February 2, 2011

Between the Testaments

The angel Gabriel appeared twice to Daniel in Babylon. In the years 539 & 537 BC, God's messenger predicted the rise of Persia, Greece and Rome. The angel also told Daniel to write everything down, because a very long time was going to pass before everything happened the way he was saying.

Gabriel's biggest prediction was about the Messiah. He said Jerusalem's Temple and wall were going to be rebuilt, and then, a little less than 500 years after that, Israel's Messiah would appear. Of course, no one was exactly certain just how to interpret Daniel's writings while the events were still going on. Nevertheless, Gabriel's predictions continued unfolding.

Around 480 BC, the Persian King Xerxes tried and failed to conquer Greece. Back in Babylon, Xerxes found comfort in a new wife from the Hebrews, named Esther. Twenty-two years later, Xerxes' son Artaxerxes decreed the Jews could go home to rebuild the entire city of Jerusalem.

In the Autumn of 458 BC, returning exiles in Jerusalem heard Ezra read the law. Israel recommitted themselves to their Lord and dedicated the next twelve months as a Sabbath to the Lord. This renewed the Weeks of the planting cycle. From then on, every seventh Autumn began a new resting year for the land.

Near the middle of the second Week, in 445 BC, the King of Persia decided to let Jerusalem rebuild their wall. This marked the Week as the first of the sixty-nine predicted by Gabriel to Daniel.

The last Old Testament Prophet, Malachi, finished speaking around 430 BC, while Socrates was still a young man in Athens. But another hundred years passed before Alexander the Great came from Greece to take the Mid East away from Persia in 332 BC.

Another century passed, as Alexander's Successors who took Egypt and Syria kept fighting each other for Israel. For all of the 200's BC, these Eastern Dynasties battled back and forth. Meanwhile, Italy had conquered the Western Seas and began moving East.

From the 190's to the 160's BC, while the Maccabees were fighting against the Syrians, the Romans were claiming dominion over all of Greece and Macedonia. In the 140's BC, Israel proclaimed itself independent thru the Hasmonean Dynasty. By the 120's BC, Rome began claiming portions of Asia Minor. Gabriel's fourth Empire kept stretching farther into the east.

The Hasmonean Dynasty was sovereign in Jerusalem for eight decades, until Rome conquered Syria in the 60's BC. The Roman General Pompey took Jerusalem but left the young prince Hyrcanus in charge. From then on, Israel sent its annual payments to Rome in order to remain officially "Independent".

In the 50's BC, Pompey lost to Julius Caesar in the Italian Civil War. Caesar was killed in 44 BC and his nephew Octavian was ruling by 42 with his partner, Marc Antony.

In 40 BC, Parthia (no longer Persia) conquered Israel and a young Governor fled to Italy whose name was Herod, son of Antipater. In 37 BC, Marc Antony helped Herod re-conquer Judea and the two became fast friends. The Romans proclaimed Herod King of Israel and Herod rewarded Antony richly for the privilege.

Antony joined Cleopatra of Egypt and fought against Octavian Caesar in the second Civil War. Caesar defeated Antony & Cleopatra, who died a year later, in 30 BC. From Israel, King Herod quickly transferred his valuable loyalty from Antony to Octavian. Caesar accepted, and Herod developed a strong, lasting friendship with the new Emperor of the civilized world.

In 28 BC, the Roman Senate granted Octavian the title "Augustus" which means "Revered One". In 27 BC, the new Augustus expanded the Roman Census for the first time to include all provinces outside of Italy. Each province renewed its census records every ten to fourteen years, but independent "Client-Kingdoms" like Herod's Israel never had to submit to the practice. Italy simply continued accepting the annual tribute sent in each year by such Kings.

By this point, the Senate had essentially conferred ultimate power on Augustus for life. During these decades, the Empire was generally peaceful. So Herod spent many years maintaining his friendship with Caesar. The King gave Rome’s Emperor expensive gifts and built pagan temples in Caesar's honor. Herod spared no expense and took all pains to keep Augustus pleased.

In 20 BC, Caesar granted Herod territories east of the Jordan River which were hotly coveted by the Nabateans of Northern Arabia. In the same year, Herod promised Jerusalem's Jews he would enlarge their Temple. But the Jews made Herod promise to lay up every beam and stone before tearing down the old building, so the actual construction did not begin until 18 BC.

In 12 BC, the Nabateans stoked rebellion in Herod's East, which the King was unable to put down easily. Herod couldn't prove Nabatea was involved without evidence, but Rome's Governor in Syria wouldn’t give the King permission to cross the boundary with armed support. So the fighting dragged on, over the Jordan River, until a new Roman Governor arrived, in the year 9 BC.

That same year, after 528 years, the angel Gabriel finally reappeared on the Earth, to an old priest in Jerusalem...


Please continue by clicking over to this Timeline of NT Era Events.


Charles Savelle said...

Am I correct in assuming that your identification of Micah as "the last Old Testament Prophet" is a typo?

Bill Heroman said...

Yes. Thank you! Malachi.

What's interesting is that I'd gotten this correct in my original piece, in 2006. But I'd (absent mindedly) transposed the names during a 2009 revision. Tonight's post has been sitting around a while!

Thanks, brother. I trust your sharp eyes that this must have been my only such slip! Surely. ;-)

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