Timeline With Notes on Judaism 400-165 BC
by Rusty Russell
HISTORICAL TIME CHART (Historical with an
emphasis on Judaism) 3 Part Series.
Note: The dating is approximate and follows certain events in Palestine, Rome, Greece,
Persia, Egypt, and China. The Notes in blue are a commentary on the effect of
hellenization on the Jewish people.
Part 1 2 3.
||Greek army under Xenophone is
defeated at Cunaxa in revolt against Artaxerses II of Persia: "Retreat of the Ten
||Socrates condemned to death for heretical
||The Midrash begins to develop
Athens, Thebes, Corinth, and Argos form a coalition against Sparta, Lysander killed in
||Battle of Coronae: Sparta defeats the
||Treaty between Salamis: In Cyprus and Egypt
||Romans under the dictator Marcus Furius
Camillus subjugate the Etruscans
||Gauls under Brennus sack Rome, but fail to
capture the capital
||Artaxerses II of Persia captures Greek
cities in Asia Minor
||Spartan ruler Antalcidas negotiates peace
with Persia, and forces other Greek states to adhere to it
||Last native Egyptian dynasty, the 30th (to
||The Athenian League and Sparta make peace
||Thebes forms the Arcadian League against
Sparta (to 362)
||First plebeian council elected in Rome
||Artaxerxes III becomes king of Persia (to
Philip II becomes king of Macedonia (to 336)
||Third Sacred War (to 346), begins when
Phocians seize Delphi and make use of the Oracle funds to raise an army
Macedonia fights against Athens
Alexander the Great is born
||Persian invasion of Egypt fails
||Egypt: Artaxerxes III of Persia recaptures
Egypt and founds the 31st dynasty, which lasts to 332.
Rome: First Samnite War between Rome and the Samnites and Latins (to 341).
||Epicurius teaches his philosophy
||Macedonia conquers Thrace.
||Greece: Fourth Sacred War, between Macedonia and Athens (to
||Philip of Macedon defeats Athenian and
Theban forces at battle of Chaeronea. He unites all Greece under his rule. Rome: tribes
and cities of Latin League revolt against Rome. Romans are victorious at Trifanum, and the
League is dissolved.
Persia: Artaxerxes III is assassinated; succeeded by Darius III (336-320).
||Darius III Codomannus becomes king of
336 Greece: Philip of Macedon is assissinated. He is succeeded by his son, Alexander III,
known as "the Great," who becomes king of Greece
and crushes a revolt by Athens, Thebes, and other Greek cities.
||Aristotle teaches at Athens
Alexander the Great Charges the East
- The pigmy in the west threatened the giant in the east.
- He wanted to link the West (cultural unity) to the East (grandeur and wealth)
- He built new cities (enlarged old ones) populated them with Greeks (esp. his soldiers)
- He brought new ideas, gods, methods of administration, language, military tactics,
markets for trade, etc.
||Alexander the Great begins campaign against Persia and
defeats Darius III at the river Granicus in Anatolia (Asia Minor)
||Alexander the Great defeats the Persians under Darius III
again at the battle of Issus, capturing the Persian queen and her childern.
Alexander refuses Darius's offer of ransom and part of his empire.
He takes the city of Tyre after siege. End of Phoenician empire.
||Alexander destroys the city of
Tyre after siege. End of Phoenician empire.
Alexander invades and conquers Egypt, foundation of Alexandria.
||Alexander renews Persian campaign and defeats Darius III at
Arbela and ends the persian empire.
Alexander seizes Babylon
||Darius III is assassinated, leaving Alexander in complete
control of Persia.
||Alexander marries Roxana in a symbolic
gesture of uniting East and West
||Alexander begins invasion of India.
Jews Surrounded by a New World; Alexander and the Jewish People
- He made a big impression on the Jews
- He showed hostility to the Samaritans and kindness to the Jews (granted them
- He didn't compel Jewish men to join his army (respected their Sabbaths, etc.)
||Alexander wins the battle of the Hydaspes, but his army
refuses to go any farther east and he has to retreat.
Second Samnite War (to 304). Roman troops are defeated and humiliated. During the war
Appius Claudius builds the Appian Way from Rome to Capua, near Naples, to help move Roman
troops more easily to the war area.
||Alexander claims to be the son of Zeus
Alexander dies at Babylon, aged 33. His body is buried at Alexandria, Egypt.
Alexander's empire divided between his four chief generals
Alexander the Great's generals argue over division of his empire (to 319).
