slowly infiltrated and changed meaning of the biblical
text. However, this is hardly the case.354 The ancient Jews had an oral culture, but we who live in a
modern non-oral culture have great difficulty realizing the great care that was exercised by the
ancients to transmit information to the next generation. Whenever a teaching or tradition was
presented, there was also an audience present to make the necessary correction. This Tradition is a
unique feature of the Hebraic culture and Jesus referred to it in Matthew 15:2 and Mark 7:3, 5. The
strongest point for an accurate oral transmission of the gospels is that the oral custom was in place
and had functioned for many centuries previously. Since the primitive Church was essentially
Jewish, it is only reasonable to expect that a new Oral Tradition carried the accounts of Jesus and the
apostles until the gospels were written. Luke recorded a classic oral conveyance of information in
this statement, Just as they were handed down to us.
Many have undertaken to compile a narrative about the events that have been fulfilled
among us, 2 just as the original eyewitnesses and servants of the word handed them
down to us. 3 It also seemed good to me, since I have carefully investigated everything
from the very first, to write to you in an orderly sequence, most honorable Theophilus,
so that you may know the certainty of the things about which you have been
Luke 1:1-4
Luke gathered his information from the eyewitnesses which he then recorded. Therefore, he wrote
what would normally have been first generation information of the new Oral Tradition. His choice
of words in verse 2, the word handed them down to us. clearly echoes the Oral Tradition. It
354. For additional study on the accuracy of oral transmission of commentary and biblical knowledge, see Gerhardsson,
Memory and Manuscript: Oral Tradition and Written Transmission in Rabbinic Judaism and Early Christianity, especially the section on
Techniques of Repetition (page 163). The importance of this lies in the fact that the gospel narratives are believed to have
been transmitted orally in the same manner until the gospel writers recorded them.

reflects the accuracy of the eyewitnesses in the telling of the events to him, as handed down, a
technical term used for oral conveyance.355 He also wrote of events that he personally witnessed.356
02.02.21 Pentateuch. The Greek word means five Part Work or the Five Rolls357and consists of the
five books of Moses: Genesis Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The English word
Pentateuch is derived from the Greek term Pentateuchos, which is from the Hebrew term Torah.
These five books are also referred to as the Mosaic Law or the Written Law.358
02.02.22 Philo. Also known as Philo of Alexandria as well as Philo Judaeus (20 B.C. A.D. 50),
was a Jewish philosopher who attempted to blend the Greek and Jewish philosophies together. While
he was a resident of Egypt, he was of a wealthy family that, historically, had ties with the
Hasmoneans of Jerusalem as well as the Seleucid and Ptolemaic dynasties, both of which were
Greek. As a Jew, his writings are valuable because he gave us insight as to how the Egyptian Jews
reacted to an encroaching Greek culture. He described the culture in which the gospels and epistles
of the New Testament were written.
Philo was not orthodox in his religious heritage, but a mystic with a strong Gnostic philosophy. This
pagan belief system entered Judaism as well as the early church and consequently was addressed by
the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Colossians. Philos interpretation of the Scripture was allegorical
rather than literal, which is why neither orthodox Jews nor Christians endorsed his views. His work
reflects the philosophy he was promoting.359 The Jews in Jerusalem and Galilee rejected Gnosticism
in the early first century, which may be why Jesus did not address the philosophy. Yet like many
other Jewish philosophers, Philo attempted to prove that all wisdom of the Greeks was already
written in the Jewish Scriptures.360
02.02.23 Pliny the Younger. Pliny is known primarily for his eye witness account of the eruption of
Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79. His full name was Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secudus (A.D. 61 113), but
became known to historians as Pliny the Younger. This was to set him apart from his uncle and
adopted father, Pliny the Elder. The Younger was a lawyer, author and magistrate to the court of
355. New International Version Study Bible Footnote on Luke 1:2.
356. Acts 16:10-17; 20:5 21:18; 27:1 28:16.
357. Barclay, Matthew. 1:127.
358. Carpenter, Carpenter. 3:740-41; Porter, The New Illustrated Companion to the Bible. 411.
359. Clark, Philo Judeus. 4:773-77; Wilson, Philo Judeus. 3:847-50.
360. Golub, In the Days. 242.

Emperor Hadrian. He left numerous letters and documents that survived the centuries which present
insight into the Roman culture of his time. His contribution to this study of first century Christianity
is minimal, although he is believed to have been a fair and just magistrate concerning early believers.
02.02.24 Pseudepigrapha. The name Pseudepigrapha, meaning false writings, is a classification of
books sometimes referred to as the Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament. These literary works were
written roughly between 200 B.C. and A.D. 200.361 This open-ended category are said to have been
written by biblical figures such as Abraham or Noah, but in fact were created by other writers
centuries later. The practice of writing under anothers name may have contributed to why James
said that one should not falsify the truth (James 3:14b). There were several reasons as to why these
were written.
1. They attempted to deal with the social and religious issues of the day, including the
expected messiah. For example, the author of book 3 of the Sibylline Oracles believed that
the Greek Ptolemaic king could be the long-awaited savior or messiah for the Jews. (Note: a
small m is used since the messiah was not recognized as a deity, but super-human or
angelic figure).362 Little wonder then, that the Pharisees and Sadducees had extreme
difficulties accepting Jesus as the Messiah.
2. The Jews had difficulty dealing with the issue of how God, who is holy, just, righteous and
all-powerful, can at the same time permit the evil pagans of the Greeks and Romans to
oppress the righteous, His Chosen People.363 Many books of this genre were shaped by this
problem and the struggle to find an answer is evident. Some attempt to blame the problems
of humanity upon Eve, as found in the Life of Adam and Eve (18:1) and in Sirach (25:24) of
the Apocrypha. Others blamed the devil or evil angels, but none fully addressed the issue
except for Jesus.364
3. Some new theological ideas were also created in these books, such as the concept of
purgatory even though there is no mention of it in the Bible or Oral Law. Little wonder then
that these false books, that were attributed to the patriarchs and taught virtues such as truth,
are known as false writings. Several books, such as 4 Enoch, were written in the Christian era
361. Scott, Jr. Jewish Backgrounds of the New Testament. 29-31.
362. Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigraphia. 1:356, 1:381.
363. Davies, Apocrypha. 1:161-65; Ladd, Pseudepigrapha. 3:1040-43.
364. Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigraphia. xxx.

and reflect Christian teaching and is at times, in serious error with the Bible. The primary
challenge with these writings is to determine at what point historical facts end and legends
begin. Their value lies in the fact that they permit scholars to understand the mindset of some
Jews during the theologically chaotic time of Christ.
4. Possibly one of the most influential books of this category is the Psalms of Solomon,
which was written by the Pharisees after the Roman invasion of Judaea in 63 B.C.365 Some
scholars believe it can be dated between 40 and 30 B.C.366 Chapters 2 and 17 make reference
to the Gentile foreigners (Romans) who invaded the land killing men, women, and children.
The author also calls upon the Lord to bring forth the son of David, an unmistakable phrase
calling for the messiah to come and help the Jewish nation (see 06.08.03.Q3).
5. These books, such as the Gospel of Peter, have both affirmations and discrepancies with
the gospel narratives. This Gospel is a re-telling of the passion of Jesus with fictional
elements added. As previously stated, these are important for their historical and literary
value.367 Another, the Ascents of James, has a brief description of the death of Jesus (1.41.2 1.43.4). The quotation was not included in this writing because it is not an independent
source, but was based upon the account recorded in Matthew.368
Since Luke gathered his information from various sources, his work reflects the established view of
the early Church. Had his writings conflicted with Church leadership, his book would have been
immediately attacked and discarded. He would also have been the subject of discussion by early
defenders of the faith such as Justin Martyr and Irenaeus. Nonetheless, he was never attacked and
there is no evidence that he and his works received negative reactions from other apostles or Church
leaders. The sixty plus Pseudepigrapha books appear to satisfy the itching ears of those of those
who are ever learning and never coming to the knowledge of the truth (2 Tim. 4:3; 3:7), as they
lack the gift of discernment. Only a few have any merit. That is why the Apostle Paul in 2
Thessalonians 2:2 warned his readers not to get troubled and upset by a writing that supposedly came
from him. That may also be why later in 3:17, he said that the greeting was in his own handwriting
his way of certifying the genuineness of his second letter.

365. Some ancient writers use the term Judea in the broadest sense. Examples are found in Pliny the Elder, Natural History,
5.15.70; Strabo, Geographia, 16.4.21; and Dio Sassius, Roman History, 37.15.2.
366. Cosby, Interpreting Biblical Literature. 285.
367. Webb, The Roman Examination and Crucifixion of Jesus. 761
368. For more information see Carroll and Green, The Death of Jesus in Early Christianity. 155-57.

02.02.25 Septuagint. In the beginning of the third century B.C., the Greek language had become so
prominent in Egypt, that the Hebrew language was threatened with extinction. In Alexandria, a
group of scholars in the royal library made the first translation of Hebrew Scriptures into another
language Greek. This Greek translation became known as the Septuagint.369 Every change in the
political sphere brought social pressures for the Jews to adopt the culture of their conquerors. This
had a profound effect on the rabbis who were constantly challenged to keep the faith of their people
intact. The Septuagint was their attempt to keep the Word of God relevant and vibrant.370
Jews living in the Holy Land did not accept the Greek language as readily as did their counterparts in
Egypt. Holy Land Jews appeared to have been far more concerned with keeping their traditions and
faith. One reason may be because they were close to the temple and were constantly influenced with
Greek paganism. Ironically, those living in Babylon were more faithful to biblical Judaism than their
counterparts in Jerusalem who had developed the Oral laws. This will be explained in more detail
There is an interesting legend concerning the translation work. In the Pseudepigraphical book, Letter
of Aristeas, there is an account that states that 72 men, six from each tribe, translated the entire
Hebrew Bible in 72 days. The number was rounded off to 70, and hence, the name Septuagint, and
its abbreviation of LXX. In reality, Jewish records have preserved the names of the 72 scholars,
but the work took several decades, not seventy-two days. However, the name (Septuagint) and
abbreviation (LXX) are now in common use.371 Incidently, the fact that the Letter of Aristeas states
that there were six translators from each tribe, indicates that the so-called ten lost tribes were not

369. Soderlund, Septuagint. 4:401-03. See also a brief discussion by Dr. Petra Heldt at 02.04.01.V.
370. Soderlund, Septuagint. 4:402-04.
371. Graybill, Septuagint. 15:1914; Blaiklock, Septuagint. 5:343.

02.02.26 Talmud. The Talmud is two sets of writings that reflect Jewish philosophy and theology.
The Jerusalem Talmud (JT), also known as the Palestinian Talmud, was completed around A.D. 400
and another larger work known as the Babylonian Talmud (BT) was completed around A.D. 500 in
Babylon. Each work is a commentary on the Mishnah and was carefully composed without any
Greek influences. Both are an anthology of topical books.
The Babylonian Talmud is essentially the interpretation and elaboration of the Mishnah as it was
taught in the Jewish academies in Babylon. Because the Jews had been removed from Jerusalem and
the land of Judea in 586 B.C., they strove to insure that the laws were carefully followed and
preserved. This was especially significant since the priesthood in Jerusalem had a renowned
reputation of corruption. There is no distinctive beginning or ending dates for this massive work, but
it is generally believed to have been begun in the early third century and completed two centuries
later. It incorporates the teachings from Jewish sages who lived from 20 B.C. to A.D. 450.
Of the two Talmuds, the Babylonian edition is considered to be the authoritative one as it offers a
broader scope in discussions and its themes are richer and cover longer periods of time. Over the
centuries, it became the more popular because it was more challenging and interesting for rabbinic
study. It was completed around the year A.D. 500 and contains 5,894 large pages (27 x 36 cm.)
while the Jerusalem Talmud, completed a century earlier, has only 574 pages.372 Hence, the
Babylonian Talmud is used almost exclusively in biblical research and whenever a reference is given
to the Talmud, the reference is to the Babylonian edition.373
An example of Talmuds historical value is found in the story Jesus told about the persistent widow
and unrighteous judge (Lk. 18:1-8). The Jewish writing illustrates two interesting features:
1. It presents insights of the Jewish legal system prior to the destruction of the temple that
enhances our understanding of the cultural environment of Jesus.
2. It discredits the argument that since it was written at a late date it should be discredited as
a source for biblical study on Jewish life and culture.
Another example of the value of the Talmud was revealed in the early 1960s. Archaeologist Yigael
Yadin was excavating Masada when he discovered what he thought was a ritual bath known as a
mikvah (see Glossary). When the dimensions and description were compared with requirements of
372. Bivin, Jesus and the Oral Law 2:2, 8.
373. Neusner, Talmud. 4:717-24.

the Talmudic law, there was no question of its identity. He had discovered the first mikvah in
modern Israel.374 Since then, hundreds have been excavated. This is again clear evidence that the
requirements of the rabbinic books written up to five centuries after the life of Christ accurately
reflect the religious life of the Second Temple Period and, hence, also the religious environment of
the life of Christ.

Many scholars have concluded that since the Babylon Talmud was compiled around the year 500,
and the Jerusalem Talmud about a century earlier, both sources are far to late to have any significant
value concerning the Second Temple Period. Their reasoning certainly has value, but they do not
fully comprehend the Jewish tenacity to preserve the Judaism of the Second Temple. Consider the
1. Josephus, writing at the end of the first century, presented considerable details of the
temple in his two books, Antiquities of the Jews, and Wars of the Jews.
2. The two Talmudic books also have considerable details of the temple, and these details are
nearly identical to those of Josephus.375
Therefore, the accuracy of Jewish writings concerning the temple can be considered to be as
passionate as translating the Hebrew Bible into Aramaic,376 where a translator was considered to be a
traitor if he translated accurately but failed to convey the full meaning of the biblical passage.377
Furthermore, archaeological research on the Temple Mount in the past 30 40 years has further

374. La Sor, Discovering What Jewish Miqvaot Can Tell Us About Christian Baptism. 52.
375. Fischer, The Gospels in Their Jewish Context. (Lecture on CD/MP3). Week 6, Session 1.
376. See 02.02.28 Targums.
377. Lee, U., The Life of Christ. 121-23.

reinforced literary Talmudic data, and has not contradicted Talmudic descriptions, citations, or
descriptions of the Second Temple Period.378
However, both Talmuds have their share of legends and myths. For example, the Babylonian
Talmud has the account of a certain rabbi who had his donkey trained so well, that the beast would
not eat grain from harvested crops of which the tithes were not paid.379 While both contain highly
significant historical accounts concerning the second temple period, obviously a degree of
discernment is required. It is unfortunate that many Christian scholars believe that the Jerusalem
Talmud and the Babylonian Talmud do not reflect Jewish life at the time of Jesus. Amazingly, some
Jewish scholars disagree. Note the following comments found on a Jewish website:
1. The Talmud is, then, the written form of that which in the time of Jesus was called the
Traditions of the Elders by Rabbi Michael L. Rodkinson.380
2. The Jewish religion as it is today traces its descent, without a break, through all the
centuries, from the Pharisees by the Universal Jewish Encyclopedia.381
Finally, both editions have some fictitious charges against Jesus but also contain condemnations
against former Jewish leaders. These works were essentially written that Jews might know how to
live. Therefore, their references to Christianity are highly limited because it ignored Jesus and the
early Judeo-Christian sect. The work is more non-Christian than anti-Christian; more non-Jesus than
02.02.27 Tanakh. See Hebrew Bible.
02.02.28 Targum. In the early Inter-Testamental Period, Aramaic was the language of the Persian
government (5th-4th century B.C.) and continued to be the language of the common people at the time
of Jesus. Since culture and language changed since Moses more than a thousand years earlier, there
was a need for an Aramaic rephrasing of Hebrew writings. The Targum was not so much of a
translation, but a paraphrase and commentary of the Heberw Bible for the benefit of those who were
378. Fischer, The Gospels in Their Jewish Context. (Lecture on CD/MP3). Week 6, Session 1.
379. Quoted by Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament. 1:124.
380. Quoted from a Jewish website, http://www.come-and-hear.com/navigate.html April 11, 2012.
381. Quoted from a Jewish website, http://www.come-and-hear.com/navigate.html April 11, 2012.
382. Neusner, The Mishnah: An Introduction. 221.

more fluent in the Aramaic language. In synagogue services, Scriptures were read in Hebew as were
the Aramaic paraphrase.383 The translator was given the honorable assignment of explaining or
writing a targum of Scripture, but so important was his assignment that he was considered a traitor if
he translated the words properly but did not convey the full meaning.384

02.02.29 Torah. The name means doctrine, instruction, or teaching, and is generally referred to as
The Law or The Mosaic Law.385 It is more accurate to say that the Torah is Gods Instructions
than the modern concept of legalistic law. It is the Hebrew name for the first five books of the
Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), also known as Written Law, considered sacred by the Essenes,
Pharisees, Sadducees, and Samaritans.386
02.02.30 Tosefta. A supplement and the earliest commentary to the Mishnah was written in the
second to third centuries A.D.387 Both contain the Traditions Jesus frequently denounced.

383. Fischer, The Gospels in Their Jewish Context. (Lecture on CD/MP3). Week 6, Session 1.
384. Lee, U., The Life of Christ. 121-23.
385. Guignebert, The Jewish World in the Time of Jesus. 62.
386. See 08.01.04 for more details on the issues pertaining to the Law.
387. Neusner, A Midrash Reader. 10.


Unit 02
Cultural Background Studies
Chapter 03
Significant Cultural Elements

02.03.00.A. CHILDREN IN A SYNAGOGUE SCHOOL. Illustration by

Godfrey Durand. 1896. Students normally sat on the floor at the feet of their
teacher, not only in Israel, but in all cultures in the ancient Middle East. All reading
was done out-loud because the skill of reading silently was unknown at this time.
02.03.01 Introduction. Every culture has certain elements that are unique and significant to its
people. An overview of the significant Jewish cultural elements in first century Judaea is presented in
this chapter. This basic knowledge will enhance the readers understanding of the gospels.

02.03.02 Agriculture. Agriculture was the primary occupation for the majority of Jewish peasants.
That is why many comments by Jesus allude to agricultural endeavors. The Promised Land is one of
great diversity that includes five distinct climate zones.388 Furthermore, there are six divisions in the
agricultural year with each zone, each lasting about two months and the every two-month period is
somewhat different in each climate zone. The agricultural divisions are as follows:
1. Seedtime. In Israel crops were sown late fall, depending upon the climate zone, as this is
the beginning of the rainy season (November to April).389
2. Winter (rainy season)
3. Spring
4. Harvest. The harvest season is the beginning of the six to seven month period when there
is no rain (dry season).
5. Summer (dry season)
6. Season of incredible heat (August).
Winter crops and cattle flourish in the Galilee area whereas the southern desert section of Judea is
ideal for sheep, goats, and tropical fruits. Various grapes390 and olives are in abundance almost
everywhere with the exception of the semi-arid southern region. The land was famous for olives,
dates, figs, incense, pomegranates, citrons, and almonds. Oils included olive oil, poppy seed oil, nut
oil, and palm oil. There were a variety of wines, black wines, white wines, reddish wines, Sharon
wines, Carmel wines and spiced wines, all of which were in high demand overseas.391 The diet of the

388. For example, Jerusalem receives more than 24 inches of rainfall per year while Jericho, which is less than 20 miles to the
east, receives barely 4 inches. Therefore, the mount region of Jerusalem has numerous fruit trees and gardens while the
Jericho area is a desert the city itself is located at a huge oasis.
389. Today, with the invention of the drip irrigation system, crops are growing year-round in fulfillment of the prophecy of
Amos 9:13 that says that the ploughman will overtake the reaper.
390. Originally Israel had five kinds of grapes. One kind produces the earliest fruit that only grows well on the ground, not on
a grape arber. Its fruit ripens early and the other kinds ripen later and thereby, people enjoyed fresh grapes from June through
October. Many grapes today were brought into the country from France by the Rothschild family in 1882 because Muslims
destroyed the vineyards.
391. Golub, In the Days. 137.

ancients was basically a cereal diet. It was extremely low in fat and calories, but olives made up for
this deficiency. Josephus presented an interesting account of agriculture:
Their soil is universally rich and plentiful and full of plantations of trees of all sorts,
insomuch that it invites the most slothful to take pains in its cultivation by its
fruitfulness. Accordingly, it is all cultivated by its inhabitants, and no part lies idle.
Josephus, Wars 3.3.2 (42b)
Josephus continued to say,
The country also that lies over against this lake has the same name of Gennesaret
(Galilee); its nature is wonderful as well as its beauty. Its soil is so fruitful that all sorts
of trees can grow upon it, and the inhabitants accordingly plant all sorts of trees there;
for the temper of the air is so well mixed that it agrees very well with those several
sorts, particularly walnuts, which require the coolest air, flourish there in vast plenty.
There are palm trees also which grow best in hot air; fig trees also and olives grown
near them which yet require an air that is more temperate.
Josephus, Wars 3.10.8 (516-517)
Another writer was Marcus Terentius Varro (116 27 B.C.), a Roman scholar thought to have been
of the equestrian rank, and as such, had the finances for extensive travel and the establishment of his
own library. He produced 74 literary works on numerous topics, including agriculture. In his work,
Agriculture, he identified three areas in the Roman Empire where crop yields were one hundred fold
in Sybaris in Italy, near Gadara in Syria, and in Byzacium in Africa. Of interest in this study is
Gadara. Varro mentioned it as being in Syria because that region was under the Roman governmental
district headquarters in Damascus, Syria, just as Galilee was at time. More specifically, he wrote,
Around Sybaris in Italy the normal yield is said to be even a hundred to one, and a like
yield is reported near Gadara in Syria, and for the district of Byzacium in Africa. It
also makes a great difference whether the planting is on virgin soil or on what is
called restibilis land cultivated every year or on vervactum, which is allowed
sometimes to lie fallow between crops.
Varro, Agriculture 1.44.2392
392. http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Varro/de_Re_Rustica/1*.html Retrieved July 9, 2011.

The area Varro described near Gadara is in the region surrounding the Sea of Galilee. The reason the
land was extremely fertile is because of the extinct volcanoes in the Golan Heights area. Over the
centuries, the rains disintegrated the volcanic rock, called basalt, into extremely fertile soil.
Therefore, when Jesus spoke of a hundred fold increase,393 it was not an exaggeration; it was a
multiplication factor with which the Galileans were well acquainted.
The olive tree has been a vital element in all Mediterranean cultures. Its fruit is crushed and pressed
in several stages for its oil, the first part of which is used for religious purposes. The next oil
extracted is used for medical purposes, followed by oil for cooking, lamps, and other uses.
Vineyards have been planted throughout the land since the earliest times. According to tradition, the
wine was mixed 1:3 with water. It had a purifying effect on the water which was collected in
cisterns394 during the rainy months of November through April for use in the arid summer months.
Water stored in cisterns for long periods of time tended to become a haven for micro-organisms and
the alcohol in wine purified the water.
Most crops were planted in October and November at the time of the early rains. After the later rains
in March and April, the crops were harvested. The farming methods included the hand sowing of
seed (Mk. 4:1-20), work in the vineyard (Mt. 20:1-6), care of fruit trees (Mt. 7:15-20), guarding food
from thieves (Mk. 12:1), and storage of food (Lk. 12:13-21). These vignettes were some of the
illustrations used by Jesus to communicate his message.395
Wheat was the grain of choice and the primary food staple, whereas barley was the food for the
poorer classes and animals.396 Barley has a shorter growing season than wheat and grows well in
poor farmland east of the central mountains and areas adjacent to the Judean desert south and east of
Jerusalem. This was the only land the poor could afford to purchase.397 Most other soils were
extremely fertile and expensive. The biblical phrase that described the land flowing with milk and
honey had reference to two areas. The southern desert area was ideal for milk-producing herds,

393. Mt. 13:1-9; Mk. 4:1-9; Lk. 8:4-8.

394. See Cisterns in Appendix 26.
395. Packer and Tenney, Illustrated Manners. 263-70; See also Packer, J. I., and M. C. Tenney and William White Jr. ed. Nelsons
Illustrated Encyclopedia of Bible Facts. Nashville: Thomas Nelson. 1995.
396. Ruth 2:17; Ezek. 4:9; Jn. 6:9.
397. Hepper, Grain. 2:591.

such as goats and camels, while the northern area produced vineyards and orchards as well as
Some villages enjoyed diversity of trades and income. Capernaum and other villages along the edge
of the fresh water lake known as the Sea of Galilee, prospered from both fishing and farming.398 The
lake, called by locals Yom Kinneret, literally Sea Harp in Hebrew, is thirteen miles long and seven
miles wide. It is the only known lake with fresh water sardines. In spite of that, a vast majority of the
population were involved in agriculture. Hence, the entire social and religious life centered around
the agricultural cycles, as can be noted by the Jewish festivals.
It should be noted that there is a misconception today that the vegetation of modern Israel has not
changed since the earliest biblical times. The land, except some desert areas, was heavily forested
throughout most of pre-biblical history.399 When Joshua divided the land he told some Israelites to
clear the forested hill country (Jos. 17:15-18). Destruction of the forests came centuries later. For
example, when Hadrian destroyed Jerusalem in 135 A.D. he commanded that every tree within ten
Roman miles of the city be cut down to remove the main source of fuel for cooking and heating.
When the Turkish Ottoman Empire was in power (1407-1917) of this region, they taxed every tree
and in the nineteenth century most surviving forests were used for railroad ties and fuel for railroad
engines. The reforestation of today is nothing short of a miracle.
02.03.03 Economy In Western culture today there is, for the most part, a large middle class of
people. There is also a small upper class of extremely wealthy people and a class of poverty-stricken
people. In many non-Western countries, the middle class is smaller and the lower class is larger.
However, in the first century biblical era the economic-social structure was quite different. The
religious and government leaders comprised a small wealthy upper class. A vast majority of people
were subsistence peasant farmers who barely eked out a living from a small plot of land. There was
also a small group of destitute people the blind, lepers, and others who generally had health issues
of some kind. There were also the ones Jesus referred to as the poor (Lk. 18:1-19:10). Therefore,
instead of having a Wester social structure that was small upper class large middle class small
lower class, in the first century it was small upper class larger poverty class small destitute class.
A small middle classs emerged who consisted of merchants.

398. Packer and Tenney, Illustrated Manners. 263-70.

399. It appears that in centuries past, the farmland in Babylon was also more productive than it is today. Herodotus in his
work, The Histories (1.93) said that In grain, it is so fruitful as to yield commonly two-hundred fold; and when the production
is the greatest, even three-hundred fold.

The economy of the average first century Jewish peasant centered primarily on producing or
obtaining food. It was the commodity most often bought and sold. While currency was available, it
was generally used only to pay Roman and temple taxes. The price paid for needed services or
products was determined by bartering. Food markets were only in the larger cities. To date,
archaeologists have not found any evidence of shops or markets in small rural villages. No ancient
writings have been found with reference to an agoranomos, the government inspector of shops and
markets who was appointed to a village. Nearly anything that was needed by a family could be
secured within the village, or most certainly in a neighboring one. The village economy was selfcontained.400 However, not all scholars agree with this. Some feel that the taxes and rents were so
high that many families had to work in a second craft for additional income. Frequently, such
endeavors produced a village that had a specialty such as pottery.401 The high Roman taxation
created economic slavery and was the leading cause of frequent revolts by the impoverished
Imported products were exclusively for the rich. The city of Sepphoris, a mere three miles from
Nazareth, was a community of wealthy Greeks and Romans who enjoyed a wide variety of imported
goods. This was in sharp contrast to the average village community where impoverished living
continued generation after generation. Seldom did a village break out of this cycle. Tabgha, located
on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee, is believed to have been a rare exception to the
village trade. This community produced salted fish that was shipped by camel caravan throughout the
eastern Roman Empire. A growing number of scholars believe Capernaum was also an exception in
that it may have had an industry of manufacturing basalt grinding stones. Seldom was there any hope
for a change to a better life.
The teachings of Jesus are filled with economic lessons of life. He taught that one must first
consider the needs of others (Mt. 25:31-46; Jn. 3:17-18), place ones economic needs second to the
devotion to God (Mt. 6:19-21, 24), to seek the holiness and righteousness of God, and all these
things will be added unto you (Mt. 6:33). He demonstrated that every spiritual condition of
mankind has a material manifestation.402

400. Safrai, The Economy of Roman. 56-58, 231.

401. Horsley, Archaeology, History, and Society in Galilee. 74-76.
402. Packer and Tenney, Illustrated Manners and Customs. 330-39; See also Packer, Tenney, and White. Nelsons Illustrated
Encyclopedia of Bible Facts.

Banking did not exist as we know it today. However, the wealthy did place their currency funds in
the temple, which served as a bank.403 This was typical of all ancient Near Eastern cultures (now
called ancient Middle East cultures). Most notable was the temple of Diana in Ephesus, which was
the central bank for a third of the Roman Empire. In Jerusalem, the temple had divided funds for
sacred and secular uses. When Pilate took funds from the temple to complete the aqueduct, the
people rebelled. However, Josephus said that the people rebelled because Pilate stole the more
valuable sacred monies, rather than private funds.404 The maintenance of the infrastructure of
Jerusalem the walls, water-channels, towers, storm sewers, maintenance workers and street
sweepers405 were all paid for by the temple.406 The irony is that when Pilate raided temple funds to
complete the construction of the aqueduct, he essentially finished the work that the religious
aristocrats were supposed to do in the first place.
During the reign of Herod the Great there was limited prosperity, low unemployment, and high
taxation.407 Upon his death, the construction projects ended and the economy went into a recession
until his sons continued various construction projects in their respective districts. But none of them
had the administrative or engineering skills of their father.
The economy recovered somewhat by the time Jesus began His ministry. However, outdated Roman
laws did not help the matter either. The enforcement of obsolete usury laws had spread financial ruin
over the entire empire.408 Forced sales made property almost worthless as bankruptcies spread far
and wide. Courts from Rome to Alexandria and beyond were filled with men imploring the repeal of
outdated financial laws, and in the meantime, investors kept their money. Prosperity and businesses
were paralyzed. Wealthy merchants were reduced to beggars and the poor became poorer. Many
who could not pay their debts died of starvation in prison, and in Rome, their bodies were thrown
into the Tiber River.409 Even the historian Tactius wrote of the financial distress that was upon the
403. Crossan, Who Killed Jesus? 64-65.
404. Josephus, Wars. 2.9.4.
405. Since Jerusalem was considered to be a Holy City, the streets were swept every day (Babylonian Talmud, Baba Metzia
26A and Pesahim 7A). The Valley of Hinnom had a dump site by the dung gate where all the filth was thrown. With the
exception of rose gardens, gardens were not permitted in the city because they required dung (Mishnah, Maaseroth 2.5;
Babylonian Talmud, Baba Kamma 82B). This illustrates to what measures the laws of purity were taken by the time of Jesus.
406. Mishnah, Shekalim 4.2.
407. Josephus, Antiquities 17.11.4 (320). That was a huge sum and, according to Tacitus (Annals 2.42), in the year A.D. 17, the
provinces of Syria and Judea begged to have their taxes reduced, but their petition was denied.
408. Geikie, The Life and Words of Christ 1:352-53.
409. Geikie, The Life and Words of Christ 1:353-54.

people.410 The economy for the Jewish people in Israel and elsewhere wasnt much better. This
economic situation coupled with the theological conflicts the Jews had with the Romans, set the
stage for rebellions and riots, as well as the expectations of the m/Messiah. Therefore, when Jesus
spoke of forgiving debtors or finding buried treasures (probably hidden from tax collectors), He was
speaking of real-life issues.
02.03.04 Education. The origin of the school as well as the synagogue is rather obscure. The
Hebrew word for synagogue is beit-knesset or beyt-knesset, meaning house of gathering. 411 It is
strongly believed to have begun in the exilic period or shortly thereafter by the prophet Ezra. By the
time Christ came on the scene, the educational process took on a significant importance to combat
the growing Greek influence that had taken a firm grip on the Jewish community.412 Wherever the
Jewish people lived, they established community centers within their synagogues. It was in the
synagogue that children and adults were taught the Scriptures and local festivals, unless, of course,
they traveled to Jerusalem to observe the national religious festival celebrations.413
Thre were two kinds of education that were important in the Jewish world, these are listed in
1. Theology
2. Vocational trade
By the first century all boys were required to spend the early years of childhood in school beginning
at the age of five, and in Galilee the girls were also in school with the boys. It is amazing that some
scholars today believe that girls were not educated. When Mary praised God with her Magnificat, she
referred to no less than twenty Old Testament references. That is an impossible task for many Bible
students today.414 This is a clear demonstration that she knew her Bible, and leaves modern scholars
to wonder how much more she knew at her young age. Scholars believe that by the middle of the first

410. Tacitus, Annals of Imperial Rome 6.9, cited by Geikie, The Life and Words of Christ 1:355.
411. Mills and Michael. Messiah and His Hebrew Alphabet. 7.
412. Culpepper, Education. 2:23-27.
413. Golub, In the Days. 240.
414. It is doubtful that many seminary students today could do this without a computer or concordance. Mary was a welleducated teenaged girl.

century, the Magnificat and several other New Testament passages, became hymns in the early
Jewish-church congregations.415
Of the two forms of education, a vocational trade is discussed simply because commentary on the
subject is short and brief. The rabbis taught that son had to learn a trade, even if he was to serve in
the temple. Note the following popular opinion:
He who does not teach his sons a craft teaches him brigandage.
Babylonian Talmud, Kiddushin 29a
Repetition was the basic form of education. In fact, the Hebrew word for repeat is shanah and
means also to teach.416 Note the following two comments:
A person who repeats his lesson a hundred times is not to be compared with him who
repeats it a hundred and one times.
Babylonian Talmud, Hagigah 9b
If [the student] learns Torah and does not go over it again and again, he is like a
manwho sows without reaping.
Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 99a
This strong emphasis on repetition can be seen in the name of the fifth book of Moses which reiterates the laws of Exodus, Numbers, and Leviticus. The English name is derived from the Greek
Deuteros Nomos, which means repetition of the Law.417 A rabbi taught and preached the Word of
God, exhorting and edifying the people as the Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 14:3.418 However,
415. A number of early Christian hymns are embedded in the New Testament. The best known are 1) the Magnificat (Lk.
1:46-55); 2) the Nunc Dimittis (Lk. 2:29-32); 3) Eph. 5:14 is considered to be either a baptismal hymn or a hymn to the
unconverted; 4) 1 Tim. 3:16 is an early church creed that was sung, and 5) 2 Tim. 2:11 ff. is thought to be a fragment of an
Eucharistic hymn. Philippians 2:6-11 was known as the Christ Hymn. Other verses that were incorporated into songs are. Acts
4:24-28, Col. 1:15 ff., Mt. 11:25 ff., and Jn. 1:1-5, 9-13. See Mould, Essentials of Bible History. 527.
416. Metzger, New Testament. 50.
417. Fruchtenbaum, The Jewish Foundation of the Life of Messiah: Instructors Manual. Class 5, page 13.
418. Moseley, Yeshua: A Guide to the Real Jesus and the Original Church. 11.

the aristocratic Jews referred to common Jews as agrammatoi, a Greek word meaning uneducated.419
This clearly was an arrogant attitude they held against the common people, especially if they did not
observe all the legalistic laws they promoted.
One of the distinct teaching styles that was common among rabbis was to answer a question with
another question. It is essentially a form of repetition; the purpose was not to elude a response, but to
think through the details of the subject of discussion. People generally ask questions with a set of
assumptions. There are two reasons for responding with another question:
1. You force someone to open up assumptions
2. You can determine how to answer
Jesus followed the teaching practice of a typical rabbi as shown by the three examples below.
Question: Good Master, what must I do to obtain eternal life?
Response: Why do you call me good?
Question: Are we to pay taxes to Rome?
Response: Whose picture do you see?
Question: Under whose authority are you doing this?
Response: Under whose authority did John the Baptist minister?
Education became significant during the Babylonian exile when Ezra established a new religious
class known as scribes, whose principle responsibility was to study Scripture and teach it. By the first
century B.C. there were many itinerant rabbi-teachers wandering throughout the Jewish communities
with their disciples, teaching as they went. This was the practice replicated by Jesus.
Without question, Jerusalem was considered to be the center of religious education. While there were
fine educational schools in Galilee, those in Jerusalem generally looked down upon any other schools
outside of the Holy City. That is why they asked How did this man get (Jn. 7:15) get such learning
419. An example is found in Acts 4:13 where John and Peter were both referred to as agrammatoi. See Lang, Know the Words of
Jesus. 278.

without studying (see Acts 2). It was assumed by the Judeans that people of Galilee were
uneducated and just plain stupid. Some Jerusalemites may have seen themselves as cosmopolitan
citizens and seen the people of Galilee as backward and uncultured. But the religious education in
Galilee surpassed that of Jerusalem, in part because, they had to compete with those in the
cosmopolitan city.420
Jerusalem attracted scholars from Egypt, Babylon, and from all corners of the Roman Empire.421
Hillel came from Babylon and eventually became one of the two most significant rabbis of the
second temple period. Saul, later known as the Apostle Paul of Tarsus, came to Jerusalem where he
lived with his sister (cf. Acts 23:16) while he studied under Gamaliel, the grandson of Hillel. A
conflict the religious leaders had with John the Baptist and Jesus, was that neither one of them was a
graduate of one of Jerusalems many seminaries so how could they have been of God, or so it was
There has been a tradition among scholars that states that the formal education of children in the first
century was limited to boys until they reached the age of thirteen. While it has been generally agreed
that the educational process was primarily geared to boys, there is, however, growing evidence that
girls were included in the educational process as well. This was especially true in the Galilee region.
In fact, some Messianic scholars believe that the religious education in Galilee surpassed that of
Jerusalem, in part, because, they had to compete with those in the cosmopolitan city.422 In particular,
the section that pertains to divorce in the Mishnah refers to a woman writing her own divorce
All are required to write a bill of divorce, even a deaf-mute, an imbecile, or a minor. A
woman may write her own bill of divorce and a man may write his own aquittance,
since the validity of the writ depends on them that sign it. All are qualified to bring a
bill of divorce excepting a deaf-mute, an imbecile, a minor, a blind man, or a gentile.
Mishnah, Gittin 2.5423

420. Fischer, The Gospels in Their Jewish Context. (Lecture on CD/MP3). Week 7, Session 1.
421. Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. 75.
422. Source: Fischer. The Gospels in Their Jewish Context. (Lecture on CD/MP3). Week 7, Session 1.
423. See also Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. 160-62.

Yet there were some situations where a woman was free to file for a divorce if she wanted to. There
were a few occupations, such as dung collectors and leather tanners, that were considered repugnant
to the point that a wife who filed for divorce could also request, and receive, compensation for her
loss even if she had agreed to the husbands occupation before getting married.424
Divorce had become of such great public concern that one first century rabbi suggested daughters be
educated in this area of law, so they would not be taken advantage of in the event of a divorce in later
life. The Mishnah records the following:
Ben Azzai says: A man ought to give his daughter knowledge of the Law so that if she
must drink [the bitter water] she may know that the merit [that she has acquired] will
hold her punishment in suspense.
Mishnah, Sotah 3.4425
However, not all Jewish scholars were in agreement with the above statements, as reflected in the
Rabbi Eleazer said, Let the words of the Law be burned rather than committed to
He who instructs his daughter in the Law instructs her in folly.426
The difference between these quotations reflects both common theological and geographical
differences.427 Girls were educated in the Galilee area, but not in Jerusalem. It is questionable if she
personally wrote the divorce document or if she authorized it. Nonetheless, it demonstrates the
rights of women, as she must have had some degree of literacy to know what she was signing.
Literary scholars today have identified a number of writings that evidently were written and/or signed
by non-professional scribes.428 Evidently, this was considered important, as it was repeated in a later
section as follows:
424. Mishnah, Ketuboth 7.10.
425. Bracketed clarification by Danby.
426. Cited by Geikie, The Life and Words of Christ 1:530.
427. See also Bock, Jesus According to Scripture. 435-37.
428. Millard Literacy in the Time of Jesus. 40-42.

Hence, you may conclude that a woman may write out her own bill of divorce and a
man his own a quittance, for the validity of a document depends only on its signatories.
Mishnah, Eduyoth 2.3429
Josephus presented a first century case where a woman, Salome, divorced her quarrelsome husband
Costobarus.430 In addition, he referred to a Zealot named Joseph from the Jewish freedom-fighting
village of Gamala who was the son of a female physician.431 Obviously, she had advanced
education to become a physician and Josephus made no other comments about her, such as indicating
that this was an unusual occupation for a woman. This is additional evidence that some women of
the first century were educated and literate.
Centuries earlier, Abraham commanded his children boys and girls and his entire household, to
keep the ways of Jehovah (Gen. 18:19). Furthermore, they were instructed in the commandments and
ways of a godly life while performing the daily activities of normal life.432 The education of the
children was the responsibility of both parents. Timothy was educated by his mother Eunice and
grandmother Lois, which implies that they too were educated to some degree (2 Tim. 1:5; 3:15)
obviously in some form of educational setting such as a local synagogue school. Timothy grew up
outside of Israel in a Gentile community. Philo, the Jewish philosopher and historian from Egypt
made this comment,
Since the Jews look on their laws as revelations from God, and are taught them from
their earliest childhood, they bear the image of the Law on their souls.They are
taught so to speak, from their very swaddling clothes, by their parents, masters, and
teachers, in the holy laws, and in the unwritten customs, and to believe in God, the one
Father and Creator of the world.
Philo, On the Embassy of Gaius 31-32
Synagogues were community centers where all community events occurred, such as childhood
education. A unique custom was that during days of fair weather, rabbis taught their students outside
429. Cited by Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. 425.
430. Josephus, Antiquities. 14.7.10.
431. Josephus, The Life of Flavius Josephus. 37; Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. 161 n 46.
432. Deut. 4:9-10; 6:6-7; Ps. 78: 1-8; etc.

under a fig tree. In time, the Torah was compared to the fig tree because, unlike most trees that have
a short harvest season, the fig tree produces some ripe figs throughout most of the year. And so it is
with the Torah, one learns a little today, and a little more tomorrow, and a little more the next day.433
It was said that under the tree one eats the Word of God as one eats figs from the tree. The tree had
become symbolic of the nation, the Torah, and eventually of the Jewish ordinances and traditions.434
Grapevines and fig trees were frequently planted near doors of homes or in the home courtyards of
people so families could be seated beneath them and enjoy the fruit in season (Mic. 4:4). Fig trees
were also planted along roadways so travelers could obtain some nourishment as they walked on
their journey.435
The Jerusalem Talmud records that by the end of the second century and early first century B.C., the
president of the Sanhedrin, Simeon ben Shetah, along with Rabbi Judah ben Tabbai, required
compulsory education for all boys to the age of sixteen.436 Nearly every town and village of
significance had a Beth Midrash or Beth Rabban, although Nazareth was too small to qualify at
that time. In communities with schools, the village rabbi held classes in the synagogue where the
study of the Torah was central. The entire educational process in the villages can best be understood
as a form of elementary school, at that time known as a bet sefer or house of reading, or the house
of study.437 It was there where they learned to read, write, and do basic arithmetic. Learning was
rote oral memorization and repetitive. Jesus used this same method, as he did not write his
teachings, but constantly repeated them. In school, the rabbi would read from the Torah and the boys
would repeat his words. According to a rabbinic tradition, by the age of ten a boy was ready to study
the Mishnah or Oral Law of the Pharisaic tradition in the bet Talmud or house of learning.438 The
tradition reflects the importance of biblical study in the ancient culture.
He used to say: five years [is the age] for [the study of] Scripture, ten for [the study of]
Mishnah, thirteen for [becoming subject to] commandments, fifteen for [the study of]
433. Breshit Rabba 46,1 as paraphrased from Beth Uval, ed. Self-Guided Tour Trail C. Neot Kedumim Ltd. Lod, Israel.
1987. 15.
434. Farrar, Life of Christ. 72, 338-39.
435. Geikie, The Life and Words. 1:581.
436. Safrai, The Economy of Roman. 947; Moseley, Yeshua: A Guide to the Real Jesus and the Original Church. 134-35; Farrar, The Life
of Christ. 46.
437. Mishnah, Berakoth 4.2.
438. Mishnah, Abot 5.21; Martin, Worship in the Early Church. 26.

