Second Temple Period Paper
Liberty University Baptist Theological Seminary
NBST 510: New Testament Introduction
June 28, 2015
It is imperative if one is to be a student of the bible they must know the history and chain of events surrounding the major areas of the bible and prominent figures. Do you not know that the history of the Old Testament is found primarily in the first 17 books Genesis-Esther, of our English Bibles? Genesis 1-11 more or less serves as the introduction to the whole Bible. Themes developed throughout the rest of scripture begin here. The Old Testament serves as a ...view middle of the document...
After the death of the last Jewish Prophets of the antiquity and still under Persian rule, the leadership of the Jewish people was in the hands of five successive generations of zugot leaders. They flourished first under the Persians (539-332 BC) then under the Greeks (332-167 BC) then under an independent Hasmonean Kingdom (140-37 BC) and then under the Romans (63 BC-132 AD). Kostenberger, Kellum and Quarles records this date as being October 29, 539 BC coinciding with Cyrus’s victory over Babylon. However, Ezra states that “construction of the Temple God began during the second year after they arrived in Jerusalem. This would place the beginning of the Second Temple period at around 536 or 537 BC. The Persians were supplanted by the Greeks in 331 BC ending their control over the Holy Land.
During this period, Second Temple Judaism can be seen as shaped by the three major cities and their results, as various groups of Jews reacted to them differently. First came the destruction of the Kingdom of Judah in 587/6 BC, when the Judeans lost their independence, monarchy, holy city and First Temple and were mostly exiled to Babylon. They consequently faced a theological crisis involving the nature, power, and goodness of God and were also threatened culturally, racially, and ceremonially as they were thrown into proximity with other peoples and religious groups. The absence of recognized prophets later in the period left them without their version of divine guidance at a time when they felt most in need of support and direction. The second crisis was the growing influence of Hellenism in Judaism, ahich culminated in the Maccabean Revolt of 167 BC. The third crisis was the Roman occupation of the region, beginning with Pompey and his sack of Jerusalem in 63 BC. This included the appointment of Herod the Great as King of the Jews by the Roman Senate, the Herodian Kingdom of Judea comprising parts of what today are Israel, Palestinian Authority, Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.
The Persian Period 331 BC end of prophecy. Although this paper is focused on the period of history beginning with Alexander the Great, it is essential to briefly cover the Persian Empire’s rule over Judea before continuing. The Persian period began in 539 BC and lasted until 331 BC. Malachi, the last OT profit of God, recorded the existence of the temple as did Haggai. Subsequently, many scholars link the beginning of the Second Temple period Malachi’s service to God.
Following a decree by the Persian King Cyrus, conqueror of the Babylonian empire (538 BCE), some 50,000 Jews set out on the first return to the Land of Israel, led by Zerubbabel, a descendant of the House of David. Less than a century later, the second return was led by Ezra the Scribe. Over the next four centuries, the Jews knew varying degrees of self-rule under Persian (538-333 BCE) and later Hellenistic (Ptolemaic and Seleucid) over lordship (332-142 BCE).