6. Palestine During New Testament Times

   
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6. PALESTINE DURING NEW TESTAMENT TIMES

I. FROM ALEXANDER TO POMPEY

1. Samaria and Idumea were attached to Judea; Perea was attached to Galilee.

2. Under Alexander, Palestine was relatively free—independent, except when Antiochus attempted to destroy “Jewish superstitions.”

3. The Hasmonaean revolt was successful beyond anticipation. Israel was expanded in territory.

4. The people did not like military priests—a five-year civil war broke out.

5. Alexandra, Jannaeus’s widow, brought peace.

II. UNDER ROME

1. Hyrcanus joined with the Arabs to besiege his brother at Jerusalem, and Rome took over. Independence was gone forever.

2. Samaria and Galilee were attached to Syria. Israel’s neighbors hailed the Romans as a deliverer.

3. The Romans were very tolerant of local customs and granted full religious liberty.

4. The walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt and it was granted Joppa as a seaport.

5. Herod became king of Judea. This Idumean received the title “King of the Jews.”

6. Caesarea became the capital and both Judea and Samaria were rebuilt.

7. Palestine was divided into three administrative parts:

a. Galilee and Perea—Antipas.
b. Districts north and east of Galilee given to Philip.
c. Archelaus had Samaria and Judea—and Idumea.

8. The Zealots were an old party and never ceased to make trouble.

9. There were three religious parties:

a. Pharisees—the progressive or liberal party.
b. The Sadducees were the fundamentalists.
c. The Essenes were the isolationists—the ascetic cult.

10. The Zealots were the “home rule” political party.

11. The worst trouble with Rome came when Gaius (37-41) wanted to put his statue in the “holy of holies” in the temple at Jerusalem.

12. The Jews kept looking for the Messiah, while they rejected Jesus. In A.D. 132 they accepted Bar Cocheba and started a new revolt against Rome.

13. After this the Sanhedrin was restored to power. Taxes were collected by salaried agents. Only customs were “farmed out” to publicans.

14. After Archelaus, Judea was ruled by procurators, Pilate being the fifth of that order to govern Judea.

15. Agrippa, grandson of Herod, was the last of the procurators. He was the most popular of all Roman governors.

16. At last another semi-Jewish king sat on David’s throne—at least for three years.

17. At last (A.D. 66) the full-stage revolt against Rome broke out. It ended in A.D. 70 when Titus took Jerusalem and “not one stone of the temple was left upon another.”

18. Christians, having been forewarned by Jesus, fled to Pella. But the Jews never forgave them for thus forsaking Jerusalem.

III. THE LAW AND ITS INTERPRETATION

1. The Jews took their religion very seriously. Through Moses, God—Yahweh— had given them his law.

2. This law—the Torah—was a revelation of God’s will. Their whole religious duty was—”Cease to do evil; learn to do good.” Isa. 1:16,17.

3. The temple (synagogue) was a symbol of the LAW.

4. The Jews had priests at Jerusalem, but no fixed ministers at the synagogues.

5. The oral law soon became as binding as the written law:

a. Midrashim—running commentary on the law.
b. Mishnah—the classified or codified oral law.

6. The final compilation of the oral law was the Talmud.

7. Of 4,500,000 Jews, only 700,000 dwelt in Palestine. There were more Jews in Alexandria than in Jerusalem.

8. Jewish “hope” crystallized in two directions:

a. The Messianic hope—a mighty king sitting on David’s throne and ruling the world.
b. Eschatology—the coming of Yahweh—destruction of the world. Judging the quick and the dead. The resurrection. The new heavens and the new earth. The universal kingdom of righteousness.

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