Talmud, eighteen for the [bridal] canopy, twenty for pursuing, thirty for [full] strength,
forty for understanding, fifty [for ability to give] counsel, sixty for mature age, seventy
for a hoary head, eighty [is a sign of superadded] strength, ninety [is the age] for [a]
bending [figure], at a hundred, one is as one that is dead, having passed and ceased
from the world.
Mishnah, Aboth 5.22
The Oral Law gives a prescription of life that is strictly observed.439 At the age of thirteen, a young
teenager celebrates a bar or bat mitzvah and becomes a son or daughter of the Commandment.
Further study is at the discretion of the family, but whenever a son completes this formal education,
he is ready to learn a trade with his father.440
Most boys learned a trade from their fathers, but there were exceptions. In larger cities, labor guilds,
similar to modern labor unions were established. The guilds trained young men for careers, such as
pottery making and metallurgy.441 In Jerusalem the guilds were so well established that they had their
own synagogues for the sole use of their members.442
There is another point to consider: the influence of Hellenism on the Jewish community. The study
of philosophy was to the Greeks as the Scriptures were to the Hebrews. The Old Testament is
actually theology and related systems and beliefs about God. The Jews looked upon their studies as a
matter of how man and nature related to God who was central to all of life. To the philosophic
Greek, man was central to all of life.443 It was a conflict in which the Jews drew up a strong defense
in the form of their educational system. Today there is the same conflict a conflict between
Christian values and God of Judeo-Christianity versus the humanistic culture to which the ancient
Greek philosophy is foundational.
A good student was a good listener. Information was constantly repeated to be permanently recorded
in his mind. Writing devices were expensive and rare, although many students had a wax board and
stylus that served as paper and pencil. The Mishnah described a good student as a whitewashed
439. Bivin, New Light on the Difficult Words of Jesus, 4-8.
440. Lee, U., The Life of Christ. 122-26.
441. Sirach 24:30-34, 33:16-18, and 34: 9-12.
442. Neusner and Green, Dictionary of Judaism. 620.
443. Brown, Philosophy. 7.

well, which did not leak a drop.444 This is what is meant by a whitewashed well. In Judaea (modern
Israel) there is no rain for at least six months of every year. Therefore, every family had a cistern
(called here a well) into which rainwater was collected in the rainy season for storage during the
long, hot and dry summer. A large portion of the central mountain area of Israel has porous
cretaceous limestone bedrock, which does not hold water. Hence, underground storage tanks carved
in the soft limestone had to be plastered.445 A good whitewashed cistern was critical to the survival
of the family and it did not leak a drop, just as a good student did not forget anything.
Most certainly, Jesus attended such a school in his synagogue in Nazareth; He grew up as an average
boy of His time. The question refers to higher rabbinic education that came after the boy had
become a son of the Commandment at age thirteen. Jesus attended the local synagogue school that
was required of all boys until the age of twelve. To these ancient Jews the only kind of advanced
learning was theology, generally at a school of one of the famous rabbis. Jesus, however, did not
attend any rabbinical school, yet He clearly spoke words that challenged the teachers of His day as if
He had attended the premier schools of Hillel or Shammai. Furthermore, the fact that He was never a
disciple of such recognized scholars made His critics wonder in amazement at His knowledge and
Jerome, living in Bethlehem and writing in Latin, said that There is not a Jewish child who does not
know the Scriptures from Adam to Zerubbabel. Adam is obviously the first man and Zerubbabel is
in the last book in the Hebrew Bible because the order of the books is different in Jewish Bible that
in the Christian Bible. The books are the same, but the order is different.446 The Pharisees realized
that Jesus knew the Scriptures better than they did, even to the verb tenses. Note the following:
1. Jesus believed every word of the Old Testament, including the prophecies about Himself.
2. Jesus believed the Old Testament communities and individuals lived and functioned as
portrayed in Scripture. Examples are:
a. Noah and the flood (Mt. 24:37-39; Lk. 17:26-27)

444. Mishnah, Aboth 2.1.

445. To make plaster, the ancients burned limestone for 72 hours until it became a heavy dust. Then they added water and
placed it on the walls with a trowel. Because limestone is about thirty percent water, the burning process required
considerable fuel. The result was that during the Roman period many areas were deforested. SOURCE: Interview with Arie
bar David, tour guide and lecturer. August 1999.
446. Cited by Fischer. The Gospels in Their Jewish Context. (Lecture on CD/MP3). Week 7, Session 1.

b. Abraham (Jn. 8:56-58)
c. Isaac and Jacob (Mt. 8:11; Lk. 13:28)
d. Sodom and Gomorrah (Mt. 10:15; 11:23-24; Lk. 10:12)
It has been suggested that the Jewish people had a much greater ability to read and write, especially
to read, than has been assumed by modern scholarship. While full literacy is defined by having
proficient skills in both reading and writing, various levels obviously exist, and did likewise in the
first century. Many who have reading skills have a lower level of writing skills, which include
spelling and grammar. For example, you, the reader may be able to read this book but might have
difficulty spelling some words if you were asked to write what you read.
This theory on literacy has several good arguments.
1. Archaeologists have uncovered numerous legal documents that were written by
professional scribes. Their handwriting and signatures are neat and accurate. The other
signers have signatures that look like graffiti, which is indicative that they were novices but
had basic abilities to write.
2. A number of ossuaries were discovered with beautiful carvings, such as the one of
Caiaphas (see 15.03.07.A); reflecting the high level of craftsmanship of those who created
them. However, the graffiti-like names of the deceased inscribed in the sides of the stone
boxes appear to have been written by family members rather than professional scribes.447
3. Some women had sufficient writing skills to prepare their own divorce decrees, which is
obviously reflective of a culture where women had basic literacy skills and knowledge of
family law.448
In light of these considerations, is it possible that some of the words of Jesus could have been written
down during His lifetime?449 Most certainly the scribes and leading Pharisees took notes that were a
type of shorthand that the Romans developed. While a negative answer has been assumed in the past,
447. Ossuaries were bone boxes, in which the bones of the deceased were placed about a year after the burial. Ossuaries
were popular only for a brief time from about 50 B.C. until the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70.
448. Mishnah, Nashim Gittin 2.5; Mishnah, Nashim Gittin 3.1; See the divorce decree written in Aramaic on papyrus at
449. This interesting question is presented by Alan Millard in Literacy in the Time of Jesus: Could His Words have been
Recorded in His Lifetime? (Biblical Archaeology Review. July-August 2003. 19:4. 37-45). Millard argues that some words of Jesus
were probably written down by His listeners. See Alan Millard, Words of Jesus Written Down as He Spoke? Artifax.
Summer, 2003, 18:3, 6.

it may be time to reconsider this hypothesis. Writing materials such as papyrus were expensive, but
broken pieces of pottery were commonplace. Is it possible that key words or phrases of parables were
written on pottery pieces (called ostraca) by His listeners. This practice was so common that the
pottery shards have their own name.450
Schools were located in synagogues that were filled with noise as students read aloud. Reading out
loud, called chanting, helps with memorization. Furthermore, when one recited an Oral Law or
Scripture and made a mistake, there were many in the audience who would announce the error and
make a correction. This was part of the culture where Oral Tradition was significant.451
Ancient texts were usually intended for public reading, as private reading was almost unknown.
Silent reading was not a skill known to man until the second or third century A.D. That is why Jesus
said Let those who have ears, listen. He never said, Let those who have eyes, read. For the
most part, letters and other documents were an extension of oral communication. St. Augustine, in
his fourth-century Confessions, wrote that St. Ambrose was the most incredible man he had ever met
because he could read without moving his lips or making a sound.
To make the matter of reading more challenging, papyrus and ink were expensive and scribes were
among the highest paid professionals in the land. Furthermore, Greek and Hebrew documents
frequently had no separation of words, sentences, paragraphs, punctuation, etc. To read ancient texts
required excellent reading skills, even by todays standards.452

02.03.04.Q1 How did one become a rabbi or a disciple of a rabbi?

The title rabbi at the time of Christ was a complimentary title, not an official office within Judaism,
which is why some modern scholars refer to Jesus as a sage, rather than a rabbi.453 The use of the
word rabbi changed after the destruction of the temple when the rabbinical schools were relocated to

450. See ostraca in Appendix 26 for more details.

451. Fischer. The Gospels in Their Jewish Context. (Lecture on CD/MP3). Week 7, Session 1.
452. Witherington, Living Word. 173.
453. Bivin, New Light on the Difficult Words of Jesus, 9-12.

the Galilee area and the word became a recognized title.454 It is an endearing term meaning my
master or my teacher.455 The purposes of a rabbi were two-fold:
1. To be a role model of how to apply Gods written word to his life. Namely, to Be holy
because I the Lord your God, am holy (Lev. 19:2b).
2. To teach others to be become rabbis. To be a rabbi, all that one had to do was to have
disciples.456 For that to happen, most men first went to a yeshiva (seminary). Jesus, of
course, did not attend a yeshiva, but gathered disciples once people heard Him teach. The
Oral Torah was the teaching of the rabbis. Disciples were not permitted to write down the
teachings of their rabbi.457 When the disciples followed their rabbis around the countryside,
listening to him teach and preach, they did not carry an arm-load of scroll on which to write
notations. Memorization was common practice, not only of the Scriptures, but other Jewish
books also.
It would seem to the modern student that this question should be answered in the religious
Institutions section. However, it is addressed here because throughout most of Jewish history,
religion and eduction were one and the same. The word rabbi identified a man as being a teacher,
but also carried the responsibilities of being a spiritual leader, as a pastor. The Jews used the title as
an equivalent to the modern word doctor. The Hebrew word comes from a root word meaning to
increase. Sometimes Jesus was addressed as Rabban or rabboni which are higher titles than
When a boy decided he wanted to pursue biblical studies and become a rabbi, he did so by becoming
a disciple of a rabbi. The boy and his family decided upon a rabbi and then asked the rabbi-teacher
to accept the boy under his discipleship. For example, a well-known first century rabbi, Akiva,
traveled from Babylon to Jerusalem to sit under the instruction of the rabbis of the School of Hillel.
Other sages with disciples were Rabbi Ezra (not related to the biblical figure) who had five
disciples;459 Rabban Johanan ben Zakki who was a contemporary of Jesus, 460 had either five 461 or
454. Horsley, Archaeology, History, and Society in Galilee. 40.
455. Spangler and Tverberg, Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus. 23, 27.
456. Bookman, When God Wore Sandals. CD Trac 7.
457. Fischer. The Gospels in Their Jewish Context. (Lecture on CD/MP3). Week 2, Session 1.
458. Geikie, The Life and Words. 1:549.
459. 2 Esdras 14:42.

possibly seven disciples.462 Jesus had twelve.463 Such schools were known as yeshivas, or
To become a disciple (or student) of a popular rabbi was difficult. Therefore, it was not uncommon
for a wanna-be student-disciple to depend upon a third individual to provide an outstanding
recommendation for the prospective student. Being accepted was a sign of prestige for the student,
as well as his family. Therefore, when Jesus called upon selected individuals to follow him, he was
definitely breaking from the cultural norm. Furthermore, Jesus selected individuals such as tax
collectors and common fishermen, people who were not considered likely candidates. As His
disciples eventually became proficient, Jesus sent them out on their own to test their knowledge and
skills, but also to experience the power of God working through them. As a disciple (Greek:
mathetes),465 the student-disciple imitated his master; as an apostle (Greek: apostello) he was sent
out, like an ambassador in that he represented his master.466 The unique feature of this question,
Where are you staying? is further explained in 05.04.02.
Student-disciples studied under, and imitated the life of their master-teacher. When their rabbi went
on a journey, they went with him and carried his personal belongings, prepared his food, and gave
him a comfortable place to sleep in the evenings. Rabbinic writings indicate that whatever comforts
any rabbi had were provided for him by his servant-disciples, as they observed his lifestyle and
patterned their lives after his.467 Furthermore, among some sages and rabbis, all property was held in
a common fund from which food and other necessities were purchased.468 The classroom was not in
a formal setting, but in an open marketplace within the public temple area. It could be along a path,
460. Bailey, Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes. 303.
461. Mishnah, Berakoth 5:5.
462. Midrash, Tanhuma Hayyei Sarah 6.
463. An example of a wanna-be disciple who came to Jesus is found in John 1:25-51. See 05.04.02.
464. For the Jews, the best education was theology and the best place to learn theology was in Jerusalem. For the Greeks and
Romans, the best education was philosophy and rhetoric, and the best places to learn philosophy and rhetoric were in
universities located in Athens, Rome, Marseilles, Antioch, and several other cities. Hatch, The Influence of Greek Ideas and Usages.
465. Bauder, Disciple, Follow, Imitate, After. 1:480-81.
466. Muller, Apostle. 1:126-27, 135-36.
467. Keller, Jesus the teacher. 21, with reference to Mishnah, Negaim 8:2; Babylon Talmud, Pasahim 36a.
468. Keller, Jesus the teacher. 22, with reference to Babylonian Talmud, Erubin 73a.

or under an olive or fig tree, where travelers could stop and participate in the discussions between the
rabbi and his disciples.469 When men decided to sit and listen, the women would then have to take
the children aside and could not be part of the conversation. When Jesus called children to himself,
he was also inviting their mothers, implying that they were eligible to hear His word. What the rabbis
taught was memorized by his disciples; they had no note pads or scrolls; they did not take notes or
carry text books. All their learning was immediately put tp memory and then discussed as a group.
02.03.05 Ethnic Diversity. The small country of Judaea had significant problems of ethnic diversity.
The Jews lived in three provinces known as Judea470 (including Jerusalem), Perea which was east of
the Jordan River,471 and Galilee which included the plain west of the lake or sea of the same name.472
Between Judea and the district of Galilee was a large area inhabited by the Samaritans. The
hostilities between the two groups has been well established.
To the southwest, along the beautiful Mediterranean coast, was a large Gentile population in the
ancient Philistine cities. The eastern and southeastern areas of the Sea of Galilee were the Decapolis
cities, ten Greek districts.473
Galilee by this time was mainly occupied by Jewish people,474 although within the Jewish provinces
there was a large contingency of Gentiles.475 Jerusalem was a cosmopolitan city with many
internationals in residence. In addition, the Jewish ethnic groups in various geographical locations
had their own manners, customs, and even language dialect. For example, a deed of marriage in
Jerusalem was identical to the Galilean type, but different from one in nearby Judea.476 Social issues
were certainly complex and in tension perfect for Jesus to preach His message of love and
469. Keller, Jesus the teacher. 22, with reference to Babylonian Talmud, Berakoth 4:16; Jerusalem Talmud, Berakoth II. 5c.
470. Some ancient writers use the term Judea in the broadest sense. Examples are found in Pliny the Elder, Natural History,
5.15.70; Strabo, Geographia, 16.4.21; and Dio Sassius, Roman History, 37.15.2.
471. In the days of Jesus, Perea was often referred to as the region of Judea across the Jordan.
472. Mishnah, Shebuoth 9.2; Mishnah, Ketuboth. 13:10.
473. See Decapolis in Appendix 26.
474. For demographic studies, see articles in Biblical Archaeology Review July-August, 2000. See also Fischer. The Gospels in Their
Jewish Context. (Lecture on CD/MP3). Week 7, Session 2.
475. Pellett, Decapolis. 1:810-12.
476. Mishnah, Ketuboth 4:12.

02.03.06 Family. As it is today, the family in the first century was the basic element of society. In
fact, it is a critical unit throughout the Bible and human history. A unique feature of biblical times
that is different from Western culture today is the extended family. In ancient times, an individual
was part of a family that was part of a larger unit known as a clan, which in turn was part of a larger
tribe. People did not think of themselves individually, but as part of a blood-related community.
That is why, for example, prayers in the Bible are in the plural such as Give us this day, our daily
bread. However in Western culture, people think of themselves as individuals separated from clans
and recently, even families. Western culture has glorified the Me generation to divine status.
Therefore, it is more difficult for modern Westerners to obtain the full meaning of the Apostle Pauls
references to in the body.477 That is primarily because Paul was an orthodox Jew who preached
Jesus and the Christian life in the proper Jewish context.
The husband/father of the home functioned as the dominant figure in the affairs of the family. He
was responsible for the welfare of everyone regarding food, shelter, and clothing. In the Jewish
home he was specifically responsible for the spiritual leadership (Gen. 12:8; Job 1:5) on a daily
basis, as well as for the various religious rites such as Passover. It was his responsibility to teach his
sons and daughters the Mosaic Law even though by the first century, this instruction was enhanced
by the rabbi in the local synagogue. In addition, he had four other responsibilities:
1. The father had to insure that his son was circumcised (Gen. 17:12-13).
2. The firstborn son was to be dedicated to God (Num. 18:15-16).
3. The father was to find a wife for his son (cf. Gen. 24:4) although by the first century both
the son and daughter had the opportunity to voice their opinions in this selection.
4. Finally, the father was to teach the son a trade or have him be trained by someone else.478
The Mishnah quoted a rabbi whose words have transcended the centuries:
Rabban Gamaliel the son of Rabbi Judah the Patriarch said: Excellent is study of the
Law together with worldly occupation, for toil in them both puts sin out of mind. But

477. Fischer. The Gospels in Their Jewish Context. (Lecture on CD/MP3). Week 8, Session 1.
478. Packer and Tenney, Illustrated Manners and Customs. 412; See also Packer, Tenney, and White. Nelsons Illustrated Encyclopedia
of Bible Facts.

all study of the Law without (worldly) labor comes to naught at the last and brings sin
in its train.
Mishnah, Aboth 2.2
The responsibilities of the wife/mother were essentially to be a mate to her husband, bear his
children, and maintain the home. In an agrarian society, it was common for her to be in the fields
with him during sowing or harvesting times. By the first century, she also had the mobility to
function in the marketplace and other areas that would benefit the family unit.479
The children had their responsibilities to the family as well. The oldest son would eventually be the
next head of the family and it was his responsibility to care for the parents in their old age and their
burial at time of death. This was demonstrated when Jesus was dying on the cross and He
transferred His duty toward His mother to His disciple John (Jn. 19:27). For this reason, the eldest
son received a double portion of the inheritance (Deut. 21:17; 2 Ch. 21:2-3).
In the ancient non-Jewish world sons were always prized higher than daughters. However, girls in
the Jewish world were more dearly prized than their counterparts among the Romans or Greeks
where an unwanted newborn girl was often tossed outside into the elements to die. The Jewish girl
remained under the domain and care of her father until she was married.480 These family
relationships and attitudes would hardly be acceptable today, but in the ancient world, Jewish
families functioned rather well within this protective structure.
02.03.07 Government. In 63 B.C., the Roman General Pompey took control of Judaea, and the
Jewish people came under Roman control. The Romans continued a tradition of limited autonomy
that was begun by the Persians centuries earlier (Ezra 7:25-26; 10:14) and it continued until A.D. 70.
They had three desires:
1. That the people pay tribute (taxes).
2. There be peace in the land.

479. Packer and Tenney, Illustrated Manners and Customs. 413-14.

480. Packer and Tenney, Illustrated Manners and Customs. 414-16; See also Packer, Tenney, and White. Nelsons Illustrated
Encyclopedia of Bible Facts.

3. The statue of the Roman emperor is to be erected in the temple. However, after much
argument, the Romans rescinded this request, but the taxation was tantamount to that of
The Romans granted to the Jews limited self-governmental powers that functioned through the high
court known as the Sanhedrin. The provincial king, Herod the Great, was a puppet king of Rome.
While Pompey at one time permitted the high court to rule all three Jewish provinces of Galilee,
Judea, and Perea, Herod restricted Sanhedrin control to Judea and Jerusalem.481 He also removed the
right to inflict capital punishment except in the event a Gentile entered the sacred area of the temple.
In such cases, the temple police were given authority to enforce the law.
The position of high priest was not occupied in accordance to biblical protocol, but by an
appointment by the Roman government. In this manner, Rome had control of the people who also
had limited government and religious freedom. This freed Herod and other Roman officials from the
petty problems of the common people. Rome was the central seat of government. The provinces
throughout the empire had various classifications and, hence, the rulers had different titles. A
procurator ruled a province that was second-class to a province ruled by an ethnarch. In the case of
Archelaus, when his province was re-classified, he came under the direct rule of neighboring Syria.
This insured that Rome would receive its taxes and peace was maintained.482
The Romans were hardly the ideal slave masters. While considerable negative press has been given
to them, credit should be given to them as they made some feeble attempts to be fair to their subjects.
For example, coins minted for use in Judaea did not have any images that were offensive to the Jews.
Another example was the census that was taken every fourteen years. This was not only to count the
number of persons in any given district, but the information was also used to build a form of equity
or equality in taxation.483
Taxes were collected by Jewish men who contracted for the position of tax collector. Any sense of
fairness or equality failed at this point because the tax collector could collect as much as he desired
so long as he gave the Romans what they had initially requested. The remaining funds were his
personal property. Consequently, tax collectors used the power and authority of the Roman
government to increase their own wealth. The Jews considered tax collectors, such as Matthew, to be
the worst of the worst of all humanity.
481. Thompson, Sanhedrin. 3:1390.
482. Guignebert, The Jewish World in the Time of Jesus. 37; Josephus, Antiquities. 20.6.2.
483. Josephus, Antiquities. 18.1-3.

02.03.08 Language. For more than a century many scholars were convinced that first century Jews
in Judaea did not speak Hebrew, but Greek and to a lesser degree, Aramaic. The irony is that
Aramaic is a sister language to Hebrew.484 Some critics believe that Hebrew was a lost language in
the first century. Furthermore, they claim that it was lost during the exile. However, would a people
lose their language in 50 or 70 years? They did not lose it in Egypt in 4 centuries. The biblical books
written during and after the exile were mostly written in Hebrew.485 The Mishnah was written in
Hebrew and the bar Kokhba letters were written in Hebrew. The gospels were written in Hebrew or
possibly Aramaic, but not Greek.


Jesus, or Yeshua, as He may have written it in the Old Semetic Script, although the
new Aramaic Square Script had gained popularity. This example was taken from an
ossuary (bone box) of someone else by the same name, Yeshua.
This erroneous belief has affected a few translations of the Bible. For example, in the New
International Version of the Bible (1984), the phrase in Aramaic really should read, in Hebrew in
Acts 21:40, 22:2, and 26:14. To complicate matters the standard New Testament Greek lexicon also
endorses the same error.486 Yet Aramaic was the language spoken by Jesus in daily life and His
Aramaic words are recorded in Mark 5:41 and 15:34. The leading Pharisees spoke only Hebrew as

484. Mishnah, Megillah 4:4,6,10; Mishnah, Sotah 7:2.

485. Daniel, Chronicles, Nehemiah, Ezra, Malachi, Haggai, Zechariah, Ezekiel.
486. Bauer, Arndt, and Gengrich, A Greek Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. 213.

not to be associated with the common people.487 Today Aramaic remains the language taught and
spoken in religious schools in Armenia.488 Since Aramaic and Hebrew are sister languages, the
differences are small. For example, the name of Jesus is Aramaic is Yeshua bar Yosef while in
Hebrew it is Yeshua ben Yosef. Both mean Yeshua, son of Joseph, or Jesus, son of Joseph. In both
languages, the letter J becomes a Y.489
While all languages change slowly over the centuries, some change rapidly as the culture changes,
while others, hardly change at all. In the lands of the ancient Assyrians and Babylonians, there have
been few changes until the twentieth century. After studying the languages in the region, some Bible
translators have concluded that a dialect known today as Aramaic M-South is the closest form of
Aramaic commonly spoken in the days of Jesus.490
In Babylon the Jews spoke Aramai. It had been the lingua franca, or language of commerce,
throughout the Persian Empire since the sixth century (B.C.) and when they returned home to Judaea,
they naturally spoke it along with Hebrew. But with the advancement of the Greek culture, orthodox
Jews in Israel rejected the Greek language because they did not want their children to be absorbed
into Hellenism. This was in stark contrast to those living in Alexandria, Egypt, where Greek became
so common that the Scriptures were translated into Greek491 so the youth to read it.
When Antiochus IV Epiphanies came to power in the third century B.C., Greek became the language
of all legal and political matters, although Aramaic remained in common use. Classical Greek was
died out and was replaced with koine Greek the language of the common people. This remained
unchanged in the days of Jesus, although Latin was gaining a foothold. By the first century, the
Greek language belted the Mediterranean Sea, which permitted the gospel to be preached effectively
to many people groups, nearly all of whom spoke the same language. A study published in 1992
revealed that 40 percent of pre-A.D. 70 burial inscriptions are in Greek.492 Clearly the language was
well established. The fact that the Greek language became accepted over a massive area, was
487. Bailey, Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes. 292.
488. An excellent resource for further biblical study is Ethelbert W. Bullingers book titled Figures of Speech Used in the Bible.
(Grand Rapids: Baker. 1898, 1995). For more than a century it has been the classic resource tool for the serious Bible student.
489. http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=231844 Retrieved January 14, 2015.
490. Moore, New Life for Ancient Aramaic. 15. This publication is produced by The Seed Company, a Bible Translation
ministry located in Santa Ana, California. For more information, see www.theseedcompany.org.
491. See Septuagint in 02.02.25.
492. Cited by Scott, Jr. Jewish Backgrounds of the New Testament. 117n9.

beneficial not onely for the spread of the gospel, but also for the Romans. Their empire was so
massive that it had hundreds of people groups with many languages and dialects. Alexander the
Great reduced those languages to twelve.
When the Maccabean Revolt brought victory in the early second century B.C., there was a revival of
Hebrew as evidenced on coins, ostraca,493 and papyrus fragments, all of which have Hebrew writing.
The Dead Sea Scrolls, various inscriptions, and other fragments written by the orthodox Jews are
seldom found to be in Aramaic, Greek, or Latin, but were written in Hebrew. At Masada, Hebrew
writings were found on fourteen scrolls, 4,000 coins, and 700 ostraca.494 Archaeological discoveries
show that Hebrew writings were more common than Aramaic by a ratio of nine to one.495
The land of the Jews was literally a little enclave of a subculture surrounded by Hellenistic peoples.
Even within its borders, Samaria and the Decapolis city of Beit Shean (also known as Scythopolis),
were two Hellenistic strongholds. Consequently, the Jewish cultural island was constantly inundated
with Greek philosophies, religion, and temptations. There is no question then that the Jewish people
were very familiar with the Greek ways of life and thinking.496 It is generally accepted that Jesus read
from a Hebrew scroll, spoke to the crowds in Aramaic, and conversed with the Roman authorities in
Aramaic or Greek. While Latin was the official language of Rome, it was seldom used in Israel. The
Empire was so enormous that it had 12 language groups.
The introduction and use of koine Greek was an important development in preparing the world for
the gospel.497 Of all the ancient languages, this was the best medium for the accurate expression of
ideas. The vocabulary is clearly extensive in philosophical, ethical, and religious concepts. Hebrew
is a pictorial language using phrases such as He is my rock, or cleft of a rock, whereas Greek is
more descriptive of human emotions and virtues. Jesus used verbal pictures of objects, plants,
animals, and most of all, people, in teachable moments to convey His message of the Kingdom of
God.498 Furthermore, and so importantly, He repeatedly connected these to various Old Testament
493. An ostraca is a pottery fragment that was used as a writing surface or material, since papyri and parchment were
extremely expensive. See ostraca in Appendix 26 for more details. An example is the King David Fragment at 03.02.01.A
494. See Appendix 26.
495. Bivin and Blizzard, Understanding the Difficult Words. 37.
496. Schurer, The History of the Jewish People. 2:75-79.
497. See also 03.05.12 Summary Influence of Hellenistic Reform (331 63 B.C.) that shaped Jewish life in the First
498. Mould, Essentials of Bible History. 306-08.

Were it not for the advent of Hellenism, the New Testament would not have been written in the
Greek which brought a new realm of words to express emotions and thought.500 Hebrew is not a
language that is rich with adjectives.501 Therefore, a phrase might read, a son of quarrels, rather
than a quarrelsome man. Another example is to say that he was a son of God rather than saying
he was a godly man. The expressions of Son of Man and Son of God, express the deity of
Jesus,502 but the former title also asserts His humanity.503 The beauty of the Greek language is that it
introduced adjectives that enriched the meaning and understanding of the New Covenant. Yet it was
Jesus Himself who introduced at lease one change He introduced the term Abba504 in the Lords
Prayer, as this revealed that prayers were welcomed in any language.505 He revealed to the Jewish
people that Hebrew was no longer the exclusive language of God.506
It is clear that whatever New Testament books were written in Hebrew namely Matthew and
possibly Hebrews these were almost immediately translated into Greek. While some early Church
fathers have stated that two books were written in Hebrew, nearly all papyrus fragments and scrolls
discovered are in Greek. The New Testament was primarily written in Greek for the benefit of the
Gentiles and Jews living in foreign countries. The strong isolationists, who desired to keep the
Hebrew language and culture separate, did not prevent the gospel from quickly spreading throughout
the Roman Empire. However, because of the Second Revolt (A.D. 132-35), the Hebrew language
had nearly disappeared, with the exception of use in the synagogues and yeshivas (seminaries). It
would lie dormant for nearly seventeen centuries before being revived in a modified form in modern

499. Horne, Jesus the Teacher. 77, 83, 93.

500. Mantey, New Testamentt Backgrounds. 3:3-14.
501. Mould, Essentials of Bible History. 306-08.
502. Jn. 3:13; 5:27; 6:27; cf. Mt.26:63-64; Tenney, The Gospel of John. 105.
503. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament. 1:312.
504. While the term abba has often been defined as a childs expression of daddy, language scholar James Barr has suggested
that abba was a solemn adult address to father. See Pilch, The Cultural Dictionary of the Bible. 2.
505. Jeremias, The Prayers of Jesus. 14-16.
506. Bailey, Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes. 95. The term Abba appears in Mk. 14:36; Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6.
507. Grintz, Hebrew as the Spoken and Written Language in the Last Days of the Second Temple. 47.


Video Insert


02.03.08.V Dr. John Soden presents unique insights into the Greek and Hebrew languages. ( )
Click here.

02.03.09 Messianic Expectations. There was an intense expectation throughout the ancient world
that a messiah would come at any moment and bring political freedom.508 People had a wide variety
of opinions of the messiah, like who he would be, and what he would do. However, since he was
expected to come as a political leader who would overthrow the Romans and usher in an era of peace
and prosperity, he was not seen as any kind of a divine figure. Hence, in this context, messiah is
spelled with a lower case m whereas the divine Jesus is referred to as the Messiah.
The Jews had great difficulty understanding the prophecies of some of their prophets since they
appeared to be in conflict. Most notable were those prophecies that described the messiah both as a
suffering servant, and as a victorious king. In their thinking, a victorious king would not be one who
suffered. Note, for example, the differences between Daniel 7:13-14 and Zechariah 9:9-10.

I continued watching in the night visions,

and I saw One like a son of man
coming with the clouds of heaven.
He approached the Ancient of Days
and was escorted before Him.

He was given authority to rule,

and glory, and a kingdom;
so that those of every people,
nation, and the Law
should serve Him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
that will not pass away,

508. See 12.03.01.V and 12.03.01.Q1 What Messianic problems did the Jewish leaders have with Jesus? and . Chart of
Key Points of the Messianic Problems.

and His kingdom is one
that will not be destroyed.
Daniel 7:13-14

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!

Shout in triumph, Daughter Jerusalem!
Look, your King is coming to you;
He is righteous and victorious,
humble and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim
and the horse from Jerusalem.
The bow of war will be removed,
and He will proclaim peace to the nations.
His dominion will extend from sea to sea,
from the Euphrates River
to the ends of the earth.
Zechariah 9:9-10
The first part of each passage is especially challenging. In Daniel 7:13, the messianic figure comes
with clouds of heaven while the counterpart in Zechariah 9:9 portrays him riding into Jerusalem on a
donkey. Each of these sections is clearly about a leader who would have a dynamic effect upon the
people. While Christians today have the advantage of recognizing the differences between the first
and second comings of Christ, the first century Jews were unaware of Gods divine plan and,
therefore, could not explain the apparent biblical difficulties.
Adding to the mystery, Zechariah 12:10, describes the messiah as one who would suffer. In their
thinking, one who would be victorious over all of Judaeas enemies could not be made to endure
agony. Therefore, they apparently ignored passages such as:
And I will pour out on the house of David
and the inhabitants of Jerusalem
a spirit of grace and supplication.
They will look on me,
the one they have pierced,
and they will mourn for him

as one mourns for an only child,
and grieve bitterly for him
as one grieves for a firstborn.
Zechariah 12:10 NIV (1984)
Other challenging passages in the Hebrew Bible are found in the book of Psalms and pertain to the
Gentiles coming to God (Ps. 22:27ff; 36:7ff et. al). The common first century belief was that
because the Gentiles had sinned for so many centuries, they would never come to God nor would
God want them. This belief was enhanced by the repeated statement that God said that the Jews
were His Chosen People. Hence, there was no need for their salvation (they already were saved),
and the Gentiles, not being among the Chosen People were therefore forever damned. Little wonder
then, that the temple area known as the Court of the Gentiles was turned into a market place. Yet, as
will be shown later, some Gentiles did convert to the Jewish faith.
These passages illustrate the messianic problems with which the Jews were grappling. In essence,
they shut their eyes to those writings that predicted the sufferings of the Messiah. The disciples had
difficulty believing Jesus would suffer on the cross and die. The Essenes, on the other hand, thought
they resolved the problem by teaching there would be two messiahs ruling together (see 02.01.06).
The rise of Antiochus IV Epiphanes and his Hitler-like tortures in the early second century B.C., led
to a new form of literature known as apocalyptic writings. There was considerable debate in the
Jewish communities as to whether these books were genuinely divinely inspired or simply creative
penmanship. Therefore, it is not surprising to see that there were various opinions among the
common people. While scholars still debate what various people groups believed, what is known is
that nobody expected a messiah like Jesus. Apocalyptic writers created various themes and stories of
the future events of the victorious messiah but nearly all of them rejected the concept of a suffering
messiah. The victorious messiah concept was popular during times of oppression; first by the
Greeks, then their own leaders, followed by the Romans. Most of the expectations follow these lines
of thought even though there were about as many variations as there were Jews:
1. According to the Apocalypse of Baruch 48:41, the people would realize the coming of the
Messiah by the calamities that would fall upon humanity such as wars and famines. Even
nature would experience cataclysmic upheavals. Today orthodox Jews call this time the
Time of Jacobs Troubles and Christians call it the Tribulation.

2. The Messiah could not come to the world unannounced; therefore, he will send Elijah who
will announce His arrival. According to a second century B.C. Jewish writer by the name of
Jesus ben Sirach,509
You who were taken up in a whirlwind of fire,
in a chariot with fine horses of fire;
you who are ready at the appointed time, it is written
to calm the wrath of God before it breaks out in fury,
to turn the heart of the father to the son,
and restore the tribes of Jacob.
Ben Sirach 48:9-10
3. The Jews attempted to connect Elijah with the coming judgments, resurrection, and the
end of the world. When he would come, he would settle the major controversies of the first
century, including
a. Settle family issues and bring estranged families together.
b. Settle issues of what is clean and unclean a major issue of contention between
various religious sects.
c. Settle property disputes.
d. Announce the coming of the messiah (small m because they did not know that
the Messiah would be Deity)510
4. The messiah would provoke a coalition of evil men whose identities remain unclear.
Apocalyptic writers mentioned them in Enoch 90; and the Apocalypse of Baruch 40. While
they simply described these as evil, Christians identified them as those who would be a part
of the Antichrist.
5. In the final battle between good and evil, those who are evil will be destroyed. However,
the identity of the destroyer is somewhat unclear. Some Jews felt it would be God Himself
509. See Metzger, The Apocrypha of the Old Testament. 193.
510. Barclay, John. 1:78.

according to a book known as the Assumption of Moses (10:7)511 while a majority felt it
would be the Messiah as found in the Apocalypse of Baruch (39:7ff).512
6. Once the wicked would be destroyed, the messiah would establish his messianic kingdom
and rule from Jerusalem. This would necessitate that all forms of evil, idols, and wickedness
be purged from the city, while instituting pure worship according to the Torah. This new era
would be considered the Kingdom of God. The nation would enjoy peace, joy, prosperity,
and a close relationship with God.
7. The messianic age would not be eternal, but endure for a thousand years after which there
would be another transformation.
8. At the end of the millennium, those who had died would be raised from the grave and
would in fact be restored to their physical bodies.
9. The opinions of the final judgment have a wider spectrum. Some believed that the wicked
would be destroyed at this point and Yahweh Himself would be the judge, while others
believed it would be the Son of Man who in reality was seen as an angel of the Lord (Enoch
69:27). Scholars disagree as to when the book of Enoch was written. Most believe that the
earliest part was written about 300 B.C. but the chapters 37-71 were written in the first
century B.C., or possibly in the Christian era. Critics believe that any resemblance to
Christian theology might be the result of Christian interpolation. Concerning the final
judgment, the wicked will be thrown into Gehenna (hell) while the righteous will spend
eternity with our Lord in heaven.
10. The Essenes hardly agreed with anyone else. They had great difficulty reconciling the
prophetic passage of the suffering servant with those of the victorious king. They questioned
how a suffering servant could be a victorious king. Therefore, they concluded there would
have to be two messiahs (see 02.01.06).
The Jews remembered very well the overwhelming victories God had given them during the
Maccabean Revolt. The Essenes and the Zealots believed, as did many common people that the
Messiah would be like a glorified Judas Maccabee and bring a greater victory over Roman
domination and oppression.
511. The Assumption of Moses is a/k/a the Testament of Moses.
512. These books should not be considered equal to the Bible, but are listed because some first century Jewish people
considered them important.

To the Pharisees, the messiah would be one who would institute the holiness, purity, and truthfulness
of the Torah to all the Jewish people, and purge the effects of Hellenism from the culture. The
Sadducees were the only ones who failed to believe in the coming of a messiah, and if there was one
coming, they feared he would take control of the temple, which was the source of their power and
wealth. The Romans had distrust for anyone who called himself a messiah. The Jews seemed to
produce a messiah every ten or fifteen years, much to the dismay of the Sadducees and Romans. Into
this caldron of severe social tensions and messianic expectations, Jesus came to bring life and hope
to all humanity. Little wonder then, that Jesus was careful to articulate His identity. All three groups
had thoughts about a messiah, but had not believed their messiah would be God in human form,
which is why a lower case m is used for this term.
Most Jewish peasants were downtrodden, depressed, enslaved, and discouraged with the corrupt
religious leadership and merciless Romans. Therefore, hope and interest skyrocketed when Jesus
began doing miracles. He was surrounded by competing religious groups such as the Pharisees, the
Essenes, the Schools of Hillel and Shammai, the Sadducees, and the unknown community/ies that
produced the Pseudepigrapha books such as 4 Esdras, Baruch, and the Psalms of Solomon.513 In
keeping with Jewish traditions, each group had a keen interest in solidarity and distinctiveness. Each
promoted its own agenda of righteousness as superior to other groups and shunned any challenges for
change.514 But none could speak or perform miracles as Jesus did.
The messianic expectations among Jews and Gentiles were at a fever pitch in the early first century.
Men would spend their evenings in the synagogue debating various subjects such as this messianic
problem. The Apostle Paul said that in the fullness of time Jesus came to this earth (Gal. 4:4). If
anything, his words were an understatement.
Finally, it has often been said as a point of humor, that if you want three or four opinions on
something, ask a Jew. There were many Jewish sects in ancient Israel and not all would have agreed
with the above 10-point list. But a vast majority would have agreed with the following expectations:
1. The messiah will be a warrior king who will destroy the Romans
2. The messiah will come for all Jews.

513. The Psalms were written between the year 40-30 BC, although some scholars place the time period between 60 and 30
B.C. See Cosby, Interpreting Biblical Literature. 285. It may also have been used as liturgy according to Moseley, Yeshua: A Guide
to the Real Jesus and the Original Church. 104.
514. Charry, By the Renewing. 61.

3. The messiah will come only for the Jews.
Those who failed to accept Jesus as their Messiah, such as Judas Iscariot, did so essentially for those
three reasons.
02.03.10 Occupations and Trades. While most of the Jewish people were involved in agriculture,
some were active in other endeavors. Residents along the Sea of Galilee were involved in fishing or
in salting fish for the caravans that frequently passed through the region. By the first century, there
were so many various occupations that in major cities like Jerusalem, labor guilds were formed.515
These guilds often formed their own synagogues. Synagogues were sometimes a form of labor
unions. For example, a synagogue may have been started by a group of butchers, and the wool
dealers belonged to another synagogue, etc.516 An example of this is found in Acts 6:9 where the
Libertines had their own synagogue. Some sources say there were 460 synagogues in Jerusalem;
others say the number was 480.517 Both could have been right, depending when the counts were
made. However, some scholars believe, considering the size of Jerusalem, that both figures are
exaggerated. Nonetheless, there were many schools that were frequently were run by a single rabbi,
and when he died, the school either closed or continued by one of his students. Craftsmen had their
shops along the main street of the city, that the Romans called the Cardo Maximus. Some streets
were known for their wool merchants, others for butchers, others for wood workers, etc.518 Residents
would go to the street and barter for their goods. Some scholars believe that Joseph and Jesus, who
were carpenters, sold their wooden goods along the Cardo Maximus in Sepphoris, a Greek city that
was only an hours walk from Nazareth.
The ancient Jews were so highly productive, that many of their products were shipped overseas,
especially wine, olive oil and wheat. The ancient Phoenicians may have originated merchant trade on
the Mediterranean Sea, but King David and his son Solomon expanded it. Not only did they have
merchant trading ships, but also caravans that traveled to distant lands to buy and sell various goods.
In the Inter-Testamental Period, the Greeks dominated the international trade of the Middle East.
However, after the Maccabean Revolt, Greek shipping gave way to Hasmonean rulers who proudly
515. For further study on commerce, labor, trades, and occupations, see Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus.
516. Lightfoot, A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica. 1:80.
517. Lightfoot, A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica. 1:78-79; Geikie, The Life and Words of Christ
518. Lightfoot, A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica. 1:76.

erected a ships mast on their monuments. In later years, when the Romans conquered the Jewish
state, they boasted in their triumph that they vanquished Judea Navalis Juda, the sea-power.519
One of the reasons Herod the Great built an artificial seaport at Caesarea Maritima, was to increase
international trade.
02.03.11 Religious Institutions. The religious faith of the Jewish people has always been anchored
to a number of covenants, such as the Abrahamic Covenant, Davidic Covenant, and others. In
essence, the covenants stated that if they obeyed God, He would bless them and if they disobeyed
Him, they would be punished.520 After several generations of disobedience, judgment fell and the
defeat and deportation to Babylon had been a crisis for the Jews. To the Hebraic mind, the
destruction of the temple was paramount to the destruction of God. In fact, the destruction of a
temple was associated with the defeat of a deity in all ancient Middle East cultures. Now the Jews
had no place to worship or to offer sacrifices. (It was during this captivity, known as the Exilic
Period, that scholars believe the synagogue developed as a place for worship, communal support,
and family activities.)521 When the Jews gathered in synagogues to worship, they faced Jerusalem in
a similar manner that Muslims face Mecca today.522 At this time, the Jewish people were probably
the most orthodox in their faith since their return from Babylon. They were constantly attempting to
shun the prevailing Greek culture with its paganism. The Babylonian captivity cured them from
worshiping foreign idols. They did not want to be exiled again.
It has been generally said that to establish a new synagogue, ten men were needed. Furthermore, this
is well attested in Jewish writings. However, those writings are from the fifth century and later.
Furthermore, it has generally been said that men and women were separated in the synagogue at the
time of Jesus. This too is found in Jewish writings dated from the fifth century and later.
There is, in fact, no archaeological or literary proof that women were separated from men until the
500s in the common era. In fact, there is evidence that women could make up the ten persons needed
to establish a new synagogue, and most likely did so in areas such as the District of Galilee. 523
However, there were differences in various communities, and Jerusalem may not have permitted
519. Golub, In the Days. 142.
520. For a study of Jewish covenants from a messianic Jewish perspective, see Arnold Fruchtenbaum, Israelology: The Missing
Link in Systematic Theology.
521. See 03.02.10 587 516 B.C. Exilic Period for further information.
522. Freeman, The New Manners and Customs. 406; Metzger, New Testament. 56-60.
523. Source: Fischer. The Gospels in Their Jewish Context. (Lecture on CD/MP3). Week 7, Session 1.

women to teach, speak, or be part of the organization of a new synagogue. No archaeological
evidence has been found, such as a womens balcony, in synagogue ruins that would suggest
separation between men and women.524 See 02.03.04 Education concerning women in the
synagogue, as this was where learning for boys and girls took place.
In the days of Jesus, the synagogue, not the temple, was the center of life in the local village and in
the cities. The synagogue was more of a teaching institution than a worship institution. In fact, the
Hebrew word for synagogue is beit-knesset or beyt-knesset, meaning house of gathering.525
Instruction was given by anyone who was willing and able to do so, including visitors. It was not
restricted to a local rabbi, although he served as an overseer. Synagogues housed a school and at
times living quarters for visitors. It was here that men would gather to discuss various points of the
Torah in endless intellectual debates, arguing how a particular law should be applied in every
possible situation. It was truly a community center and, for this reason, the Jews were best described
as the people of the Torah, or people of the synagogue. Religion was their essence.526
The chief operating officer, to use a modern term, of the synagogue was the ruler (Hebrew:
Chazzan).527 His responsibilities included the following:
1. He was responsible for the safekeeping of the sacred scrolls of Scripture. He brought a
scroll out in the beginning of the service and returned it in the storage ark at the end of the
2. He was the custodian in charge of keeping the synagogue clean.
3. He blew the silver trumpet three times to announce the moment the Sabbath had begun.
4. He was responsible for the education of the children in the community.
5. He was the distributor of alms
6. He was not an ordained rabbi or the local preacher.528
524. See articles in the Sept-Oct., 2000 of Biblical Archaeology Review issue concerning this topic (no evidence for a separate
womens section).
525. Mills and Michael. Messiah and His Hebrew Alphabet. 7.
526. Guignebert, The Jewish World in the Time of Jesus. 75-77.
527. Lang, Know the Words of Jesus. 276, 308-09.

Since the synagogues did not have professional ministers, Jesus could walk into any synagogue, and
as an honored visitor, begin preaching. This was especially true after He performed some miracles
and people wanted to hear His message.
References to a synagogue are found in the second century (B.C.) book of 3 Maccabees (7:20), the
New Testament, and in the works of Josephus.529 As to the Old Testament, a passage in Psalm 74:8,
which was written late in the post-exilic period, appears to refer to places of worship other than the
temple, and may have been a reference to synagogues.
The significance of the temple lies in the fact that it was the only place where a priest, on behalf of
the Jewish people, could offer sacrifices to God. Sacrifices were most often offered for the
forgiveness of sin and for fellowship with God. Jewish people living in the land were expected to
travel to Jerusalem three times a year for the observance of the biblical festivals. But those who
lived in foreign lands were expected to journey to the Holy City only once in their lifetime. Visiting
Jerusalem had become a religious rite and was accompanied with expectations and excitement.
However, at the time of Jesus, the temple priesthood had become steeped in corruption, in sharp
contrast to the ideal temple worship described in Ezekiel 40-48. The Sadducean High Priest was a
Roman appointee who controlled all the worship activities. He used his religious authority to attain
personal wealth. For this reason, some rabbis and the Essenes dissociated themselves from the
established religious order. They were looking for a political-messiah who would deliver them from
the Roman tyranny and temple corruption so as to establish another temple.
The Inter-Testamental writings give ample evidence of temple corruption.530 Furthermore, it was
believed that the earthly temple was a copy of the dwelling place of God in heaven.531 Jesus arrived
at a time when the temple was in a moral and spiritual free-fall and the people were praying for a
divine intervention.532 The temple was a building of such paramount beauty and significance that
there are at least nine ancient sources that give physical descriptions of the building.533 Yet its
528. Barclay, Mark. 30-31.
529. La Sor and Eskenazi, Synagogue. 4:680; Freeman, The New Manners and Customs. 405-06.
530. See Tobit 14:5; 1 Enoch 90:28ff; Jubilee 1:15-17, 26-29, as well as in the Dead Sea Scroll: 11QTemple 29:8-10.
531. This belief was written in Exodus 25:9; Revelation 11:19; 14:17; 15:5; and the Testament of Levi 5:1.
532. Westerholm, Temple. 4:768.
533. The nine ancient sources that record information concerning the temple building and/or its religious functions are (1)
Josephus, Wars. 5.5.1 - 5.7; (2) Josephus, Antiquities. 15.11.1 - 11.7; (3) Mishnah, Middoth 1 - 4; (4) From the Dead Sea
Scrolls a description is found in The Temple. See Yadin, Y. ed. Megillath Hammiqdash Jerusalem: I E S, Hebrew University,

exterior beauty was a facade covering internal corruption. Twice Jesus cleansed the edifice and
caused mayhem for the controlling Sadducees.
The Sanhedrin was the Jewish Supreme Court consisting of 70 members plus its president, who at
the time of Jesus was Caiaphas. The court was comprised of 24 Sadducees, 24 Pharisees, and 22
Scribes, plus the president, who also functioned as the temple High Priest.534
Prior to Herod the Great, the Courts authority was over the three provinces of Galilee, Perea, and
Judea, but the tyrannical king limited its power to Jerusalem and Judea. Hence, Jesus was able to
minister in Galilee and Perea without concern of an arrest by the Sanhedrin, although they did send
spies. Other members of the court were the elders, the tribal and family representatives of lay
aristocracy, as well as the scribes who were the lawyers of religious law.535 However, the Jews were
not the only people living in their Promised Land. They had plenty of company, including
1. Greeks who had lived there for centuries, mostly from the Dead Sea northward and toward
the Mediterranean Sea.
2. Some Idumeans, also known as Arabs, who lived in the Negev desert region, south of the
Dead Sea.
Among the Romans, Greeks and Idumeans there were a wide variety of religions, and all were
polytheistic. The Romans were pagan idol worshippers who took the gods of the Greeks and gave
them Roman names. Accompanying the assortment of false gods were lascivious religious rituals and
customs, temple prostitution, drunkenness and other vices that appealed to many and were common
across the empire. Similar to the Greeks, the Romans worshipped mythological figures who freely
gave in to carnal desiresdeceiving, stealing, getting drunk and committing fornication, adultery,
even rape!
The Roman/Greeks in the region of Caesarea Philippi, now known as Banias, worshiped the half
man-half goat deity of Pan. There were religious philosophies rooted in Platonism, such as
Epicureanism, Stoicism, Cynicism, and Skepticism. The Persian religion known as Zoroastrianism
was growing in popularity and had some parallels with Judaism, since part of it was founded upon
1977. 1:145-214; and pages 153, 159, 192, 195; (5) Strabo, Geographyy vii. 281; 16.28-40; cf 16.2.34; (6) Tacitus, History. 4.4;
(7) Dio Casius, History of Rome 37.15-17; 49.22; 66.4-12; (8) Pliny the Elder, Natural History. 5.14; and (9) Polybius, The Histories
of Polybius. 16.4.
534. Thompson, Sanhedrin. 3:1390.
535. Metgzer, New Testament. 52.

Judaism. Astrology and a wide variety of mystery religions were commonplace throughout the Holy
Land. Many of these belief systems were introduced during the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, and
were never completely eradicated after the Maccabean Revolt. Therefore, their influenced continued
in the lives of Jewish people in the days of Jesus.536
The Idumeans believed in a variety of gods, although each tribe had its own supreme deity.537 The
most common one was Babylons ancient moon god of war, later known as Allah. Judaea was known
for its hot springs that many believed had healing qualities.538 This in turn was attractive to many
pagans who were suffering from various ailments. Therefore, by the time Jesus began His ministry,
He had an audience waiting for Him.
While discussing the religious institutions, it is also important to briefly review the relationships
between various religious sects. While this is discussed with each individual sect, this may be a
good place to illustrate relationships. The high priest and Sanhedrin played a significant role in Israel
because the people had no king, but were under foreign domination. The Sadducees were few in
number but had the full support of the Roman overlords, while the Pharisees were more numerous
and had the support of the common people. There were not only conflicts between these two
religious groups, but also animosity between the subgroups within each party. So many righteous
Levites, scribes, and priests were so frustrated with the corrupt religious establishment, that Josephus
said that when the revolt began in A.D. 66, they joined the Zealots and fought against the religious
aristocrats as well as the Romans. There were three priests who served as commanders in Galilee
region539 and four in Jericho,540 just to name a few.
All chief priests were Sadducees, but not all priests, levites, and wealthy aristocrats belonged to the
Sadducees. On the other hand, simply because they did not belong to that group does not mean they
were members of the Pharisees. Note the illustration below:

536. Mould, Essentials of Bible History. 563-70.

537. Thompson, Idumea. 2:682.
538. Hot springs were located primarily along the eastern and western sides of the Jordan River Valley. Hammat-Tiberias (1st
to 4th century), along the western side of the Sea of Galilee was a well-known hot spring. Others were on the eastern side of
the river.
539. Josephus, Wars 2 (562).
540. Josephus, Vita 29.



accepted by some priests, Levits, and wealthy aristocrats, While the Sadducees
controlled the temple are related rituals, not all who who functioned in the temple
were related to the Sadducees. Some priests, Levites, and aristocrats were also
Pharisees. Courtesy of International Mapping and Dan Przywara.
To understand the role various individuals had within the temple, a brief listing of the temple
hierarchy is presented below:541
1. High priest542
2. Captain of the temple (sagan)543
541. Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. 160. Jeremias notes that not all Jewish sources agree on the details of this hierarchy.
542. Whenever the term high priest is written in the plural form, it refers to the high priest in office as well as those who
previously held the office. Mishnah, Hor.3.4.
543. Josephus, Antiquities 20 (131); Acts. 4:1; 5:24, 26. This person had oversight of all temple activities and, being the captain
of the temple police, he had the power to arrest. At the time of the crucifixion, he was the liaison between Caiaphas, the chief
priests, and all others involved in the process.

3. Director of the weekly course (ros-ha-mismar)
4. Director of the daily course (ros bet ab)
5. Temple overseer (ammarkal)
6. Treasurer (gizbar)
7. Chief priests (ha kohen)
8. Ordinary priests (kohen hedyot)544
9. Levites
The scribes, elders and Pharisees, were not on the official temple staff although many worked there.
While the chief priests were very influential, there were four individuals above them controlled by
the high priest, who at the time of Jesus was Caiaphas. Prior to the rule of Herod the Great, the high
priest would not be placed in his position unless he first served as the captain of the temple. But from
the years 37 B.C. to the destruction of the temple, all high priests were appointed by a local Roman
ruler. In the 108 year span from 37 B.C. to A.D. 70,545 there were twenty-eight high priests.546
Therefore, the reign of Caiaphas from A.D. 18-36 was incredibly long.547 Yet these frequent changes
reflect the change of appointments by various governors who sold the office of high priest to the
highest and most loyal bidder. During this century-long period there were four priestly families that
competed against each other for the envied position. Each had complete control of temple
proceedings at one time or another according to the Talmud, which is briefly confirmed in Acts 4:56. The families are as follows:
544. These priests were members of the twenty-four courses who ministered in the temple for one week twice a year, plus at
the three major festivals; Deut. 16:16; Ex. 23:14-17; 34:20, 23-24.
545. In the study of history, there was no year zero. The modern Julian calendar ends the B.C. era with December 31, 1 B.C.
and the A.D. era begins with January 1, A.D. 1. The time from December 31, 1 BC to January 1 A.D. 1, is one day, not one
546. Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. 190, 93.
547. See Appendix 1. Jeremiah argues that Caiaphas was the high priest until the year 37, because according to Josephus,
Antiquities 18 (89). Vitellius, the governor of Syria, sent Pilate to Rome to account for his actions. But Pilate did not arrive
until March, 37, after the death of Tiberias. See Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. 195 n 153.

1. The family of Boethus had eight high priests. This influential family from Egypt became
so powerful that years later, the Sadducees were at times referred to as the Boethuseans.548
The first member of this clan was Simon, the father-in-law of Herod the Great.549 Therefore,
the relationship of the chief priests and government dictator was well-established from the
beginning of Herods reign, and continued for more than a century.
2. The family of Annas had eight high priests, the most famous of which is, of course, his
son-in-law, Caiaphas.550
3. The family of Phiabi had three high priests
4. The family of Kamithos had three high priests according to Josephus, but the Talmud
reports seven. In order to keep the family in power and wealth, this family eventually became
related to the Boethus family through marriage.
As if the Sadducees were not bad enough during the life of Jesus, four powerful Pharisaic families
became so powerful and corrupt, that the common lament was this:

Woe unto me because of the house of Baithos [Boethus],

Woe unto me for their lances [evil-speaking],
Woe unto me because of the house of Hanin [Annas]
Woe unto me for their whisperings
Woe unto me because of the house of Qadhros [Kantheras]
Woe unto me because of their reed pens.
Woe unto me because of the house of Ishmael ben Phiabi
Woe unto me because of their fists.
For they are high priests and their sons are treasurers
And their sons-in-law are temple overseers
548. Tosephta, Sukkah 3.1; Yom. 1.8; 1.181; Babylonian Talmud, Sukkah 43b.
549. Josephus, Antiquities 19 (297).
550. Annas served from A.D. 6 to 15. See Appendix 1 and Lk. 3:2; Jn. 18:13, 24; Acts 4:6.

And their servants smite people with sticks.
Tosephta,551 Menahoth 13.21552
The internal strife among the temple staff was phenomenal before, during, and after the life of Jesus.
A vast majority of priests and a number of Levites had to find employment outside of the temple to
support themselves and their families. The Jewish writings identify a number of them and the
occupations at which they were employed.
According to Josephus, the greed of the chief priests as well as the Sadducees was so great that they
sent out armed servants to the threshing floors in order to take the priestly tithes by force,553 ungodly
acts of violence which were also recorded later in the Babylonian Talmud.554 They even took the
tithes that were given to them by the local people. As a result, some priests died of starvation because
the big men of the priesthood took their wheat.555 The Pharisaic leaders and teachers in the local
synagogues were among the poor, just as were the common peasants. Local Pharisees suffered as
much from their Pharisaic leaders as did nearly everyone else.556 The difference between righteous
godly Jewish leaders in the local synagogues and those in the temple could not have been more
profound. A brief overview of the political infighting of this era leaves one to conclude that it was
far superior to anything that occurs today in modern politics, especially since the temple was to be a
holy sanctuary.557
Unfortunately, the aristocratic leaders who consisted of priests, chief priests, scribes, elders, and
Sadducees, all had great disdain for the common people. Some priests even wore gloves as not to
become defiled by touching common people whom they called issah, meaning mixture, as in mixed

551. The Tosefta is a compliment to the Mishnah, written in the late second century. It obviously reflected first century life as
these families were destroyed during the destruction of Jerusalem.
552. Quoted by Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. 195-96. Bracketed inserts by Jeremias. See also Babylonian Talmud,
Pesahim 57a. See also Geikie, The Life and Words of Christ 1:344.
553. Josephus, Antiquities 20.8.8 (181); 20.9.2 (206).
554. Babylonian Talmud, Pesahim 57a.
555. Another name for these priests was men of violence. See Josephus, Antiquities 20.8.8 (181); 20.9.2 (206); Babylonian
Talmud, Pesahim 57a; Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. 98, 106-07.
556. Golub, In the Days. 272-73.
557. Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. 179-81, 190-97.

breed of families.558 Even pure blooded Jews were degraded in this manner if they were common
peasants. When a Levite or priest was ordained into office, the genealogical records were examined
to see if there were any issah, in his ancestry going back five generations.

558. Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. 221.


Unit 02
Cultural Background Studies
Chapter 04
Differences Between First Century Roman-Greek
And Jewish Worldviews

02.04.00.A. SALOMES EXOTIC DANCE by Armand Point (1860-1932).

Salome dances exotically before her step-father, Herod Antipas. Displays of

entertainment as this were common among Greeks, Romans, and Hellenized Jews,
but were revolting to orthodox Jews.
02.04.01 Introduction
As with any capital city in ancient times and today, Jerusalem was a melting pot of many cultures.
This caused a degree of constant tension for those who were faithful to their Bible and the Hellenistic
Jews. Consequently, as stated previously, there were significant differences in worldviews between
the European Roman-Greeks and the common Jewish people. The Romans accepted the Greek
lifestyle and are often referred to as Roman-Greeks or Greco-Romans. Modern students generally do
not realize the vast degree of cultural and religious differences between these groups. Understanding
these differences will not only bring insight to the Scriptures but will also bring interesting reflective
insights into modern Western culture. In this chapter, the brief descriptions of ten opposing
philosophical and theological positions presents a foundation of the opposing worldviews that people
An example of a basic cultural difference is this: If an American or European asks you what you
believe, you will tell him. However, if a first century Jew wanted to know what you believed, he
would have followed you for a month and then told you. Now who would have the greater degree of
accuracy? The answer is obvious. The first century Jew would have placed you in your cultural
context. So likewise, our perspective in understanding the gospels needs to be focused on the context
to perceive the full message.

Video Insert


02.04.01.V The Ethnic Diversities of Jerusalem. Dr. Petra Heldt discusses the ethnic diversities
of Jerusalem a melting pot city of many cultures. (10:25) Click here.

02.04.02 View of God

The Romans simply accepted the Greek gods but changed the names. When a people group were
defeated and brought into the empire, their gods were accepted by the Romans as a method of
controlling the people. Pagan gods had all the sinful vices of humanity. While Romans gods were
looked upon for guidance and wisdom, the prevailing culture really looked upon the reasoning
abilities of wise men to resolve problems. The Jews were persuaded by miracles, which were signs of
the continuation of God in their midst, whereas the Greeks were persuaded by logic and reason (1
Cor. 1:22). Hence, man is his own god. Emperors were frequently deemed as gods, not only among

the Romans, but in many other cultures as well. Likewise, emperors were often worshiped, which is
why, for example, Herod the Great built a temple in Samaria for the sole purpose that the Samaritans
could worship the Roman Emperor.559
The Jews accepted only one God as the God of the universe. It has been suggested that for this
reason alone they may have suffered many centuries of persecution. Recognizing only one God, they
therefore claimed that all other gods were in fact impersonators of the true God. This most certainly
would upset their neighbors. The God of the Jews does not have the sinful vices of humanity, but
rather, instructs humanity to be pure and holy as is He. In ancient history they were the only people
who believed in a single deity, with the exception of one Egyptian pharaoh who also believed
likewise and he was hated by the local priesthood.
Finally, among the Greeks, the idea that a god might appear in human form was accepted in
mythology. So when they heard that Jesus was God, they could accept this fact easier than the Jews
who had great difficulty with it. This belief, coupled with the expectation of a messianic figure,
explains in part, as to why Christianity exploded in Gentile nations. Some scholars have suggested
that the New Testament had to be written in Greek for these new believers.
02.04.03 Significant Writings & Truth
The Romans found significance in the writings of Greek and Roman philosophers and poets. To
them truth was relative. This philosophy of thinking was revived in the 1960s by Anglican priest
Joseph Fletcher with what is known as Situational Ethics. His theory was that moral Christian
principles can be occasionally set aside for the better good of any situation.560
To the Jews, the Scriptures were of ultimate significance because these were the inspired Word of
God given to man to teach him how to live. To the Jews, truth was not relative, but was established
by the decrees of God. All their decisions were based on Scripture and its interpretation (the Oral
Law) and they believed they had to live in obedience to their Scripture.
However, the Greeks and Romans could not understand how God could direct men to live. To them,
the gods had the same passions, vices, and problems experienced by humanity. Consequently, the
worldview and related writings between the Jewish people and their Greek and Roman neighbors
were vastly different.

559. See 03.05.21.I, the temple ruins of Emperor Augustus; Kelso, Samaria, Territory of. 5:240.
560. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Situational_ethics Retrieved September 16, 2012.

02.04.04 Position of Mankind, View of Life
In all ancient cultures one was born into a class system or social order in which one was expected to
live out his life. To the Romans, abortion and infanticide was acceptable and elderly people were
expected to end their lives peacefully so as not to burden families. On occasion a prominent figure
would object to the lack of value of human life, but such individuals were rare. The prevailing
Roman opinion was that human life was expendable, not sacred, and dedicated to the state.
The human body was admired and worshiped. For this reason, athletic events were performed in the
nude and statues of gods and goddesses were likewise nude. Sex was not restricted to marriage, but
was thought best to be unlimited. Pleasure and sensuality were considered goals to be achieved.
Which is why the Herodian dynasty was known for lavish and outrageous parties and celebrations.
On the other hand, to insure ultimate punishment, when the Romans crucified anyone, he/she was
completely nude.
To the Jews, all men were created equal and in the image of God. Therefore, human life was sacred.
Those Jews who lived in slavery did so for economic reasons, with a limit of seven years. Abortions
and infanticide were strictly forbidden and elderly people were highly respected and admired for their
wisdom. In the early days of the Enlightenment, European artists painted biblical scenes of various
personalities. The fact that these artistic renderings were often either nude or scantily clothed is
reflective of the Greco-Roman influence in the church, and not reflective of the Jewish roots of
A final point on the sacredness of the human body is this: modesty in dress was stressed and nudity
strictly forbidden. For example, Jewish fishermen fishing at night on the Sea of Galilee would wear
only a small loin cloth to permit freedom while working the nets even though there were no women
in the area. Sex was considered sacred and ordained to be only within marriage.
02.04.05 Individualism vs. Community
At the time of Moses, the cultural system of families, clans and tribes was strong. Some fifteen
centuries later at the time of Christ this cultural characteristic was still strong among the Jews, but
much weaker in some Gentile groups. Among the Gentile family and clans, loyalty was becoming
secondary to a national identity. Gentile prayers were almost always individualistic.
The Jews, however, did not see themselves as individualistic, but rather as part of a community of
believers. Jewish prayers are nearly all prayed in the first person plural such as the well-known
561. The divine plan of salvation of the Old and New Testament was taught by the Hebrew prophets, as outlined in
Appendix 9.

Lords Prayer. This was underscored when Jesus prayed His prayer of unity in the church (cf. Jn.
17:21). The strong sense of community was enforced during the Babylonian exile, when the
community center was established within the synagogue system.
02.04.06 Sabbath Day Observances
In is almost impossible for anyone who has a Western mindset to fully comprehend the importance
of the Sabbath regulations in first century Jewish life. It was possibly the most important way they
stood against the encroachment of Hellenism. To understand the issues involved, it is necessary to
first observe the Sabbath restrictions given by God to His prophets. There are several, beginning with
four by Moses:
1. Moses mentioned the following two together: plowing and reaping (Ex. 34:21)
2. Starting a fire (Ex. 35:3)
3. Gathering sticks of wood (Num. 15:32-36)
4. Jeremiah said not to bear a burden on the Sabbath (Jer. 16:19-20)
5. Amos prohibited business activities on the Sabbath (8:5) which was confirmed by
Nehemiah (Neh. 10:32; 13:16-23)
While these six were identified, Jewish scholars emphasize that these were random examples of the
general customary law which was expanded over time to meet the needs of the people in changing
circumstances.562 While the laws had a good intent, but the time of Jesus, the Sabbath restrictions
were overwhelmingly burdensome. The Essenes recorded in their Damascus Document 28 Sabbath
prohibitions563 and the Pharisees identified 39 prohibited categories of work in the Oral Law.564
These were beyond the understanding of the Gentiles.
The Romans and Greeks labored every day of the week. To them the concept of not working on one
day in the week was considered laziness.565 They could not comprehend why anyone would not work
on a particular day of the week in order to worship a god they could not see. Therefore, observing the
562. Sharvit. The Sabbath of the Judean Desert Sect. 43.
563. Dead Sea Scroll, Damascus Document 6QD 10:15-16.
564. Mishnah, Shabbat 7:2.
565. See the quotation by first century Roman historian, Tacticus, in Jews 02.01.13, concerning his opinion of the Jewish

Sabbath Day was often a point of confrontation.566 This was especially true for Jews who were
economic slaves of the Romans. Early Christians found themselves in the same predicament when
they refused to work on the first day of the week.
Within the world of Pharisees, there were several schools of theology, of which the two most
influential were the School of Hillel and the School of Shammai. The latter held it was unlawful to
comfort the sick or visit the mourner on the Sabbath, but the School of Hillel permitted it. In the case
of a violation, the school of Shammai demanded physical punishment whereas the Pharisees, as strict
and legalistic as they were, offered a milder punishment that was often in the form of a monetary
fine.567 Those who confronted Jesus on healing on the Sabbath were most likely to be followers of
Shammai, rather than Hillel.
The leading Pharisees were passionate about observing the strict Sabbath regulations because they
believed that their forefathers failed to observe the Law, as stated below 2 Chronicles 36:21. That
resulted in the destruction of their temple by the Babylonians, and exile to Babylon. They based their
opinion on the following prophetic words by Jeremiah and Nehemiah:

This is what the LORD said to me, Go and stand at the Peoples Gate, through which
the kings of Judah enter and leave, as well as at all the gates of Jerusalem. 20 Announce
to them: Hear the word of the LORD, kings of Judah, all Judah, and all the residents of
Jerusalem who enter through these gates. 21 This is what the LORD says: Watch
yourselves; do not pick up a load and bring it in through the gates of Jerusalem on the
Sabbath day. 22 You must not carry a load out of your houses on the Sabbath day or do
any work, but you must consecrate the Sabbath day, just as I commanded your
ancestors. 23 They wouldnt listen or pay attention but became obstinate, not listening
or accepting discipline.

However, if you listen to Me, says the LORD, and do not bring loads through the
gates of this city on the Sabbath day and consecrate the Sabbath day and do no work
on it, 25 kings and princes will enter through the gates of this city. They will sit on the
throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses with their officials, the men of Judah,
and the residents of Jerusalem. This city will be inhabited forever. 26 Then people will
come from the cities of Judah and from the area around Jerusalem, from the land of
566. During the Maccabean Revolt, since the Jews refused to fight on the Sabbath, the Greeks slaughtered more than a
thousand men, women, and children. Thereafter they decided to defend themselves so as not to be removed from the face of
the earth (1 Macc. 2:31-38).
567. Geikie, The Life and Words of Christ 2:106.

Benjamin and from the Judean foothills, from the hill country and from the Negev
bringing burnt offerings and sacrifice, grain offerings and frankincense, and thank
offerings to the house of the LORD. 27 If you do not listen to Me to consecrate the
Sabbath day by not carrying a load while entering the gates of Jerusalem on the
Sabbath day, I will set fire to its gates, and it will consume the citadels of Jerusalem and
not be extinguished.
Jeremiah 17:19-27

At that time I saw people in Judah treading wine presses on the Sabbath. They were
also bringing in stores of grain and loading them on donkeys, along with wine, grapes,
and figs. All kinds of goods were being brought to Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. So I
warned them against selling food on that day. 16 The Tyrians living there were
importing fish and all kinds of merchandise and selling them on the Sabbath to the
people of Judah in Jerusalem.

I rebuked the nobles of Judah and said to them: What is this evil you are doing
profaning the Sabbath day? 18 Didnt your ancestors do the same, so that our God
brought all this disaster on us and on this city? And now you are rekindling His anger
against Israel by profaning the Sabbath!

When shadows began to fall on the gates of Jerusalem just before the Sabbath, I gave
orders that the gates be closed and not opened until after the Sabbath. I posted some of
my men at the gates, so that no goods could enter during the Sabbath day. 20 Once or
twice the merchants and those who sell all kinds of goods camped outside Jerusalem,
but I warned them, Why are you camping in front of the wall? If you do it again, Ill
use force against you. After that they did not come again on the Sabbath. 22 Then I
instructed the Levites to purify themselves and guard the gates in order to keep the
Sabbath day holy.
Nehemiah 13:15-22a
Because the Jewish people did not observe the Sabbaths as stated above, the Pharisees agreed with
the writer of 2 Chronicles that their forefathers were sent out of the Holy Land so the land could
enjoy its Sabbath rest.

This fulfilled the word of the LORD through Jeremiah and the land enjoyed its
Sabbath rest all the days of the desolation until 70 years were fulfilled.

2 Chronicles 36:21
Nehemiah 13:15 clearly states that violation was conducting business on the Sabbath day in the same
way as it was done on any other day. Some four centuries later in the days of Jesus, the leaders of
the Pharisees took this passage to the extreme legalism and argued that one could not carry a needle
or walk with an artificial (wooden) leg on the Sabbath Day. Jesus totally disagreed with this.568
While a number of Jewish writings are quoted within this e-book that reflect the rigid Pharisaic
Sabbath rules, this may be a good place to introduce chapter 50 of the book of Jubilee. It shows the
opinions in the Inter-Testamental Period, namely 150 100 B.C. The book reflects the strong
attempt to return to Orthodox Judaism in light of the encroachment of Hellenism. The more the
values of the Greek culture permeated Jewish society, the more legalistic the Jewish leaders became.
At no time in Jewish history were Sabbath regulations as severe as they were during the time of

And behold the commandment regarding the Sabbaths, I have written (them) down
for thee and all the judgments of its laws.

Six days shalt thou labor, but on the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God.
In it ye shall do no manner of work, ye and your sons, and your men-servants and your
maid-servants, and all your cattle and the sojourner also who is with you.

And the man that does any work on it shall die: whoever desecrates that day, whoever
lies with (his) wife, or whoever says he will do something on it, that he will set out on a
journey thereon in regard to any buying or selling: and whoever draws water thereon
which he had not prepared for himself on the sixth day, and whoever takes up any
burden to carry it out of his tent or out of his house shall die.

You shall do no work whatever on the Sabbath day save what you have prepared for
yourselves on the sixth day, so as to eat, and drink, and rest, and keep Sabbath from all
work on that day, and to bless the Lord your God, who has given you a day of festival
and a holy day: and a day of the holy kingdom for all Israel is this day among their
days for ever.

For great is the honor which the Lord has given to Israel that they should eat and
drink and be satisfied on this festival day, and rest thereon from all labor which

568. See also 02.02.18 Oral Law and 02.02.20 Oral Tradition.

belongs to the labor of the children of men save burning frankincense and bringing
oblations and sacrifices before the Lord for days and for Sabbaths.

This work alone shall be done on the Sabbath-days in the sanctuary of the Lord your
God; that they may atone for Israel with sacrifice continually from day to day for a
memorial well-pleasing before the Lord, and that He may receive them always from
day to day according as thou hast been commanded.

And every man who does any work thereon, or goes a journey, or tills (his) farm,
whether in his house or any other place, and whoever lights a fire, or rides on any
beast, or travels by ship on the sea, and whoever strikes or kills anything, or slaughters
a beast or a bird, or whoever catches an animal or a bird or a fish, or whoever fasts or
makes war on the Sabbaths:

The man who does any of these things on the Sabbath shall die, so that the children
of Israel shall observe the Sabbaths according to the commandments regarding the
Sabbaths of the land, as it is written in the tablets, which He gave into my hands that I
should write out for thee the laws of the seasons, and the seasons according to the
division of their days.
Jubilees 50:6-13
Another example of the Jews not working on a holy day was when the Romans besieged Jerusalem
in 63 B.C. After the Roman General Pompey captured Damascus,569 he traveled south to capture all
of Judaea in only three months the time it took to walk from one end of the country to the other and
back. With mechanical engines, namely stone-throwing catapults, and battering rams shipped in from
Tyre, the Romans battered Jerusalem until victory was secured.570 Ironically, the Jews felt that since
the attack occurred on the Day of Atonement which was a holy day, they should not fight as fighting
was considered working. Consequently, Pompeys army entered Jerusalem and slaughtered 12,000
men, women, and children. It was the one day of the year Jews thought God would forgive them of
their sins, and instead they became servants to a pagan master. Additional details on the complex
Sabbath Day issues are given in the appropriate places within this e-Book.

569. Damascus was the capital city of the region and the districts of Galilee, Perea, Samaria, and Judea were within its
domain. It was also a busy commercial city and the hub of well-traveled caravan routes.
570. Josephus, Antiquities. 14.4.2.

Finally, some scholars have suggest that the church has lost the definition of rest as it pertains to the
Sabbath. Often the term rest has only a modern definition while its biblical definition is forgotten
and those who desire not to focus upon it claim it is legalism to do so.
While Jesus did say that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath, that statement
tends to open more questions than it answers. Some Messianic believers say that for six days God
performed His work in the creation, and the seventh day is set aside for His superior creation
(mankind) to focus attention on Him.571 When ones attention is focused on Christ Jesus, then the
issue related to many potential activities becomes a mute point.
02.04.07 Work and the Purpose of Education
To the Greeks and Romans, the pursuit of study was to enter a spiritual realm and, therefore,
escape the rigors of work. The pagans believed the world was in two dimensions: spiritual and
temporal. The goal was to escape from the temporal world and live in the spiritual world.
Everything physical in the world was evil and to live in the spiritual world was the ultimate goal.
This is the essence of Gnosticism. In recent Western church history this philosophy was reflected in
sweet bye and bye hymns, Negro spirituals, and other songs of escape.
The Romans believed work was evil, and was for those in the lower classes of society, namely slaves
and the poor. Those in the lower classes saw that the purpose of an education was to acquire material
things and become socially elevated. On the other hand, a scholar was one who pursued the spiritual
life. Hence, scholar by definition meant leisure. Philosophers, priests (incl. theologians), etc.,
were the ideal spiritual class. The Greeks studied to comprehend while the Jews studied to revere
God.572 The Greco-Roman philosophy teaches that man is basically good, but has the potential for
doing evil. Jewish thought is that man is by nature evil, but has the potential for making good
decisions. To the Greeks and Romans, the highest level of education was philosophy, and logic, in
the form of dialectic, was common to philosophy and rhetoric. Learned people knew how to argue
philosophically and theologically.573
To the Jews there was only one subject of study: theology. Mothers taught children Bible stories
prior to entering the synagogue school at the age of five. The Scriptures were studied daily by all, as
it was the only way by which one could learn what God required of humanity. If one did not study,
he had no opportunity to be obedient to God. It was the method of understanding and attaining the
571. Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. 199-202.
572. Young, Paul the Jewish Theologian. 65.
573. Hatch, The Influence of Greek Ideas and Usages. 32, 128.

character of God. Work was not seen as an evil endeavor, but a divine blessing. To the Jew, all men
were equal before God, an idea that was completely foreign to other religions.
Another unique feature of Judaism was that all men, including priests, were trained in an occupation,
in the event they would be called upon to support themselves. Work was admired and considered to
be God-given. The work ethic had no hierarchy, but was considered to be a blessing for all.
02.04.08 Views of Body, Soul, and Spirit
This issue will no doubt be a challenge for some readers. The concept in the culture of a three-part
person as body, soul, and spirit is said to be of Greek origin. This, however, is radically different
from the New Testament teaching. The Greeks believed that the ultimate life was to live spiritually
and that the body was evil. This philosophy is reflected in Watchman Nees book Body, Soul, and
Spirit wherein he states that we should essentially throw away the body and brain to love in the
Spirit. The Greco-Roman concept of body, soul, and spirit is radically different from the New
Testament concept.
The Jewish tradition of the Bible is that man is a single unity. In the New Testament the body is the
temple of God, but more importantly, body, soul, and spirit function together. Jesus died for the
salvation of the entire body, soul, and spirit. They are not divorced from the other, but rather, three
parts to a whole.
02.04.09 Understanding History and the Future
The Greco-Romans saw history as being circular. Therefore they could look to astrology and read
their future by looking at the past. There was no change in humanity, no beginning or end, and
according to the proverbial saying, What goes around comes around. There was no meaning to life
other than the proverbial wine, women, and song.
The Jews on the other hand, believed in linear time with a definite beginning of time and an end of
the age. There was no repetition as might be seen in the cyclical patterns of the stars. Therefore,
whatever decisions one would make today would determine his destiny tomorrow or in the future.
02.04.10 Divine Healing
Both Greeks and Jews believed that illnesses came into ones life because of affliction or anger from
the gods / God. The Greeks, however, attributed sickness to bad luck, destiny, or displeasure of the
gods. They also believed healing was available through the worship of Serasphis, Amphiaraus,
Trophonios, and especially Aesculapius who apparently had at one point entered Jerusalem.574
574. Kelsey, Healing and Christianity. 37.

It should be noted that in Hebrew and Aramaic there is no distinction between body and soul.
Therefore, Jesus always healed the whole person. For that reason, when He healed people of physical
diseases, He made comments such as Your faith has saved you, or Go in peace.575 In Matthew is
the phrase Lord have mercy wherein the gospel writer makes it clear that the entire person was
healed, not only the body.576

Early in the ministry of Jesus, people were healed who had no faith. This was because Jesus was
unknown to them, and they had no understanding that He was the Healer sent by God. In the course
of time, after listening to His sermons and watching Him perform miracles, many came to Him
because they had developed faith. Some were healed because of the faith of others (i.e. Mk. 2:5),
while in some places He could perform few miracles because of their lack of faith.577 Miracles are
granted by the gracious love of God for the purpose of bringing people to Himself. Jesus never met a
demon He could not exercise; sickness He could not heal; but He could not convert an unbeliever or
skeptic who refused to be convinced of who He was.
02.04.11 Human and Divine Relationships
The Greeks and Romans saw no need to have a covenant with their gods. Gods were considered a
necessity, although the Greeks worshiped beauty, and the Romans, power. Whatever happened in
life was the result of fate, which was said to be cyclical, which in turn led to a strong belief in
fatalism and astrology.
The Jews, on the other hand, had not only a covenant with God, but believed they were His special
people living on land that was given to them by His divine command through Abraham. The Old

575. i.e. Mk. 5:34; 10:52; Lk. 7:50.

576. Mt. 9:27-29, 15:22, 20:31.
577. i.e. Nazareth, see Mt. 13:58; Mk. 6:6.

Testament covenant, is in fact, a suzerainty covenant, which is defined as a covenant with unequal
parties, where the stronger and more powerful party functions for the benefit of the weaker one.578
While the New Covenant or New Testament is also a suzerainty covenant, there are some noteable
differences. For example, in the Old Testament, miracles were generally punitive, whereas those of
Jesus were redemptive. Yet Jesus did not come primarily as a miracle-worker, but He came to reveal
the Father and to preach that the Kingdom of God was about to come to those who placed their faith
in Him. Profound miracles of healing and raising the dead captured eveyones attention to His
Kingdom message.

578. Payne, Covenant in the Old Testament. 1:1102-03.


Unit 03
Historical Background
Chapter 01
Ancient Judaea (4000 1040 B.C.)

03.01.00.A. THE SACRIFICE OF ISAAC by Godfrey Durand. 1896. Abraham,

depicted as holding the knife to sacrifice his one and only son, is the recognized
father of Judaism and Christianity. While human sacrifice is strictly forbidden in the
Bible, in the pre-biblical period of Abraham, it was a common practice. This event
challenged Abrahams faith to see if he was prepared to do anything for God a

profound test of devotion. However, unknown to him, God never intended to have
Isaac sacrificed.
03.01.01 Introduction
It is impossible to comprehend Messianic thoughts and opinions of the Jews without first
highlighting important events and persons of the Old Testament and Inter-Testament era. Some
topics of conversations and actions by Jesus and His adversaries were deeply rooted in history. The
chronological history overview below provides insight to this critical background that shaped the
first century Jewish mindset and, therefore, the actions of Jesus.
03.01.02 c. 4000 B.C. +/- Adam and Eve
God created Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. They lived in close relationship with God, but
soon accepted the temptation of Satan, fell into sin, and lost their close relationship. Since that time
the entire history of the Bible has been focused on God and His work of reconciliation of mankind
unto Himself. This work of God was completed by the ministry of Jesus the Messiah. Therefore,
from the beginning, there was a prophecy predicting a coming Redeemer (Gen. 3:15 cf. Rom.16:1720). That Redeemer would be Jesus. When Luke wrote his gospel to someone with the Greek name
Theophilus (Lk. 1:3), he recorded a genealogy that traced Jesus to Adam since the Greeks believed in
a creation account, although not necessarily the narrative found in Genesis.
03.01.03 2100 - 1850 B.C. Abraham
Abraham is the patriarch of the Israelite people who many centuries later became known as the Jews.
With his father Terah, Abraham left his home in Ur, approximately 600 miles east of modern Israel,
traveled around the northern edge of the Arabian Desert (as it was known in ancient times) to the
small city of Salem (modern Jerusalem). They left their flourishing community at the confluence of
the Tigris and Euphrates rivers to find a land where a nation could be established free of idolatry. It
was in Salem where Abraham (then known as Abram) was welcomed by its king, Melchizedek (Gen.
14). God chose to make a covenant with Abraham and the Judeo-Christian faith began to take shape
and promise.
There is no place in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) where Jesus was symbolized more than upon
Mount Moriah in the story of Abraham and Isaac. God tested the faith of Abraham by asking him to
sacrifice his only son Isaac (Heb. 11:17-19), when the young man was 25 years old.579 This was an
event that looked into the future when Jesus, the only Son of God, would die for the sins of the
world.580 Abraham took his only son high upon Mount Moriah, which in the first century was the
579. Josephus, Antiquities. 1.13.2.
580. See Appendix 6 concerning Old Testament sacrifices and Jesus.

sacrificial temple site now known as Mount Zion.581 Isaac was a precious and only child to Abraham,
who at this time was in his old age. In obedience, but deep sorrow, he made the decision to obey
God and make the sacrifice. Abraham is considered a type and shadow582 of God, as shown: Isaac
was dearly beloved of Abraham just as Jesus was dearly beloved by God the Father. Isaac willingly
honored His father and allowed himself to be bound and laid upon the altar. Likewise, Jesus
willingly honored His Father and allowed Himself to be bound and crucified. Isaac carried the wood
to die on the altar just as Jesus carried His cross to die for the sins of humanity.
Abraham had made the decision to sacrifice his most precious gift. Just when he slowly raised his
knife for the impending death, a sacrificial ram appeared in a nearby bush and God told him to
release his son. Isaacs life was spared; his life was restored. The ram was sacrificed in Isaacs
place. Centuries later Jesus would die a horrific death, but He would be restored to life. Isaac was
the means by which God demonstrated his love and means of provision to Abraham. In ancient
times, children were the security of parents in their old age. Abrahams willingness to sacrifice his
only son was symbolic of God the Father demonstrating His love and means of provision to the
Jewish people and all humanity through Jesus. Then God and Abraham entered into an everlasting
covenant583 in which God would give him three important promises.
1. Land
2. Descendants
3. Blessings
The land promise was developed in the Palestinian Covenant; the promise of descendants was
promised in the Davidic Covenant584 and includes Jesus (a Son of David); and the Blessings

581. In Biblical times, Mount Zion was one of three hills upon which was Jerusalem was located. The name became
associated with the Temple site, but over time was applied to the hill top located in the western part of the Old City of
modern Jerusalem.
582. See Type and shadow in Appendix 26.
583. Gen. 12:2-3; 15:17-21; 17:9; 1 Kg. 2:4; 3:8; Micah 7:20; Zech. 2:11; Rom. 9:4; 15:8; 1 Cor. 7:14; Gal. 3:19; Heb. 6:13, 18.
584. The messianic title Son of David appears in the following three groups of passages in the gospels where it is always
reflective of the Davidic Covenant: 1) In various healings by Jesus Mt. 9:27; 12:23; 15:22; 20:30-31; Mk. 10:47-48; Lk. 18:3839. 2) In connection of the harassment the religious leaders gave Jesus Mt. 22:42-43, 45; Mk. 12:35, 37; Lk. 20:41, 44, and 3)
The praise the crowds gave Jesus at His entry into Jerusalem Mt. 21:9, 15; Mk. 11:10. See Rogers, The Davidic Covenant
in the Gospels, Bibliotheca Sacra. Part 1 of 2. 158-78.

Covenant is the New Covenant, also known as the New Testament.585 The latter was the result of the
completed work of Jesus at Calvary. The original Promised Land far exceeds the borders of modern
Israel today.
The Old Testament prophets had spoken frequently about the fulfillment of Gods covenants given to
Abraham,586 to David (Ps. 89:1-4; 2 Sam. 7:16), to Jeremiah (Jer. 31:31-34; Ezek. 36:25-30), and to
Moses (Deut. 28-30). By the first century, the Jewish people waited anxiously for the Messiah to
come and fulfill these eternal and unconditional covenants.

Video Insert


03.01.03.V The Importance of the Abrahamic and Davidic Covenants to First Century Jews. Dr.
Darrell Bock discusses how the first century Jewish people viewed the importance of their two
ancient covenants. (3:27) Click here.

Furthermore, God promised Abraham that among his descendants there would be a line of kings
(Gen. 17:6, 16) who would come from the tribe of Judah and would rule over alien people, including
the tribes of Moab and Edom.587 Yet when his only nephew Lot, left him, Abraham must have
wondered, How can I be the ruler of many nations if I cannot even rule my own house? As he
discovered, the call of God came with blessings as well as difficulties.
The first century Jews recognized a problem concerning the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant
because the reigning Herod the Great was not a descendant of King David, but a descendant of the
hated Edomites. Neither he nor any of his sons could fulfill the biblical requirement as the true king
of the Jews. Hence, the tension was heightened during the days of Jesus for a messiah to come,
depose the Herodian Dynasty, end Roman occupation, and fulfill the promises of the covenant.
When Matthew wrote his gospel to Jews dispersed in other lands, he recorded a genealogy that traced
Jesus to Abraham since he was the patriarch of the Jews. In essence, he made a connection to the
covenant. Likewise, the writer of the book of Hebrews affirmed the promises God gave to Abraham
(Heb. 6:13-18).
585. Fruchtenbaum, Israelology: The Missing Link in Systematic Theology. 575-76; Rogers, The Davidic Covenant in the Gospels.
586. Gen. 12:1-3, 7; 13:14-16; 15:18; 17:6-8.
587. Gen. 49:10; 2 Sam. 22:44-51; Num. 24:17-19; Ps. 2.


03.01.04 1876-1446 B.C. Sojourn in Egypt

In 1850 B.C., a severe famine came upon the land of Canaan. The descendants of Abraham traveled
to Egypt, where they remained for the next 430 years. The reason they remained in Egypt for this
extended period of time, after God promised both land and descendants, was for three reasons:
1. To save them from the famine of Canaan.
2. For them to grow in population.
3. For them to grow in a cultural incubator, as they were isolated from both the Egyptians and
In Egypt they would grow as Gods Chosen people. The most significant character for the Israelites
at this time was Joseph, who was responsible for bringing salvation to not only his extended family,
but also to the nation of Egypt. For that reason, he too is seen today as a prophetic picture or type
and shadow of Christ.588
At some point during their stay in Egypt, they became enslaved as the result of a change of
monarchs. Later, God, through the leadership of Moses, delivered them out of Egyptian slavery in a
miraculous walk through the Red Sea known as the Exodus. The celebration and remembrance of
that historical event became known as Passover.

588. See Appendies 2 and 26.



sowing, a mural from Thebes, Egypt. This shows one of two ways of sowing until
the year 1701. Cain, the tiller (Gen. 4:2) was the ancestor of those who had
livestock (Gen. 4:20).
03.01.05 1446 B.C. The Exodus; the Torah; Moses and a Pagan Seer Predict the Redeemer
As the adopted son of Pharaoh, Moses was privileged to receive the highest level of education (Acts
7:22) as well as leadership and military training. He was familiar with the Egyptian holy books,
including the Papyrus Ebers,589 and the political and religious systems of his day. Josephus recorded
some of his military adventures.590 The Exodus story of the Israelite children in Egypt and how
Moses delivered them from slavery has been repeated for centuries. The celebration of deliverance
from death that occurred at this time became known as the Passover. Moses was chosen by God to
lead His people through the Red Sea, out of Egypt, and to the Promised Land of Canaan. This event
became symbolic of how Jesus would lead humanity out of the slavery of sin into a new freedom in
Himself.591 Among his works is this verse that was considered prophetic of the coming Messiah by
the Jews.
589. The Papyrus Ebers, written about 1552 B.C., contains over eight hundred prescriptions and remedies for various human
aliments. Egyptian physicians were highly skilled in diagnosing illnesses, but their prescriptions of primitive superstitions were
deadlier than the illnesses they tried to cure. The directives for cleanliness prescribed by Moses were radically different than
that of the Egyptians or Babylonians. Obvously this is indicative of a different source of information. Furthermore, he did
not include any directions to perform exorcisms and incantations as were popular among the Egyptians. See Ben Hobrink,
Modern Science in the Bible. 2-3, 5. As a whole, the Egyptian worldview was focused on death, and the worship of deities
controlled life and death.
590. Josephus, Antiquities. 2.10.1.
591. See Appendix 3.


The Scepter will not depart from Judah

Or the staff from between his feet
Until He whose right it is comes
And the obedience of the peoples belongs to Him
Genesis 49:10
Moses was personally given the Ten Commandments from God on Mount Sinai. Later he wrote the
first five books, a/k/a the Torah, of the Hebrew Bible that includes history as well as the Mosaic
laws. These laws are foundational to the faith of Jews, Samaritans, and Christians. The Torah is
considered to be the most sacred of all Jewish writings. The fact that Jesus often made reference to
the Torah is indicative of its continued importance.
Due to the many similarities of his life and accomplishments, Moses is seen today by Christians as a
type and shadow of Jesus.592 However, to first century Jews, their concept of a Messiah according
to Deuteronomy 18:15 was someone who would be like Moses. The key word is like which does
not mean identical to, so when Jesus arrived on the scene, they had difficulties accepting Him.

The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own
brothers. You must listen to him.

Deuteronomy 18:15593
In his history of the Israelites, later known as Jews, Moses mentioned a pagan prophet by the name
of Balaam. Moses recorded a prophecy given by Balaam in the book of Numbers that would become
significant to the Parthian magi centuries later. An interesting event happened when Balaam, a
devout pagan, believed he had sufficient demonic powers to curse the Israelites and manipulate their
God. So when he was asked by an enemy to curse them, God intervened and told him to bless the
Israelites instead, curse the enemy who made the request, to and give a prophecy that is recorded in
Numbers 24:17 concerning a future Redeemer. It reads,

I see him, but not now;

I perceive him, but not near.
A star will come from Jacob,
592. See Appendix 2 and 26; An example of type and shadow is found in Hebrews 10:1a, Since the Law has only a
shadow of the good things.
593. Emphasis mine.

And a scepter will arise from Israel.
He will crush the forehead of Moab,
And strike down all the Shethites.
Numbers 24:17
To first century Jews, no biblical figure was of greater significance in the affairs of daily life than
was Moses. All religious rites and beliefs began with his writings. He recorded the Mosaic Code
(Ten Commandments, and the 613 laws affecting all areas of life). By the first century, however,
these laws had taken a secondary position to the Oral Law. Therefore, the major conflict between
Jesus and the Pharisees was because Jesus held the Mosaic Code in the superior position, while the
Pharisees held their Oral laws in superior position. On an important side note, the Church has
adopted a Roman view of Law, in that it means restriction and therefore, bad, while the Hebrew
Bible views Law as Instruction and freedom and, therefore, good.
However, because Moses had written these three messianic passages (Gen. 49:10; Deut. 18:15; Num.
24:17), not only were first century Jewish people waiting for a messiah, but for the previous fifteen
centuries, wherever they wandered, they told others of the coming messiah. As will be seen, the
second and first century B.C., people everywhere in the ancient Middle East were expecting Him,
including the three magi who came from the east.
Now concerning the non-Israelite prophet, some critics have discounted the Balaam account as
mythological folklore, saying that he never existed. However, in 1967 archaeologists digging in
Deir Alla in Western Jordan, made an interesting discovery of a temple. These ancient ruins are
situated about five miles east of the Jordan River and less than one mile north of the Jabbok River.
Evidently the ancient seer had incredible fame. Josephus said he lived by the Euphrates River,594 yet
he was remembered and honored centuries later and hundreds of miles to the west. In these ruins a
painted inscription was found of a prophecy given by the same Balaam mentioned in Numbers 22-24
by Moses. This prophecy is considerably different from the biblical narrative, but it does make
reference to the Shaddai gods, which is close to the Hebrew El Shaddai, meaning God Almighty.
This inscription was dated to 840 760 B.C., and portions of it are, understandably, missing while
others are difficult to read. However, various sections are of sufficient quality that, with
sophisticated scientific equipment, could be read and was translated as follows:

[VACAT] The sa]ying[s of Bala]am, [son of Be]or, the man who was a seer of the gods.
Lo! Gods came to him in the night [and spoke to] him 2according to these w[ord]s. Then
594. Josephus, Antiquities. 4.6.1.

they said to [Bala]am, son of Beor, thus: Let someone make a [ ] hearafter, so that
[what] you have hea[rd may be se]en! 3 And Balaam rose in the morning [ ] right hand
[ ] and could not [eat] and wept 4aloud. Then his people came in to him [and said] to
Balaam, son of Beor, Do you fast? [ ] Do you weep? And he 5said to them, Si[t]
do]wn! I shall inform you what the Shad[dayin have done]. Now come, see the deeds of
the g[o]ds!. The g[o]ds have gathered 6and the Shaddayin have taken their places in the
assembly and said to Sh[slave, thus:] Sew the skies shut with your thick cloud! There
let there be darkness and no 7perpetual shining and n[o] radiance! For you will put a
sea[l upon the thick] cloud of darkness and you will not remove it forever! For the swift
has 8reproached the eagle, the voice of vultures resounds. The st[ork has ] the young of
the NHS-bird and ripped up the chicks of the heron. The swallow has belittled 9the
dove, and the sparrow [ ] and [ ] the staff. Instead of ewes the stick is driven along.
Hares have eaten 10 [ ]. Freemen [] have drunk wine, and hyenas have listened to
instruction. The whelps of the 11 f[ox] laughs at wise men, and the poor woman has
mixed myrhh, and the priestess 12 [ ] to the one who wears a girdle of threads. The
esteemed esteems and the esteemer is es[teemed. ] and everyone has seen those things
that decree offspring and young. 15 [ ] to the leopard. The piglet has chased the young
[of] those who are girded and the eye ....
Balaam Deir Alla Inscription.595
Balaam, son of Beor. Balaam must have been a prophet of excellent reputation, in that kings
consulted him and asked him to curse enemies prior to war.596 The ruins of Tel Deir Alla revealed
archaeological evidence of Balaams existence. Archaeologists believe that originally there was a
long narrative on the wall with a minimum of fifty lines of writing. While portions were destroyed by
earthquakes, among the 119 remaining plaster fragments with red and black writings the name of a
prophet Balaam, son of Beor is mentioned three times just a mentioned in the Bible.597 But most
important, his prophecy of biblical record (Num. 24:17) was responsible for the eventual visit by the
Parthian magi to Jesus and, in part, the anticipation of a Messiah by Jewish people.

595. Translation published by P. Kyle McCarter Jr. The Balaam Texts from Deir Alla: The First Combination. Bulletin of the
Schools of Oriental Research. 239 (1980). 49-60; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deir_Alla_Inscription. Retrieved November 10,
596. Balaam is also mentioned negatively in 2 Peter 2:14-15 and Revelation 2:14.
597. Fruchtenbaum, The Jewish Foundation of the Life of Messiah: Instructors Manual. Class 4, page 9.

The Shaddayin. Some scholars believe these were deities of the pagan world.598


INSCRIPTION. Sufficient plaster fragments with inscriptions were discovered in
Deir Alla, Western Jordan, to authenticate the existence of a non-Israelite prophet by
the name of Balaam. Photo by Google Images.599
03.01.06 1446 - 1050 B.C. +/- Judges Ruled Gods People
During the four centuries after the Israelites entered the Promised Land, God ruled His people with a
series of judges. They were twelve independent tribes who formed a loosely knit confederacy,
squabbling during times of peace but fighting together against common enemies whenever the need
598. http://jewishchristianlit.com/Texts/ANEproph/aneBalaam.html. Oracle of Balaam translated by Gildas Hamel.
Retrieved July 18, 2014.
&bih=999. Retrieved November 10, 2012.

arose. The significance of this period in history is that this was when God ruled His people or tried
to rule His people. They were an unruly bunch who grumbled and wanted a king. In fact, during
these four centuries they committed some horrible acts of violence against each other and God. This
history was written with kind words in the last chapter of Judges that says that in those days Israel
had no king and everyone did as he or she wanted to do (Judg. 21:25). Therefore, since they wanted a
king like other nations, God gave them what they wanted and soon the first king was anointed for
the position.


Unit 03
Historical Background
Chapter 02
First Temple Period And Exile (1040 515 B.C.)

03.02.00A. SAMUEL ANOINTS DAVID by Godfrey Durand. 1896. King David

was, without question, the most important person in Jewish history, second only to
Moses. First century Jews in Israel believed that the messiah (small m because they
did not consider him as deity) would be like King David and restore the lost Davidic

Empire. That perception made accepting Jesus as their Anointed One extremely
03.02.01 1049-931 B.C. The United Monarchy
The term United Monarchy refers to the reigns of Kings Saul (reigned 1049-1009 B.C.), David
(reigned 1009-969 B.C.), and Solomon (reigned 969-931 B.C.).600 A few short years after Solomons
reign, the empire was divided.601
King Saul
The first king was Saul who united the twelve unfaithful, bickering, individualistic Israelite tribes
into a single nation (1 Sam. 11:12-15). At the time, the land was still filled with idol-worshiping
Canaanites who practiced child sacrifice and other horrible acts. He and his armies were, in effect,
instruments of God to bring justice upon those who destroyed young innocent lives and practiced
idolatry. These Canaanite tribes included the Amorites, Amalekites, the nomadic Midianites, and
several others. But the most powerful enemies were the Philistines who lived in the modern-day
Gaza Strip. Saul strengthened the confederacy and defeated nearly all of them, but failed to drive
them out of the land.
However, sometimes too much success breeds failure, and he soon found himself with some moral
failures. As a result, God began to raise David as his replacement. When Saul became aware of this,
a civil war broke out. As was the custom of the time, kings normally asked their prophets to inquire
of God for any directives they should follow. Ironically, while his name Sa uli means ask insistently,
as if asking Yahweh (God), he soon was asking counsel from the witch at Endor. Saul was a man
whose life began with great promise and opportunity, but ended with a marked decline of his own
spiritual and moral values, and finally, suicide. In contrast, David very frequently consulted God, but
Saul rarely did. Their lives and the results of their leadership clearly reflect this significant
King David
King Saul was followed by David, yet neither one was a pillar of moral strength, but David did have
a repentant heart for which God honored him. His name in Hebrew is Dawid which means
doubtful.602 For whatever reason he was given that name, he certainly rose above it to become the
champion of military commanders in Israels history. At a time when there was little or no change
600. Historians differ slightly on these dates.
601. Historians disagree slightly on the reigning dates, but each king reigned 40 years.
602. Cullman, David. 1:364.

within any culture, he introduced massive radical changes to the benefit of the Israelites. He instilled
a sense of nationalism and began the establishment of an international super-power which was
completed by his son Solomon. So powerful was Judaea in ancient history that future generations,
even in the time of Christ, reflected upon its history. In four military phases, David transformed his
people from a dozen squabbling tribes to an international superpower and empire.
1. The Israelites gave him loyalty and men for military strength. He combined all the tribes
into a national kingdom. He conquered the Jebusite citadel of Jerusalem, made it his personal
capital (1004 B.C.), and purchased the threshing floor where he constructed a sacrificial altar
to honor God (1 Ch. 21:23). This was the same site where Abraham had offered his son to
God centuries earlier.
2. He consolidated neighboring territories. Since his hostile neighbors were the Philistines
and Canaanites, he made a treaty with the Phoenicians of Tyre who were the worlds leading
naval power.
3. He defeated the tribes of Ammon, Moab, and Edom in the Trans-Jordan (western areas of
modern Jordan).
4. He established a multi-national empire.
As a result of his incredible victories, King David controlled all of the international trade that crossed
his kingdom; a land bridge between the continents of Asia, Africa, and Europe. To the east was the
great northern section of the Arabian Desert and to the west was the Mediterranean Sea. The major
routes were the north-south route of the Kings Highway located east of the Jordan River; the Spice
Route that went from Southern Arabia north along the eastern side of the Red Sea to the
Mediterranean Sea to Davids shipping fleet; and the Way of the land of the Philistines (Ex. 13:17;
Num. 20:17), an international highway that went from Damascus to Capernaum and southward on to
Egypt.603 Since bandits were numerous, caravans paid huge taxes for the protection of their goods,
camels, and men.
Military success translated into economic success, not only for himself, but also for his people.
David transported copper from Egyptian mines, silver from the Taurus Mountains in Asia Minor,

603. By Roman times, the Way of the land of the Philistines was known as the Via Maris, and it went through the
evangelical triangle where Jesus did most of His teaching.

silver and gold from East Africa, spices from Arabia, and purple dyes604 from nearby Phoenicia. He
utilized existing trade routes that had been established centuries before. The king simply conquered
and took control of this existing wealthy enterprise.605 The kingship of David also resulted in
exceptional cultural changes, freedom, and wealth for the Israelites. No longer did they have to pay
taxes, or tribute, to any foreign pagan king. Never in ancient history had a group experienced such a
dramatic change within the short time frame of a single generation, as did the Israelites. Generally,
sudden and dramatic social changes were extremely negative, usually resulting from a military
conquest in which the defeated people were either killed or enslaved. Victors of any nation never
accomplished what David created in a mere forty years.606

604. According to Josephus, large quantities of purple (or scarlet) fabric were required for the temple curtains which were
replaced every few years (Wars 6.8.3; 390). Some scholars believe that the purple (or scarlet) robe placed on Jesus (Mt. 27:28)
was a soldiers cloak.
605. Keller, W. The Bible as History. 4.
606. Cullman, David. 1:364-69.

03.02.01.A. THE KING DAVID FRAGMENT. This inscription, known by
archaeologists as the Tel Dan Stele, (a/k/a Tel Dan Stela) mentions the House of
David on line 9. It consists of three fragments (discovered in 1993 and 1994) that
refer to an unnamed king who boasts of his victories over the king of Judaea and his
ally, the king of the House of David. It is the first artifact to be found in Israel that
mentions the name David. Photo by Wikipedia Commons.
Translation of the King David Fragment inscription is as follows:
1.[ ]...[ ] and cut [ ]
2. [ ] my father went up [ ] he fought at [...]
3. And my father lay down; he went to his [fathers]. Now the king of I[s]/rael had
4. into my father's land before. [But then] Hadad made me king,
5. And Hadad marched before me. So I went forth from [the] seven[...]/s
6. of my rule, and I killed [seve]nty kin[gs] who had harnessed thou[sands of
7. and thousands of cavalry. [And I killed ...]ram son of [...]
8. the king of Israel, and I killed [...]yahu son of [... the ki]/ng of
9. the House of David. And I made [their towns into ruins and turned]
10. their land into [a desolation ...]
11. others and [...Then...became ki]/ng
12. over Is[rael...And I laid]
13. siege against [...]
King David Fragment Inscription607
The name Hadad is a pagan deity.608 It should be noted that not all boastings by kings reflected
truthful events. Amazingly, since the 18th century, critical scholarship has perpetuated the myth that
King David never existed; that he is an imaginative figure of creative biblical writers.609 However,

607. The line-by-line translation by Lawrence J. Mykytiuk (published 1994).

608. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tel_Dan_Stele. Retrieved October 27, 2012; See also Bryant G. Wood, New
Inscriptions Mentions House of David. Bible and Spade. 119-21; and Avraham Biran and Joseph Naveh, An Aramaic-Stele
Fragment from Tel Dan. Israel Exploration Journal. 43 (1993): 81-98.
609. King David is among fifty biblical names whose existence has been verified by archaeological studies in a published
article by Lawrence Mykytiuk titled, Archaeology Confirms 50 Real People in the Bible. Biblical Archaeology Review.
March/April, 2014 (40:2), pages 42-50, 68 (see 03.02.01.A below). This archaeological evidence confirms the historical

they were silenced in 1993 and 1994 when a ninth century B.C. stele was discovered with the kings
name inscribed on it.610 He was just as the biblical narrative describes. This inscription discredits
critics who have stated that King David was a mythical figure who never existed.
More importantly, in the ancient Middle East dignity was a sacred honor. King David established
dignity and honor for Gods Chosen People. No longer were they recipients of degrading jokes. The
Jewish people of the first century, who were reduced to economic slavery, were expecting a Messiah
who would to re-establish the David Empire as a wealthy international superpower and restore their
David was known not only for his administrative skills in forging twelve semi-disassociated tribes
into an empire, but also for his many Messianic Psalms. For example, in Psalm 2 and 89 he wrote of
a Messiah who would be the subject of much discussion. This occurred as predicted. He also
described the death of Jesus in Psalm 22:14-18. Note the repeating themes or ideas of poetic
Hebrew parallelisms.

I am poured out like water,

and all my bones are disjointed;
My heart is like wax,
melting within me.
My strength is dried up like baked clay;
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
You put me into the dust of death.

For dogs611 have surrounded me;

a gang of evildoers has closed in on me;612
They pierced my hands and my feet.
I can count all my bones;613
accuracy of the biblical timeline. For further study see the website for Associates for Biblical Research, as well as Grisanti,
Recent Archaeological Discoveries that Lend Credence to the Historicity of the Scriptures. 475-98.
610. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tel_dan_inscription.JPG, Retrieved October 27, 2012. See also Gary A. Byers. The
Tell Dan Stela. 121.
611. Dongs or Dogs was a Hebrew nickname for non-Jewish people. This theme is repeated on the next line.
612. The psalm writer recorded the emotions of his life, no doubt totally unaware of the fact that he was recording prophetic
words that would later be ascribed to Jesus.
613. The agony of dying on a cross stretched the human body to the point that it felt as if the joints were coming apart.

people stare and gloat over me.
They divided my garments among themselves,
and they cast lots for my clothing.614
Psalm 22:14-18
Davids literary works portray a man who rose from being a shepherd to a powerful monarch, yet one
who experienced some horrific failures which were followed by the discovery of Gods love. He
may not have realized that some of his words were messianic. In fact, not all of the messianic
psalms were recognized in the first century as messianic. Some, such as the first line of Psalm
16:10 greatly perplexed the rabbis. Only after the resurrection of Jesus did this passage find
fulfillment and understanding.
For You will not abandon me to Sheol;
You will not allow Your Faithful One see decay.
Psalm 16:10
The significance of King David to first century Jews and the identity of Jesus cannot be overstated.
They were expecting the messianic Son of David to repeat all the great things King David had done.
This was especially influential in first century Jewish thinking in light of the Davidic Covenant.615
That covenant was similar to the Abrahamic Covenant, with the exception that it contained the
additional clause of 2 Samuel 7:13-15, which promised dominion over alien people (2 Sam. 22:4451; Ps. 2).616 David was Gods anointed one (Ps. 2:2) and, as such, he was both priest and king (cf.
Ps. 110); foreshadowing the function Jesus would hold in the future.617 In essence, first century
Jewish people expected a messiah, who would,
1. Overthrow the oppressive Roman Empire
2. Restore the Davidic Kingdom and make the Jewish nation an international super-power as
King David had done.
614. Exact description of what happened to Jesus. See Mt. 27:35.
615. Cullman, David. 1:368-69; Rogers, The Davidic Covenant in the Gospels. 458-78.
616. Fruchtenbaum, Israelology: The Missing Link in Systematic Theology. 629-33; Wiseman, Abraham. 1:6.
617. Merrill, Kingdom of Priests. 276; Terrien, The Elusive Presence. 295-96.

3. Although King David never performed miracles, in the course of time Jewish people came
to believe that the messiah would perform three types of miracles known as messianic
miracles618 (to be discussed later).619
4. Fulfill the Davidic Covenant, although there was considerable debate among various
Jewish factions as to how that would materialize. His covenant featured four significant
elements: 620
a. House
b. Throne
c. Kingdom
d. Descendants
With four divine promises like these, no wonder that the Jews were anxious for their son of David.
The history of Israel was never as glorious as it was during the reign of its three major monarchs.
King Saul forged the birth of a great nation, but David completed the task. David instilled a sense of
nationalism and began the establishment of an empire which was completed by Solomon. Yet while
the ancient empire covered an enormous land mass, neither David nor Solomon encompassed all the
land God promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Ironically, a few years before Jesus was born, Herods Kingdom became close in size to the Dividic
Empire. This increased the speculation that the son of David would soon come and take control of
the kingdom. But it was not to be.
In the first century, the Jews carefully observed Jesus and attempted to reconcile Him with their
preconceived ideas of the son of David. But Jesus obviously did not fit those ideas of a militarymessiah, and they certainly did not expect a Messiah would come to redeem them from their sins.

618. Fruchtenbaum, Messianic Miracles. 4; Fischer, The Gospels in Their Jewish Context. (Lecture on CD/MP3). Week 10, Session
619. Messiah is spelled with a lower case m because the Jewish people had not applied deity to the name. Messiah with an
upper case M is a reference to Jesus as God. For a description of the three messianic miracles, see the video link
620. Fruchtenbaum, Israelology: The Missing Link in Systematic Theology. 632; Rogers, The Davidic Covenant in the Gospels.


Once the military actions ceased and the Davidic Empire was established, God made a covenant with
David that established his dynasty as Gods choice to rule His people forever (2 Sam. 7:4-17). This
covenant, known as the Davidic Covenant, has three features.
1. The dynasty of David would rule over the Promised Land forever (2 Sam. 7:10)
2. Davids dynasty would be permanent (2 Sam. 7:11, 16).
3. The kingdom established by the covenant would also be permanent (2 Sam. 7:13, 16).

In summary, there were two incredibly events that occurred at this time that were important to the
Jewish people of the first century.
1. The establishment of the Davidic Empire that was one of the most powerful empires of the
ancient world and, more importantly,
2. The establishment of the Davidic Covenant. This covenant contains the promise of an
eternal king from the Davidic Dynasty. That king is Jesus.

Map to be acquired


KINGDOM. In the first century, the Jewish people believed that since Herods
Kingdom was nearly the same size as Davids Empire, certainly this was in
preparation for the son of David to overthrow the Romans and re-establish the
ancient superpower. NOTE: Scales are not compatible. To be corrected Code xyx
King Solomon
The third king of the united monarchy was Davids son, King Solomon, who ruled during the golden
age of Israel. His was a time of great prosperity and peace. He is best remembered for building the
temple in Jerusalem that carried his name (2 Chron. 3:1). He enjoyed a lavish lifestyle, a huge army,
and many building projects, all of which cost more than he earned from international trade and taxes
from traveling caravans. He, therefore, imposed high taxes on his people and drove the nation into
debt. That national debt became the primary reason his nation split into two independent sovereign
states after his death. While the Lord gave him great wisdom, his decisions concerning high debt,
and multiple wives and concubines clearly indicate that he failed to use that wisdom.
He expanded international trade that included a partnership with Hiram, the Phoenician king of Tyre.
Together they operated a fleet of merchant ships in the Red Sea and along east Africa.
Archaeological discoveries indicate that Solomon operated copper mines, which explains his close
ties with Hiram. The Phoenicians were the worlds best craftsmen at copper smelting and refining as
well as seamanship. Little wonder then, that the writer of First Kings said that the chief metalworker
of bronze objects in the temple was a Tyrian by the name of Hiram (not related to the king of Tyre; 1
Kgs. 7:13-45).
The radical and successful transformation of the Israelite nation in such a short time came with a
heavy price tag. The massive building project required not only taxation, but slaves as well.
Solomon, to protect his new found wealth, enlarged his military which required more taxes and
increased his national debt. Any nation that follows this economic cycle soon fails, as did Solomons
Empire. Like Saul, he too fell into a moral and spiritual free-fall; his life ended in apostasy and

idolatry (1 Kg. 12:1-20). He was blessed with God-given wisdom, but near the end of his reign he
failed to use it. His life ended in tragedy and soon his empire would collapse.
Solomons influence in the days of Jesus was limited, unlike his popular father. Nonetheless, there
are two points in the gospels that are worthy of consideration.
1. The first century rabbis taught their students under temple porches called Solomons
colonnade. Legend said that these columns stood in the first temple, and the rabbis said that
maybe some of Solomons wisdom might fall upon their students.
2. The rabbis also believed that Solomons power and wisdom could help them discern and
expel demonic spirits.621 That is why Jesus once said that someone greater than Solomon is
here (Mt. 12:27).
03.02.02 931-586 B.C. The Divided Monarchy
Shortly after Solomons death, civil war broke out that resulted in division of the empire. The ten
northern tribes became an independent kingdom and maintained the name of Israel and, as previously
mentioned, the tribes of Benjamin and Judah became the southern kingdom, known as Judea.
Animosity grew between them because, while the southern kingdom remained faithful to the laws of
Moses, the northern Israelites were accepting foreign deities. For nearly two centuries, the northern
kingdom had enjoyed its independence and prosperity in spite of its paganism. Prophets such as
Isaiah sounded the warning of pending divine judgment if the people did not change their ways.
They failed to listen and in 722 B.C., the Assyrians arose from the northeast and conquered them.
The Assyrians then relocated the Israelites hundreds of miles to the east who became known as the
ten lost tribes.622 But were they really lost?
There were those in Israel who saw the proverbial writing on the wall, and they recognized the
Assyrian threat. They may have even listened to words of warning from the prophet Hosea and
observed their declining culture, but they went south into Judah (1 Kg. 12:16-20; 2 Chron. 11:16-17)

621. Josephus, Antiquities. 8.2.5.

622. One often hears about the ten lost tribes as having left Assyria and they wandered into Eastern and Western Europe,
eventually settling in Britain. There they became known as Anglo-Saxons. This teaching claims that the British are
descendants from the tribe of Ephraim and Americans are from the tribe of Manasseh, and together they inherit the covenant
promises God gave to Israel. This false doctrine is known as British-Israelism and has promoted, possibly without intention,
anti-Semitism through various cults and churches worldwide.

and thereby, avoided the destruction. Thus, Judah became the embodiment of all 12 tribes. The New
Testament does not assume that the 12 tribes were lost.623
03.02.03 8th Century B.C. Isaiah
The ministry of the prophet Isaiah began in the year 740 B.C., when King Uzziah died (Isa. 6:1).624
He wrote his book during the Assyrian invasions and the decline of the northern kingdom. At this
time the Assyrians were expanding into Syria and Canaan (745-727 B.C.) under the reign of King
Tiglath Pileser III. Isaiahs prophecies were not only for the immediate future, but also for the
distant future, concerning the coming of the Messiah and centuries beyond. Those prophecies of the
immediate future were quickly and literally fulfilled, which established his credibility as a true
prophet. Therefore, it was understood that futuristic prophecies would also be literally fulfilled one
day. For example, among the prophecies of interest to the 7th century B.C. people of Judea, was the
prediction that stated the wealth of Jerusalem would be carried off to Babylon (Isa. 39:6). At the
time of his writing, Babylon was an insignificant military power, and yet his prediction was literally
fulfilled a century later. Isaiah also gave predictive words concerning the predecessor of the Messiah
(40:3), which were later literally fulfilled, in the person of John the Baptist, who is more
appropriately known as John the Baptizer (see Mt. 3:3; Lk. 3:4).

A voice of one calling out:

Prepare the way of the LORD
In the wilderness;
Make a straight highway for our God
In the desert.
Isaiah 40:3
When Matthew described Jesus as the chosen servant of God (12:18-21), he quoted the prophet

This is My Servant; I strengthen Him,

this is My Chosen One; I delight in Him.

623. See. Mt. 4:13, 15; Lk. 2:36; Acts 4:36; 26:27; Phil. 3:5; Jas. 1:1.
624. Uzziah is among fifty biblical names whose existence has been verified by archaeological studies in a published article by
Lawrence Mykytiuk titled, Archaeology Confirms 50 Real People in the Bible. Biblical Archaeology Review. March/April, 2014
(40:2), pages 42-50, 68. This archaeological evidence confirms the historical accuracy of the biblical timeline. For further
study, see the website for Associates for Biblical Research, as well as Grisanti, Recent Archaeological Discoveries that Lend
Credence to the Historicity of the Scriptures. 475-98.

I have put My Spirit on Him;
He will bring justice to the nations.
He will not cry out or shout
or make His voice heard in the streets.
He will not break a bruised reed,
and He will not put out a smoldering wick;
He will faithfully bring justice.
He will not grow weak or be discouraged
until He has established justice on earth.
The islands will wait for His instruction.
Isaiah 42:1-4
Concerning the future Messianic Figure, Isaiah described Him as having a supernatural nature (9:56), and restoring the relationship between man and God (49:6; 53:12). Chapter 53 is considered a
classic description of Jesus. Isaiah described Jesus when He was beaten and bruised (53:2-3) before
Pilate, when He carried our infirmities, sins, and punishment (53:4-8), when He was buried (53:9),
and when He arose from the grave (53:10). Isaiahs predictions concerning Jesus the Messiah have
earned him the title of being the Gospel Writer of the Old Testament.625 His favorite titles for the
Messiah were the servant of Jehovah and the servant of the Lord. Prophets like Isaiah and Micah
declared that the Messiah would be a descendant of King David and would personally fulfill the
eternal requirements of the Davidic Covenant (Isa. 11:1-16; Mic. 5:2).

625. For the historical trail of the Davidic Covenant from David to Jesus, see the blue Mystery Unveiled boxes in 03.02.01,
03.02.03, 03.02.06, 03.03.01, 04.02.02, and 13.04.05.

03.02.04 733 B.C. Israel Falls to the Assyrians; Israelites Deported to the East; 723 B.C. Israel
Because of Israels idolatry, God permitted His people to suffer under pagan rulers and religions.
The Assyrians (from modern Iraq), led by King Tiglath-Pileser III, became the international
superpower and conquered Israel. In 733 B.C. Israel was required not only to pay huge taxes, but in
the decade of 732-722 the Assyrians deported many Israelites to the east in an attempt to destroy
their culture. By 721 B.C. the ten northern tribes known as the Kingdom of Israel ended. Religious
and civic leaders as well as craftsmen and merchants were deported to insure that the remaining poor
did not have the wealth or skill to revolt.627
As to the so-called ten lost northern tribes, according to the 2 Esdras 13:40-45, they went to a
region beyond the Euphrates River known as Arsareth, or Arzareth. This was in the upper TigrisEuphrates River Valley.628 Josephus said there were countless Jews who would return from there to
their homeland in the last days.629 Second Esdras, a/k/a 4 Ezra, states the following:

Those are the ten tribes, which were carried away prisoners out of their own land in
the time of Osea the king, whom Salmanasar the king of Assyria led away captive, and
he carried them over the waters, and so came they into another land. 41 But they took
this counsel among themselves, that they would leave the multitude of the heathen, and
go forth into a further country, where never mankind dwelt, 42 That they might there
keep their statutes, which they never kept in their own land. 43 And they entered into
Euphrates by the narrow places of the river. 44 For the most High then showed signs
for them, and held still the flood, till they were passed over. 45 For through that
country there was a great way to go, namely, of a year and a half: and the same region
is called Arsareth. 46 Then dwelt they there until the latter time.
4 Ezra 13:40-46

626. For centuries scholars have been unable to reconcile the so-called biblical errors concerning the dates of reign of various
kings. Many saw this as clear evidence for the unreliability of the Bible and concluded that it was written for a theological
point and is historically inaccurate. Then, in the early 1950s, E. R. Thiele discovered that Judah used the Jewish calendar while
northern Israel, under the affluence of the Assyrians, naturally used the Assyrian calendar. For further study, see E. R. Thiele,
The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1983.
627. Malamat, Caught Between the Great Powers. 34.
628. Levy, The Ruin and Restoration of Israel. 21.
629. Josephus, Antiquities. 11.5.2.

Some concluding thoughts are these: the problem is that no one today knows where Arseareth, or
Arzareth, is located. What is known is that Anna, who saw the infant Jesus, was from the tribe of
Asher one of the so-called lost tribes. Yet when James wrote his letter, he addressed it to the twelve
tribes in the dispersion (James 1:1-3). Finally, it appears that after the 722/21 destruction, the
prophetic voice of God could be heard only in Judah; no longer in northern Israel.
Ancients believed that cultures could be destroyed by forcibly integrating people groups, which in
turn would diminish the possibilities of a revolt.630 So many people were deported that Galilee
became a Gentile province for the next six centuries (2 Kgs. 15:29; Isa. 8:23), which is why Isaiah
called the area the Galilee of the Gentiles (Isa. 9:1). Tiglath-Pilesers son Shalmaneser V
conquered Samaria in 723 B.C. (2 Kg. 17:1-6). His successor, Sargon II, reconquered the city in 720
B.C,631 and deported 27,900 Israelites to the upper Tigris-Euphrates Valley and repopulated the
Israelite area with Gentiles from that valley.632
In Sargons palace in Khorsabad, stone inscriptions commemorate his victory over Israel. One
inscription found near his palace gate that reads:
(Property of Sargon, etc. King of Assyria, etc.)
Conqueror of Samaria (Sa-mir-i-na) and of the entire
country of) Israel (Bit Hu-um-ri-a).
Sargon Pavement Inscription633
A second inscription was found inside his palace, which may have been part of Sargon IIs royal
library. It reads:
I conquered and sacked the towns Shinuhtu (and) Samaria, and all Israel (Bit Hu-umri-ia).
630. Golub, In the Days. 10-12.
631. The Assyrian kings Tiglath-pileser II, Shalmaneser V, Sargon II, Sennacherib, Adrammelech and Esarhaddon, are
among fifty biblical names whose existence has been verified by archaeological studies in a published article by Lawrence
Mykytiuk titled, Archaeology Confirms 50 Real People in the Bible. Biblical Archaeology Review. March/April, 2014 (40:2),
pages 42-50, 68. This archaeological evidence confirms the historical accuracy of the biblical timeline. . For further study,
see the website for Associates for Biblical Research, as well as Grisanti, Recent Archaeological Discoveries that Lend
Credence to the Historicity of the Scriptures. 475-98.
632. Levy, The Ruin and Restoration of Israel. 21.
633. Pritchard, Ancient Near East Texts, 284; Lewis, Historical Backgrounds of Bible History. 40.

Sargon Room XIV Inscription634
The Assyrians also imported other captured people from the east into Syria and northern Israel.635
These people eventually intermarried with the few remaining Israelites and their descendants became
known as the Samaritans. The account is recorded in Second Kings.

Then the king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and
Sepharvaim and settled them in place of the Israelites in the cities of Samaria. The
settlers took possession of Samaria and lived in its cities. 25 When they first lived there,
they did not fear Yahweh. So the Lord sent lions among them, which killed some of
them. 26 The settlers spoke to the king of Assyria, saying, The nations that you have
deported and placed in the cities of Samaria do not know the requirements of the God
of the land. Therefore He has sent lions among them that are killing them because the
people dont know the requirements of the God of the land.

Then the king of Assyria issued a command: Send back one of the priests you
deported. Have him go and live there so he can teach them the requirements of the God
of the land. 28 So one of the priests they had deported came and lived in Bethel, and he
began to teach them how they should fear Yahweh.

But the people of each nation were still making their own gods in the cities where they
lived and putting them in the shrines of the high places that the people of Samaria had
made. 30 The men of Babylon made Succoth-benoth, the men of Cuth made Nergal, the
men of Hamath made Ashima, 31 the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the
Sepharvites burned their children in the fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the
gods of the Sepharvaim. 32 They feared the Lord, but they also appointed from their
number priests to serve them in the shrines of the high places. 33 They feared the Lord,

634. Pritchard, Ancient Near East Texts, 285; The transliterated name of Bit Hu-um-ri-ia literally means House of Omri, a king
of Israel after the monarchy divided. Under his guidance the country became an economic power, and as a result, the other
nations referred to Israel as The Land or The House of Omri, for more than a century after his death; See also Jack Lewis,
Historical Backgrounds of Bible History. 40; King Omri is among fifty biblical names whose existence has been verified by
archaeological studies in a published article by Lawrence Mykytiuk titled, Archaeology Confirms 50 Real People in the
Bible. Biblical Archaeology Review. March/April, 2014 (40:2), pages 42-50, 68. This archaeological evidence confirms the
historical accuracy of the biblical timeline. For further study, see the website for Associates for Biblical Research, as well as
Grisanti, Recent Archaeological Discoveries that Lend Credence to the Historicity of the Scriptures. 475-98.
635. Kelso, Samaria, Territory of. 5:242.

but they also worshiped their own gods according to the custom of the nations where
they had been deported from.
2 Kings 17:24-33
The ancients believed that each area of land was controlled by a territorial spirit or god. In this case,
since the people of Samaria were dying, the Assyrians said that an Israelite priest of that land ought
to return home and tell the new immigrants, who had five gods in their homelands, how to worship
the existing God of the land. It is ironic the pagan Assyrians would send an Israelite priest to tell the
new residents and remaining poor Israelites how the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob should be
worshiped. However, the new residents refused to listen to the priest and continued to worship their
own pagan deities (v. 29).636
This historical background of the Samaritans is critical to understanding the cultural environment in
which Jesus ministered, especially when in or near Samaria. As was previously mentioned, the
Samaritans were an ethnically mixed group; offspring of intermarriage between the ten northern
Israelite tribes and the five pagan tribes (each tribe with its own gods)637 that were relocated into
northern Israel by the Assyrians. When Jesus met the woman at the well (Jn. 4) she symbolized her
people. She had a marriage covenant with five husbands just as her people (from five tribes) had at
one time been in a spiritual covenant with their gods (2 Kg. 17:30-31).
By the first century there was intense hatred and rivalry between the Samaritans and Jews. The
Samaritan faith was, and still is, a form of basic Judaism with several notable similarities and
differences.638 Differences and anger grew over the centuries, and by the first century each group
considered the other sacrilegious, impure, unholy, and detestable. Into this hateful, explosive, and
hostile environment Jesus came to bring the Kingdom of God.

03.02.05 701 B.C. Assyrians Attack Again

Sennacherib (reigned 705-681 B.C.), the second son of Sargon II, in 701 B.C., led the Assyrian army
against forty-two towns and villages of Benjamin and Judah, including the major city of Lachish,
destroying all of them but did not relocate the people. As they were preparing their attack against

636. New International Version Study Bible footnote for 2 Kings 17:29.
637. Geikie, The Life and Words of Christ 1:522.
638. See 02.01.17 Samaritans.

Jerusalem in 701 B.C., Hezekiah,639 King of Judah and Jerusalem, had a tunnel dug to bring water
into the city during the siege. This water flows into the Pool of Siloam, the site of a healing miracle
by Jesus. At this point, Sennacherib attacked Jerusalem (Isa. 36:1-37:38). Miraculously, the city was
not captured, although it suffered greatly.640
The Assyrians were an extremely vicious and destructive enemy who were best known for their
torture of captured people and the development of military machines such as the battering ram. They
had multiple gods, including Lakhmv, their god of war. They were a fearsome enemy of any nonAssyrians in antiquity.
There are three major points of the Assyrian activities that influenced the cultural events at the time
of Jesus:
1. They deported the ten northern Israelite tribes, who in turn told their overlords and
neighbors that one day a powerful messiah would come.
2. They brought in five eastern tribes, who eventually intermarried with the few remaining
Israelites and their descendants became known as the Samaritans.
3. The horror of being banished from their Promised Land meant as they understood it at
the time that their covenant with God was broken; their fellowship with their Creator was
broken, the One who gave them a reason for their existence.641 However, the words of the
prophets that followed years later, and then the arrival of Jesus, confirmed that their opinions
were wrong and that God still had a plan for them (Jer. 29:11).

639. Hezekiah is among fifty biblical names whose existence has been verified by archaeological studies in a published article
by Lawrence Mykytiuk titled, Archaeology Confirms 50 Real People in the Bible. Biblical Archaeology Review. March/April,
2014 (40:2), pages 42-50, 68. This archaeological evidence confirms the historical accuracy of the biblical timeline. For
further study, see the website for Associates for Biblical Research, as well as Grisanti, Recent Archaeological Discoveries
that Lend Credence to the Historicity of the Scriptures. 475-98. Part of Hezekiahs preparation to protect Jerusalem from
the coming Assyrians was the construction of a city wall, part of which can be seen in the Old City of Jerusalem today.
640. Deliverance for King Hezekiah and Jerualem came when an angel of the Lord killed 185,000 Assyrians in a single night.
Such a near instant mass execution would not take place again until August 6, 1945, when 100,000 died in Hiroshima, Japan
as the result of an atomic explosion. Critics often discredit the huge number of 185,000 killed in ancient warfare, yet they do
not question that in 480 B.C. 110,000 Greeks attacked the Persians and killed 260,000 of them. See Packer, Tenney, and
White. The Bible Almanac.165.
641. Link and Tuente. Slave, Servant, Captive, Prisoner, Freeman. 3:590.



Carved in a stone relief in his palace in Nineveh, the Assyrian King Sennacherib is
shown seated as he reviews the plunder surrendered by the Jewish people of Lachish.
Courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum.
Gods judgment upon Sennacherib for his actions against the Israelites finally came when he returned
home to Nineveh. He was killed by his own sons as he worshiped in the house of his god, Nisroch.
Finally, as the result of the Assyrian destruction and population transfer, Galilee was for the most
part, abandoned and became known as the Galilee of the Gentiles (who destroyed it).642 To
confirm the absence of Gentiles living in this area, it is significant that archaeologists have
uncovered numerous villages that had no evidence of pig bones a sure sign of Jewish
occupation.643 In fact, the Jewish population was not restored until after the Maccabean Revolt when
thousands migrated from Babylon.644 So many came in the second century that Josephus said that a
countless multitude came from Galilee and other areas to Jerusalem at Pentecost,645 and that they
did so by going through Samaria.646 This underscores the influence of the Assyrian domination,
642. Isa. 9:1; 1 Macc. 5:15; Mt. 4:15.
643. Reed, Archaeology. 47; Dunn, Did Jesus Attend the Synagogue? 208-10.
644. See Galilee of the Gentiles in 06.01.08.
645. Josephus, Antiquities 20.6.1 and Wars 2.12.3.
646. Josephus, Antiquities 17.10.2 and Wars 2.3.1.

which ended in 609 B.C. with the rise of the Babylonian Empire. However, it should be noted that a
growing number of scholars believe that in spite of the political, military, and economic crises in
Eretz Israel (the land of Israel), the Jewish people maintained a majority over Gentile and
Samaritan populations in the first centuries B.C. and A.D.647


JERUSALEM. The Assyrian king had his siege against King Hezekiah recorded on
three clay prisms, known today as the Taylor Prism (shown above) and two
Sennacherib Prisms. Other records include writings by Herodotus and Isaiah 36-37; 2
Kings 18 and 2 Chronicles 32. Photo by David Castor/Wikipedia Commons.

03.02.06 626 B.C. Jeremiah Begins His Ministry

By this time the people of Judea and Jerusalem had also fallen into idolatry as had their northern
brothers a century earlier. Jeremiah was a young man when he received his commission to be a
prophet. He recognized the coming of Gods judgment and, hence, most of his prophecies were
647. Cohen, The Attitude to the Gentile in the Halakhah and in Reality in the Tannaitic Period. 35.

written with a sorrowful heart.648 He scorned the people of Judea for their sins (Jer. 44:23) and
idolatry 649 because their sin included the horrific sacrifice of live infants as burnt offering to pagan
gods (Jer. 7:30-34). He gave a prophecy predicting seventy-year captivity as follows:

Therefore, this is what the Lord of Hosts says: Because you have not obeyed My
words, 9 I am going to send for all the families of the north this is the Lords
declaration and send for My servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and I will
bring them against this land, against its residents, and against all these surrounding
nations, and I will completely destroy them and make them a desolation, a derision, and
ruins forever. 10 I will eliminate the sound of joy and gladness from themthe voice of
the groom and the bride, the sound of the millstones and the light of the lamp. 11 This
whole land will become a desolate ruin, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon
for 70 years.
Jeremiah 25:8-11
At the time Jeremiah said these words, Babylon was all but unknown. Certainly it was not a world
power, but that was about to change. He also made promises of a great king like David.

The days are coming this is the Lords declaration

when I will raise up a Righteous Branch of David.
He will reign wisely as king
and administer justice and righteousness in the land.
In His days Judah will be saved,
and Israel will dwell securely.
This is what He will be named:
Yahweh Our Righteousness.
Jeremiah 23:5-6
The fulfillment of some prophecies, such as the seventy years of captivity, was critical because
Jeremiah also gave prophecies concerning the coming Messiah. Since he had proven himself to be a

648. Introduction to book of Jeremiah, New International Version Study Bible, 1115-16.
649. Jer. 16:10-13, 20; 22:9; 32:29; 44:2-3, 8, 17-19, 25.

true prophet whose words were literally fulfilled, there would be no misunderstanding that his words
concerning a Messiah would also be literally fulfilled.650
03.02.07 612 B.C. Assyrian Nineveh Falls to Babylon and Media
The Assyrian army, which was believed to be invincible, was defeated by King Nabopolassar,
founder of the Chaldean Empire, a/k/a Babylon. Thus, the international stage was prepared for
Jeremiahs words to be fulfilled. By the first century, the other prophetic words spoken by him were
remembered as the Jews encountered Jesus and His disciples.
03.02.08 605 B.C. Judah Falls to the Babylonians; First Deportation of Jews to Babylon
King Nebuchadnezzar II (reigned 605-562 B.C.), the oldest son and successor of King Nabopolassar,
destroyed the Egyptian army at the Battle of Carchemish and invaded Syria and Judah.651 As news
spread that he was coming toward Jerusalem, some of the wealthy aristocratic Jews fled to Egypt and
At this point historians disagree on the dates of the deportation of leading Jews. Some scholars
believe that Daniel and others were deported to Babylon in 605 B.C. (cf. Dan. 1:1-7), while others
believe he and other prophets, like Ezekiel, were deported later in 597 or 586 B.C.653 The bulk of the
people were taken in 586 B.C. Cyrus permitted them to return in 536, meaning that the vast majority
of people were in captivity for only 50 years, but the leadership was in captivity for 70 years.654
In weeping and deep mourning, the captive Jews were led to the Babylon where they resettled along
the banks of the Euphrates River. It was there where they hung their harps on the willow trees and
cried and it is from those trees that the name weeping willow, received its name (Ps. 137). 655 Yet
650. For the historical trail of the Davidic Covenant from David to Jesus, see the blue Mystery Unveiled boxes in 03.02.01,
03.02.03, 03.02.06, 03.03.01, 04.02.02, and 13.04.05.
651. The Babylonian kings Merodach-baladan II, Nebuchadnezzar II, Evil-merodach, Belshazzar, as well as an official of
Nebuchadnezzar II, Nebo-sarsekim, are among fifty biblical names whose existence has been verified by archaeological
studies in a published article by Lawrence Mykytiuk titled, Archaeology Confirms 50 Real People in the Bible. Biblical
Archaeology Review. March/April, 2014 (40:2), pages 42-50, 68. This archaeological evidence confirms the historical accuracy
of the biblical timeline. For further study, see the website for Associates for Biblical Research, as well as Grisanti, Recent
Archaeological Discoveries that Lend Credence to the Historicity of the Scriptures. 475-98.
652. The terms Jew and Jewish people did not exist prior to the return of the Israelite people from Babylonian captivity
to Jerusalem. It is used herein only for clarification.
653. Scott, Jr. Jewish Backgrounds of the New Testament. 108.
654. Fischer, The Gospels in Their Jewish Context. (Lecture on CD/MP3). Week 3, Session 2.
655. Geikie, The Life and Words of Christ 1:203. It is the same tree found in the Middle East is also found in various sections of
the United States.

it was in Babylon where they prospered and continued to grow in numbers, clear evidence that God
had not forgotten them.
Nebuchadnezzars capture of Jerusalem was without difficulty. As the Assyrians had done
previously, he directed influential Jewish families of the priesthood and government, including the
prophet Daniel, as well as artisans, craftsmen, and skilled farmers, to be deported to the east
(Babylon). This was done because he believed that without their leaders, the captive people would
not have the ability to revolt and would therefore, remain faithful. They they mourned the loss of
their holy city and wrote Psalms 137.
The captive Jews took with them the Torah and other prophetic scrolls of the coming messiah whom
they expected would deliver them from political bondage and slavery. By the time of Jesus, all
people groups in the Middle East were anticipating a messiah who would deliver them from
oppressive rulers. Some heard it from Assyrian captives, others from Babylonian captives, and
others from those who chose to relocate in foreign countries for other reasons. So anticipatory were
the eastern ancients, that magi searched the heavens for any possible clue of a coming king. Tradition
says that the three eastern magi and their caravan came as the result of the Jews having been
dispersed to that region centuries earlier.
03.02.09 597 B.C. Second Deportation of Jews to Babylon with Daniel and Ezekiel
Both Daniel and Ezekiel lived during times of international upheaval and strife. Fortunately, Ezekiel
linked his prophecies to a calendar, which archaeologists reckoned to the modern calendar. The
discovery of Babylonian annals on cuneiform tablets became the tools allowing archaeologists to
place these events into a modern time perspective.
The Israelites in Judah had no desire to remain under the domination of the Babylonians, and in 597
B.C., they rebelled. However, their zeal for political freedom was quickly crushed. Upon his return to
Mesopotamia, Nebuchadnezzar again took the remaining priests, government officials, and
approximately 10,000 leading men, including the prophet Ezekiel. He and his countrymen were
settled along the banks of the Chebar River, a tributary that flows into the Euphrates about three
hundred miles above Babylon (1 Kg. 24:10-16; Ezek. 1:1-2; 40:1).


Image to be acquired

03.02.08.A. ISRAELITES MARCH INTO BABYLON . An artists rendering of a

royal procession marching through the Ishtar Gate after they were taken from
Jerusalem. Shown in the background are the famous hanging gardens of Babylon.
Centuries later at the time of Jesus, the Jews dreaded another deportation.



B.C. This clay tablet from the royal Babylonian archives reports the accomplishments
of King Nebuchadnezzar, including the capture of Judah (Jerusalem) on March 16,
597 B.C. It matches perfectly with the details of the Bible. Courtesy of the Trustees
of the British Museum.
It was a common opinion that when armies fought each other, the battle was really a contest between
their gods and the winning army was said to have the stronger deity. To the Babylonians, their
victory and destruction of the temple symbolized that they had the stronger god. Since the Israelites
also believed this, they were greatly discouraged and depressed as they believed their God was
defeated and possibly destroyed. Hence, the words of promise by their prophets were profoundly
significant and reassuring. They spoke of restoration, a return to the land, and a Messiah, all of
which gave the captured people great hope in the midst of despair.
In this setting, Daniels prophecies had a profound impact as his words were literally fulfilled.
Among his predictions was the rise of an evil man who would attempt to destroy the Jewish people.

He was not mentioned by name. However, his actions identified him to be none other than Antiochus
IV Epiphanes (early 2nd century BC), who rose to power in Damascus and ruled 360 years after
Daniel spoke these words (Ch. 11). The fulfillment of Daniels words gave him credibility as a true
prophet indicating that his words concerning the Messiah would also be fulfilled in the same literal
Possibly the most interesting prophecy by Daniel concerning the Messiah is that He would die before
the destruction of the temple. Notice that Daniel said this after the destruction of Solomons temple.
That prophecy could only have meant that
1. There would be a second temple.
2. During the time of that second temple the Messiah would come. The prediction reads as

After those 62 weeks the Messiah will be cut off and will have nothing. The
people of the coming prince will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will
come with a flood, and until the end there will be war; desolations are decreed.
Daniel 9:26
However, Daniels prophecy of the temples destruction was problematic for first century Jews.656 At
the time of Jesus, a number of Jews associated with the School of Hillel realized that one day their
temple would be destroyed along with the Holy City. In addition, their temple did not fit the
description of Ezekiels temple. Therefore, when Jesus said that He would rebuild the destroyed
temple in three days, His words caused terror in light of Daniels prophecy.
Another significant prophet was Ezekiel. He gave a series of interesting prophecies that pertain to
the first and second comings of the Messiah. The first advent of the Messiah describes Him as a
servant and in the second coming He is described as a military leader. These two descriptions were
the cause for many heated debates, and have at times been known as the messianic problem. The
first century Essenes, for example, concluded that there would be two different Messiahs because
they did not consider the possibility that one Messiah could come twice, or that the Messiah could be
deity in human form. Hence, their concept of a Messiah was of an extraordinary person (somewhat
angelic), but not someone who was both God and man (i.e. Jesus).

656. See Appendix 15.

The book of Ezekiel was among the most highly respected prophetic books in the days of Jesus.
Many of his words had been fulfilled with precision, thus leaving no doubt that his remaining
prophecies would eventually be fulfilled in a similar manner. As previously stated, therein lay the
problem for first century Judaism. A large section of his works (chapters 40-48) describes a new
temple that clearly was not the beautiful monument Herod the Great had re-created out of the second
temple. Hence, the Sadducees and Pharisees realized that their sacred shrine that they so dearly
loved, would eventually have to be destroyed to make way for Ezekiels temple. The Romans
destroyed it in A.D. 70, but the third temple has yet to be built.
Daniels messianic prophecies were the subject of great debate because he said that the messiah
would be one who looked like a man (Dan 10:18). That led Jewish scholars to conclude that the
messiah would be someone/something to the order of an angelic superman. Therefore, because of
the word like, the idea of a messiah coming in the form of a humble carpenter from Nazareth was
thoroughly rejected. The word messiah is capitalized only when it is in reference to Jesus as deity,
and is not capitalized when the understanding is of a non-deity entity.
03.02.10 587 B.C. Third Deportation; Solomons Temple and Jerusalem Destroyed
By this time, King Nebuchadnezzar was so disgusted with these Israelites that he sent his army to
destroy the temple and city (2 Kg. 25). Since the ancients believe that gods literally lived in temples,
the Babylonians attempted to destroy the God of the Jews by burning Solomons temple. The
remaining peasants were poverty stricken and had no leadership or wealth with which to rebuild their
nation or begin an insurrection.657
This destruction brought a theological crisis and would become known as Tish Bav, the Day of
Mourning. Issues they contemplated were probably as follows:
1. How could the Great God of the Jewish people permit His temple to be destroyed?
2. Were the Babylonina gods more powerful than the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?
3. Did He really care about His people?
4. As they were marched off to Babylon, would they be inflicted with slavery as they were in
5. How could a good God permit such evil to fall upon good people?
657. Dan. 1:1-4; 2 Kg. 24:1-7; 2 Ch. 36:5-8; See also Lewis, Historical Backgrounds of Bible History. 28-30.

Just when the Jews felt forgotten, lost, and abandoned, they heard the prophecies of Daniel and
found hope. He prophesied that after 70 years of captivity, they would be released, which is
precisely what happened. Furthermore, his prophetic words (Dan. 2, 7) of future dominating powers
were fulfilled and set the political and cultural setting of the first century Roman era in which Christ
03.02.11 587 516 B.C. The Exilic Period
The Exilic Period is the seventy year period of captivity when the majority of Jewish people lived in
Babylon. King Nebuchadnezzar treated them well. He did not break up families or force them into
slavery. He settled them along the Chebar River where the soil was more fertile than back home.
Consequently, their farming skills produced more food with less labor. When they were granted
freedom, many chose to remain in Babylon because they had established businesses and become
prosperous. Within twenty years, many became wealthy and held positions in government.658
Babylon was the greatest city in Asia, a cultural crossroad where men and merchandise from all
known nations could be found. It was known for the famous hanging gardens and other wonders of
the ancient world. The Babylonians developed systems of bookkeeping, commercial law, weights
and measures which developed into the foundations of modern western civilization.
However, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were discouraged by the pagan religious
practices of Babylon. The gods were worshipped with sexual orgies in temples, drinking festivals,
and child sacrifice. While some Jews were assimilated into the Babylonian culture, many others
opposed the pagan religions. Since they were given religious freedom, it is believed that the
synagogue was developed in Babylon. It was also at this time that a theology was established that
stated that sins could be forgiven without temple sacrifices (since it had been destroyed).
Paganism forced the Jewish people to reflect upon their faith, and as they did, they developed a new
perspective of God.659 It was commonly believed that gods were territorial, meaning that each deity
was the supreme god of a particular geographical location. If a man left his country to settle in
another land, he also left his god and accepted the god of his new home in the same manner that he
accepted the governmental authority of the new land. They soon realized that God was One who was
with them no matter where they were. He controls the universe and is involved in the affairs of men.

658. Golub, In the Days. 5-7.

659. See also 02.03.11 Religious Institutions.

03.02.12 6th Century B.C. Religion of the Zoroaster
During the reign of the Persian King Darius, there was a revival of the ancient Persian religions. A
young reformer by the name of Zoroaster claimed to have been taken up into the El-burz Mountains,
where he spoke with God and was given laws by which to live. According to the Roman historian
Lucius Mestrius Plutarch (A.D. 46 120), Zoroaster returned to his people and taught that there was
one good eternal God by the name Ormuzd/Oromazes and one evil god of darkness named
Ahriman/Areimanius. Mithras was the mediator between the two divine powers.660 On the futuristic
Day of Judgment, the followers of good and evil would be judged and separated forever. Good
people would be rewarded and evil ones punished.661 In essence, he imitated the actions of Moses.
Ormuzd was to be worshiped in the presence of fire because he was the light of the universe. The
evil one was so greatly despised that his name was written backwards and upside down. The
doctrines of Zoroaster were recorded in several sacred books of the Persians, including the ZendAvesta.662 Darius, the grandson of Cyrus II, eventually became a follower of the religion, which
increased its popularity. Today it is most prominent in Bombay, India, where it is known as Parsees.
The displacement of the Jews gives prominence to an overwhelming possibility that the
establishment of Zoroastrianism was due to the strong influences from dispersed Jews. While
scholars will debate a number of points of the two religions, others are clearly related. For example,
in Zoroastrian theology Angra Mainyu/Ahriman is an evil spirit that is hostile, brings death into the
world (Yasna 30.4), and has evil spirits under his control (30.6). This is clearly a reflection of Satan
in the Judeo-Christian tradition. The god of truth and righteousness is Ahura Mazda (30.8) who has a
helper by the name of Druj. Together they fight against Angra Mainyu Ahriman. According to this
doctrine, there will be an end of time when evil spirits will be delivered into the hands of Ahura
Mazda663 for a final destruction.664 Other doctrines are the unity of God, the doctrine of an evil and
good spirit, the doctrine of resurrection for the just and judgment for the wicked, the concept of the
end of the earth, and the use of fire or light as in the Shekinah, the emblem of deity.665 However, it
should be noted that while there are similarities, the unity of Judaism was in direct opposition to the

660. Plutarch, Concerning Isis and Osiris. 46.

661. Finegan, Myth and Mystery. 69-71; Geikie, The Life and Words of Christ 1:137-38.
662. Geikie, The Life and Words of Christ 1:137-38
663. See Yasna 30.8 and Yasht 19.95-96, the holy books of Zoroasterism.
664. Finegan, Myth and Mystery. 115-17; Geikie, The Life and Words of Christ 1:137-38.
665. Blaikie, A Manuel of Bible History. 363-66.

dualism of the Persian system.666 Those who argue that the Jews borrowed from the Persians forget
that Judaism was well established and flourishing for more than a millennium before the rise of the
The Persian Empire became extremely prosperous during Jewish captivity. With its massive wealth
and luxury there was also a decline of moral virtues and corruption of the legal system. The Persians,
who at one time were known for their purity and simplicity of manners, had become as morally
depraved as any pagan culture in the ancient Near East. Later, magi from the king would travel west
to Jerusalem looking for the One who was born to be the king of the Jews. They too were looking
for a messiah who would restore their land. Some scholars believe that the magi, or wise men, may
have been influenced by the newly created religion and by their Jewish neighbors.

03.02.13 580s and 570s B.C. Edomite Invasions into Jerusalem

Meanwhile, back in Jerusalem, those who remained in the Holy City and surrounding villages were
poor, defenseless, and had lost hope of ever regaining their God and nation. They did not have access
to the words of restoration given by the prophets, so they were greatly discouraged. Many
intermarried with the Edomites and Moabites. They also became the victims of Edomite invasions.
The smoke from the burning temple had hardly cleared when the Edomites took advantage of the
Babylonian destruction. They not only raided and stole what few possessions the poor Jews had left,
but they also moved into southern Judah below the city of Hebron. It was because of these
murderous invasions that the prophet Obadiah had given his prophetic warning of destruction to his
distant cousins.667 In the course of time, their name was changed to Idumeans. They were hated by
the first century Jews as much as the Samaritans for several reasons.

666. Geikie, The Life and Words of Christ 1:139.

667. Not only did Obadiah predict Gods judgment upon the Isumeans but he also said (verse 20) that at a time in the future,
Spanish speaking Jews (known as Sephardi Jews) would return and live in the Negev Desert. The history of these Jewish
people began with King Nebuchadnezzar, and there has been a slow but steady return of Sephardi Jews to the Negev Desert
since the early 1990s.

1. The Jews hated the Idumeans because for centuries the Idumeans had plundered their
farms and raped their women.
2. The Jews had no great love for Herod the Great who was an Idumean, one of their hated
distant cousins. To add insult to injury, Herod was given the Roman title of King of the
Jews, even though he was obviously not in the promised lineage to be called a son of
With most of the people gone, the land returned to wild semi-arid desert. Weeds and thistles grew
everywhere, terraced hills were destroyed by winter rains, and wandering Bedouins enjoyed the
deserted countryside. Neighboring powers soon dominated the former Jewish communities and the
local Jewish residents became assimilated into the pagan cultures of the Moabites and Edomites.
03.02.14 539/538 B.C. Babylon Falls to the Persians (Persian Empire 539-331 B.C.)
The Persian King Cyrus II (reigned 550-530)668 united the Persians and Medes to defeat the
Babylonians in 539. His processional march on a horse into Babylon was typical for a victorious
monarch, and as such, has a striking similarity to the triumphal entry of Jesus at the beginning of His
Passion Week. As Cyrus entered the city, the people spread branches on the road before him to
announce their loyalty to him. This momentous event was recorded on several clay tablets, which
were eventually discovered by archaeologists. One of those tablets reads as follows,
In the month of Arahshamnu, the third day, Cyrus entered Babylon, green twigs were
spread before him (and) the state of Peace (sulmu) was imposed upon the city. Cyrus
sent greetings to all Babylon.
King Cyrus II Tablet669
The rise of Cyrus to power was the fulfillment of a prophecy spoken by Daniel (Dan. 6:28). Cyrus
decreed that all people who were captured by the Babylonians were to be given freedom and told to
live in peace (mentioned four times). He was Gods instrument in the fulfillment of Daniels

668. The Persian kings Cyrus II (grandson of Cyrus I), Darius I (a/k/a Darius the Great), Artaxerxes I and Darius II are
among fifty biblical names whose existence has been verified by archaeological studies in a published article by Lawrence
Mykytiuk titled, Archaeology Confirms 50 Real People in the Bible. Biblical Archaeology Review. March/April, 2014 (40:2),
pages 42-50, 68. This archaeological evidence confirms the historical accuracy of the biblical timeline. For further study, see
the website for Associates for Biblical Research, as well as Grisanti, Recent Archaeological Discoveries that Lend Credence
to the Historicity of the Scriptures. 475-98.
669. Prichard, The Ancient Near East. 1:204.

prophecy. However, only a few thousand Jews chose to return to their Promised Land (Ezra 6:3-5)
and rebuild Jerusalem and the temple (2 Ch. 36:22-23; Ezra 1.1-4; 6:3-5). It was this temple that
some five centuries later would be enlarged, beautified, and would become known as Herods
Temple in the days of Jesus. As to the decree of Cyrus, it stated:
I returned to the sacred cities, on the other side of the Tigris [River], the sanctuaries
which have been in ruins for a long time [and re-established], the images which (used)
to live therein, and established for them permanent sanctuaries. I [also] gathered all
their [former] inhabitants and returned [them] to their habitations [homelands].
King Cyrus II Decree670
Some scholars believe that Cyrus was a follower of the Zoroaster, the new Persian religion with
some Jewish influences. He spoke respectfully of the Jews and their God, because in the course of
time, Jews had risen to governmental positions. This was revealed by the discovery of clay tablets in
the royal library that have inscribed Hebrew names.

03.02.14.A. THE CYRUS CYLINDER (538 B.C.). King Cyrus II, a/k/a Cyrus the
Great, decreed on this clay cylinder that all captured people were to be released.
Known as the Cyrus Cylinder, upon this is recorded the decree giving freedom to the
Jewish peoples (as well as others) as prophesied by the prophets. Photograph
courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum.

670. Prichard, The Ancient Near East. 1:208; See also Mould, Essentials of Bible History. 349-51.


03.02.14.B. THE TOMB OF CYRUS THE GREAT. The prophet Isaiah wrote his
book around 700 B.C. and prophesied that one day a king named Cyrus would deliver
the Jews from exile (Isa. 44:28; 45:1). A century and a half later this prophecy and
others were fulfilled. Given the legacy of accurate prophecies, the Jewish people of
the first century observed Jesus carefully in light of Isaiahs messianic prophecies.
Photo by Wikipedia Commons.
Finally, at this time in history there was a prophecy given that has been the subject of many debates.
It pertains to the seventy sevens mentioned by the prophet Daniel, that designate a timeline for the
coming of the messiah.671 However, it is not perfectly clear, especially since there are three possible
beginning points of the timeline calendar. Many evangelical scholars say it was partially fulfilled at
the time of Jesus with the remaining portion to be fulfilled at a future time. There are three decrees
concerning the return of the Jews to Jerusalem, one of them apparently is also a beginning point of
the messianic prophecy of seventy sevens.
1. Daniel received a prophetic revelation of seventy sevens (Dan. 9:24-27) in the first year
of Darius (Dan. 9:1) when the Persians made him king over the Babylonians in 539 B.C.
671. Daniel 9:24-27 is the only Old Testament passage which refers to the Messiah as Messiah. Elsewhere He is called
Shiloh (Gen. 49:10), the Root of Jesse (Isa. 11:10), the Righteous Branch (Jer. 23:5), the Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6),
etc. But the name by which He is known best, Messiah, appears in only in the Daniel 9 passage.

2. Then, according to 2 Chroniciles 36:22, the decree by King Cyrus II, a/k/a Cyrus the Great,
was issued in his first year. That was his regnal year which commenced in April of 538 B.C.
Many scholars believe that this was the starting point of Daniels prophecy of sevens.
3. Two other decrees were issued by King Artaxerxes in 458 and 444 B.C.672 However, other
scholars believe that the most important decree was not issued in 444 B.C. but on March 14,
445 B.C.673 Another scholar believes the pivotal date in Daniel is 536 B.C. which was the
end of 70 years of captivity of Daniel 9:24 and the beginning of the 69 weeks of Daniel 9:2526.674

03.02.15 723 - 539 BC: Summary of Significant Developments of Assyrian and Babylonian
As previously stated. there were several significant developments that pertained to the identity of the
first century Jewish people. Knowing these developments and the political and social pressures that
created them, aids the modern student to understand the cultural environment in which Jesus
ministered. Many more developments would arise during the Inter-Testamental Period. However, at
this time in history the focus is on the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities and influences.
Assyrian Captivity:
1. When the majority of the ten northern Israelite tribes were relocated by the Assyrians in
722/21 B.C., they seemed to have disappeared into the Assyrian culture after several
generations. Hence, since their location became unknown, they are often referred to as the
ten lost tribes. Note, however, that the disciple, James, did not consider them lost when he
wrote his letter to them (cf. 1:1). Evidently, in the first century the Jews in Jerusalem knew
where they were. These Israelites (later called Jews) did not make any significant impact
upon Judaism in Israel, which was considerably different from the later deportation of the
Israelites from Judea.675 When the latter group was relocated to Babylon, their religious

672. Lurie, David H. A New Interpretation of Daniels Sevens and the Chronology of the Seventy Sevens. Journal of the
Evangelical Threological Society. 55:3 (Sept, 1990) 303-10.
673. McClain, Daniels Prophecy of the 70 Weeks. 25. The calculation usiing that date would bring the fulfillment of the prophecy
to April 6, 32 A.D., which was not a year when the 14th day of Nisan fell on a Friday.
674. McFall, Leslie. Do the Sixty-nine Weeks of Daniel Date the Messianic Mission of Nehemiah or Jesus? Journal of the
Evangelical Theological Society 52:4 (Dec. 2009) 673-718.
675. There has often been name confusion between the southern region known as Judah or Judea, and the name of the entire
country Judaea. The name Judaea is often used interchangeably with Israel, although the latter term seems to have been

beliefs intensified. One of the many nations they escaped to was Egypt. While Egypt was a
country of slavery in the sixteenth century B.C., since then at times it was a country of refuge
for many, including the prophet Jeremiah. That is why a vibrant Jewish community was
established there long before the destruction of the first temple in 537 B.C.676
2. A new ethnic group known as the Samaritans emerged when the remaining northern
Israelites intermarried with their new foreign neighbors who were brought in by the
Assyrians. Their descendants became known as the Samaritans.677 Centuries later, the first
century Jews did not recognize the Samaritans as true brothers of the faith, but rather, they
were considered to be half-breeds or of mixed blood.678 Each group considered the other
to have adopted certain pagan practices into their religious rituals, thus was defiled and
3. An important development is that both the Assyrians and Babylonians were exposed to
Jewish thought, religion, and the hope of a coming messiah. The Babylonians were masters
of divination, astrology, and other cultic rituals in an endless search for understanding truth
and the mysterious knowledge of the gods. It was the ideal setting for the laws of God to
spread, since they too recognized the literal fulfillment of the Hebrew prophecies. Some
scholars today believe that the Persian government administrators, who also became
interested in the messiah, knew the Hebrew predictions. Since the Babylonians specialized
in astrology, they were interested in the rising star mentioned in Numbers 24:17. It is
understandable that by the first century all the peoples throughout the Ancient Middle East
were waiting for the coming messiah.

Babylonian Captivity:
4. As the Babylonians were coming to attack Jerusalem, a number of wealthy Jews left
Jerusalem. They went to Egypt, Spain, and other countries that belted the Mediterranean

used less often in the first century. Furthermore, the name Judah is generally that of a person, but the descendants of Judah
are also known as the people of Judah or the people of Judea.
676. Golub, In the Days. 229.
677. See Samaritans 02.01.17.
678. People of mixed blood or half-breeds are persons of various tribal or ethnic backgrounds. Both terms are offensive.

Sea.679 Among those who went to Egypt was the prophet Jeremiah. In Egypt, many traveled
some 800 miles south along the Nile River and built a community on Elephantine Island
along Egypts southern frontier. There they built a temple.680 Legend says that the Ark of the
Covenant was hidden in this temple when King Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the Jerusalem
temple. Of course, the obvious question is that if the Ark was there, why wasnt it return
during the Second Temple Period? The mystery remains veiled.
5. It is believed that the synagogue as a local institution of worship and community center
was established in Babylon.681
6. During the Jewish exile the Aramaic language, a sister language to Hebrew, was accepted
by the Jews as well as the Aramaic square script alphabet.682 It was the official language of
the Babylonian Empire.
7. The Jews called upon God to bring them a messiah who would deliver them from bondage.
8. When freedom was offered, not all Jews chose to return to their Promised Land. In fact,
only a small contingent returned. Those who remained in Babylon while others migrated to
India and China. Many who remained in Babylon maintained strict obedience to the Jewish
faith as a means of survival in a pagan culture. Centuries later, their descendants produced
the valuable and exhaustive commentary known as the Babylonian Talmud, which is
considered by scholars to be more reliable than the Jerusalem Talmud, which was written in
9. Under Ezra, a new class of religious leaders known as scribes was established in
Jerusalem. These writers studied the Mosaic Law and became known in the first century
more as lawyers than writers of contracts. The priests who had been the traditional
interpreters of the Law now had that portion of their responsibility transferred to the scribes.

679. Golub, In the Days. 228-30. Modern Bible students who examine the travels of the Apostle Paul sometimes question why
the Jewish people were in the various countries where Paul preached. The answer is, that often either persecution or
economic opportunities drove them there.
680. See 03.04.18.
681. Mould, Essentials of Bible History. 359-61, 379, 396.
682. See Language 02.03.28.

By the time of Jesus, these scribes obtained a powerful aristocratic position in Judaism and
frequently conflicted with Jesus on the interpretation of various religious issues.683
10. The Oral Law, as it was known in the days of Jesus, was established by Ezra. However,
some Jewish scholars claim it originated with Moses, and many orthodox Jews still affirm
this. The Jews believed that the destruction of their temple in 587 B.C. and subsequent
deportation to Babylon was the direct result of their disobedience to both the Written Law
(i.e. namely breaking Sabbath rules) as well as the Oral Law. Upon their return to Jerusalem,
the Oral Law was expanded immensely to prevent any possibility of future deportation.
However, those who moved to India, China, Egypt, Spain, and elsewhere did not develop the
restrictive Oral laws. Therefore, they did not have the theological problems the religious
leaders in Jerusalem had concerning Jesus as the Messiah.
11. The Israelites, while living in Babylon and elsewhere, changed their understanding of
God. They knew the answer to, Who is God? They realized He was national as well as
personal. He was everywhere, and with them in exile. This may be the only reason why they
survived culturally and religiously when other people groups in similar situations throughout
history lost their identity.684
12. The Jews in Babylon reflected upon the laws of cleanliness instituted by Moses; laws
such as maintaining toilets outside the camp and not eating pork. Some scholars believe that
they also observed the cleansing rituals of their pious pagan neighbors, and concluded that if
pagans can maintain a high level of cleanliness, shouldnt they do likewise? Examples of
adopted rules of cleanliness are,
a. Not to walk over a grave or one will become defiled.685
b. One must become purified if anything unclean has been touched.
c. One must become purified before entering a holy place such as the temple.

683. Idelsohn, Jewish Liturgy and Its Development. 16-17. This book is an excellent study on worship during the second temple
period. (New York: Dover, 1995. Orginally published by Henry Holt and Co. 1932). While Idelsohn (1882-1932) covers the
entire history of Jewish worship, chapter 1 is specifically dedicated to the second temple period.
684. Lemaire, The Universal God: How the God of Israel Became a God for All. 58.
685. See Defile in Appendix 26.

d. In particular was the matter of washing hands before and/or after meals. This issue
was often debated between the first century schools of Hillel and Shammai. A person
also had to wash hands before entering a house if he or she was at a funeral.686 It is
believed that the immersion in the mikvah developed at this time as well.
Archaeologists today are quick to identify the ancient ruins of a home or community
as Jewish if they uncover a mikvah. Needless to say, some Pharisaic rules that Jesus
confronted had nothing to do with the laws of Moses.
13. Finally, the biblical faith in the one true God became known as Judaism, and the
adherents of all twelve tribes who were known previously as Israelites were now called
Jews (Esther 2:5).687 The identification of the descendants of Abraham is referred to in
this work as Jews throughout their entire history for purposes of clarification. In a similar
manner, the land in which they live is often referred to today as Palestine or ancient
Palestine even though that name was unknown during the days of Jesus. When Hadrian
destroyed Jerusalem in A.D. 135, he renamed the land in honor of the ancient Israelite enemy
the Philistines. Today, however, the name Palestine is often used for identification
purposes when referring to various historical places and events, even those that occurred
prior to 135 A.D.

686. Golub, In the Days. 53-55.

687. Blizzard, Judaism - Part 1 Yavo Digest 1:5, 3.

JERUSALEM. A cuneiform tablet dating to 498 B.C., found in Babylon contains a
reference (in the third line after the blank line in photo and drawing above), to al
Yahudu the town of Judah, meaning Jerusalem. Photograph and drawing courtesy of
Andre Lemaire.


Unit 03
Historical Background
Chapter 03
Second Temple Period (515 B.C. A.D. 70)

03.03.00.A. THE REBUILDING OF THE TEMPLE by Gustave Dore, 1866.

The second temple was constructed with limited resources and was, in fact, a very
simple structure in comparison to the famous predecessor, Solomons temple.
However, while Solomons temple was built with slave labor and high taxes, the
second temple was built with offerings and sacrifices of the people. Hence, the rabbis
said it was more beautiful than the first.

03.03.01 538 - 444 B.C. Exiles Return to Judah; Temple Reconstruction Begins
A new chapter of Jewish history began when the Medo-Persian (a/k/a Persian) Empire defeated the
Babylonians. This created one of the most peaceful times in Jewish history. They had self
government and religious liberty as they desired; a joyful period of history that they seldom
experienced. It began with the fulfillment of Daniels unique prophecy. And while they clearly
understood it, the prophecy is seen by modern scholars as having two possible interpretations.
1. From the first invasion of Nebuchadnezzar in 605 to the issuing of the edict of Cyrus688
was a period of seventy years.
2. From the destruction of Solomons temple and Jerusalem to the rebuilding of the second
temple was also seventy years.
In essence, the interval from the beginning of the captivity to the beginning of the restoration was the
same time as that from the completion of the captivity to the completion of the restoration seventy
years. The significance is that since Daniels short term prophecies were literally fulfilled, then it
can be assumed that his long term prophecies concerning the Messiah would also be literally
The ten northern tribes appear to have remained lost in unknown areas far to the east. However, the
two tribes of Benjamin and Judah in Babylon were granted permission to return in three migrations.
In the history of their restoration to their homeland, three distinguished leaders as well as three
Persian kings appear. Most significant was Zerubbabel, a descendent of King David who returned to
Judah with about fifty thousand followers. They were only a small portion of the exiles that chose to
return while others either stayed in Babylon or relocated elsewhere throughout Asia. By relocating in
foreign nations, they helped distribute the knowledge of the one true God, the promise of a coming
messiah, and thus prepare the way for the gospel that would follow centuries later. The missionary
era was actually begun by the Jews, but it would be catapulted by Christians who would later travel
into distant lands to spread the gospel as they fled from persecution.690
Zerubbabel, who was a descendant of King David, was instrumental in the construction of a new

688. See 03.02.14.A.

689. For the historical trail of the Davidic Covenant from David to Jesus, see the blue Mystery Unveiled boxes in 03.02.01,
03.02.03, 03.02.06, 03.03.01, 04.02.02, and 13.04.05.
690. Some scholars believe Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem in 440 B.C.; See Rousseau and Arav, Jesus and His World. 345.

temple and served briefly as governor, but not as king. He and the prophets continued to anticipate a
Messiah who would personally fulfill the eternal requirements of the Davidic Covenant.691
03.03.02 515 B.C. Second Temple Completed
As the result of the gracious King Cyrus II, Zerubbabel was the principal builder of the second
temple at the exact same location of the previous Solomons temple (Ezra 3:1-13; 5:1-17; 6:14-18).
The first segment rebuilt was the altar for sacrificial worship. It was completed on October 5, 537
B.C. This was followed by the construction of the rest of the temple which began on April 23, 536
B.C. and was finished twenty years later (Ezra 6:19-22). On March 12, 515 B.C., the long awaited
temple was completed and dedicated, although it was a very humble structure in comparison to the
majestic structure of King Solomon.692 The new temple was dedicated with great celebration on the
Feast of Passover and Unleavened Bread.
It was not a shadow of King Solomons glory, but God encouraged His people that one day the
modest temple would have Someone greater than Solomon. And in the fullness of time, the Prince
of Peace came and glorified the temple of God.

The final glory of this house will be greater than the first, says the LORD of Hosts. I
will provide peace in this place this is the declaration of the LORD of Hosts.

Haggai 2:9
Solomon walked in the first temple, but the Greater than Solomon walked the second temple.
The second temple remained unchanged until 20/19 B.C. when Herod the Great undertook a massive
remodeling work that took more than eight decades to complete. The reconstructed temple provided
an identity for the people of God. It was the religious center, the place where God lived (Ps. 68:18),
the place for sacrifice and forgiveness, and the focal point for Jewish festivals (which had religious
significance); not only for Jews, but for Gentiles who converted to the Jewish faith. It was simple,
and famed more for its sacredness than for its architecture. Nearly five centuries later Herod the

691. Dan. 9:24-27; Zech. 9:9; 14:3-9; Mal. 2:1; 3:1-3.

692. For further study, see Ritmeyer, Locating the Original Temple Mount. 24-45, 64-65; and Ritmeyer, The Quest. Revealing
the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Great would enlarge it.693 Detailed descriptions of Herods temple can be found in the first century
writings of Josephus and in the second century Jewish book of the Mishnah.694
The second temple was now completed, but there were some significant differences between it and
the earlier one.695 This one did not have,
1. The sacred Ark of the Covenant (Ex. 25:10-16)
2. The Holy Fire on the altar (Lev. 1:7)
3. The Glory of God (Shekinah Glory)
4. The tables of stone upon which the finger of God had written the Commandments.
5. The ancient book of the Law
6. The Urim and Thummin no longer shown mysteriously from the breast of the high priest,
but by the Second Temple Period, the Scriptures were used to determine the will of God.696
Of these six differences, most commentators focus on the highly prized Ark of the Covenant which
for centuries was in the Holy of Holies.697 Since it was not there during the time of Jesus,698
according to the Mishnah only a stone was in its place upon which the Ark once stood.699 The

693. It should be noted that some scholars believe that there have been three temples in Jewish history: 1) Solomons temple;
2.) Zerubbabels temple completed in 515 B.C., and 3) Herods temple. However, most scholars do not count these as three
temples, because Herods temple was an enlargement of Zerubbabels temple.
694. Josephus, Antiquities. 15.11 and Wars. 5.5; Mishnah, Middoth.
695. Geikie, The Life and Words of Christ 1:87.
696. Babylonian Talmuc, Yoma 21b; and Moed 3:94; Fischer, The Gospels in Their Jewish Context. (Lecture on CD/MP3).
Week 5, Session 2.
697. See also Ritmeyer, Where the Ark of the Covenant Stood in Solomons Temple. 46-55, 70-72.
698. As of this writing, the location of the Ark of the Covenant remains a mystery. According to 2 Kings 24:13, King
Nebuchadnezzar cut into pieces all of the golden temple articles. The possibility does exist that the Ark escaped his capture.
However, it is not mentioned in the future third temple (Ezek. 40-43) and, therefore, it is possible that Gods purpose for it
has terminated.
699. Mishnah, Joma 5.2.

location of these missing objects has given rise to many legends and fanciful stories. Only God
knows where they are and what will become of them, if anything.
03.03.03 459 - 445 B.C. Ezra and Nehemiah
Eighty years after Zerubbabel, during the reign of the Persian King Artaxerxes Longimanus, who was
the son of Xerxes, Ezra left Babylon (c. 458) with a small delegation of six thousand. His mission
was to restore the institutions of Moses to a people who had been dramatically affected by their stay
in Babylon. The Bible depicts him as a priest-scribe-scholar as well as a governor and reformer. For
this, the Jews of Judah became deeply indebted to him and often refer to him as the Second
Moses.700 In fact, according to tradition, Ezra would have been considered their most distinguished
prophet if Moses had not come a thousand years earlier.701 His genealogical record was very
impressive: His great grandfather, Hilkiah,702 had discovered the Book of the Law during the days of
King Josiah.703 Hilkiah read it to Josiah and the people and brought about a religious awakening. As
captives, Ezras ancestors carried the Law to Babylon.704 Therefore, when he spoke, the people
listened. Ezra read the Covenant of God, and it became the constitution of the people and the
nation.705 His public reading of the Torah was explained by the scribes as to how it would be
relevant to life (cf. Neh. 8).
He was given credit for changing the ancient Hebrew alphabet to the so-called Hebrew (Aramaic)
square script. He is also believed to have instituted the scribal class, the synagogues and community
centers, and expanded the Oral Tradition (some scholars believe he originated the Oral Tradition).
While the Oral Tradition was established originally for a good purpose, unfortunately, by the time of
Christ, its authority had superseded that of the Bible; which in turn, was foundational for the
conflicts between Jesus and the religious leaders.

700. Scott, Jr. Jewish Backgrounds of the New Testament. 166.

701. Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. 7.
702. Hilkiah is among fifty biblical names whose existence has been verified by archaeological studies in a published article
by Lawrence Mykytiuk titled, Archaeology Confirms 50 Real People in the Bible. Biblical Archaeology Review. March/April,
2014 (40:2), pages 42-50, 68. This archaeological evidence confirms the historical accuracy of the biblical timeline. For
further study, see the website for Associates for Biblical Research, as well as Grisanti, Recent Archaeological Discoveries
that Lend Credence to the Historicity of the Scriptures. 475-98.
703. Mould, Essentials of Bible History. 359-61, 379.
704. Golub, In the Days. 31-33.
705. Fischer, The Gospels in Their Jewish Context. (Lecture on CD/MP3). Week 5, Session 1.

Under Ezras leadership, two important traditions developed that directly impacted the ministry of
1. A new class of religious leaders, known as scribes (02.01.20) was established.
2. The Oral Law (02.02.18) was established. However, some scholars believe that the Oral
Law existed since the days of Moses, but it did not have a powerful influence until Ezra.
Finally, Nehemiah returned as governor, or pacha,706 of Judah in 445 B.C. to rebuild the walls, gates,
and city of Jerusalem (Neh. 6:15) and to institute additional reforms (Neh. 7-8).707 One of these
reforms was to lead the Israelite people (now called Jewish) in a prayer of confession of their sins
and iniquities as well as the sins of their ancestors (Neh. 9:2). Another was to re-establish temple
worship according to the laws of Moses. He insured that all priests and Levites had the genealogical
records,708 and that no impersonators infiltrated temple ranks. When three families, Hobaiah, Hakkoz
and Barzillai, claimed to be of priestly stock, he denied them the privilege as no record was found of
them (Ezra 2:61-62). Another group of 652 people, probably pure Babylonians, wanted to go to
Jerusalem but could not prove they were descendants of Israel (Ezra 2:59). They too were denied the
privilege.709 Just as genealogical records were important in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, so
likewise they were important in the days of Jesus, Matthew, and Luke.
BLUE BOX: Just as genealogical records were important in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah,
so likewise they were important in the days of Jesus
Code xyx

706. Geikie, The Life and Words of Christ 1:137.

707. See 03.03.03.A.
708. Dalman, Jesus Christ in the Talmud. 31; Jerusalem Talmud, Jbamoth. 49b.
709. Golub, In the Days. 41.



Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem after the return from Babylonian exile.
Archaeologists uncovered the lower section of his wall although it appears like a
road. Photograph by the author.
03.03.04 444 B.C. Prophecy concerning Jesus and His Ministry
Previously the prophet Daniel gave a messianic prophecy related to sixty-nine weeks of years or
176,295 days until the coming of the Messiah. Many scholars believe the beginning time of the
prophecy was with a decree given in 444 B.C. by King Artxerses.710 However, there were several
decrees issued by Artxerses and the difficulty scholars have is to determine from which decredd
should they begin to count the years.711
03.03.05 443 B.C. +/- Malachi
Malachi is generally considered to have been the last prophet who wrote in the Old Testament era.
He criticized Judah for her many sins and foresaw that a day of judgment would come. He said that
a forerunner would announce the coming of the messiah who would usher in a new covenant for the
Jewish people and the entire world. That forerunner would be John the Baptist and the Messiah
would be Jesus, the Christ (meaning the Anointed One).
710. See Appendix 15 concerning Daniels prophecy
711. See last section of 03.02.14.

03.03.06 400 B.C. +/- Hebrew Bible is Canonized
A growing number of scholars believe that under Ezra and his contemporaries, the books of the Old
Testament were gathered and made into the official canonized Hebrew Bible. They selected those
books they felt were inspired by God.712 Other scholars believe that the Council of Jamnia in A.D.
90 was the closing date of the Hebrew Scriptures. Nonetheless, by the first century the Pharisees and
other religious leaders had a solid concept of what books comprised their Bible.
The Old Testament closed with the Persian Empires rule of Judah and the New Testament opens
with the Roman Empire in domination. Between these two periods was the Inter-Testamental Period
when the Greeks with their Hellenistic way of life greatly influenced the Jewish people. This caldron
of cultural tension was intensified by conflicts between Jews and Samaritans. The world was getting
ready to receive the long awaited messiah, but not in the manner of anyones preconceived ideas. No
one believed he would be the Messiah, the manifestation of God and man.

712. Blizzard, Judaism: Part 1 Yavo Digest 1:5, 6.


Unit 03
Historical Background
Chapter 04
Inter-Testament Background (c. 400 B.C. A.D. 30)


unknown. At the beginning of the Maccabean Revolt, the Greeks attacked the Jewish
farmers with a professional army of 50,000 soldiers and 32 war elephants. During the
battle, the Jewish leader Eleazar perceiving that one of the beasts (elephants)
was higher and supposing that the king was upon him crept under the elephant

and slew him: whereupon the elephant fell down upon him, and he died (1 Macc.
6:43, 46). This was the last time elephants were used in military conflicts in Israel.
03.04.01 Introduction
The Old Testament Period ends with the Persians ruling the Jewish land and the New Testament
Period opens with the Romans controlling it. Sandwiched between the two was the Greek Empire as
well as a century of Jewish independence. The Inter-Testamental Period was filled with wars, rumors
of wars, social and religious conflicts, and tensions. Times of peace and prosperity were rare and
brief. In fact, descriptions of what modern evangelicals call today as the signs of the last days, also
describe this era an era that culminated with the birth of Jesus. Judaism of this era was a
descendant of the Old Testament Hebrew and faith, but was not identical to it. But on the other hand,
it must be distinguished from Rabbinic Judaism which developed mostly after the destruction of the
temple in A.D. 70.
This 400-year period is also called the silent Inter-Testamental Period. The term silent is used
because there were no prophetic voices. There are almost no extra-biblical writings from the first two
centuries of this era; but there is a vast amount of literary works from the second half of this
turbulent period. However, this is not to say that God did not intervene in the affairs of His people.
In fact, two significant demonstrations of divine intervention were when,
1. Alexander the Great captured Jerusalem, but did not destroy it.
2. The Jewish farmers had an incredible military victory over the professional army of the
Syrian-Greek dictator Antiochus IV Epiphanes, known as the Maccabean Revolt.
As will be shown, the Hellenistic influence upon the Jewish people was profound. After the Jews
finally won their independence from the Greeks, their new leaders were almost as wicked as those
they had defeated. Then came the Romans who installed an Idumean, Herod the Great (71 - 4 B.C.;
reigned 37 - 4 B.C.), to be their King of the Jews. Herods personal life was a continuous disaster
and would have made any Hollywood soap opera look like a childrens book. He was a descendant of
Esau, had many of his ten wives killed, and only three of his sons survived to become rulers. Into this
social, political, and chaotic environment, came Jesus.
03.04.02 350 B.C. Persians Capture Jerusalem
Peace and freedom for the Jewish people was finally over. A new Persian king rose to power, but his
days were numbered. Within two decades, both would come under the rulership of the Greek
Alexander the Great.

03.04.03 341-270 B.C. Epicurus713
Epicurus was the father of a philosophy known as Epicureanism.714 His ideas were intended to bring
stability and security to an uncertain world after the death of Alexander the Great. The Greek
Empire was divided among Alexanders four generals, causing social and political instability and
regional military confrontations. Epicurus said the primary purpose of man is to discover selfhappiness, and the pursuit of pleasure ought to be his primary mission in life. However, pleasure
was also defined as the avoidance of pain. His ideas became the cornerstone of first century
Hellenistic philosophy and were confronted by the Apostle Paul in Acts 17:16-33. Today this same
philosophy is known as humanism.715
A century and a half later the Hellenistic influences would be so intense upon the Jews, that a small
religious splinter group, known as the Essenes, would have a radical philosophy directly related to
Epicureanism. The Essenes would teach that all pleasure is evil; each day was to be filled with work
and prayer, the direct opposite position of the Greek philosopher.716
03.04.04 334 B.C. Summary of Developments of Persian Domination that Shaped Jewish Life
in the First Century.
In comparison to the days of Moses and Joshua, the culture of the Jewish people was slowly
changing. While their basic faith and religious observances did not change, how they practiced their
faith did. Furthermore, the Jewish people were not a homogenous group; Jewish people in various
areas had somewhat different practices and methodologies. For example, Jews in India and Ethiopia
did not have some of the Old Testament books, as these were written after they left the Promised
Land and, consequently, some communities were unaware of their existence. In review, there were a
number of significant developments in the early days of Persian rule.
1. The temple reconstruction and dedication.
2. The Aramaic language became the language of the Jews as well as the international
language of commerce. By the first century A.D., it was commonly used in ordinary public
discourse in Judah although Hebrew was spoken in the synagogue. However, while Jews in

713. For more information, see Epicureans 02.01.05.

714. De Lacy, Epicureanism and the Epicurean School. 3:2-3.
715. Harrington, Epicureans. 5:618.
716. Guignebert, The Jewish World in the Time of Jesus. 181.

Alexandria, Egypt and other foreign cities accepted the Greek language, their brothers in
Judaea717 (Galilee, Perea, and Judea)718 did not.
3. Most Jews chose not to return to Judaea, but stayed in Babylon and maintained a very
strict religious system. According to Josephus, those who remained behind in the original
return of 537 B.C. and the second return in 459-458 B.C. were among the wealthiest and
most influential leaders and merchants.719 The Jewish population evidently exploded as in
one uprising alone he reported 50,000 dead.720 The population throughout the Roman Empire
could very well have grown to more than a million.721 As the population grew and people
slowly took on distinctions of the culture in which they lived, ancient tribal distinctions
became lost. Jews remained in Babylon and Mesopotamia from the days of the captivity until
the rise of the new state of Israel some twenty-five centuries later. The final exodus of
remaining Jews to the revived state of Israel did not take place until Operation Ezra and
Nehemiah between the years 1946 and 1952.
4. It must be noted that of the thousands of captives taken to Babylon, a vast majority
eventually decided to remain in that land when they had the opportunity to return. They
prospered and enjoyed the Persian government where they could exercise their own faith.
And it is because they were so far removed from their Promised Land, that they took their
religion very seriously and were more faithful to the Torah than were their counterparts in
Jerusalem. That is a major reason why today scholars universally agree that the Babylonian
Talmud is universally considered to be a better authority than the Jerusalem Talmud.
5. A number of Jewish families decided to leave Judaea/Israel during the reign of Antiochus
IV Epiphanes in the second century B.C. Modern students study the adventures and teachings
of the Apostle Paul as he traveled on his missionary journeys, but they never question how

717. There has often been name confusion between the southern region known as Judah and the name of the entirety
Judaea. The name Judaea is often used interchangeably with Israel, although that term seems to have been used less often
in the first century.
718. Some ancient writers use the term Judea in the broadest sense. Examples are found in Pliny the Elder, Natural History,
5.15.70; Strabo, Geographia, 16.4.21; and Dio Sassius, Roman History, 37.15.2. In the days of Jesus, Perea was often referred to
as the region of Judea across the Jordan.
719. Josephus, Antiquities. 11.5.2; 15.2.2; 18.9.1ff.
720. Josephus, Antiquities. 18.9.9.
721. Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. 6.

those foreign Jewish people got to those European places. Many settled there during the
Inter-Testamental Period.
6. Finally, a body of seventy judges and one president, known as the Sanhedrin, came into
full power as the supreme high court and governmental-religious authority in the land of
Judah.722 It grew out of the union of non-priestly heads of families, representatives of the
secular nobility with the priestly aristocracy. Therefore, elders, who were the heads of
wealthy families, were not especially religiously motivated, but were an influential group
representing their own interests at the time of Jesus.723
The cultural and religious way of life known as Judaism dates from this post-exilic era. It
was the beginning of Judah as a temple-state that was ruled by a council of governors who
were political puppets of the Persian monarch. However, by the first century, it was the high
priest Caiaphas, manipulated by the Romans who controlled the Sanhedrin.
03.04.05 334 63 B.C. Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic Period
Young Alexander took control of Greece upon his fathers assassination and two years later began a
massive military campaign against King Darius of the Persian Empire. He developed a well-trained
army with 140 to 160 war elephants that he used in five battles. Consequently, in only ten years, he
had control of a vast empire and became the fulfillment of one of Daniels prophecies (11:3). He
gave the Jews first class citizenship and encouraged them to move to his new city of Alexandria in
Egypt. Many did and eventually the city became the largest Jewish metropolitan area of the ancient
world. In fact, he encouraged the Jews to move to all of his Greek cities where they enjoyed
religious freedom.
Alexander was a student of Aristotle, a scholar of scholars, and had his own ambitious ideas for the
world. His goal was to civilize the nations of the world with Greek. He would accomplish this by the
introduction of Greek philosophy and select the best qualities of the captured nations to give to all
the peoples of his empire. An important contribution was his effort to make Greek the lingua franca
or the official language of business and government throughout the empire. It was accepted
everywhere except in the Jewish enclave of Judaea. With this new philosophy known as Hellenism,
came the concept that would challenge the Jews that man and not God, was central to life.724
722. Thompson, Sanhedrin. 3:1390.
723. Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. 223.
724. Grundy, A Survey of the New Testament. 22.



INVINCIBLE KING DARIUS III. In one of the most significant battles in the
ancient world, the young Alexander (shown on left side) with a lance defeating the
seemingly invincible King Darius III in 333 B.C., who is in his chariot terrified.
shown terrified from his chariot.
03.04.06 334 B.C. Persia Falls to Alexander The Great
Beginning in 334 B.C., Alexander the Great (reigned 356-323 B.C.) and his Greek soldiers began to
conquer the known world. After taking control of Syria, Tyre, and the Holy Land, he set forth to
Persia which he conquered at the Battle of Issus.725
The mighty Persian Empire and the eastern Mediterranean world was his in only ten years.726 His
goal was to spread Hellenism,727 which by definition is the forceful imposition of Greek culture,
religion, and ways of life upon another people. However, Persia would not remain silent. Three

725. Mould, Essentials of Bible History. 386.

726. Mantey, New Testament Backgrounds. 3.
727. See Hellenism in Appendix 26.

centuries later during the reign of Herod the Great, the Parthian Empire would conquer the Persians,
and together they would briefly invade the Holy Land.
03.04.07 332 B.C. First Samaritan Temple Built
With the blessings of Alexander, the first Samaritan temple was built on Mount Gerizim overlooking
the ancient village of Shechem. There were many points of cultural and theological differences and
arguments between the Jews and Samaritans. Tensions were constant. But when it was completed,
the separation of the Jews and Samaritans was fixed in stone. Since that time the temple site
continued to be central to Samaritan worship.728 However, the date of its construction is a subject of
debate. Nonetheless, there are three important points to consider:
1. Some scholars believe the temple was built at the time of Nehemiah and that the son of the
high priest Jehoiada, who married Sanballats daughter Nicaso (Neh. 13:28), was influential
in the construction. However, the term son could also mean grandson. Therefore, the date of
the marriage is uncertain which complicates the dating of the temple construction. Coins and
pottery discovered at the site date the temple to the mid-fifth century B.C., possibly prior to
Nehemiahs return to Jerusalem.729
2. The events recorded by Josephus are generally quite accurate, but his account of the
Samaritan temple construction730 is considered by most historians to be in error and,
therefore, is not quoted here.
3. Some Jewish traditions state that the temple was constructed when Nehemiah removed
Tobiah from the Jerusalem temple.731
It should be noted, however, that while the Greeks permitted the Samaritans to build their temple,
Samaria also became a center of Greek pagan worship of Isis and Serapis.732 This polytheistic
culture of the Samaritans mirrored the Greeks, which is why by the time of Jesus, so many Jews

728. Blizzard, Judaism - Part 1" Yavo Digest. 1:5, 8; http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/ancient-cultures/ancientisrael/dating-of-samaritan-temple-on-mt-gerizim/. August 19, 2013.
729. http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/uncategorized/merrills-letter/ August 20, 2013.
730. Josephus, Antiquities. 11.7-8.
731. Scott, Jr. Jewish Backgrounds of the New Testament. 77.
732. The god Isis originated in Egypt, but was accepted by the Greeks. See Zangenberg, Between Jerusalem and Samaria.

hated the Samaritans. Archaeologists discovered the Zeno Papyri that affirms the widespread
encroachment of Hellenism into the Jewish communities.733
03.04.08 331 B.C. Alexander the Great Conquers Tyre and Judah
Alexander, the world conqueror, brought great destruction to nearly every city he conquered. He
devastated the supposedly indestructible Phoenician island city of Tyre by building a half mile long
land-bridge to reach it. Of the captured defenders, he nailed 2,000 of them to crosses.734 The
destruction was absolute and in accordance with the prophet Ezekiel (Ch. 27). He then marched
south against the ancient Philistine city of Gaza and onward to Jerusalem. At this point Josephus
recorded the events in most interesting detail:
Now Alexander, when he had taken Gaza, made haste to go up to Jerusalem; and
Judah the high priest, when he heard that, was in agony and under terror as not
knowing how he should meet the Macedonians, since the king was displeased at his
foregoing disobedience. He therefore ordained that the people should make
supplications, and should join him in offering sacrifices to God, whom he besought to
protect the nation and deliver them from the perils that were coming upon them.
Whereupon God warned him in a dream, which came upon him after he had offered
sacrifice, that he should take courage and adorn the city, and open the gates. The rest
appear in white garments, but that he and the priests should meet the king in the habits
proper to their order, without dread of any ill consequences, which the providence of
God would prevent. Upon which, when he arose from his sleep, he greatly rejoiced;
and declared to all the warning he had received from God according to which dream he
acted entirely, and so waited for the coming of the king.
And when he understood that he was not far from the city, he went out in procession
with the priests and the multitude of the citizens. The procession was venerable, and
the manner of it different from that of other nations. It reached to a place called
Sapha; which name, translated into Greek signifies a prospect, for you have thence a
prospect both of Jerusalem and the temple. And when the Phoenicians and the
Chaldeans that followed him, thought they should have the liberty to plunder the city
and torment the high priest to death which the kings displeasure fairly promised, then,
the very reverse happened. For Alexander, when he saw the multitude at a distance in
white garments, while the priests stood clothed with fine linen and the high priests in
733. See Zeno Papyri in Appendix 26.
734. Curtin Rufus 4.4.7, cited by Robinson. Crucifixion in the Roman World: The Use of Nails at the Time of Christ 54.

purple and scarlet clothing with his miter on his head having the golden plate on which
the name of God was engraved, he approached by himself, and adored that name and
first saluted the priest.
The Jews also did all together, with one voice, salute Alexander, and encompass him
about: whereupon the kings of Syria and the rest were surprised at what Alexander
had done, and supposed him disordered in his mind. However, Parmenio alone went
up to him, and asked him how it came to pass, that when all others adored him, he
should adore the high priest of the Jews? To whom he [Alexander] replied, I did not
adore him, but that God who hath honored him with that high priesthood; for I saw
this very person in a dream, in this very habit, when I was at Dios, in Macedonia ...
Josephus, Antiquities 11.8.4-5 (325b-331a)
However, once he entered Israel, he went to Akko, that is located on the norther tip of todays Bay of
Haifa. This was the terminus of ancient trade routes, and there Alexander established a very active
mint that produced the purest silver, gold and bronz coins in the ancient Middle East.735 Among
these could was the Tyrian shekel, that in later years would be the treasured coin of the Sadducees,
even if it had the image of the god Melqarth.
Josephus recorded that after this conversation, Alexander offered sacrifices to God in the temple, at
which time the scroll of Daniel was presented to him. The priests read the prophecies to him that
stated that one of the Greeks would destroy the Persians (see Dan. 7:6; 8:3-8, 20-22; 11:3). This was
an absolute delight for the Greek conqueror.
This may be why he was so kind to the Jewish people. He excused them from paying taxes during
the Sabbatical year when there was no planting of crops, and even gave offerings in the temple.736
When the Egyptian city of Alexandria was built (in honor of Alexander), Jews were recognized as
citizens equal with the Greeks. Jews who enlisted in the army were permitted to practice their faith
with complete freedom. He left Jerusalem in peace, the only city he did so, and destroyed the
Persians. The divine protection and intervention of God in the tiny Jewish state was as dramatic as
any in the Hebrew Bible.

735. Hendin, Guide to Biblical Coins. 131-3.

736. Golub, In the Days. 64-65.

Many of the architectural marvels of the Mediterranean that are credited to the Romans, were
actually initiated by Alexander the Great and the Greeks who continued his ideas. In every country
he conquered, he built a city that would serve as a model for other cities to be remodeled or
constructed. That included better city planning, the building of a gymnasium for games and contexts
modeled on the Greek order, wider streets, open-air theaters for public plays, of fine stately
colonnaded buildings that served for civic and religious affairs. Along with these cultural changes,
there was the Greek style of dress, language philosophy and manner of life. As will be seen later, this
Hellenistic movement had a profound effect upon the Jewish people.737
03.04.09 323 B.C. Death of Alexander the Great
Alexander died suddenly at the age of 33 on June 13, 323 B.C. in Babylon, leaving no heirs. His
massive empire extended from the Mediterranean Sea to Punjab in India. The author of the first
book of Maccabees preserved the account of his death. A portion of it reads as follows:
After Alexander son of Philip, the Macedonian, who came from the land of Kittim, had
defeated Darius, king of the Persians and the Medes, he succeeded him as king. (He had
previously become king of Greece.) He fought many battles, conquered strongholds and
put to death the kings of the earth. He advanced to the ends of the earth and plundered
many nations. When the earth became quiet before him, he became exalted and his
heart was lifted up. He gathered a very strong army and ruled over countries, nations,
and princes and they became tributary to him. After this he fell sick and perceived that
he was dying, so he brought his most honored officers, who had been brought up with
him from youth, and divided his kingdom among them while he was still alive. And
after Alexander reigned twelve years, he died.
1 Maccabees 1:1-7
The four generals, Antigonus I, Cyclops, Ptolemy, and Seleucus I Nicator, who inherited power,
established dynasties that for a while lived in peace. Eventually they fought each other leaving the
Jewish land a battle ground for twenty years.738 Each general hoped to establish a kingdom similar to
that of Alexander. Eventually Syria, Galilee, Samaria, and Judah came under a powerful family
known as the Seleucid Dynasty. The prophecy of Daniel 11 is a description of these conflicts.739
From this time, the land of the Jews was always considered a part of Syria, even when Rome was the
737. Mould, Essentials of Bible History. 388-91.
738. Golub, In the Days. 65-66.
739. New International Version Study Bible footnotes for Dan. 11.

dominant world power in the first century. The author of Maccabees made these comments
concerning the generals:
Then his officers began to rule, each in his own place. They all put on crowns after his
death, and so did their sons after them for many years and they caused many evils on
the earth. From them came forth a sinful root, Antiochus Epiphanes, son of Antiochus
the king; he had been a hostage in Rome. He began to reign in the one hundred and
thirty-seventh year of the kingdom of the Greeks.
1 Maccabees 1:8-10
It should be noted that while the Hellenistic Period is recognized to be in the years between 334 and
63 B.C., the Jews were not in constant domination during this era. As is described in detail below,
from 165 - 63 B.C. the Jews were an independent people but the Hellenistic culture continued its
influence upon them.
03.04.10 319 B.C. Jewish Families Taken to Egypt; Ptolemy Dynasty of Egypt Rules Judah;
The Parthian and Roman Empires Begin to Rise
A time of political upheaval was about to begin. For the next 122 years the Jews of Jerusalem and
surrounding Promised Land were governed by their high priests, who were essentially puppet
governors controlled by the Greek overlords in Egypt. For the most part, these rulers were mild in
light of other sovereigns.740 The Greek Ptolemy Soter captured Jerusalem without a fight on the
Sabbath day because the Jews refused to work on that day. He took 120,000 Jews to surrounding
villages of Alexandria as slaves.741 They became the principle settlers in a city where the Jewish
population would grow to over one million and where the Hebrew Bible would be translated into
Greek.742 This was the first translation of the Hebrew text and was needed because the Jews of
Egypt had lost their Hebrew tongue.
At the same time, the Seleucids expanded their kingdom and founded the cities of Seleucia and
Antioch. Seleucia was located in the eastern section of the kingdom along the banks of the
Euphrates (modern Iraq and Iran), while Antioch was in Syria along the Orontes River. Rivalry
between the Seleucids and the Ptolemies soon led to military sparring. Finally, a great battle took
place at Raphia, near Gaza where Ptolemy conquered the Seleucids. However, within a few years,
740. Metzger, New Testament. 18.
741. Josephus, Antiquities. 12.1.1 and 12.2.1.
742. See Septuagint in 02.02.25.

Ptolemy died and left a five-year-old son to reign. Hearing this, the Seleucids attacked again and
conquered Judah. The dark days of the Jewish people were about to begin.
In the meantime, the Romans were growing into a powerful military force in the peninsula of Italy,
and were on one conquest after another. By the second century, they fought the Greeks and won,
after which they sailed to northern Africa where they laid conquest to Carthage. This was about the
same time the Seleucids took control of Judah, meaning that there was war everywhere.
Also at this same time, far to the east in the Old Persian Empire, a province known as Parthia grew
strong and seized control of the Empire by defeating their Seleucid overlords. The Parthians had
developed highly skilled cavalry bowmen for which the Seleucids had no defense. These bowmen,
who thundered across the deserts on horseback were the terror of the age; the primary reason the
Parthian King Arsaces led his people to victory. Eventually his empire covered a massive territory
from the Euphrates to the Indus River. Fearing the Parthians wanted access to the Mediterranean
Sea, the Romans recognized them as a formidable threat, and hence, six decades before the birth of
Jesus they moved into the land of the Jews to establish a frontier protective buffer.
The Parthians had obtained considerable knowledge of the Jewish faith from the exiles who had been
relocated into their land centuries earlier by King Nebuchadnezzar. It would be the Parthians who
would send the magi to honor the infant Jesus. Jewish believers from Parthia were also present in
Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:9). Clearly, the Jewish exiles were responsible for
infiltrating the entire Middle East and parts of Central Asia with the anticipation of a coming
03.04.11 311 B.C. Greek Seleucid Era Begins
Seleucus I, who was a cavalry officer under Alexander, took control of Babylon marking the
beginning of the Seleucid Era. (A decade later Syria is captured.) Seleucus I (312-280 B.C.)
founded the Seleucid dynasty of Syria which ruled Syria, Asia Minor, Babylon, Samaria, and Judah
(but Samaria and Judah disputed with the Ptolemies). The Seleucids ruled from 323 to c. 125 B.C.,
but in the final years, their empire was being lost to competing empires a section at a time.744
03.04.12 301 B.C. Greek Seleucid Control of the Holy Land is Secured
However, the land of the Jews became the disputed territory between the Seleucid and Ptolemy
dynasties. It was the curse of living on the land bridge that connected Africa with Asia and Europe
743. Dresden, Parthians. 3:661.
744. Blaiklock, Seleucids. 16:1911-12.

and being sandwiched between the northern Arabian Desert and Mediterranean Sea that they were
constantly faced with invading armies on the march.745 They lived in constant tension, never knowing
when an invading army would steal their food and other supplies. Finally, in 301 B.C. one of the
greatest battles of antiquity took place at the Ipsus in Phrygia, west-central Anatolia. There an
estimated one hundred thirty thousand troops from both the Seleucid and Ptolemaic armies fought
each other. Antigonus I was killed in battle and his son Demetrius became the Seleucid king.
However, in the century to come there were five major wars between the Egyptian Ptolemies and
Syrian Seleucids (274-272, 260-252, 246-241, 221-217, 201-198). Whenever the Egyptians marched
north or the Syrians marched south to Egypt, they crossed the Holy Land stealing food and whatever
other supplies were needed.746 If there was ever a land that need peace and rest, it was the region of
Naphatali and Zebulon two Hebrew tribal areas on which the international highway lay the Via
03.04.13 283 B.C. Ptolemy Philadelphus, King of Egypt; Greek Translation of Scripture
Ptolemy Philadelphus became the king of Egypt as the result of the demise of the Greek Empire.
According to Josephus, his Jewish subjects suggested that he free Jewish slaves since their God
placed him in power. He not only approved their request but he also sent gifts to the temple in
Jerusalem and gathered Jewish scholars to translate the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek.747 Tradition
says that 72 scholars were gathered on the island of Pharos near Alexandria and there they produced
the Greek translation in 72 days, hence the Latin name Septuagint meaning seventy.748 Many believe
this to be a fanciful legend even though some Jewish writings even claim to have the names of the
original translators. That translation became known as the Septuagint, and is commonly referred to as
LXX.749 This was a major step in preparing the world to receive the gospel of Jesus Christ nearly
three centuries later.
Evidently, the Jews enjoyed the comforts of Egypt and favor of the king as a half-century later they
built a synagogue for the royal family. Between the years 246 and 221 B.C. in Schedia, Egypt, the
synagogue was constructed, and while it has since been destroyed, its dedication inscription was
discovered. It is the earliest reference to a synagogue and reads:
745. For a study of historical maps of this region, see Nebenzahl, Kenneth. Maps of the Holy Land. New York: Abbeville Press.
746. Cate, A History of the New Testament and its Times. 66.
747. Josephus, Antiquities. 12.2.4-15.
748. https://www.ccel.org/bible/brenton/intro.html. Retrieved December 30, 2014.
749. See 02.02.25 and a brief discussion by Dr. Petra Heldt at 02.04.01.V.


For King Ptolemy and Queen Berenike, his sister and wife, and for their children the
Jews built the synagogue.
Schedia Synagogue Inscription750
Clearly, the Jews of Egypt had become rather wealthy and were on friendly terms with their
monarch. This may be reason the king encouraged the translation of the Hebrew Scriptures. The
Epistle of Aristeas (285-247 B.C.) claims to be a reliable account of how the translation was made.
The royal librarian, Demetrius of Phalerum, suggested to the reigning Egyptian king, Ptolemy
Philadelphus that a copy of the Jewish Torah should be placed in the royal library. The king then
sent him to Jerusalem with a caravan of gifts to present to the High Priest Eleazar. The Priest sent
seventy-two elders, six from each tribe, to a remote island where they could work in peace.
Supposedly, it took only seventy-two sessions and, hence, the name Septuagint came about. This
Epistle might be somewhat fanciful, but it reflects the diligence with which the Jews translated their
Torah. The number 72 was rounded off to 70, and symbolized by the Roman numerals LXX. While
no one gives the time element of the legend any credibility, the fact that the first translation came
from Egypt at this time has been firmly established.
It should be noted that at this point, history clarifies the debate as to whether Jesus sent out 70 or 72
disciples (Lk. 1:1-16 vs. Mt. 11:20-24). In Egypt there were 72 scholars who translated the Hebrew
Scriptures but for ease of conversational shorthand, people spoke of the 70. Likewise Jesus sent
out 72 disciples as recorded in Matthew, but for ease of conversation, Luke said there were 70.
Blue Box? history clarifies the mystery as to whether Jesus sent out 70 or 72, it was probably
72, but the gospel writer simply rounded off the number to 70 as was done with the LXX.

03.04.14 Third Century B.C. Greek Influences Challenge Jewish Values and Traditions
The real genius of Alexander was how he united conquered lands. He understood the power of
culture to mold people and believed that if all shared the same values they would live in harmony.751
The problem was, as both the Greeks and Romans discovered, that the Jews were not easily molded
750. Horsley, New Documents Illustrating Early Christianity. 3:121-22.
751. Du Toit, Guide to the New Testament II, 437.

to conform to Greek values. As the time of the Messiahs coming was drawing nearer, the influence
of dominating pagan cultures intensified. While the pinnacle of this influence was in the era of
Antiochus IV Epiphanes (early 2nd century B.C.), it was, nonetheless, increasingly attractive to
Jewish youth.752
Whereas in most conquests, the dominant power merely desired peace and taxes from the subjugated
people, the Greeks desired much more they desired to change the conquered culture into the Greek
culture. Since they were now the worlds manufacturing and seafaring nation, as well as renowned
merchants, they settled in various countries to establish businesses. Many moved into Syria and to
the cities east of the Jordan River that would later be known as the Decapolis cities. As such, there
were a number of influences that radically changed the social, political, and religious landscape of
the Promised Land. A summery is listed below, but was previously described in greater detail.753
1. The gods of the Canaanites and neighboring tribes were given Greek names. But since the
Jewish people did not have an idol, the Greeks were bewildered at their religion. The Jews,
in turn, looked upon their overlords as idol worshippers. There was always a high level of
cultural tension between the two groups, unlike the Jews and Greeks in Egypt who got along
very well with each other because each group recognized the value of the other.
2. The Greek religion honored strength and wealth while Judaism honored kindness and
3. The Greeks introduced poets, philosophers, artists, medical doctors and scientists while
Judaism honored rabbis.
4. New types of public buildings theaters, baths, and inns were introduced.
5. The Greeks introduced sports and a gymnasium was built near the temple.754 The
gymnasium was the Greek center of communal life, education, business, as well as a place of
exercise and bathing. The authors of 1 and 2 Maccabees commented on the importance of the
752. See also 02.04.01-11; 03.05.12; 1 Cor. 1.
753. See also 02.04.01-11; 03.05.12; Cate, A History of the New Testament and its Times. 68-70.
754. The issue of who built the gymnasium and where is a problem for historians and archaeologists. Josephus said Herod the
Great built one but other sources indicate that Jason, in the early second century B.C., also built one. Questions persist, such
as, Was Herods gymnasium a remodeling of the earlier one or was it a completely new structure? The mystery remains. Scott,
Jr. Jewish Backgrounds of the New Testament. 82.

gymnasium just prior to the Maccabean Revolt.755
6. By the early first century (A.D.), Jewish healers and exorcists used formulas and practices
that were nearly identical to those used by their Greek and Roman neighbors.
7. Jewish literature had an increased emphasis on the following points:756
a. An increased emphasis on Jewish traditions, especially in light of the encroaching
Hellenism. With these there were various related theological issues debated and
b. An increase of Apocalyptic literature which emphasized the coming of a political
messiah and an end of the age eschatology.
Young men who competed in sports event did so completely nude.757 The word gymnasium is from
the Greek word gymnos, meaning naked,758 because the Hellenists loved the human body. Therefore,
some from priestly families chose to have the sign of circumcision surgically removed, with a
procedure known as epispasm.759 This was so they could hide their participate in the games without
being identified as being Jewish. It should be noted, however, that some scholars believe that the
sporting events and gymnasium were not established in Jerusalem until later, possibly not until
Herod the Great in the year 27 B.C.760
It should be noted that while the Greeks established the gymnasium for the creation of a strong mind
and physical body,761 the Romans seldom accepted it but the orthodox Jews hated it. The Romans
believed gymnastics had little military value and it encouraged idleness and immorality. Instead, in
755. 1 Macc. 1:14; 2 Macc. 4:12; 4 Macc. 4:9.
756. Fischer, The Gospels in Their Jewish Context. (Lecture on CD/MP3). Week 6, Session 1.
757. Niswonger, New Testament History. 24.
758. Scott, Jr. Jewish Backgrounds of the New Testament. 127.
759. See also 02.01.10.
760. The sporting events of 27 B.C. included gladiator fights and wild animals fighting and devouring condemned criminals,
much to the delight of Gentile spectators. But since there is only one account of a gladiator and wild animal fight in
Jerusalem, the conclusion by scholars is that there must have been an incredible Jewish protest against this form of barbaric
entertainment. See Goodman. Under the Influence. 62, 65.
761. The gymnasium was not only for physical training and sporting activities, but also an educational environment with a
school of learning.

the early days of the Roman Republic, young men were trained in the Campus Martius, that is,
military training of combat, forced marches, camp life, etc.
Clearly, the Hellenistic culture of the Greeks was making inroads upon the Jewish people. This
offended the pious Jews (called the Hasidim, meaning pious ones), but wealthier Jews enjoyed the
new cultural offerings and soon Hellenized Jews became the despised persons of their Hasidim
brothers. For the Hellenized Jews, their orthodox religion was seen as interfering with attaining their
pleasures of life.762 In later years, the Romans would replace the Greeks. However, the culture war
did not change. The Romans did not have their own culture per se, but accepted and promoted Greek
03.04.15 200 B.C. Non-Rabbinic Writings Begin: Pseudepigrapha, Apocrypha, and the Dead
Sea Scrolls
In response to the Hellenistic influences, concerned Jews as well as some leaders responded with
various forms of legalism. It appears that every religious sect had one or more individuals who either
wrote of actual events or of expected apocalyptic events,763 and the latter far exceeded the former.
One of those religious sects was the Essenes (02.01.06), who copied many ancient books for more
than two centuries that eventually became known as the Dead Sea Scrolls (02.02.06). Many of these
manuscripts were deposited in clay jars that were hidden in caves at the time of the destruction of the
second temple (A.D. 70), but were later discovered between 1948 and 1956. These writings provide
modern scholars insight into life in the time of Jesus.
In addition to the Essene writings, another genre appeared that would eventually become known as
the Apocrypha (02.02.03) and Pseudepigrapha (02.02.24). Some of these books tend to be of an
apocalyptic nature: some future judgmental event is described to deliver Israel from her enemies.
Other writings reflect the encroachment of Hellenistic thinking into Judaism, and the first liberal
writers restructure basic elements of the Torah and other Hebrew writings. Not all were accepted by
the Jews, but everyone knew of them.
Finally, ancient writers gave various opinions of what the messiah would be like from defeating
foreign dominating powers to exorcisms. Within The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, are three
books that have unique verses to a future king who would defeat Satan and his demons. Therefore,
when Jesus came and freed people from demonic control, His performance was what some

762. Golub, In the Days. 68-72.

763. See Apocalyptic Literature in Appendix 26.

expected.764 On the other hand, chapter 17 of the Psalms of Solomon, written between 40 and 30
B.C., clearly expresses the idea of overthrowing a foreign dominating power which was obviously
Rome. Therefore, when Jesus made no mention of any political aspirations, His performance was not
what some expected. Yet Psalms of Solomon 17 also presents a comprehensive picture of the ideal
messiah who is from the line of David an image that was well established in the minds of the
Jewish people in the time of Jesus only a few decades later.
03.04.16 198 B.C. Syria and Jerusalem Come Firmly Under the Control of the Greek Seleucids
Antiochus III of the Syrian Seleucid dynasty captured control of the Jewish state from the Egyptian
Ptolemies who had controlled it since the death of Alexander the Great. This battle was fought at
Panias, a village later known as Caesarea Philippi, where Jesus asked Peter his famous question,
Who do people say that I am? The Greek Seleucids maintained their district capital in Damascus,
Syria, and from there they controlled Samaria, Judah, and Jerusalem. The Jewish people welcomed
Antiochus III because he granted them the right to practice their faith according to the traditions and
laws of their fathers. They were also exempted from taxes for three years.
However, after the death of Antiochus III, Antiochus IV reigned. The freedom of religion the Jews
once enjoyed changed radically to deadly persecution. The change not only intensified the culture
war between pious Jews and the Greeks, but also between Hellenistic Jews and the Hasidim. The
Hellenists had obtained considerable influence among the priests and Levites in the temple. As will
be shown, for pious Jews this was a time of hell on earth.
03.04.17 176-164 B.C. Antiochus IV Epiphanes, King of Syria Controls Jerusalem
Since the time of Alexander the Great, the Greek kings had an unofficial policy of tolerance toward
the Jews and their religion. All villages and communities throughout the Greek Empire had adopted
the Hellenistic lifestyle with the exception of the Jews. When Antiochus IV (215 164 B.C.), who
changed his name to Antiochus IV Epiphanes (Epiphanes meaning, the illustrious one as well as
the manifest god),765 became king of the Syrian district, he changed the policy and was determined
to make the little Jewish enclave conform to the rest of Greek society.
The Syrian Seleucid King Antiochus IV Epiphanes took control of Judah without a struggle. Before
the Hasmonean rebellion, there was a strong absolute prohibition against war or even carrying
weapons on the Sabbath. Therefore, when Antiochus sent his general, Ptolemy Lagus, to capture
Jerusalem, he did so on the Sabbath and there was absolutely no resistance. The Jewish prohibition

764. See 11.02.09 for more information.

765. See footnote c by Whiston in Whiston, The Works of Josephus. 350.

of conflict on the Sabbath was so strong, that Josephus recorded that some priests decided not to
fight on that day, and they were slaughtered.766 When the Jews realized that their doctrine would be
their annihilation, they decided they had to fight, even if it was on the Sabbath (1 Macc. 2:29-40).
Antiochus was undoubtedly the most significant character of the Inter-Testamental Period, as he left
a lasting and horrific legacy. Two apostate priests who competed against each other in various
endeavors in the temple aided his evil schemes.767 The irony of biblical prophecy is that to fully
understand the prophecy, it must be fulfilled (cf. 1 Cor. 13:12). He was a brutal and vicious dictator,
worse than Herod the Great in that he attempted to convert the Jews to the pagan Greek culture.
Those who refused were killed. His lasting influence upon the Jews cannot be overstated, but
unfortunately, is seldom studied. There is not so much disagreement on what the Bible says, but
rather, on what it does not say.
Antiochus was determined to convert the Jews to paganism and remove any evidence of Jewish
culture from the face of the earth. His commander, Nicanor, advertised the sale of Jewish slaves
throughout the Greek cities at the cheap rate of ninety bodies for only one talent.768
Jews in later generations were convinced that the Messiah would come after Antiochus, an
interpretation they based on the prophecies of Daniel. Their difficulty with that interpretation is how
to solve the sevens the prophet Daniel mentioned.769 The solution was that the Jews applied a
figurative interpretation rather than a literal understanding. As time progressed following this wicked
king, there was an increasing expectation that the Messiah would come. Therefore, the actions of the
king and the divine intervention during the revolt that followed, are significant in understanding the
expectations of the Jews in the time of Christ.

766. Josephus, Antiquities 12.6.2 (271-77). Josephus received his information from Agatharchides of Cnidus, who lived in
Alexandria in the second century B.C.; Oppenheimer, Oral Law in the Books of Maccabees. 34.
767. Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. 4.
768. Barrois, Trade and Commerce. 4:682.
769. See Appendix 15 concerning Daniels prophecy



Antiochus IV (ruled 175-164 B.C.) RIGHT: Olympus Zeus is seated, holding Nike.
Some coins depicted him as god manifest which this was offensive to the Jewish
people. The fact the he considered himself to be the God is evident from his coins.
Internet Photograph.770
Antiochus was a man who desired absolute power and wealth. He controlled Judah as it was the land
bridge with critical international highways. This provided him with an important source of revenue:
taxation of traveling caravans. His greed inspired him to pass over the rightful successor to the
throne, Seleucus Philopator, and ushered in an era of immense pain and suffering for the Jewish
people in his attempt to destroy the Jewish faith and replace it with Hellenistic philosophy. He
brought forth the abomination of desolation with nine major points that were recorded in the books
of Maccabees:771
1. The temple in Jerusalem was dedicated to his god, Zeus Olympus (2 Macc. 6:2).
2. He erected an altar over the existing altar and offered a pig sacrifice to Zeus Olympus (1
Macc. 1:54, 59; 4:43-47).
3. He instituted a month-long celebration of his birthday (2 Macc. 6:7).
4. He instituted the worship of the god Dionysus with a processional march (2 Macc. 6:7).
770. http://www.museumsurplus.com/HolylandCoinsPAGE1.htm. Retrieved November 6, 2014.
771. Grabbe, Judaism from Cyrus to Harian. 258.

5. He forbade the observance of the Sabbath and all Jewish festivals.
6. He forbade sacrifices and reading of any Scriptures.
7. Any Jews who violated his laws were sentenced to death.
8. Jews were not permitted to enter their own temple.
9. The Sanhedrin was terminated.772
10. He sold the position of temple priesthood.
11. He imported temple prostitutes, used the temple facility as a brothel as part of pagan
12. He stole all of the treasures in the temple, including the veils of fine linen so that the
building was left bare.
The Roman senator and author Publius Cornelius Tacitus (A.D. 56 117) recorded an account of
Antiochus and the chaotic political environment in his book titled, Histories.773 Tacitus said that after
Antiochus, the Jewish leaders, later known as Sadducees, established their own princes who were
nearly as brutal as some of their pagan monarchs. They certainly lacked the biblical qualities and
values of leadership.
When the Macedonians became supreme, King Antiochus strove to destroy the national
superstition, and to introduce Greek civilization, but was prevented by his war with the
Parthians from at all improving this vilest of nations; for at this time the revolt of
Arsaces had taken place. The Macedonian power was now weak, while the Parthian
had not yet reached its full strength, and, as the Romans were still far off, the Jews
chose kings for themselves. Expelled by the fickle populace, and regaining their throne
by force of arms, these princes, while they ventured on the wholesale banishment of
their subjects, on the destruction of cities, on the murder of brothers, wives, and

772. Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. 67.
773. This book The Histories, is not to be confused with another historical work by Tacitus titled The Annals of Imperial Rome.

parents, and the other usual atrocities of despots, fostered the national superstition by
appropriating the dignity of the priesthood as the support of their political power.
Tacitus, Histories 5.8774
When Tacitus referred to the national superstition of the Jews, he meant the Jewish religion.
Romans, Greeks and all other pagans could not understand how anyone could worship an invisible
god. Furthermore, the non-Jews had difficulty with the Jewish people not working one day of the
week, as well as their dietary restrictions. To them, this religious lifestyle was clearly superstitious.
Another writer of history, Polybius (200 117 B.C.), used a play on words in his description of
Antiochus. Since Antiochus gave himself the last name, Epiphanes, meaning he was the bodily
manifestation of a god, Polybius played with that name and referred to him as Epimanes meaning
mad, or Antiochus the insane.775
Antiochus Epiphanes, nicknamed from his actions Epiphanes, The Madman, would
sometimes steal from the court, avoiding his attendants and appear roaming wildly
about in any chance part of the city with one or two companions.
Polybius, The Histories of Polybius 26:1776
Among the other evils this dictator invented was the creation of a myth known as Blood Libel that
would haunt the Jews into the twentieth century. According to Flavius Josephus, Antiochus
essentially said in order for the Jews to fulfill their required ritual laws,
That they used to catch a Greek foreigner and fatten him thus up every year and then
lead him to a certain wood pile, and kill him, and taste of his entrails, and make an oath
upon this sacrificing a Greek, that they would ever be at enmity with the Greeks; and
that they threw the remaining parts of the miserable wretch into a pit.
Josephus, Against Apion 2.8 (95)
774. http://www.sacred-texts.com/cla/tac/h05000.htm Retrieved February 17, 2012. While Josephus wrote of the priestly
ideals of the Jewish theocracy, Tacitus wrote of the senatorial ideals of the Roman republic. Tacitus wrote of politics and
imperial wars, and was not concerned about the social-economic conditions of the lower classes.
775. Grabbe, Judaism from Cyrus to Harian. 248; Metzger, New Testament. 19.
776. Polybius authored The Histories of Polybius, a/k/a The Histories, which describes the rise of the Roman Republic to a world
power between the years 264-146 B.C.

Variations of this myth caused persecutions and martyrdom for the Jews at the hands of so-called
Christians throughout the Church Age. It was popular slander in Nazi Germany and is taught as
historic fact in Islamic countries today.
Antiochus is credited for grouping various Greek cities into ten districts for administrative and taxing
purposes. These became known as the Decapolis cities by the time of Jesus as the Greek name
poleis means cities. They were Seleucia, Galaditis (Transjordan) and Beit Shean (Scythopolis) in
northern Israel. The towns or cities east of the Jordan River are Damascus, Philadelphia (Amman),
Rafna, Garada, Sussita (Hippos), Dion, Pelia (Pella), Jerash (Gerash), and Canatha. The historian
Gaius Plinius Secundus (A.D. 23 79), better known as Pliny the Elder, in his work titled Natural
History, listed the ten as: Damascus, Philadelphia, Raphana, Scythopolis, Gadara, Hippos, Dium,
Pella, Canatha, and Gerasa.777 However, another historian Claudius Ptolemy (A.D. 60-168), wrote in
his book titled Geography, a different list of names.778 Clearly, the ancients had different opinions of
what they considered to be a district, city or village. While the number of cities is uncertain,779 it is
known that there were ten administrative districts for military and tax purposes, which were
instituted by Pompey in 63 B.C.780

777. Gaius Plinius Secundus, Gerasa. Natural History 5, 74.

778. Claudius Ptolemy. Geography 5, 14, 18.
779. See Decapolis in Appendix 26.
780. Pentecost, The Words and Works of Jesus Christ. (Video E).



Decapolis Cities, designated with the red dot, were administrative capital cities
established by the Greeks. Courtesy of International Mapping and Dan Przywara.
03.04.18 171 B.C. Zadokite Priesthood Ends; Temple Priesthood Sold; The Essenes.
Until this time, the office of high priest was an inherited position, handed down from father to son.
From the time of Solomon the Jewish priesthood was always selected from one family, that of
Zadok. However, the once-held belief that the name was derived from Zadok, a high priest in

Solomons court has some serious etymological difficulties.781 The Zadokite High Priest Onias III
had a brother who was the leader of the Hellenist party. His Jewish name was Joshua, but he
preferred to be called by his Greek name, Jason. As was so often the case in human history, one
brother caused the death of another for the sake of power and wealth. A tragedy such as this occurred
here as well.
At one time, Jason offered Antiochus IV a huge sum of money to be positioned as high priest. The
king accepted the bribe, sent Onias on a state trip to Antioch to answer trumped-up charges of
treachery. In route, he was assassinated and Jason became the new high priest. This level of religious
corruption existed almost continuously until the temple was destroyed in A.D. 70.782 As evil as this
act was, later, during the days of Jesus, the religious and political corruption was much worse.783 As
a result, many survivors of the Zadok family isolated themselves and became known as the Essenes
who are credited today with having written the Dead Sea Scrolls. The former high priest realized that
his future in the Holy Land was rather bleak, so he relocated to Egypt. There Ptolemy Philometor
gave him permission to build a temple at Leontopolis, about 200 miles south of Alexandria.784 It is
the only temple other than the one in Jerusalem where sacrifices were offered to God.
In the days of Jesus, the Jewish temple in Leontopolis, in southern Egypt,785 added to the social and
religious tensions in Judaea. Even though Egyptian Jews felt an allegiance to Jerusalem, the leaders
in the Holy City were quite displeased with a competing temple.786 The rabbis in Jerusalem were
already disturbed by the translation of the Bible into Greek, a feat that was accomplished in Egypt in
the previous century. The result was Jewish anti-Semitism antagonism and bitterness between
these two Jewish groups.
In the meantime, Antiochus was not unique in his decision to sell the office of high priest. It was
common in ancient times that a king would develop an extremely loyal supporter who controlled the
temple and the religious affairs of the people. In a similar manner, years later the Herodian family
781. Guignebert, The Jewish World in the Time of Jesus. 162; Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. 123-24.
782. Bruce, New Testament History. 56-58.
783. Grabbe, Judaism from Cyrus to Harian. 249; Blaikie, A Manual of Bible History. 393; Golub, In the Days. 82-86.
784. Golub, In the Days. 229-32, 238-39.
785. See my comments on this temple in Babylonian Captivity in 03.02.15.
786. See Babylonin Captivity in 03.02.15.

placed, or sold the same office to Annas, and later to Caiaphas. This enhanced the controlling
powers and improved the wealth of the monarch.
Another example of a priesthood being sold was uncovered by archaeologists in Egypt. In this
papyrus document, Pekebkis, the son of Marsisouchus, made a generous offer to purchase the
position of prophet (high priest). This document, dated A.D. 146, reads in part as follows:
To Tiberius Claudius Justus, administrator of the private account,787 from Pakebkis,
son of Marsisouchus, exempted priest788 of the famous temple of Soknebtunis also
called Cronus.... I wish to purchase the office of prophet789 in the aforesaid temple,
which has been for sale for a long time, on the understanding that I shall ... carry the
palm-branches and perform the other functions of the office of prophet and receive in
accordance with the orders a fifth part790 of all the revenue which falls to the temple, at
a total price of 2,200 drachmae instead of the 640 drachmae offered long ago by
Marsisouchus, son of Pakebkis, which sum I will pay, if my appointment is ratified, into
the local public bank at the customary dates; and I and my descendants and successors
shall have the permanent ownership and possession of this office forever with all the
same privileges and rights, on payment [by each one] of 200 drachmae for admission.
If, therefore, it seems good to you, my Lord, you will ratify my appointment here in the
city upon these terms and to write to the strategus about this matter, in order that the
due services to the gods who you love may be performed.... Farewell, the 10th year of the
Emperor Caesarea.
Titus Aelius Hadrianus Antonius Augustus Pius, Tubi 10.791

787. All real estate in Egypt was considered to be the private property of the monarchs (with certain religious leaders
exempted), and therefore, any income derived from these lands belonged to the royal treasury.
788. The holder of a religious office did not have to pay taxes to the Egyptian government, which was a puppet agent of the
789. The prophet was most likely the high priest who was also responsible for all financial matters of the temple, as he
would be if he owned any other business.
790. Fifth part would be funds donated to the pagan temple as well as funds derived from the crops raised on sacred lands
and controlled by the temple.
791. Barrett, The New Testament Background. 32-33.

03.04.19 167 B.C., December. Antiochus IV Desecrates Temple
As previously stated, whenever a people group was captured, it was the cultural tradition that they
would worship the god or gods of their new overlords. Ancient reasoning was simply: the people
with the stronger army had the stronger god. However, the Greeks could not comprehend that not
only did the Jews have an invisible god, but they were willing to die for that deity. Antiochus thought
this was nonsense and was committed to putting an end to Judaism by whatever means possible.
In 167 B.C., he sent his masons into the temple where they constructed an enlarged altar over the
existing Jewish altar. Them on the 25th day of Chislev (December 16), he sacrificed a pig to Zeus
Olympus upon his new altar that was the great altar of burnt offerings. It was the supreme insult to
both God and the Jews. Immediately all temple sacrifices were terminated.792 It was the pinnacle of
His anti-Semitic activities are significant in light of the words of Jesus found in Matthew 25:15, as
the Seleucid dictator appears to have fulfilled Daniels prophecies (9:27; 11:31; 12:11). However,
Jesus stated that these prophecies were yet to be fulfilled. Therefore, it is evident that those
predicted terrible days still await humanity, and according to some scholars, will occur during the
Tribulation Period when the true Antichrist rules the earth. Daniels words were partially fulfilled
but remain to be completely fulfilled in the future. Three historical witnesses preserved the details of
Antiochus and this event. The first was written by Josephus, who said,
Now it came to pass after two years in the hundred and forty-fifth year (167 B.C.) on
the twenty-fifth day of that month which is by us called Chasleu, and by the
Macedonians Apelleus, in the hundred and fifty-third Olympiad, that the king
(Antiochus) came up to Jerusalem and, pretending peace, he got possession of the city
by treachery, at which time he did not spare even those who admitted him into it on
account of the riches that lay in the temple. Led by his covetous inclination (for he saw
there was a great deal of gold and many ornaments that had been dedicated to it of very
great value), and in order to plunder its wealth, he ventured to break the agreement he
made. So he left the temple bare and took away the golden candlesticks, and the golden
altar (of incense), and table (of shewbread), and the altar (of burnt offering), and did
not abstain from even the veils which were made from fine linen and scarlet. He also
emptied it of its secret treasures and left nothing at all remaining, and by this means
cast the Jews into great consternation, for he forbade them to offer those daily
792. Metzger, New Testament. 20-21.

sacrifices, which they used to offer to God, according to the law. And when he pillaged
the whole city, some of the inhabitants he killed and some he carried captive so that the
multitude of those captives that were taken alive amounted to about ten thousand. He
also burnt down the finest buildings, and when he had overthrown the city walls, he
built a citadel in the lower part of the city, for the place was high and overlooked the
temple on which account he fortified it with high walls and towers, and put into it a
garrison of Macedonians. However, in that citadel dwelt the impious and wicked part
of the (Jewish) multitude, from whom it proved that the citizens suffered many heavy
calamities. And when the king had built an idol altar upon Gods altar, he slew swine
upon it and so offered a sacrifice neither according to the law, nor the Jewish religious
worship in that country. He also compelled them to forsake the worship, which they
paid their own God, and to adore those whom he took to the gods and made them build
temples and raise idol altars in every city and village, and offer swine upon them every
day. He also commanded them not to circumcise their sons and threatened to punish
any that should be found to have transgressed his injunction.
He also appointed overseers who should compel them to do what he commanded. And
indeed there were many Jews who complied with the king's commands either
voluntarily or out of fear of the penalty that was announced: but the best men and
those of the noblest souls did not regard him, but paid a greater respect to the customs
of their country than concern as to the punishment which he threatened to the
disobedient, on which account they every day underwent great miseries and bitter
torments for they were whipped with rods and their bodies were torn to pieces and were
crucified while they were still alive and breathed. They also strangled those women and
their sons whom they had circumcised, as the king had appointed, hanging their sons
about their necks as they were upon the crosses. And if there were any sacred book of the
Law found, it was destroyed and those with whom they were found, miserably perished
Josephus, Antiquities 12.5.4 (248-256)

793. Italics mine for emphasis.


Antiochus decided to eradicate all traces of the Jewish faith by whatever means possible including
torture and death. He deliberately instituted laws that directly violated Mosaic laws. Josephus
recorded the following:
He spoiled the temple and put a stop to the constant practice of offering a daily sacrifice
of expiation for three years and six months.... Now Antiochus was not satisfied either
with his unexpected taking of the city, or with its pillage, or with the great slaughter he
had made there, but being overcome with his violent passions. He compelled the Jews to
dissolve the laws of their country, and keep their infants uncircumcised, and to sacrifice
swines flesh upon the altar; against which they all opposed themselves, and the most
approved among them were put to death.
Josephus, Wars 1.1.1-2 (32b-35)
The second witness is by the unknown author of the first book of Maccabees, who recorded the event
as follows,
In those days lawless men came forth from Israel, and misled many saying, Let us go
and make a covenant with Gentiles round about us, for since we separated from them
many evils have come upon us.
The proposal pleased them, and some of the people eagerly went to the king. He
authorized them to observe the ordinances of the Gentiles, so they built a gymnasium in
Jerusalem, and according to the Gentile custom, and removed the marks of
circumcision and abandoned the holy covenant. They joined with the Gentiles and sold
themselves to do evil.

When Antiochus saw that his kingdom was established, he determined to become the
king of the land of Egypt that he might reign over both kingdoms. So he invaded Egypt
with a strong force, with chariots and elephants and cavalry and with a large fleet. He
engaged Ptolemy king of Egypt in battle and Ptolemy turned and fled before him and
many were wounded and fell. And they captured the fortified cities in the land of
Egypt and he plundered the land of Egypt.
After subduing Egypt, Antiochus returned in the one hundred and forty-third year. He
went up against Israel and came to Jerusalem with a strong force. He arrogantly
entered the sanctuary and took the golden altar, the lampstand for the light and all its
utensils. He took also the table for the bread of the Presence, the cups for drink
offerings, the bowls, the golden censers, the curtain, the crowns, and the gold
decoration on the front of the temple; he stripped it all off. He took the silver and the
gold and the costly vessels; he took also the hidden treasures which he found taking
them all, he departed to his own land.
He committed deeds of murder,
and spoke with great arrogance.
Israel mourned deeply in every community,
rulers and elders groaned,
Maidens and young men became faint,
the beauty of women faded,
Every bridegroom took up the lament;
she who sat in the bridal chamber was mourning.
Even the land shook for its inhabitants,
and all the house of Jacob was clothed with shame.
Two years later the king sent to the cities of Judah a chief tax collector of tribute, and
he came to Jerusalem with a large force. Deceitfully he spoke peaceable words to them,
and they believed him; but he suddenly fell upon the city, dealt it a severe blow and
destroyed many people of Israel. He plundered the city (and) burned it with fire and
tore down its houses and its surrounding walls. And then he took captive the women
and children and seized the cattle. Then he fortified the city of David with a great
strong wall and strong towers and it became their citadel. And they stationed there a

sinful people, lawless men. These strengthened their positions; they stored up arms and
food and collecting the spoils of Jerusalem they stored them there and became a great
It became an ambush against the sanctuary,
an evil adversary of Israel continually.
On every side of the sanctuary they shed innocent blood;
they even defiled the sanctuary.
Because of them the residents of Jerusalem fled;
she became a dwelling of strangers
She became strange to her offspring,
and her children forsook her.
Her sanctuary became desolate as a desert;
her feasts were turned into mourning,
Her Sabbaths into a reproach,
her honor into contempt.
Her dishonor now grew as great as her glory;
her exaltation was turned into mourning.
Then the king wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be one people, and that each
should give up his custom. All the Gentiles accepted the command of the king. Many
even from Israel gladly adopted his religion; they sacrificed to idols and profaned the
Sabbath. And the king sent letters by messengers to Jerusalem and the cities of Judah;
he directed them to follow customs strange to the land, to forbid burnt offerings and
sacrifices and drink offerings in the sanctuary, to profane Sabbaths and feasts, to defile
the sanctuary and the priests, to build altars and sacred precincts and shrines for idols,
to sacrifice swine and unclean animals, and to leave their sons uncircumcised. They
were to make themselves abominable by everything unclean and profane, so that they
should forget the Law and change all ordinances.
And whoever does not obey the command of the king shall die. In such words he
wrote to his whole kingdom. And he appointed inspectors over all the people and
commanded the cities of Judah to offer sacrifice, city by city. Many of the people,

everyone who forsook the Law, joined them, and they did evil in the land; they drove
Israel into hiding in every place of refuge they had erected a desolating sacrilege upon
the altar of burnt offerings. They also built altars in the surrounding cities of Judah,
and burned incense at the doors of the houses and in the streets. The books of the Law
which they found they tore into pieces and burned with fire. Where the book of the
covenant was found in the possession of any one, or if any one adhered to the law, the
decree of the king condemned him to death. They kept using violence against Israel,
against those found month after month in the cities, and on the twenty-fifth day of the
month they offered sacrifice on the altar which was upon the altar of burnt offering.
According to the decree, they put to death the women who had their children
circumcised and their families and those who circumcised them; and they hung the
infants from their mothers necks.
But many in Israel stood firm and were resolved in their hearts not to eat unclean food
or to profane the holy covenant; and they did die. And very great wrath came upon
1 Maccabees 1:11-64
The third witness was also written by the unknown author and is found in the second book of
Maccabees. He said that,
About this time, Antiochus made his second invasion of Egypt. And it happened that
over all the city, for almost forty days there appeared golden-clad horsemen charging
through the air, in companies fully armed with lances and drawn swords - troops of
horsemen drawn up, attacks and counterattacks made on this side and on that,
brandishing of shields, massing of spears, hurling of missiles, the flash of golden
trappings, and armor of all sorts. Therefore, all men prayed that the apparition might
prove to have been a good omen.
When a false rumor arose that Antiochus was dead, Jason took no less than a thousand
men and suddenly made an assault upon the city. When the troops upon the wall had
been forced back and at last the city had been taken, Menelaus took refuge in the
citadel. But Jason kept relentlessly slaughtering his fellow citizens, not realizing that
success at the cost of one's kindred is the greatest misfortune, but imagining that he was
setting up trophies of victory of enemies and not of fellow countrymen. He did not gain

control of the government, however; and in the end got only disgrace from his
conspiracy, and fled again into the country of the Ammonites. Finally he met a
miserable end. Accused before Aretas the ruler of the Arabs, fleeing from city to city,
pursued by all men, hated as a rebel against the laws, and abhorred as the executioner
of his country and his fellow citizens, he was cast ashore in Egypt; and he who had
driven many from his own country into exile died in exile, having embarked to go to the
Lacedaemonians in hope of finding protection because of their kinship. He who had
cast out many to lie unburied had no one to mourn for him; he had no funeral of any
sort and no place in the tomb of his fathers.
When news of what had happened reached the king, he took it to mean that Judea was
in revolt. So, raging inwardly, he left Egypt and took it by storm. And he commanded
his soldiers to cut down relentlessly every one they met and to slay those who went into
the houses. Then there was killing of young and old, destruction of boys, women, and
children, and slaughter of virgins and infants. Within the total of three days eighty
thousand were destroyed, forty thousand in hand-to-hand fighting; and as many were
sold into slavery as were slain.
Not content with this, Antiochus dared to enter the most holy temple in all the world,
guided by Menelaus, who became a traitor both to the laws and to his country. He took
the holy vessels with his polluted hands, and swept away with profane the votive
offerings, which other kings had made to enhance the glory and honor of the place.
Antiochus was elated in spirit, and did not perceive that the Lord was angered for a
little while because of the sins of those who dwelt in the city, and that therefore he was
disregarding the holy place. But if it had not happened that they were involved in many
sins, this man would have been scourged and turned back from his rash act as soon as
he came forward, just as Heliodorus was, whom Seleucus the king sent to inspect the
treasury. But the Lord did not choose the nation for the sake of the holy place, but the
place for the sake of the nation. Therefore, the place itself shared in the misfortunes
that befell the nation and afterward participated in its benefits; and what was forsaken
in the wrath of the Almighty was restored again in all its glory when the Great Lord
became reconciled.
So Antiochus carried off eighteen hundred talents from the temple, and hurried away
to Antioch, thinking in his arrogance that he could sail on the land and walk on the sea,
because his mind was elated. And he left governors to afflict the people at Jerusalem:

Philip by birth a Phrygian and in character more barbarous than the man who
appointed him; and at Gerizim - Andronicus, and besides these Menelaus, who lorded
it over his fellow citizens, was worse than the others. In his malice toward the Jewish
citizens, Antiochus sent Apollonius, the captain of the Mysians with an army of twentytwo thousand and commanded him to slay all the grown men and to sell the women and
boys as slaves. When this man arrived in Jerusalem, he pretended to be peaceably
disposed and waited until the holy Sabbath day; then finding the Jews not at work, he
ordered his men to parade under arms. He put to sword all those who came out to see
him with his armed men and killed great numbers of people.
But Judas Maccabeus with about nine others got away to the wilderness, and kept
himself and his companions alive in the mountains as wild animals do; they continued
to live on what grew wild, so that they might not share in the defilement.
2 Maccabees 5:1-27
It must be emphasized that previously, when Heliodorus attempted to enter the temple treasury, he
was struck with near death.794 He responded to Antiochus that the anyone who entered the sacred
place would be subject to the power of God.795 He continued to say that God, who has His dwelling
in heaven, watches over the Jewish temple personally, brings it aid, and strikes those who come to
injure it. Therefore, when Antiochus later raids the treasury of 1,800 talents, the monarch is
absolutely delighted.796 However, divine judgement would find him later.
In the meantime, the persecution the Jewish people suffered was one of the worst in their long
history of torment, exile, and pogroms. From this era two witnesses recorded the traumatic events
Antiochus inflicted upon the Jewish people. Thousands died heroic deaths as they were loyal to their
faith during his three and a half year reign of terror. The wealthy of Jerusalem fled to families and
friends throughout the land and overseas to escape persecution. But most endured the horrors
described in the second book of Maccabees:

794. Hellerman, Purity and Nationalism in Second Temple Literature: 1-2 Maccabees and Jubilees. 408.
795. 2 Macc. 3:38-39..
796. 2 Macc. 5:17-18.

Not long after this, the king sent an Athenian senator to compel the Jews to forsake the
laws of their fathers and cease to live by the laws of God, and also to pollute the temple
in Jerusalem and call it the temple of Olympian Zeus, and to call the one in Gerizim the
temple of Zeus the Friend of Strangers, as did the people who dwelt in that place.
Harsh and utterly grievous was the onslaught of evil. For the temple was filled with
debauchery and reveling by the Gentiles, who dallied with harlots and had intercourse
with women within the sacred precincts, and besides brought in things for sacrifice that
were unfit. The altar was covered with abominable offerings, which were forbidden by
the laws. A man could neither keep the Sabbath, nor observe the feasts of his fathers,
nor as much as confess himself to be a Jew.
On the monthly celebration of the king's birthday the Jews were taken, under bitter
constraint, to partake of the sacrifices; and when the feast of Dionysus came, they were
compelled to walk in the procession in honor of Dionysus, wearing wreaths of ivy. At
the suggestion of Ptolemy, a decree was issued to neighboring Greek cities, that they
should adopt the same policy toward the Jews and make them partake of the sacrifices,
and should slay those who did not choose to change over to Greek customs. One could
see, therefore, the misery that had come upon them. For example: two women were
brought in for having circumcised their children. These women they publicly paraded
about the city, with their babies hung at their breasts, then hurled them down headlong
from the wall. Others had assembled in the caves nearby to observe the seventh day
secretly were betrayed to Philip and were all burned together, because their piety kept
them from defending themselves, in view of their regard for that most holy day.
Now I urge those who read this book not to be depressed by such calamities, but to
recognize that these punishments were designed not to destroy but to discipline our
people. In fact, not to let the impious alone for long, but to punish them immediately is
a sign of great kindness. For in the case of the other nations the Lord waits patiently to
punish them until they have reached the full measure of their sins; but he does not deal
in this way with us, in order that he may not take vengeance on us afterward when our
sins have reached their height. Therefore, he never withdraws his mercy from us.
Though he disciplines us with calamities; he does not forsake his own people. Let what
we have said serve as a reminder; we must go on briefly with the story.
Eleazar, one of the scribes in high position, a man now advanced in age and of noble
presence, was being forced to open his mouth to eat swine's flesh. But he, welcoming

death with honor rather than life with pollution, went up to the rack of his own accord,
spitting out the flesh, as men ought to go who have the courage to refuse things that it is
not right to taste, even for the natural love of life.
Those who were in charge of that unlawful sacrifice took the man aside, because of
their long acquaintance with him, privately urged him to bring meat of his own
providing, proper for him to use, and pretend that he was eating the flesh of the
sacrificial meal which had been commanded by the king, so that by doing this he might
be saved from death and be treated kindly on account of his old friendship with them.
But making a high resolve, worthy of his years and dignity of his old age and the gray
hairs which he had reached with distinction and his excellent life even from childhood,
and moreover according to the holy God-given law, he declared himself quickly telling
them to send him to Hades.
Such pretense is not worthy of our time of life, he said, lest many of the young
should suppose that Eleazar in his ninetieth year has gone over to an alien religion, and
through my pretense for the sake of living a brief moment longer, they should be led
astray because of me, while I defile and disgrace my old age. For even if for the present
I should avoid the punishment of men, yet whether I live or die I shall not escape the
hands of the Almighty. Therefore, by manfully giving up my life now, I will show
myself worthy of my old age and leave to the young a noble example of how to die a
good death willingly and nobly for the revered and holy laws, when he had said this,
he went at once to that rack. And those who a little before had acted toward him with
good, now changed to ill will because the words he had uttered were in their opinion
sheer madness. When he was about to die under the blows, he groaned aloud and said,
It is clear to the Lord in his holy knowledge that I have been saved from death, I am
enduring terrible sufferings in my body under this beating, but in my soul I am glad to
suffer these things because I fear him.
So in this way he died leaving in his death an example of nobility and a memorial to
courage, not only to the young but to the great body of his nation.
2 Maccabees 6:1-31

The second witness was recorded by Josephus.
When the Samaritans saw the Jews under these sufferings, they no longer confessed
that they were of their kindred, or that the temple on Mount Gerizim belonged to
Almighty God. This was according to their nature ... and now they said they were a
colony of Medes and Persians: and indeed, they were a colony of theirs. So they sent
ambassadors to Antiochus, and an epistle whose contents are these: To King
Antiochus the god, Epiphanes, a memorial from the Sidonians who live at Shechem.
Our forefathers, upon certain frequent plagues and as following a certain ancient
superstition, had a custom of observing that day which the Jews called the Sabbath.
And when they had erected a temple at the mountain called Gerizim though without
name, they had offered upon it the proper sacrifices. Now, upon the just treatment of
these wicked Jews those that manage their affairs supposing that we were of kin to
them, and practiced as they do, make us liable to the same accusation although we are
originally Sidonians as is evident from the public records. We therefore beseech you,
our benefactor and savior, to give order to Apollonius, the governor of this part of the
country, and to Nicanor, the procurator of thy affairs, to give us no disturbance nor to
lay to our charge what the Jews are accused for, since we are aliens from their nation
and from their customs; but let our temple which at present hath no name at all, be
named the temple of Jupiter Hellenius. If this were once done we should be no longer
disturbed, but should be more intent on our own occupation with quietness and so
bring in a greater revenue to thee.
When the Samaritans had partitioned for this, the king sent them back the following
answer in an epistle:
King Antiochus to Nicanor. The Sidonians, who live at Shechem, have sent me
the memorial enclosed. When, therefore, we were advising with our friends
about it, the messengers sent by them represented to us that they were no way
concerned with customs, which belong to the Jews, but choose to live after the
customs of the Greeks. Accordingly, we declare them free from such
accusations, and order that, agreeable to their petition, their temple be named
the temple of Jupiter Hellenius.
He also sent the like epistle to Apollonius, the governor of that part of the country in
the forty-sixth year, and the eighteenth day of the month of Hecatombeon.


Josephus, Antiquities 12.5.5 (257-264)

The Samaritans suffered little because they laid their faith aside and sided with the Syrian-Greeks.797
Consequently, the Jews hated them passionately.798 Furthermore, the Jews had enough problems with
their own brethren who betrayed the faith to escape persecution. Soon there was Jewish antiSemitism as orthodox Jews argues and fought against their Hellenized brothers. Clearly, the second
century B.C. was one of immense social strife and bitterness. This simply underscored the need for
the messiah to come quickly and defeat the pagan enemies, establish peace and national freedom, and
restore their pride.
03.04.20 167 B.C. The Maccabean Revolt; Hanukkah 25 Years of Military Battles and
Guerrilla Wars Begins
The Maccabean Revolt was a revolt led by orthodox Jews against their Syrian-Greek dictators.
However, at this point it is important to clarify the name Maccabean. There are two traditions
concerning its origin. One states that the leader of the revolt was given the nickname, Maccabeus
or Maccabee, in Hebrew meaning the Hammer.799 However, the more popular origin of the name
is that the priestly family raised a military standard with the initials of their motto that was derived
from Genesis 15:11. The verse reads, Who is like unto you among the gods, O Lord? The Hebrew
words are, Mi Camoka Baelim Jehovah; from which the letters M C B I were derived, creating the
name Macabi or Maccabee. Whenever the name Maccabee was mentioned, the Jews were in
essence reciting the passage of Moses. It eventually became the surname of the family.800 But the
terms Hasmonean and Maccabean are often used interchangeably.
There is little question that the most significant event of the Inter-Testamental Period was the
Maccabean Revolt an incredible victory of Jewish farmers over a professionally trained Greek
army with 32 war elephants. Antiochus had taken his cruel method of conversion to Hellenism into
distant villages. When his generals arrived at the village of Modiin, they discovered the people
were ready to revolt. Nonetheless, the soldiers demanded the Jews sacrifice a pig to Zeus. When a
Jewish priest named Mattathias refused to carry out the order, another Jew offered to perform the
797. Local Syrians who adopted the Greek culture.
798. Josephus, Antiquities. 12.5.2-4.
799. Metzger, New Testament. 20-21; Hachlili, Jewish Funerary Customs, Practices and Rites in the Second Temple Period. 206.
800. Blaikie, A Manuel of Bible History. 395.

pagan act. Mattathias became so outraged that he killed him, as well as the commanding officer.
Thereupon he shouted to his fellow men, Every one of you who is zealous for the Law and strives to
maintain the Covenant, follow me (1 Macc. 2:27). Those famous words began the Maccabean
Revolt and the eventual defeat of Greek domination.
A century and a half later when Jesus was in ministry, the descendants of Mattathias, a/k/a the
Hasmonean family were also known as the Sadducees, controlled the temple and were puppets of the
Roman political system. A very interesting passage that reads is if it was from a newspaper of that
time, is found in the first book of Maccabees:
In those days Mattathias the son of John, son of Simeon, a priest of the sons of Joarib,
moved from Jerusalem and settled in Modiin. He had five sons, John surnamed Gaddi,
Simon called Thassi, Judas called Maccabeus, Eleazar called Avaran, and Jonathan
called Apphus. He saw the blasphemies being committed in Judah and Jerusalem, and
Alas, why was I born to see this?
The ruin of my people, the ruin of the holy city,
And to dwell there when it was given over to the enemy,
The sanctuary given over to aliens?
Her temple had become like a man without honor;
Her glorious vessels have been carried into captivity.
Her babes have been killed in the streets,
her youths by the sword of the foe,
What nation has not inherited her palaces
and has not seized her spoils?
All her adornment has been taken away;
no longer free, she has become a slave.
And behold, our holy place, our beauty,
and our glory have been laid waste;
The Gentiles have profaned it.
Why should we live any longer?

And Mattathias and his sons rent their clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned greatly.
Then the kings officers who were enforcing the apostasy came to the city of Modiin to
make them offer sacrifice. Many from Israel came to them; and Mattathias and his sons
were assembled. Then the kings officers spoke to Mattathias as follows: You are a
leader, honored, and great in this city, and supported by sons and brothers. Now be the
first to come and do what the king commands, as all the Gentiles and the men of Judah
and those left in Jerusalem have done. Then you and your sons will be numbered
among the friends of the king, and you and your sons will be honored with silver and
gold and many gifts.
But Mattathias answered and said in a loud voice: Even if all the nations that live
under the rule of the king obey him, and have chosen to obey his commandments,
departing each one from the religion of his fathers, yet I and my sons and my brothers
will live by the covenant of our fathers. Far be it from us to desert the Law and the
ordinances. We will not obey the kings words by turning aside from our religion to the
right hand or to the left.
When he had finished speaking these words, a Jew came forward in the sight of all to
offer sacrifice upon the altar in Modiin, according to the kings command. When
Mattathias saw it he burned with zeal and his heart was stirred. He gave vent to
righteous anger; he ran and killed him upon the altar. At the same time he killed the
kings officer who was forcing them to sacrifice and he tore down the altar. Thus, he
burned with zeal for the law, as Phinehas did against Zimri the son of Salu.
Then Mattathias cried out in the city with a loud voice, saying: Let everyone who is
zealous for the Law and supports the covenant come out with me! And he and his sons
fled to the hills and left all they had in the city.
1 Maccabees 2:1-28
When the Jews fled to the hills, the Syrian-Greeks pursued them and attempted to make them
surrender, but they refused. However, the Syrian-Greeks knew that the Jews honored the Sabbath
and would not work or fight on that day. So they waited and attacked on the Sabbath, and when the
massacre was over, thousands lay dead.801
801. 1 Macc. 2:29-38.

When Mattathias and his friends heard of this, they mourned greatly and convinced all of the others
that it was better to fight on the Sabbath. Shortly thereafter, Mattathias placed his son Judas who
continued with the nickname, the Hammer, in charge of the army which fought guerilla warfare.
The Greeks countered with a professionally trained army. Accompanied by the Samaritans, they were
on the march to kill every Jew they could find. The narrative reflects unequal sides similar to the
confrontation between the famous David and Goliath conflict and the astounding victory God gave to
the Jews at the Battle of Beth-Horon.802
But Apollonius gathered together Gentiles and a large force from Samaria to fight
against Israel. When Judas learned of it, he went out to meet him and he defeated and
killed him. Many were wounded and fell, and the rest fled. Then they seized their
spoils; and Judas took the sword of Apollonius and used it in battle the rest of his life.
1 Maccabees 2:10-12
This small, but important, victory gave great encouragement to the small band of rag-tag freedom
fighters, some of whom only had plowshares for swords. When Seron, the commander of the Syrian
army, heard this, he decided to challenge them with a company of thousands. Upon hearing this,
Judas was questioned about accepting the challenge, since his men had no food.
Judas replied, It is easy for many to be hemmed in by few, for in the sight of heaven
there is no difference between saving by many or by few. It is not on the size of the
army that victory in battle depends, but strength comes from heaven. They come
against us in great pride and lawlessness to destroy us and our wives and our children,
and to despoil us. But we fight for our lives and our laws. He himself will crush them
before us; as for you, do not be afraid of them.
1 Maccabees 3:18-22
The battle against Seron, the Syrian, was the first major victory for Judas. His name struck a chord
of fear in the hearts of Antiochus and other Greeks. The enemy had a loss of eight hundred men and
many more ran to hide in the hills. Upon hearing of the Jewish victories and the many deserters from

802. Metzger, Goldstein, and Ferguson. Great Events of Bible Times. 124.

his army, Antiochus was greatly disturbed. He decided to pay his men a bonus of a year's salary, but
discovered that, because of his mismanagement of the government, he had almost no funds.803
Again, the Greeks prepared for an attack. This time Antiochus established a huge army of forty
thousand men and seven thousand cavalry.804 When Judas heard of the coming attack, he gathered
the men of Israel together to call upon God for deliverance. The author of First Maccabees preserved
for us the details:
So they assembled and went to Mizpah, opposite of Jerusalem, because Israel formerly
had a place of prayer in Mizpah. They fasted all that day, put on sackcloth and
sprinkled ashes on their heads, and rent their clothes. And they opened the book of the
Law to inquire into those matters about which Gentiles were consulting the images of
their idols. They also brought the garments of the priesthood and the first fruits and
the tithes, and they stirred up the Nazirites who had completed their days; and they
cried aloud to heaven, saying:
What shall we do with these?
Where shall we take them?
Thy sanctuary is trampled down and profaned,
and thy priests mourn in humiliation.
And behold, the Gentiles are assembled against us to destroy us;
thou knowest that they plot against us.
How will we be able to withstand them,
if thou dost not help us?
Then they sounded the trumpets and gave a loud shout. After this Judas appointed
leaders of the people, in charge of thousands and hundreds and fifties and tens. And he
said to those who were building houses, or were betrothed, or were planting vineyards,
or were fainthearted, that each should return to his home, according to the law. Then
the army marched out and encamped to the south of Emmaus.
803. 1 Macc. 3:22-37.
804. Historians seem to disagree in the size of the military units Antiochus had, but regardless, they greatly outnumbered the

And Judas said, Gird yourselves and be valiant. Be ready early in the morning to
fight with these Gentiles who have assembled against us to destroy us and our
sanctuary. It is better for us to die in battle than to see the misfortunes of our nation
and of the sanctuary. But as his will in heaven be, so he will do.
1 Maccabees 3:46-60
As Judas and his homespun soldiers prepared for battle, he spoke words of a future echo of the
Lords Prayer. He prayed, But as His will in heaven be, so He will do ... Jesus frequently used
terms and phrases that were already in common use by the people, that is, first and always to honor
God. As history unfolded, God answered the prayers of Judas.
At daybreak, the Greeks appeared with five thousand infantry, a thousand cavalry,805 and thirty-two
elephants accustomed to war, all with the finest armor, while Judas only had three thousand foot
farmer-soldiers without sufficient armor and swords. They were so pathetically ill equipped that
only a profound miracle could give them victory. When the enemy came into view, Judas said to his
Do not fear their numbers or be afraid when they charge. Remember how our fathers
were saved at the Red Sea when Pharaoh with his forces pursued them. And now let us
cry to heaven, to see whether He (God) will favor us and remember His covenant with
our fathers and crush this army before us today. Then all the Gentiles will know that
there is one who redeems and saves Israel.
When the foreigners looked up and saw them coming against them, they went forth
from their camp to battle. Then the men of Judah blew their trumpets and engaged in
battle. The Gentiles were crushed and fled into the plain, and all those in the rear fell
by the sword.
1 Maccabees 4:6-15

805. Historians seem to disagree in the size of the military units Antiochus had, but regardless, they greatly outnumbered the


03.04.20.A. A COIN OF KING ANTIOCHUS VI. A rare coin with serated edge
shows the head of Antiochus as Dionysos (right) and a war elephant on the left.
Antiochus VI ruled from 145-142 B.C. Internet photograph.806
Judas had become a key figure in the salvation of Israel, equal to many of the biblical figures. He
had unified the nation as there was a deep passion for freedom and national independence. Men and
women were willing to lay down their lives at his command because they knew God was with him.
In the following year, however, the enemy was on the march again.
By now the Hellenistic Jews and Samaritans were fighting with the Seleucids against the Hasidim.
The number of Greeks with their mercenary soldiers from other countries who were involved is
staggering. At times the armies numbered in the tens of thousands.807 Yet miraculously, Lysias was
defeated. He returned to Antioch in Syria, where he attempted to enlist foreign mercenaries and
build a larger army.
In the meantime, Judas took his little victorious army to the temple upon Mount Zion where they saw
the destruction and lamented. After three years of bloodshed, the Maccabees recaptured the temple.
They rebuilt the altar, cleansed the temple and instituted a blameless priest who was devoted to the
806. http://www.edgarlowen.com/a55/b7729.jpg.
807. 1 Maccabees 6 reports an army of 100,000 infantry and 20,000 calvary, which may have been exaggerated, although larger
armies have been verified.

Mosaic Law. Early on the morning of the twenty-fifth day of the month of Chislev, (December 14,
164 B.C.) they again offered sacrifices and celebrated the dedication of the temple for eight days.808
As the story or legend goes, when the Jews re-entered the temple to cleanse it, there was only enough
olive oil to light the temple menorah and keep it burning for one day. But a miracle occurred the
menorah kept burning for eight days. That was enough time to crush fresh olives and press them to
extract extra virgin olive oil to resupply the lamps. However, there is no mention of this miracle in
the Inter-Testamental writings, and Josephus, near the end of the first century (A.D.) said,
Now Judas celebrated the festival of the restoration of the sacrifices of the temple for
eight days; and omitted no sort of pleasures thereon: but he feasted them upon very
rich and splendid sacrifices and he honored God, and delighted them by hymns and
psalms.And from that time to this we celebrate this festival and call it Lights. I
suppose the reason was, because this liberty beyond our hopes appeared to us; and that
thence was the name given to that festival.
Josephus, Antiquities 12.7.7 (323, 325)
So obviously Josephus was not aware of any miracle, and suggests the possibility that the name
Light was given to the festival because God had given them a light of hope when all seemed to be
hopeless. This was a time of joyous freedom and the Jews praised God for their incredible victory.809
This celebration has been commemorated as the Feast of Dedication810 and was celebrated by Jesus
(Jn. 10:22-23).811 Today it is known as Hanukkah, a word derived from the a Hebrew word that
means to dedicate. The temple had been cleansed and was operational again, but the war was still
not over.
Upon hearing that the Jews had rebuilt their altar and dedicated their temple, the Greeks became
angry and killed Jews in nearby communities. They strengthened their forces when the Samaritans
and Idumeans joined them.812 But when Judas Maccabeus heard of this, he made war on them and
dealt them heavy casualties. In the meantime, Antiochus went to Babylon to gather funds to again
808. 1 Macc. 4:52-56.
809. 1 Macc. 4:34-61.
810. Barabas, Feasts. 6:690-92. This was not one of the seven Jewish feasts
811. Franz, Jesus Celebrates Hanukkah. 116-19.
812. See 02.01.17 Idumeans.

try to kill the Jews. However, when he had heard that Lysias was defeated, he became very
discouraged and depressed. Shortly thereafter, he died, and his son Antiochus II became the new
king.813 The entire military episode of the Jewish-Greek conflict was summarized with this
statement, which parallels the victories of the Old Testament era.
For it was the day of the Sabbath, and for that reason they did not continue their
pursuit. And when they had collected the arms of the enemy and stripped them of their
spoils, they kept the Sabbath, giving praise and thanks to the Lord, who had preserved
them for that day and allotted it to them as the beginning of mercy.
1 Maccabees 8:26-27
Finally, the lighting of the lamp in the temple on the 24th day of Kislev was seen as a prophetic
fulfillment of the words of the prophet Haggai, who in 520 B.C., said this:814

Consider carefully from this day forward; from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth
month, from the day the foundation of the LORDs temple was laid; consider it
carefully.19 Is there still seed left in the granary? The vine, the fig, the pomegranate,
and the olive tree have not yet produced. But from this day on I will bless you.
Haggai 2:18-19
03.04.21 164 B.C. Greek Persecution Ends, Limited Jewish Independence Begins
Following their incredible victory, localized fighting continued for another twenty years to remove
the remaining loyalists. Essentially, the Jews were free. As word of the new freedom spread
throughout the world, some chose to return to the land God had promised them. While this gave
credence to the prophecies of Ezekiel and Isaiah, many others had become wealthy in foreign lands
and chose not to return.

813. 1 Macc. 5 & 6.

814. The prophecy becomes even more amazing when considering that on that day in 1917, General Edmund Allenby
captured Jerusalem from the Turkish Empire without a shot being fired and in even an injury to a single soldier. Orthodox
Jews recognize that event of December 9, 1917, as another fulfillment of Haggais prophecy.

Finally, the Jewish people now had the opportunity to read the prophetic book of Daniel and realize
that some of his prophecies were literally fulfilled.815 Antiochus IV Epiphanes came and went, just as
predicted. So likewise, Daniels words of a coming Messiah would be literally fulfilled.

815. For further study, see McFall, Leslie. Do the Sixty-nine Weeks of Daniel Date the Messianic Mission of Nehemiah or
Jesus? 673-718.


Unit 03
Historical Background
Chapter 05
Jewish Sovereignty And Roman Conquest
(c. 164 B.C. A.D. 70)

03.05.00.A. SEA-GOING SHIPS OF HASMONEAN DAYS by Jacob S. Golub.

1929. The Jewish kings of the Inter-Testamental Period had sea-going vessels that
were used for both military and freight transport. They never dominated the eastern
Mediterranean Sea and were soon surpassed by the rise of the Roman Empire.

03.05.01 Introduction
The Maccabean Revolt began with a quest for religious freedom, but in the course of time, the Jews
pursued only political freedom. The precise date when Jewish sovereignty began is difficult to
determine as it varied from area to area. While there was a dramatic improvement that began in 164
B.C. when Jerusalem and the temple came under complete Jewish control. But they were not
completely free from foreign control in all areas of Israel for another two decades.
Although there were pockets of Syrian resistance, generally there was freedom from oppression and
the people quickly began to prosper. Taxes were paid by goods that into the land by shipping as well
as international camel caravans. In fact, the Jewish merchant marine sailed to nearly every port that
belted the Mediterranean Sea.816 Little wonder then, that years later, Herod the Great who was known
world-wide for his architectural wonders, built a three-story ship so he and his friends could sail to
However, as the common people would soon discover, their leaders were nearly as corrupt as those
who had previously been their overlords. Jews crucifyed Jews. Capital punishment in Jewish history
was supposed to be quick and without unnecessary agony.818 But instead, murder, theft, and the
abuse by the religious authority are only some of the vices that permeated the leadership. Righteous
men and women were horrified to see widespread unJewish behavior by their own. They earnestly
prayed for their long-awaited messiah to come.

816. In the maritime commerce of ancient Middle East, Israel is referred to as either a land bridge to be crossed by a military
conqueror, or a people group. Various empires dominated the Mediterranean Sea, but the Israel, or the Hasmoneans, was
never among them. Nonetheless, the maritime activities of the Jews are found in various extra-biblical sources such as 1 Macc.
8:23-28; 13:25-29. See also Hachlili, Jewish Funerary Customs, Practices and Rites in the Second Temple Period. 148-50 concerning
graffiti of ships found in tombs.
817. Josephus, Antiquities. 14.14.3.
818. In the first half of the second century B.C., one of the most shocking crucifixions occurred when the wicked priest
Alcimus reportedly had his uncle, the righteous Jose ben Joezer, crucified. The people were shocked in disbelief of this
horrendous act. See Genesis Rabbah 65:22 (Albeck, ed., p. 742); Midrash on Psalms 11:7; cf. 1 Macc. 7:16.

Yet with the news of Jewish freedom spreading throughout the Diaspora, many foreign Jews, such as
those in Babylon, decided to return to their Promised Land. Most settled in Galilee, a region that was
severely devasted centuries earlier by the Asyrians. While there were a few Gentile inhabitants, for
the most part it was barren and became known as Galilee of the Gentiles (who destroyed it).819 In
fact, to confirm the absence of Gentiles living in this area, it is significant that archaeologists have
uncovered numerous villages that had no evidence of pig bones a sure sign of Jewish
occupation.820 Pig bones are always found in the ruins of Gentile communities. Now thousands were
migrating into the region of rich farmland.821 So many came in the second century that Josephus
said that a countless multitude came from Galilee and other areas to Jerusalem at Pentecost,822 and
that they did so by going through Samaria.823 A growing number of scholars believe that in spite of
the political, military, and economic crises in Eretz Israel (the land of Israel), the Jewish people
maintained a majority over Gentile and Samaritan populations in the first centuries B.C. and A.D.824
Yet while the little Jewish state was trying to re-establish itself, it was sandwiched as the frontier of
two opposing super powers: the Romans and Parthians. To the west, the Roman Empire was
expanding quickly by belting the Mediterranean Sea and spreading into Europe. To the East, the
Parthian Empire was growing to include large portions of India and surrounding areas. The little
Jewish enclave was where the two would meet on the land bridge that connects three continents.
As if the influences of the Greek culture had not challenged the Jews enough, now they were the
subject of two competing tug-of-war empires.
The significance of this era is that the Maccabean family estyablished itself as the governing dynasty,
and would continue to dominate the Jewish people until the Roman conquest in 63 B.C. Shortly after
that conquest, Herod the Great was appointed by Rome to be king of the Jews. His success was due,
in part, to his marriage with Mariamne, a Hasmonean (Maccabean) princess (see the House of the
Maccabees Family Tree below).

819. Isa. 9:1; 1 Macc. 5:15; Mt. 4:15.

820. Reed, Archaeology. 47; Dunn, Did Jesus Attend the Synagogue? 208-10.
821. See Galilee of the Gentiles in 06.01.08.
822. Josephus, Antiquities 20.6.1 and Wars 2.12.3.
823. Josephus, Antiquities 17.10.2 and Wars 2.3.1.
824. Cohen, The Attitude to the Gentile in the Halakhah and in Reality in the Tannaitic Period. 35.



Maccabean Dynasty, also known as the House of the Maccabees, this family dynasty
was instrumental in the successful Maccabean Revolt and their descendants
eventually became known as the Sadducees. Courtesy of International Mapping and
Dan Przywara.

03.05.02 164 B.C. December; Temple Consecrated; Sanhedrin Resumes
On the 25th day of Kislev, 164 B.C. the temple was consecrated and God honored for His divine
intervention.825 Israel was never more vividly conscious of the living God in their presence at any
other time in the Inter-Testamental Period. Although they had not heard from a prophet in more than
two centuries, His presence was unmistakable as another miracle took place.826
The dedication of the temple was a time of great joy and celebration. But it was more than a
dedication celebration it was the Feast of tabernacles that had been delayed for three months due to
the political situation.827 That is why it was an eight day event the Feast was always an eight day
celebration of God with us or God living among His people. In the process of preparing for the
sacred service, the priests discovered they only had enough olive oil for the temple lamps to burn for
two days. As the eight-day festival continued, they realized that God multiplied the oil to last until
additional oil could be pressed and the temple dedicated. This miraculous event became known as
the Feast of Dedication and was celebrated by Jesus in John 10:22.
With the dedication, the Sanhedrin functioned with greater freedom and served in both legislative
and judicial roles. Therefore, kings did not have complete authority unless they also controlled the
high priest who functioned as the Sanhedrin president. In Hebrew, the organization is known as
Hever Hayelhudin, and the word Sanhedrin, is in reality, the Greek translation.828 As was previously
stated, the revolt came to an end, the Hasmonean family that started the uprising established itself in
both the priesthood and kingship position. These positions were essentially captured without regard
to the fact that the family was not of King Davids royal descendancy, nor was it from the Zadokite

825. http://www.myjewishlearning.com/holidays/Jewish_Holidays/Hanukkah/History.shtml. Retrieved September 20, 2014.

826. Gilbrant, John. 295.
827. Fruchtenbaum, The Jewish Foundation of the Life of Messiah: Instructors Manual. Class 17, page 9.
828. Golub, In the Days. 160.
829. New International Version Archaeological Study Bible. (notes) 1704.


03.05.03 162 B.C. Hellenized Jews Kill 60 Hasidim Jews

Some scholars today believe the Hasidim were probably the closest religious group to biblical
Judaism.830 And the Hellenistic Jews did not care for them in the slightest. Alcimus, the High Priest
of the temple had 60 Hasidim Jews crucified for being obedient to the Torah and objecting to him.
Among those martyred was Jose ben Joezer, a priestly scribe (1 Macc. 7:16). These executions
reflect the civil unrest and hatred between Jewish sects throughout the country. The century of
Jewish independence (165 63 B.C.) was like the book of Judges, or like the wild, wild American
west in the 19th century. Some leading Jewish families of the high priesthood adopeded Greek names
such as Jason and Menelaus that horrified orthodox Jews.831 It was not simply that they had
Jewish names, but that they identified themselves more with the pagan Greek culture than with their
own Jewish faith and heritage. The significance of that identity change greatly diminished in later
years as the use of Greek and Hebrew names became more commonplace. Yet, the influence of
Hellenism created Jewish anti-Semitism as had never been experienced.
03.05.04 153 B.C. Jonathan the High Priest and Governor, Jewish Anti-Semitism Grows
Jonathan, of the freedom-fighting Maccabean family, took the position of high priest. This was with
full disregard of the fact that the Maccabean family belonged to the Jehoiarib division of priests and,
therefore, was not eligible for the office. While in this position, he also held the offices of governor
as well as military dictator. While the Jewish people rejoiced in the victory afforded them, they were
saddened that their the power-grab of leadership. This set the stage for the Maccabean dynasty, a/k/a
the Hasmonean dynasty since Jonathan was a son of Mattathias, a son of the priest Hasmon.
Scholars strongly believe that the term wicked priest found in the Dead Sea Scrolls refers to this

830. Safrai, The Jewish Cultural Nature of Galilee in the Frist Century. 180.
831. Goodman. Under the Influence. 62.

Soon the Hasmonean rulers began persecution against other Jews, namely members of the Zadok
dynasty who were the only legitimate Jews who could offer sacrifices in the temple and serve as
High Priest. As a result, the remainder of the Zadok clan moved into the desert wilderness near
Damascus to join others who had relocated there some three decades earlier. By the 120s B.C., the
descendants of the powerful Hasmoneans became known as the Sadducees while the descendants of
the Zadok Dynasty became known as the Essenes. These two groups hated each other as much as
they later hated the new believers of the Christian movement. Since many Essenes lived near
Damascus in the first century (A.D.), it is very possible that Saul (later known as the Apostle Paul)
chose to go to the Syrian capital to kill both Essenes and Christians. While all this theological
violence was going on, the Sadducees and Pharisees emerged as rival religious parties in the
03.05.05 143-135 B.C. Maccabean Revolt Ended, Simon Reigned
Simon Maccabee was the first of a series of Hasmonean rulers who controlled the leadership and he
reigned for eight years (143-135 B.C.). The revolt officially ended in May 142 B.C., but true
independence was yet to be attained. He cleaned up pockets of resistance and, while the Jews were
no longer fighting major military battles and had complete religious freedom, they were required to
pay taxes to the Seleucids in Damascus, Syria. The latter part of his monarchy was a time of
welcomed peace and prosperity.
All sides became tired and exhausted of the fighting. Syria still controlled some of the Jewish areas,
but with Antiochus IV Epiphanes gone and life had improved drastically. The last years of Simons
reign were the most prosperous and peaceful after many years of war and hardships. In recognition of
the achievements and Simon and his brothers, the nation declared Simon to be the hereditary high
priest and ruler of Judaea. The people gave him the honored title of Simon the Just (1 Macc.
14:41). Simon was made prince as well as high priest until a time that a faithful priest would arise.
In essence, he filled the position of high priest merely so it would not be vacant.833 The future looked
bright and promising, but that was about to change.
Then Simon and his family were invited to a banquet in Jericho that was offered by his son-in-law
Ptolemy. Ptolemy used the occasion to assassinate the entire family. John Hyrcanus, the third son of
Simon, heard of the plot, and barely escaped with his life. It had become evident that life under
Jewish monarchy would be little different than under the pagans. The promise of peace was gone.
832. Wilkinson, Jerusalem as Jesus Knew It. 68.
833. Geikie, The Life and Words. 1:132, 549; Josephus, Antiquities 12.2.5.

The major accomplishment of the Maccabean Revolt was that,
1. It destroyed the yoke of bondage and terror previously institutionalized by Antiochus IV
2. Gentile anti-Semitism and forced worship of pagan gods ended.
It must be noted that the revolt
1. Was not against Hellenism in general. Many Jews did not reject Hellenism, but rather,
they desired to have their religious freedom as well as the pleasures of the Greeks. This is
evidenced by the fact that Hasmonean leaders struck Greek coins, assumed Greek names,
and were not even interested in purging the Greek gods and culture from Jewish society.

2. Did not eliminate pagan shrines throughout the land. Pockets of pagan worship continued
to thrive, and in fact, increased later during the reign of Herod the Great. Some scholars
believe that this included the Shrine of Asclepius, a Greek healing deity that was situated
outside the city wall.
3. In terms of history, Nazareth is a rather new village. Archaeologists have uncovered
evidence of an active but small community dating to the Canaanites in the Middle Bronze
age. But apparently the village was abandoned for unknown reasons and remained desolate
for more than a thousand years.834 Then, in the second century B. C., came the Maccabean
Revolt, at which time Aristobulus the Maccabean conquered Galilee to Judaize it. With
newly won victory in hand, the Jewish people believed their homeland was a place of
religious freedom without foreign domination. This was the motivation for a migration of
Babylonian Jews, some of whom resettled the village of Nazareth.835
834. Meyers and Strange. Archaeology, the Rabbis and Early Christianity. 57.
835. Kopp, The Holy Places of the Gospels. 52.

While the numbers of this immigration was rather small, some scholars believe that among
them were the ancestors of Joseph and Mary. Some scholars belive that the descendants of
the Davidic clan lived first in Kochaba (Batanea) and then relocated to Nazareth.836 After the
destruction of the temple and Jerusalem, one of the twenty-four courses837 settled in
Nazareth. For these Jewish refugees to have considered relocating there, the village must
have had a reputation for being an all-Jewish conservative community. It eventually died out
in the fourth century A.D.838
4. The Maccabees captured the imagination of the nation and gave them a vision and hope
for a redeemer who would liberate them from cultural and political influences. The word
redeemer to the first century Jew did not have the spiritual implication that it has today for
Christians, but rather, it was one who was sent by God for political and social freedom.
The invasion of Hellenism into the Jewish culture made profound changes in the religious landscape.
If the Greeks had not come, religious groups such as the Sadducees, Pharisees, and the Essenes
would never have developed. The intense bitter hostilities between these religious rivals continued
throughout the days of Jesus.

836. Eusebuis, Ecclesiastical History. 1.7.14; Pixner, With Jesus Through Galilee. 125. Some scholars believe that Nazareth did not
become a significant community until after the Maccabean Revolt, even though some archaeological evidence (pottery pieces)
uncovered there has been dated to the iron age. For further study, see the website for Associates for Biblical Research, as
well as Grisanti, Recent Archaeological Discoveries that Lend Credence to the Historicity of the Scriptures. 475-98.
837. The term course refers to a group of priests who served in the temple twice a year for two weeks each time. During
the spring Passover and fall Tabernacles festivals all twenty-four courses, or groups, of priests were in service. Deut. 16:16;
Ex. 23:14-17; 34:20, 23-24.
838. Meyers and Strange. Archaeology, the Rabbis and Early Christianity. 57.



DOMINATION (2ND CENTURY B.C.). This map shows that the Hasmoneans
expanded their territory into Gentile areas. It also identifies Modin, located between
Jerusalem and Joppa (Jaffa) that was the home of the Maccabean family that initiated
the Maccabean Revolt. Courtesy of International Mapping and Dan Przywara.

03.05.06 135-63 B.C. True Independence; Rule of the Hasmoneans

With the Greeks defeated, the Jewish people had complete freedom. The Maccabean family gained
control of the temple in 164 B.C. and complete control of the land by 135 B.C. Except for a few
short periods when the Pharisees ruled, the Hasmoneans (eventually known as the Sadducees)

continued control until the Roman conquest in 63 B.C. Under Roman rule, the Sadducees controlled
the temple until its destruction in A.D. 70. While the Maccabees/ Hasmoneans were descendants
from the tribe of Levi, they placed various individuals in positions of power regardless of their
ancestry a violation of the Mosaic code. But something wasnt quite right. National sovereignty
in ancient history was defined as follows:
1. People did not have to pay tribute (taxes) to any foreign overlord.
2. People had the opportunity to prosper, and in a limited sense were a self-determining
But as the Jews discovered, most of their leaders were just as corrupt as were their foreign overlords.
It did not take long for the common people, who had been oppressed by foreigners, to be oppressed
by their own leaders. In this miserable state, they cried out to God for a messiah who would deliver
them from the oppression of their own dictators. Below is a list of their rulers.839

143-135 B.C.

John Hyrcanus

135-104 B.C.840

Aristobulus I

104-103 B.C.841

Alexander Jannaeus

103-76 B.C.842

Alexandra Salome

76-67 B.C.843

Aristobulus II,844 Hyrcanus845 67-63 B.C.

Hyrcanus II

63-40 B.C.846 (Puppet king of Rome)


40-37 B.C.847 (Puppet king of Rome)

839. For a list of terms of service of the Annas family temple priests and selected first century Roman rulers, see Appendix 1.
840. Josephus, Antiquities 13.10.7; See also the writings of an unknown author in 1 Maccabees 16.
841. Josephus, Antiquities 13.11.3; Wars. 1.3.
842. Josephus, Antiquities 13.11.5; Wars 1.4.
843. Josephus, Antiquities 13.11.6; Wars 1.5.
844. Josephus, Antiquities 14.1-4; Wars. 1.6-7.
845. Josephus, Antiquities 13.16.2; 14.1.3 3.2.
846. Josephus, Antiquities 14.5-13; Wars 1.8-13.

After the last Hasmonean ruler, Antigonus, Herod the Great took control. It is noteworthy to
recognize that while the Jews believed they could now resurrect the former glory of King David, that
dream never materialized. The leaders of the revolt created their multi-purpose monarch who served
as king, priest (or appointed a priest) and military general. Their dynasty would be filled with
corruption, murder, and deceit. With the exception of the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the
common people were in no better position than with an ordinary pagan ruler.
After a long hard-fought struggle to gain freedom from the Greeks, the Hasmoneans were not about
to subject themselves to a foreign power again. So they constructed a series of seven fortresses at
strategic locations for protection and signal communication.848 For example, daytime smoke signals
and nighttime fire signals at the Machaerus fortress, east of the Dead Sea, were visible from all other
fortresses including the fortress beside the temple in Jerusalem.849 In fact, smoke from the temple
altar was visible at Machaerus,850 and priests would regularly go to the pinnacle of the temple at
sundown on Fridays, and by a fire flare, declare the beginning of Shabbat. That fire signal was
relayed and within a few moments every village in the land knew that the day of rest had begun.
However, to irritate the Jews, the Samaritans from time to time sent out a false signal.851 Little
wonder then, that there was no great love between Jews and Samaritans during the days of Jesus.
Years later, during the reign of Herod the Great, these fortresses would play a significant role in
maintaining peace in a tension-filled country. The Hasmoneans built a massive defense system which
Herod expanded, and the foundations of the military hostile environment in which Jesus ministered
were established at this time.

847. Josephus, Antiquities 14.14-16; Wars 1.14-18.

848. The seven major fortresses are: (1) the Alexandrium (also known as Alexandreion or Sartaba) in the Jordan Valley to
defend the northern region, (2) Masada border palace fortress in the southern region, (3, 4) the Doq and the Cypros (Kypros)
border fortresses that overlooked Jericho, (5) the Hyrcania Prison fortress, (6) the Machaerus, on the eastern edge of the
Dead Sea, and (7) in Jerusalem, a palace-fortress beside the temple, that was later renamed by Herod the Great as the Antonia
Fortress. Some fortresses, such as the Herodian, were his in original contruction while he modified other fortresses such as
the Antonia, Masada, and Machaerus. For more information on Herods fortresses, see Samuel Rocca, The Forts of Judaea 168
BC-AD 70. New York / London: Osprey Publishing 2008. See location map at 03.05.26.Z.
849. Voros, Machaerus: Where Salome Danced. 33-34.
850. Mishnah, Tamid. 3.8.
851. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament. 2:113.


03.05.07 135-104 B.C. Rule of John Hyrcanus; Samaritan Temple Destroyed

John Hyrcanus ruled Israel/Judaea (the provinces of Galilee, Judea, Samaria, Perea, and Idumea) 852
and desired to purify the Jewish state of foreign influences. He no sooner took control when he
was threatened by an invasion of a new Syrian ruler who besieged Jerusalem and almost captured it
by starving the people to death. A treaty was finally agreed to that included a sum of money that was
paid to Damascus. Shortly thereafter, the king was killed and Hyrcanus had no problems with the
Syrian Greeks again.
He now could concentrate on making the Holy Land a holy land, or at least as he believed it should
be. His goal was to either exterminate or drive out non-Jewish religions and their influences. He
pursued and killed remnants of the Seleucid dynasty, unless they converted to Judaism which
included circumcision. In 128 B.C. he captured the two principal cities of Samaria and Shechem,
and destroyed the Samaritan temple.853 Whatever was left or rebuilt was destroyed by his two sons,
Aristobulus and Antigonus in 108-107 BC, who also sold hundreds, if not thousands, into slavery.854
Archaeologists have uncovered the burn-layer of the temple ruins, along with arrowheads, swords,
daggers as well as stone and lead balls once used as missiles thrown by shepherds slings.855 Since
the Samaritans were weak at this time, they could offer no effective opposition.

852. Some ancient writers use the term Judea in the broadest sense. Examples are found in Pliny the Elder, Natural History,
5.15.70; Strabo, Geographia, 16.4.21; and Dio Sassius, Roman History, 37.15.2. In the days of Jesus, Perea was often referred to
as the region of Judea across the Jordan.
853. Metzger, New Testament. 22; Note: Some sources date the destruction to 111/110 B.C.
854. Josephus, Wars 1.2.7. See Zangenberg, Between Jerusalem and Samaria. 427-28.
855. http://archaeologynewsreport.blogspot.com/2012/04/samaritans-temple-history-and-new.html. August 20, 2013.


Hyrcanus extended Jewish rule east of the Jordan River and as far south as Edom, which included
the ancient city of Petra, and forced conversions and circumcisions of the Idumeans. These
descendants of Esau also lived in the Negev Desert. They chose conversion as an alternative to
death or moving out of the area. Hyrcanus expanded the Jewish domination but not to the Decapolis
cities. While he was primarily a military ruler, he constructed a citadel fortress beside the temple,856
which was later remodeled by Herod the Great who renamed it the Tower of Antonia, a/k/a the
Antonio Fortress.857 Hyrcanus functioned as king (a title he never claimed), priest, and prophet,
and near the end of his reign, he left the party of Pharisees and joined the Sadducees.858
During reigns of Hyrcanus, and later his son Alexander Jannaeus, there was a strong migration of
Jews from Babylon and Persia to their homeland. News of the victorious Maccabees and the
purification traveled quickly to the Babylonian and Parthian provinces. Since many were
anticipating a messiah, they returned to the land God had promised them.859 Those who relocated to
the Galilee area, had a dialect accent distinctively different from those who had a longer heritage in
Jerusalem. For that reason, during the trials of Jesus, those standing near Peter said to him, Surely
you are one of them, for you are a Galilean (Mk. 14:70), because your accent gives you away (Mt.
Hyrcanus and his militants again attacked the Samaritans, this time devastating the city of Shechem.
He maintained absolute control over all aspects of Jewish life, including the temple. To reduce the
possibilities of any challengers arising in the temple, he took the robes of the high priest when not in
use, and kept them in storage. They were given to the high priest the week prior to the Day of
Atonement and returned the day after. This tradition continued throughout the reign of Herod the
856. Josephus, Antiquities. 18.4.3.
857. Josephus, Antiquities. 15.11.5.
858. Flusser, Jesus. 259.
859. Pixner, With Jesus Through Galilee. 17.

Great and the Romans. The symbolism concerning the control of the high priestly robes cannot be
overstated. In fact, years later, Vitellius, who was the last governor of Syria under Emperor Tiberius,
received special permission from the emperor that the high priest could keep his robes

Casual reading of John Hyrcanus would leave the impression that he was passionate about
eradicating the Greek culture from Israel. But it appears that he simply desired to secure his power.
The fact that he struck coins with Hebrew and Greek imagery is indicative that elements of the Greek
culture had been accepted by leaders in the highest positions. On the coin below, the script reads
from right to left: WHY NN(HUH) = Yehohnan; H= The; KHN = Priest; H = The; GDL = High; W=
and; (HUH)BR = Council; H= The; YHDM= Jews.861 While the coins identified him a high priest,
he also functioned as king.

03.05.07.A. JEWISH COINS WITH GREEK MOTIFS. The First Jewish Coin
(left and center) was minted by John Hyrcanus I (Yehohanan) from 130 to 104 B.C. It
has the ancient paleo-Hebrew inscription that reads, Yehohanan the High Priest and
the Council of the Jews surrounded by wreath. The reverse shows a Greek double
cornucopia adorned with ribbons, pomegranate between horns, and a border of dots.

860. Geikie, The Life and Words. 1:550. Bruce, New Testament History. 30-31.
861. http://ancientcoinage.org/persian-hasmonean--tyrian-coin-types.html Retrieved November 6, 2014. For further study,
see also http://www.mefacts.com/cached.asp?x_id=10080 Retrieved November 6, 2014.

RIGHT: Years later Herod the Great minted coins with a double cornucopia and
caduceus in the center. SOURCE: http://www.mefacts.com/cached.asp?x_id=10080
This matter is important, because scholars often underestimate the influence, even presence, of
Hellenism in Jewish life during the days of Jesus. When Hyrcanus died in 104 B.C., he willed that
his wife take the throne but his son Aristobulus starved his mother to death,862 killed his brother, and
took control of the Jewish throne.863
03.05.08 104 102 B.C. Rule of Aristobulus I
The accounts of the various Jewish rulers are difficult for the modern mind to comprehend. Most
certainly had no desires to follow the ways of the Torah. As to the rule of Aristobulus I, Josephus
recorded his shameful life account.
Now when their father Hyrcanus was dead, the eldest son Aristobulus, intending to
change the government into a kingdom, for so he resplved to do, first of all put a
diadem (crown) on his head, four hundred and eighty-one years and three months after
the people had been delivered from the Babylonish slavery, and were returned to their
own country again. This Aristobulus loved his next brother Antogonus, and treated
him as his equal, but the others he held in bonds (prison). He also cast his mother into
prison, because she disputed the government with him; for Hyrcanus had left her to be
mistress of all.864 He also proceeded to that degree of barbarity, as to kill her in prison
with hunger, he was alienated from his brother Antigonus by calumnies, and added
him to the rest whom he slew.
Josephus, Antiquities 13.11.1 (301-303)
It is difficult to imagine that any Jewish leader was so barbaric. It appears that society had regressed
to the horrific times of the judges more than a thousand years earlier. The reign of Aristobulus did
not give the Jewish people any peace or comfort, and they struggled under his leadership almost as
badly as they did under some pagan rulers.

862. Grabbe, Judaism from Cyrus to Hadrian. 303; Neusner and Green, Dictionary of Judaism. 58.
863. Metzger, New Testament. 22-23.
864. Apparently Hyrcanus permitted or ordered his wife to be a sexual servant for friends and others in government.

Six centuries had passed since the ten northern tribes were exiled by the Assyrians, and now the
Hasmonean King Aristobulus I incorporated Galilee under Jewish rule. The Hasmoneans were the
Jews who won victory over the Greeks in the Maccabean Revolt, and eventually became known as
the Sadducees. Josephus recorded that Aristobulus, like his father, required Gentiles to convert to
Judaism as evidenced by ordering circumcision and observation of all Jewish laws.865 When the
news of this decree reached Babylon and Persia, thousands of Jews responded by returning to
The long-awaited freedom the Jews desired was quickly became a nightmare, as their leaders proved
to be as corrupt as foreign dictators were. Aristobulus I declared himself King of the Jews of
Jerusalem, and fortunately, his reign was short lived. He left no lasting impression upon Israel other
than murder and family jealousies that would haunt future generations. His corruption of government
planted the seed of a future civil war and intensified the expectations of a messiah who would be of
the character of King David. In later years, during the ministry of Jesus, the Jews were repulsed by
the idea of the title, King of the Jews, not only because of Aristobulus I, but King Herod as well.
03.05.09 102 76 B.C. Rule of Alexander Jannaeus
Alexander Jannaeus continued the policies of his father, Aristobulus I, but with greater intensity.
With his army, that included foreign mercenaries, he successfully took control of northern cities and
villages, including Mount Tabor.866 He then traveled east and conquered the Decapolis cities, a
conquest his father dreamed of.867 Like his father, he had no mercy on the Gentiles living in Galilee
as he told them either to accept Judaism or leave. The fact that he now ruled over most of the
territory that was once part of Davids Empire, greatly increased the speculation that the anointed
son of David would soon come to re-establish the great Davidic Empire. Everyone believed that
when the anointed one would come, he would restore order and justice in the land. (Anointed
one and he are not capitalized because the people were not expecting God Himself to come.) By
the time Jesus arrived more than a century later, many had become tired of waiting.
He minted coins with his inscription as king and placed himself in the position of a high priest even
though he was not of the Davidic line.868 This angered orthodox Jews such as the Essenes, who had
865. Josephus, Antiquities. 13.11.3.
866. Golub, In the Days. 147; Jung, Mount Tabor 4:714; Josephus, Antiquities. 13.16.2.
867. Golub, In the Days. 147; Barclay, Mark. 124-25.
868. Josephus, Antiquities. 20.10.1.

previously separated themselves from the temple. They wrote of the corrupted priesthood in what is
now known as the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Jannaeus could have brought unity between the Pharisees and Sadducees. But it is evident that he
and other leaders were continually spiteful toward those who held a different religious viewpoint. On
one occasion during the Feast of Tabernacles, when water was brought up from the Pool of Siloam to
the temple, he poured the water on the floor beside the altar instead upon it. Instantly the attending
priests, Pharisees, and others around him began to throw citrons (a fruit used in the feast
celebrations) at him. In response, Jannaeus called in his soldiers and several thousand worshippers
were massacred that day. While this event took place more than a century earlier, the Pharisees did
not forget this or any other events of persecution by the Sadducees at the time of Jesus.869 The
intense hatred and animosity between Pharisees and Sadducees grew stronger every day.
With various areas under his domain, his international trade expanded and the nations economy
grew. It was truly a time of prosperity seldom seen since the days of King David and Solomon. Now
the Greeks of the Decapolis cities were paying taxes (tribute) to the Jews. While there was stability
on the international scene, on the home-front there continued intense conflict between the Pharisees
and Sadducees. In fact, as a faithful Sadducee, his reign was marked by the bitterest persecution of
the Pharisees.
Just as John Hyrcanus I accepted elements of Hellenism, Jannaeus did likewise. In fact, in the years
that followed the Maccabean Revolt, the entire Hasmonean/Maccabean dynasty became increasingly
accepting of Hellenism and less interested in observing either the biblical or rabbinic Judaism. By the
time Jesus was in ministry, the dynasty then known as the Sadducees was entirely Hellenistic and
gave only lip service to the Torah.

869. Geikie, The Life and Words. 2:637-38.



of a Hasmonean merchant ship was constructed from a tomb drawing in Jerusalem. It
demonstrates the economic and military power of the Jewish Hasmonean dynasty in
the first and second centuries B.C. Photographed by the author in 2000 at the Dagon
Grain Museum, Haifa.
The Maccabean leader Alexander Jannaeus (Yehonatan) evidently wanted to modernize his country.
He not only minted coins with the Aramaic (as is used today) square script, and also dated them.
Previous Jewish coins had the older paleo-Hebrew script. His coins were minted throughout his
reign, 103-76 B.C.870

870. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/MaccabeanHasmoneanCoins.html Retrieved November 5, 2014.


03.05.09.B. THE FIRST BILINGUAL JEWISH COIN. This coin was struck by
Maccabean leader Alexander Jannaeus (Yehonatan) in the 25th year of his reign,
corresponding to 78 B.C. LEFT: A ships anchor (of King Alexander) in Greek.
RIGHT: A star of eight rays (Yehonatan the King) in Hebrew, stylized diadem
around. SOURCE: http://www.mefacts.com/cached.asp?x_id=10080
03.05.10 90 88 B.C. Jewish Civil War; 80 women and 800 Pharisees Crucified
Civil war broke out when the conservative religious Pharisees joined forces with Demetrius III, a
descendant of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Together they fought against Alexander Jannaeus. As
Jannaeus was about to crush the rebellion, some 6,000 men of Demetrius defected and about 8,000
Pharisees did likewise, leaving many others to be either captured or killed in battle. Of those whom
Jannaeus considered to be traitors or potential enemies, 800 were crucified.871 As these Pharisees
died in agony, Jannaeus had their wives and children slaughtered in front of them husbands and
fathers watched in horror, helpless, and dying on a cross. Of this barbaric account, Josephus wrote
that while,
He [Jannaeus] was feasting with his concubines, in the sight of all the city, he ordered
about eight hundred of them (Pharisees) to be crucified; and while they were living, he
ordered the throats of their children and wives to be cut before their eyes. This was
indeed by way of revenge for the injuries they had done him; which punishment yet
was of an inhuman nature.
Josephus, Antiquities 13.14.2 (380)872
871. Avi-Yonah and Kraeling, Our Living Bible. 240-41.
872. See also Wars, 1.4.1,6. Furthermore, a parallel account was also found in Dead Sea Scroll fragment 4QpNahum, but it is
not as complete as the account recorded by Josephus.


In Ashkelon, Jannaeus crucified eighty women whom he suspected of being witches.873 He stripped
them naked and, for the sake of modesty, nailed them facing the cross where they died. The Essenes
wrote of this horrific event in their Dead Sea Scroll 4QpNah 1:6-8.874 As the gospels reveal between
these two major Jewish groups there was no great love. The common belief was that since every
person who died on a tree was cursed by God, whoever they crucified would therefore, also be cursed
by God. Their reasoning was based on the following words of Moses,
For anyone hung on a tree is under Gods curse.
Deuteronomy 21:23b
Just when Jannaeus thought he was at the height of his power and success, in 83 B.C., Tigranes of
Armenia (modern Turkey) invaded Syria and northern Israel, captured many Jews and took them to
be slaves in Armenia.875 But Jannaeus was too weak to protect his own people.876 The Jews, who
protested against the cruelty of their king, took advantage of the situation and a six-year civil war
erupted. Jannaeus was killed and his widow, Alexandra Salome, ruled until her death in 67 B.C.
03.05.11 76 67 B.C. Queen Alexandra Salome Reigns; Pharisees Control the Temple
After the death of Jannaeus, his widow, Alexandra Salome, became the only queen to solely rule
Judah. She was radically different in that she was, without question, the kindest and most righteous
monarch the Jewish people had during the Inter-Testamental Period. In light of the fact that she had
been married to a corrupt leader, it is amazing that she governed in a godly manner. Her major
873. The Mishnah, Sanhedrin 6.4 states that it was Simeon ben Shetah who ordered them to be crucified.
874. Elgvin, The Messiah. 36. Young, The Cross, Jesus and the Jewish People. 27.
875. Neusner and Green, Dictionary of Judaism. 60.
876. Neusner and Green, Dictionary of Judaism. 635.

problem was the corruption of government officials within her staff whom she eventually removed,
as well as the Pharisees who at times failed to follow her directives. Because of her, Judaea enjoyed
a golden age of peace and prosperity. Amazingly, during a time of chaotic influences, men were
honored to have her lead their nation and fight their battles.877
Josephus stated that, as a Pharisee, the elderly queen focused on the observance of the Mosaic Law
and maintained peace throughout the land, although at times the Sadducees became the persecuted
ones. Eventually she placed her son Hyrcanus II in the position of high priest and allowed the
Pharisees to control the temple and reins of government. There can be little question that this
dynamic change came about due to the influence of a union of non-priestly heads of wealthy
families, known as the elders.878 Elders were significant, as well noted in the gospels during the
ministry of Jesus, as in Luke 19:47.
As to her other son, Aristobulus II, because he was bold, energetic, and quick tempered, she resigned
him to private life. Consequently, there was a great degree of bitterness and tension between them as
well as between the two religious sects. Josephus writes,
Now Alexander [Jannaeus] let the kingdom to Alexandra, his wife, and depended upon
it that the Jews would now very readily submit to her; because she had been very
averse to such cruelty as he had treated them with, and had opposed his violation of
their laws, and had thereby got the good will of the people ... for she chiefly studied the
ancient customs of her country and cast out those men of the government that offended
against their holy laws.
And now the Pharisees joined themselves to her, to assist her in the government. These
are a certain sect of Jews that appear more religious than others, and seemed to
interpret the laws more accurately. Now, Alexandra hearkened to them to an
extraordinary degree, as being herself a woman of great piety towards God. But these
Pharisees artfully insinuated themselves into her favor little by little, and became
themselves the real administrators of the public affairs. They banished and reduced
whom (namely the Sadducees) they pleased; they bound and loosed (men) at their
pleasure; and, to say all at once, they had the enjoyment of the royal authority, while
877. Atkinson, The Salome No One Knows. 61-62.
878. Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. 223; See also 02.01.04.

the expenses and the difficulties of it belonged to Alexandra. She was a sagacious
woman in the management of great affairs.
Josephus, Wars 1.5.1-2 (107-111)879
The queen also took care of the affairs of the kingdom and got together a great body of
mercenary soldiers, and increased her own army to such a degree, that she became
terrible to the neighboring tyrants and took hostages from them and the country was
entirely at peace.
Josephus, Antiquities 13.16.2 (409b)
She was only the second queen of Judah, the first being Athaliah, daughter of the infamous Ahab and
Jezebel, who ruled for six years (2 Chron. 22:12).880 Their great-granddaughter, Mariamne, became
the favorite wife of Herod the Great.
03.05.12 Summary Influence of Hellenistic Reform (331 63 B.C.) that shaped Jewish life in
the First Century
The Jewish population throughout the eastern Mediterranean area was so great that they permeated
nearly every level of society. While some were accepting of the Greek culture, others were strongly
opposed to it. For others, changes toward Hellenism came slowly, and as long as these did not affect
the Jewish faith, they did not care. By definition, Hellenistic reform881 was the expected
compliance by everyone to the Greek culture, including the acceptance of Greek religious values.
And it was the subject of religious values that split the Jewish community.

The claim that the Maccabean Revolt was a revolt against Greek Hellenization is misleading and
without historical evidence.882 The revolt was against the dictatorial monarch, Antiochus IV
879. Insert mine.
880. Ahab is among fifty biblical names whose existence has been verified by archaeological studies in a published article by
Lawrence Mykytiuk titled, Archaeology Confirms 50 Real People in the Bible. Biblical Archaeology Review. March/April, 2014
(40:2), pages 42-50, 68. This archaeological evidence confirms the historical accuracy of the biblical timeline. For further
study, see the website for Associates for Biblical Research, as well as Grisanti, Recent Archaeological Discoveries that Lend
Credence to the Historicity of the Scriptures. 475-98.
881. See also Hellenism in Appendix 26.
882. Grabbe, Judaism From Cyrus to Hadrian. 308.

Epiphanes. The Hellenistic influence greatly affected the Jewish society and, were it not for the
Revolt, there is little question that Hellenism would have had an even greater influence. The revolt
did, however, cause people to re-evaluate their faith, which in turn resulted in a spiritual revival. But
the revival also caused divisions, and after the revolt ended, three major religious parties came into
existence: the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Essenes. By the time of Christ, Hellenism caused an
even wider theological division among the Jews.
The central core of Greek philosophy was that obtaining wisdom was the ideal goal of life. For this
reason it has been suggested that philosophy is a false substitute for religion and it stems from the
world of paganism which first gave rise to Plato and Aristotle.883

Wisdom hath been created before all things, and the understanding of prudence from
Ben Sirach 1:4


The Greek gymnasium, theater, and temples were cultural symbols of Hellenistic reform. Except for
the gymnasium that was constructed in Jerusalem by Antiochus IV, these Greek icons were not
introduced into the Jewish cities until Herod the Great (reigned 37 4 B.C.). Many aspects of Jewish
life took on the appearance of the Greek culture and were later promoted by the Romans. For
example, the Jews wore garments almost identical to the Greeks in Athens, Alexandria, and the
Romans wore them in Rome. Their clothing normally consisted of a tunic, cloak, belt, shoes or
sandals, and a head covering for both men and women. The headband was the sign of masculinity
and never worn by women.885 Some Jewish men did, however, maintain the tradition of wearing
fringes to keep their identity (Num. 15). The Greek custom of reclining at a dining table was
precisely what Jesus and the disciples did during the Last Supper. Cultural norms that did not have
moral or religious implications were adopted almost universally.886

883. Metzger, ed,. The Apocrypha of the Old Testament. 129; See Appendix 26.
884. http://www.ebible.org/kjv/Sirach.htm Retrieved March 19, 2012
885. Pilch, The Cultural Dictionary of the Bible. 17.
886. Keller, The Bible as History. 356.

Hellenism had a number of positive and negative influences that are recognized in the New
Testament.887 Galatians 4:4 states that in the fullness of time, Jesus came to earth. God had already
been at work for centuries in shaping and preparing it to receive His Son. Some of these influences
are as follows:
1. In Greek philosophy man is central to life whereas in Judaism God is the central figure.888
In essence, the Greeks were philosophical while the Jews were theological. Furthermore, the
God of the Jews was an invisible deity, who had no sinful human vices, and whom they
called their Father. This was beyond the comprehension of the Greeks. Their gods and halfgods were formed into idols and had all the human vices and pleasures of humanity. The
inability of each group to accept and tolerate the differences of the other resulted in tensions
and conflicts in Israel. Interestingly, in Egypt the differences were tolerated and peace
As previously stated, among the Greeks, the idea that a god might appear in human form was
accepted in mythology. Little wonder then, that when they heard that Jesus was God, they
could accept this fact while the Jews had great difficulty with it. This belief, coupled with the
expectation of a messianic figure, explains in part, as to why the Greeks laid their
mythologies aside and accepted Jesus. Consequently, Christianity exploded in Gentile
nations while it was slow to be accepted, and often opposed, in Jewish communities. The
New Testament had to be written in Greek for these new believers.
2. The introduction and use of koine Greek was an important development in preparing the
world for the gospel.889 The Roman Empire consisted of a dozen language groups. Had it not
been for the invasion of Hellenism, there would have been dozens of language groups.
3. There was a profound economic unification in the Mediterranean world, especially in
international trade. International trade routes were well established in the days of King
Solomon, and even more so by the time Alexander the Great invaded this area. Therefore, by
the time Jesus was born, news traveled quickly by ancient standards. This enabled the gospel
to spread quickly throughout the Roman world.

887. See also 02.04.01-11; 1 Cor. 1.

888. See also 02.04.02.
889. See 02.03.08 Language.


Video Insert


03.05.12.V A scholar will discuss the influences of Hellenism, the Maccabean Revolt, and
the establishment of major religious sects in Jerusalem.
(This could be two separate videos)

( ) Click here.


Hellenistic cultural influence in Jerusalem is evident by this Jewish tomb-fresco
showing a hunter, herald and lion. In traditional Judaism, the image of a person was
banned, but such images became popular with Hellenism.
5. Greek thinking, which is reflected in modern Western thought processes, was significantly
different from how the Jewish people thought. The Jews thought pictorially. For example,

two phrases to describe God in the Old Testament are tower of strength, or a cleft of a
rock. Such descriptions are replaced in the New Testament with words such as love, or
even abba (meaning daddy), that have a greater feeling of personal and intimate
6. The Greeks with their philosophical logic and reasoning are generally credited with
introducing to the world the question why? along with critical thinking. However, Jewish
parents had taught their children to ask Why? since the first Passover. The question was
established in Judaism (as part of the Passover Seder) long before it was popular among the
Greeks, but the Greeks popularized it throughout the Gentile world.
7. Those Greeks who achieved success in life occupied their leisure time with philosophical
thoughts, debates, and the like. However, that was a small portion of the population. The
earliest form of Christianity was outside the sphere of Greek philosophy, and appealed to
those whom philosophy did not reach, which may explain the explosive growth of Chistianity
among the Gentiles. Philosophers, in the meantime, had very degrading opinions of
Christians in terms of philosophy, theology, and socially.
It was common for rabbis, theologians, and philosophers to have debates. In the year A.D.
248, Origen wrote a rebuttal entitled, Against (or Contra) Celsus. In it, Origen quoted this
sarcastic attitude by Celsus of those who came to faith in Jesus:
Let no educated man enter, no wise man, no prudent man, for such things we
deem evil; but whoever is ignorant, whoever is unintelligent, whoever is
uneducated, whoever is simple, let him come and be welcomed.
Origen, Against Celsus 3.44891
The significance of this lies in the fact that Hellenism, with its focus on philosophy or
rhetoric, alienated many people who then, became attracted to Christianity.

890. See 02.03.08 Language.

891. Cited by Hatch, The Influence of Greek Ideas and Usages. 124-25.

8. The Greco-Roman culture set up as it were, the Gentile people to hear the gospel. People
were not only expecting a messiah, but they were also tired of their many gods who had the
same human vices as they had. Greek philosophy excluded most people and the various
religious cults were no better than the Greek gods. Therefore, some scholars believe that it
was Greek philosophy that prepared the Gentile people to receive the concept of Jesus God
in human flesh. 892 The gospel message not only had its own unique merits, but it rode in on
the reaction wave against polytheism. This gives added insight to the unique words of
Galatians 4:4, that in the fullness of time, Jesus came.
9. One of the earliest contributions of Hellenism was the translation of the Hebrew Bible into
Greek the Septuagint.893 By the time Jesus began His ministry, scholars and teachers in the
entire ancient world understood Greek and could read a Greek Old Testament to confirm the
His words.
Finally, Hellenism also had its negative affects upon the Jewish people. The cultural and religious
threats that challenged young Jews were,
1. The loss of Jewish interpretation of the Hebraic details of the Old Testament, the gospels,
and possibly the book of Hebrews.894 In essence, the understanding of Jewish literature as
written by Jews in a Jewish context was lost. It gave way to the Greek menthod of
interpretation often one of allegorical interpretation.895 That is, the application of a
symbolic or spiritual meaning(s) rather than the literal meaning.
2. Assimilation into the pagan culture. The youth were always confronted by the pleasures of
the Greeks. To them, Judaism was an obstacle that prevented them from finding fulfillment
in the so-called true pleasures of life. The encroaching influence of Hellenism upon Jewish
youth was profound. For example, those Jewish boys who desired to participate in the nude
Greek games were embarrassed that they had been circumcised as an infant. Everyone
obviously recognized their Jewishness. To be accepted by their Greek peers, they underwent
a surgical procedure known as epispasm, in which the marks of circumcision were removed.
This afforded the opportunity to participate in various Greek athletic events without being
892. Hatch, The Influence of Greek Ideas and Usages. 240-41.
893. See 02.02.25.
894. As is explained elsewhere, the books of Matthew and Hebrews are believed to have been originally written in Hebrew.
895. Hatch, The Influence of Greek Ideas and Usages. 59, 66-69, 127-28; See also Allegory in Appendix 26.

identified as Jews.896 The author of Maccabees called this the abandonment of the holy
covenant, because God said (Gen. 17:14) that an uncircumcised individual was to be cut off
from the Jewish people because he was declared to have broken the covenant. Modern
scholarship has often overlooked the negative influences of Hellenism had upon Judaism and
the cultural environment of Jesus.
3. Due to the tremendous influences of pagan influences, the Jews produced a number of
writings that were largely apocalyptic, and often combined with varous forms of legalism.
These works made frequent references to the great disasters that would fall upon humanity,
but that the Jews would be saved by a messiah. Most apocalyptic books were produced from
the time Antiochus IV Epiphanes and continued into the second century A.D.897
4. The worldviews and lifestyles of the Jewish rulers, whose descendants became the
Sadducees, for the most part were as pagan as any Greek or Roman, if not worse. One can
debate if their lives reflected the influence of Hellenism or a horribly depraved sin nature (if
there is a difference). Nonetheless, most certainly had no interest in faithfully serving the
God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and neither did the Sadducees at the time of Jesus.

As previously stated, the Maccabean Revolt was not so much a rebellion against Hellenism, but a
rebellion against the Greek tyrants. The Essenes and orthodox Pharisees desired to rid their land of
Greek influences, but their efforts were minimized by Jewish Hellenists as well as the number of
foreigners in the land.898 It is important to recognize that there were degrees and varieties of reactions
against Hellenism, just as there were among those who embraced it. In the meantime, the Sadducees
896. Niswonger, New Testament History. 24.
897. Guignebert, The Jewish World in the Time of Jesus. 133-35.
898. Josephus, at times makes a passing comment on foreigners living in the land, such as their presence in Galilee. See Wars
3.3.2 (41).

ebrased Hellenism as much as they could without causing a popular revolt to have them removed.
The Pharisees became entrenched in their ideologies and the Essenes distanced themselves from both
the Sadducees and Pharisees. In fact, all of the Jewish factions became polarized in their doctrines
and practices.

To be acquired


artists rendering of the home of a wealthy priest in Jerusalem. The Sadducees, who
are descendants of the Hasmoneans (Maccabees), including Caiaphas and his family,
enjoyed a luxurious life equal to kings and emperors. Their lifestyle was beyond the
imagination of the common peasants.

03.05.13 67 63 B.C. Civil War Between Aristobulus II and John Hyrcanus II; Roman
While the reign of Alexandra Salome was one of great political wisdom and religious obedience, she
failed to train her sons in her ways. Upon her death, she confirmed the position of high priest to
John Hyrcanus II and placed Aristobulus II in the position of king. The two brothers would probably
have functioned well together, and the Jewish kingdom would have enjoyed peace and prosperity if a
descendant of Esau by the name of Antipater had never come. But he did.
Antipater, the father of Herod the Great, saw a golden opportunity to cause chaos and thereby, attain
for himself power and wealth. Antipater was the son of a powerful governor of Idumea (of what is
southern Israel today) who had amassed great power and wealth under the Greek authorities
established by Alexander the Great. As governor, he taxed caravans that passed through his territory,
especially along the famed spice route that was between the Dead Sea and the modern Israeli city of
Eilat. He instructed his son how to manipulate the political affairs of both the Romans and
Concerning the Hasmonean brothers, Antipater circulated rumors about Aristobulus and Hyrcanus
causing strife within the royal family. Soon Aristobulus revolted against his older brother and
announced that he was both high priest and king of Judah. Civil war broke but neither felt strong
enough to win a victory. So Aristobulus, with the support of the Sanhedrin, went east and attempted
to secure military strength from the expanding Parthian Empire,900 while Hyrcanus went and secured
the same from the Romans.901 Soon Israel would become the frontier land between two competing
world empires, the Romans and Parthians. Josephus recorded the events:
And when Alexander had been both king and high priest twenty-seven years, he
departed this life and permitted his wife Alexandra to appoint him that should be high
priest; so she gave the high priesthood to Hyrcanus, but retained the kingdom herself
nine years and then departed this life. The life duration [and no longer] did her son
Hyrcanus enjoy the high priesthood; for after her death his brother Aristobulus fought
against him, and beat him, and deprived him of this principality and he did himself

899. Geikie, The Life and Words. 1:548.

900. See also Gafni, The Jewish Community in Babylonia. 58-68.
901. Golub, In the Days. 191-92; Grabbe, Judaism From Cyrus to Hadrian. 306-11; Neusner and Green, Dictonary of Judaism. 58-59;
Mantey, New Testament Backgrounds. 5-6.

both reign and perform the office of high priest to God. But when he had reigned three
years and as many months, Pompey came upon him, and not only took the city of
Jerusalem by force, but put him and his children in bonds and sent them to Rome. He
also restored the high priesthood to Hyrcanus and made him governor of the nation,
but forbade him to wear a diadem.
Josephus, Antiquities 20.10.1 (242-244)902
The significance of Israel being at the frontier between two rival empires cannot be overstated. While
the Jewish people were subjects of Rome, they were also on the eastern frontier facing the Parthians.
This strategic location was the cause of considerable tension and anxiety. In the meantime, the Jews
were inundated with Hellenism not only by the Greeks, but also by their leaders. For example, their
high priest John Hycranus II minted coins with a double cornucopia (horn of plenty), a symbol taken
from Greek mythology. In Greek mythology, the cornucopia was said to involve the birth and
nurturance of the infant god Zeus. According to the myth, Zeus was protected by a goat that
functioned as a nurturing goddess, but accidently broke off one of her horns while feeding the infant
milk. Hence, the horn has become known today as the horn of plenty.

902. Insert by Whiston, ed.

03.05.13.A. COIN OF JOHN HYCRANUS II. This coin of John Hyrcanus II, the
high priest (63-40 BC) has the name Jehohanan on one side (left) and a double
cornucopia (right) taken from Greek mythology on the reverse side.
The Greek merchants who did business in Jerusalem appreciated Hycranus (priest 76-67 B.C.) so
much, that Josephus said that they set up a bronze statue of him in the temple of Demus in Athens.903
Obviously Hellenism was a powerful influence in the Jewish nation. The only way the religious
leaders could combat the cultural tital wave and preserve their faith, was to expand hundreds of
legalistic regulations. Unfortunately, these regulations of Oral Laws resulted in the death of biblical
Judaism and the creation of rabbinic Judaism. Decades later when Jesus came, he confronted those
legalistic attitudes and regulations.
If Hollywood wanted to produce a movie with action, drama, scandalous sex, loyalty, treason,
assassinations, and war, they would have no further to look than at the Inter-Testamental Period
between the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes and the death of Herod the Great. Plots and events change
so frequently that at times the historical timeline is difficult to follow. Were it not for a few
historians like Josephus, this part of history would have been lost. For Jesus to come and preach His
Sermon on the Mount and various messages on peace and a kingdom of God was a feat that
astonished both the listeners and the Romans. But His birth was still six decades into the future.
03.05.14 63 B.C. Honi, the Jewish Miracle Worker killed
During the civil war a popular miracle worker by the name of Onias ha-Magel, a/k/a Honi, the
Circle-Drawer, was stoned to death.904 He was believed to have the divine power to cause the
clouds to rain. During one severe drought, he drew a circle in the dust, sat in that circle and prayed
until it rained. For this, he became a legendary folk hero to the point that religious leaders in the
temple could not agree as to what to do with him. The writers of the Mishnah wrote these reflective
thoughts about him:
Once they said to Onias [a/k/a Honi] the Circle-maker, Pray that rain may fall. He
answered, Go out and bring in the Passover ovens that they may not be softened.905

903. Josephus, Antiquities 14.8.5 (153); Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. 35.
904. Josephus, Antiquies 14.2.1 (see below); Moseley, Yeshua: A Guide to the Real Jesus and the Original Church. 121.
905. Ovens were made of clay and, if outside, would soften and collapse by the rain.

He prayed but the rain did not fall. What did he do? He drew a circle and stood with it
and said before God, O Lord of the world, your children have turned their faces to
me, for I am like a son of the house before you. I swear by your great name that I will
not stir hence until you have pity on your children. Rain began to fall drop by drop.
He said, Not for such rain have I prayed, but for rain that will fill cisterns, pits, and
caverns. It began to rain with violence. He said, Not for such rain have I prayed, but
for rain of goodwill, blessings, and graciousness. Then it rained in moderation [and
continued] until the Israelites went up from Jerusalem to the Temple Mount because of
the rain.
Mishnah, Taanit 3:8 906
But the aristocratic Sadducees were outraged at Honi, because in their thinking, it was unimaginable
that God would work through a common individual rather than through one of them since they were
the experts on the law. Therefore, it is easy to understand why they would not accept Jesus a
Nazarite who also had no formal theological training. Yet while they criticized Honi, they were at a
loss as to what to do,
Simeon B. Shetah sent to him [Onias/Honi, saying], Had you not been Onias, I would
have pronounced a ban against you! But what shall I do to you? You importunest God
and he performs your will; and of you the Scripture says, Let your father and your
mother be glad, and let her that bare you rejoice.
Mishnah, Taanit 3:8907
The religious leaders could not excommunicate him because he became a folk hero. The problems
they had with Honi would pale in light of the coming Jesus of Nazareth, who would minister only a
century later. Yet there is no mention of a possible excommunication of Jesus; it is not mentioned
once in the Bible although some scholars have suggested that it could have happened in a local
synagogue.908 Yet if the synagogue leaders felt it was necessary to discipline, excommunication
906. See also commentary on Honi as depicted in the Babylonian Talmud Taanit 23a in Safrai,Jesus and His Disciples: The
Beginnings of Their Organization 105. Parenthesis clarification mine.
907. Proverbs 23:25. Clarification mine.
908. Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. 308.

would have been the method of choice. However, this act would have been disastrous for the
leadership since both Honi and Jesus had become extremely popular with the people. The question
is of course, how does one remove an individual from the synagogue who is loved by hoards of
people and has thousands of them listening to his teachings? Hence, they eventually entertained the
unthinkable: to kill him quickly and as secretly as possible.909
Josephus also recorded the account of Honi, leaving modern scholarship with evidence that righteous
men did in fact perform miracles in the Inter-Testamental Period. Honi was never considered to be a
prophet, only a godly man who performed miracles, and, as many other godly men, paid the ultimate
price. Note the words of Josephus:
Now there was one, whose name was Onias (or Honi), a righteous man he was, and
beloved of God to put an end to the intense heat, and whose prayers God had heard
and had sent them rain. This man hid himself because he saw that this sedition would
last awhile. However, they brought him to the Jewish camp and desired, that as by his
prayers he had once put an end to the drought so he in like manner make imprecations
on Astrobulus and those of his faction. And when, upon his refusal, and the excuse that
he made, he was still by the multitude compelled to speak, he stood up in the midst of
them and said, O God, the king of the whole world! Since those that stand now with
me are your people, and those that are besieged are also your priests, I entreat you that
thou wilt neither harken to the prayers of those against these nor to bring to effect what
these pray against. Where upon such wicked Jews as stood before him, as soon as he
made this prayer, stoned him to death.
Josephus, Antiquities 14.2.1 (22-24)910
Clearly, Honi left a dynamic impression that was later remembered by Josephus and recorded in the
Mishnah. Critics tend to lay aside any significance of Honi because of legendary stories that arose,
such as his 70-year sleep. But these historical accounts do state that the Sadducees were very willing
to kill a godly man who threatened their aristocratic position. This is precisely what they would do
later to Jesus.

909. Neusner and Green, Dictonary of Judaism. 300.

910. Insert mine.


03.05.15 63 B.C. Romans Order Attempts To Kill Infant Boys Because Of Prophecy Of A NewBorn King
The expectation of a super king or messiah was not limited to the Jewish people.911 Nearly all the
people groups in the ancient Middle East were expecting an incredible personality who would bring
peace and prosperity. The Romans and Parthians were both expecting the birth of a world ruler, and
less than three decades later the Roman poet Virgil would write of it in one of his literary works.912
Another Roman historian, Suetonius, in his Life of Augustus, quoted Julius Marathus from his Life of
the Emperor, saying there was a world ruler coming soon. This is considered a reliable source since
Marathus was a personal confidant of Augustus Caesar. Therefore, the account has a high degree of
merit. Apparently, shortly before Marathuss birth there was a prophecy in Rome that a king over the
Roman people would soon be born. To obviate this danger to the Republic, the Roman Senate in the
year 63 B.C. ordered all boy babies to be killed who were born in that year because prophetic dreams
and astrological signs suggested that a king of the Romans was to be born.913 In Roman society,
unwanted infants were normally abandoned or exposed to the weather to die. However, several
senators, whose wives were pregnant, took political action to prevent the ratification of the statute
because each of them hoped that the prophecy might be in reference to their own child.914 Ironically,
in the same year, a child was born on September 23, who later became the first emperor of the
Romans Emperor Augustus.915

911. A lower case m is used for the word messiah because upper case M denotes deity, and no one expected God to
come to earth in the form of a person.
912. Virgil, Eclogues, Eclogue IV: The Golden Age see 03.05.24.
913. Lindsay, The Origins of Astrology. 6.
914. Farrar, The Life of Christ. 21.
915. http://www.askelm.com/star/star001.htm Retrieved September 29, 2012. See also Appendix 1.


03.05.16 63 B.C. Rome Conquers Judah; Hyrcanus II Installed as Ruler of Israel

The civil war between Aristobulus II and John Hyrcanus II did not go unnoticed by the Romans, who
were also watching the growing Parthian Empire far to the east. They did not want the Parthians to
take advantage of the political chaos among the Jews and establish access to the Mediterranean Sea.
So when John Hycranus went to the Romans to gather troops to fight his brother, he did not
anticipate that the civil conflict would cost the Jewish state its sovereignty. The request was a dream
come true for the Romans and soon Israel became the puppet state on the frontier land facing the
Parthian Empire.
The Roman General Gnaeus Pompeius Mangus (106-48 B.C.), a/k/a Pompeii or Pompeii (Pompey)
the Great, was a successful statesman and military general. He captured Damascus from King
Pontus and traveled south to capture all of Judah in only three months the time it took to walk from
one end of the country to the other and back. With mechanical engines, namely stone-throwing
catapults, and battering rams shipped in from Tyre, the Romans battered Jerusalem until victory was
secured.916 The Roman historian Dio Cassius said that he captured Jerusalem on a Sabbath because
the Jews refused to fight on the Day of Atonement, as they considered that to be work.917
Consequently, Pompeys army entered Jerusalem in a battle that cost the Jews 12,000 lives of men,
women, and children. It was the one day of the year Jews thought God would forgive them of their
sins, and instead they became servants to a pagan master.
When he marched into Jerusalem, he insisted on entering the Holy of Holies with his officers.
According to Josephus, Pompey then took a large number of Jews as slaves and sold them
throughout the empire and he had the support of the Hasmonean family. Thus, Jewish sovereignty
was finally betrayed.918 But Gods curse was upon him because when he landed in Egypt in 48 B.C.,
he was stabbed in the back by an Egyptian centurion as he disembarked from a ship. He was stripped
of his clothing, beheaded, and his naked body was left on the sandy shore. In this context, the word
916. Josephus, Antiquities. 14.4.2.
917. Dio Cassius, Roman History, 37.15.2-17.3.
918. Josephus, Antiquities. 14.6.1.

naked means that his body laid on the ground fully exposed traditional undergarments removed.
Rather than having his body buried, it was burned on the beach. No greater dishonor could possibly
have been given to anyone than what Pompey received in Egypt. Many have said it was Divine
punishment for his previous entry into the Holy of Holies.
The Hasmoneans had expanded Jewish domain to nearly the size of King Davids Empire. Many
Jews believed that once their land area would become as large as the former Davidic Empire, then
the expected son of David, would come and reign over his fathers kingdom. Therefore,
anticipation of the coming of this political messiah was at fever pitch. However, Pompey doused
water on that dream when he divided the Hasmonean Empire, and Israel was once again a tiny state
that consisted of Galilee, Judea, and Perea (Jewish area east of the Jordan River).919 This division
was to reduce the possibility of a future uprising. Whereas the Assyrians and Babylonians relocated
large populations to prevent subservient people from gaining their independence, the Romans
divided their regions to achieve the same purpose. But, as they would discover, the Jewish people
were difficult to control.
03.05.17 63 B.C. A.D. 312 Roman Period
From this point on the Romans controlled Israel for more than four centuries with the exception of a
brief Parthian conquest of Jerusalem in 40-39 B.C. During most of this time, the Roman prefects
who ruled the provinces of Galilee, Perea, and Judah were loosely supervised by governors in
Damascus, Syria. It was Roman policy to give captured people religious freedom and limited selfregulation so as to prevent uprisings and war. This policy was effective throughout the empire, with
the three Jewish provinces being the only constant exception in that there was always tension of a
possible revolt.
The Jews interpreted the fourth empire described in Daniel 2 and 7 as the Roman occupation of their
land. It was their understanding that the Messiah would come in the days of the last empire. They
looked upon the prophetic words of Daniel and Ezekiel and realized that Jerusalem was rebuilt,
many Jews had returned from captivity and Antiochus had desecrated the temple with the sacrifice of
a pig. Therefore, it was obvious to them that the Messiah was about to come. Furthermore, they
looked upon the sevens of Daniels prophecies as meaning perfection rather than a literal
interpretation, so the ideal time for the Messiah to come had arrived.920 Never were they so wrong,
and never were they so right. They were correct in reference to his first coming, but the prophecies
919. Golub, In the Days. 196-98.
920. See Appendix 15 concerning Daniels prophecy

that supported their interpretation are in reference to His second coming. They failed to distinguish
between the prophecies of the two comings.
However, the Romans were generally kinder to them than was their own Alexander Jannaeus.
Pompey installed the Hasmonean king Hyrcanus II as a puppet king who was under the control and
domination of the regional governor in Damascus. This is a significant point, as the leadership of
Judah was in question during the time of the census prior to the birth of Jesus.
Pompey had only two demands of the Jewish people.
1. Pay taxes to Caesar, and
2. Place a statue of Caesar as god in the temple.
Little did the Romans understand what kind of people their Jewish subjects were. When they made a
huge outcry against the demand of a statue in the temple, Pompey rescinded it, but it cost the people
an additional taxation rate. To insure a stabilized government, he installed Hyrcanus, the second
ruler by that name, as high priest-ruler of Samaria and the three Jewish provinces: Galilee, Perea, and
Judea, collectively known as Judaea. He also appointed Antipater to be the vizier or senior officer
for Hyrcanus. Antipater had a son, Herod the Great, who would eventually become a central figure
at the birth of Jesus. The Romans who endorsed the Greek culture expanded it further than ever
dreamed possible.921
Pompey secured a military frontier zone with the strong Roman Tenth Legion in Damascus that
would protect the Roman Empire from any aggression from the Parthians to the east. He also made
Hyrcanus II high priest in the temple. Equally as significant was that Pompey liberated the
Samaritans from the Jewish Hasmonean rulership. He then marched east and liberated the Greek
cities from Jewish rule, and placed them into a league known as the Decapolis.922 They were then
under the jurisdiction of the governor of Damascus. This improved trade and commerce.923
Since the Parthians had conquered a massive territory from the Euphrates to the Indus Rivers, the
Romans feared that if they acquired access to the Mediterranean Sea, Rome and the Roman Empire
would be severely threatened. Therefore, the Romans built more roads throughout Israel than in any
921. Blaiklock, Herod. 7:815.
922. Neusner and Green, Dictonary of Judaism. 646; Barclay, Mark. 125-26.
923. Pellett, Decapolis. 1:810-12.

other part of the empire for the sole purpose of moving troops quickly in the event of a major
military conflict on the eastern front.924 Throughout the life of Christ, there was a constant threat
between these two superpowers.
The Roman Empire belted the Mediterranean Sea and extended into Europe. Israel was a land bridge
between the three continents of Africa, Asia, and Europe. To the east was the Arabian Desert and to
the west was the Mediterranean Sea. 925 For the Romans, the nearby strategic cities were Alexandria,
Egypt, for grain, Antioch, Syria, for international commerce, and Athens for cultural values. The
empire eventually included twelve language groups and became so huge that Rome could hardly
administer it.
Finally, historians generally have given the title of Pax Romana, meaning the peace of Rome and
quiet in the provinces,926 to the period of 30 B.C. to about A.D. 180.927 The Roman peace was
possible only because of the mighty Roman sword, and yet, in the three Jewish provin