Ptolemy I Soter takes Egypt and rules as satrap (governor) in Egypt (to 285).
Birth of Euclid
Hellenistic period begins (to 31).
Dividing Alexander's New Found Kingdom and the Fate of Palestine
- Right when Alexander died his general's quarreled for control over the conquered lands
- Many long and complicated wars followed with the Jews caught in the middle
- Two generals (Ptolemy and Seleucus) established a dynasty (important in Jewish history)
- Ptolemy gained control of Egypt (descendants were called "the Ptolomies")
- Seleucus won for himself all the Asian lands that were conquered (the Seleucids)
- Both Ptolemy and Seleucus claimed Palestine as part of their kingdoms
- Finally Ptolemy seized it and Seleucus let the matter go (though his descendants never
really let go)
* Interesting note: Though Ptolemy did not expect Jerusalem to be an easy city to conquer,
it was on a Sabbath and the Jews did not defend themselves (though they were considered
foolish it showed how well the scribes had done their work and the deep reverence for
||India: Chandragupta founds Mauryan dynasty (to 184).
||Judah: Ptolemy captures Jerusalem.
Libya: Egypt takes Libya as a province.
Syria: Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander's generals,
begins to take control.
Theocrites is born
||Olympias, mother of Alexander is murdered in revenge for
killings she had ordered
||Seleucus takes Babylon
||Italy: The Etruscans join the Samnites in attacking Rome,
but are defeated at Lake Vadimo.
||Greece: Two of Alexander's generals rule the country,
Antigonus I and Demetrius I both taking the title of king. Other governors follow their
||A trade treaty is agreed between Rome and Carthage.
||Egypt: Ptolemy I takes the title of king and is soon
Babylon: Seleucus I becomes king, founding Seleucid dynasty.
Agathocles, a tyrant of Syracuse in Sicily is allowed to take the title as king
||Italy: Rome makes peace with the Samnites and other enemies
and gains land in the area around Naples.
India: Seleucus gives up his claim on India to Chandragupta in exchange for 500 elephants.
||Central America: Mayan civilization begins to spread south.
Greece: Antigonus I killed in battle of Issus against Seleucus I and his allies. Seleucus
rules Syria, and Ptolemy I rules Palestine and Egypt.
||Rome becomes a major world power in the
Treaty between Rome and Carthage.
Outside of Palestine
- Jews around the eastern world now looked to the west (trade, government was there)
- Jewish settlements began emerging along the Mediterranean and all the areas
- These Jewish emigrants had to learn Greek language, customs, and ideas (Hellenization)
* Hellas was the Greek name for Greece
The Jews and the Founding of Alexandria
- The community of Alexandria is probably the best example of what happened to the Jews
under the influence of Greek or Hellenistic culture.
- The port of Alexandria became one of the most active commercial centers of the world.
With many Jews there they formed an important part of the community.
-Citizenship depended mostly upon your religion (each city had a patron god/goddess). City
festivities involved sacrificing to various deities especially if one held an office.
- Jews could not participate so they were not full citizens (yet they could not be called
foreigners because they helped found Alexandria and made it prosperous and important)
- The Ptolemies allowed for separate communities for Jews (courts, religion, diet,
Synagogue, etc.) They could not lead in festivals or hold a public office (unless they
converted to paganism).
- In spite of all this the Jews and Alexandrians were friendly to one another.
- As Alexandria prospered their was more learning and philosophy there than in Greece
- The Jews were hospitable and also spoke Greek and were somewhat cultured yet they
- Eventually very few Jews spoke Hebrew or Aramaic (dangerous to their Jewish roots)
- This is how they dealt with it, first, they began teaching their children Hebrew and
second, they translated the Pentateuch and other Jewish literature into Greek to preserve
the Jewish spirit
The Legend of the Septuagint
- The Jews of Egypt surrounded the translating of the Bible with legend and miracles.
* More coming about the Septuagint.
||Gauls join Samnites and Latins against Rome in the Third
Samnite War (to 290). It ends in Roman victory in central Italy
||Rome: Full equality between patricians and plebeians is
Greece: Birth of Archimedes, mathematician (died in 212).
||Egypt: Reign of Ptolemy II Philadelphus (to 246). He becomes king of Egypt.
Between 285 and 130 the Septuagint translated
||Greece: Antigonus II Gonatus rules Greece (to 239)
Ptolemy II of Egypt invades Syria and the first Syro-Egyptian war
Ptolemy II marries his sister Arsinoe
Greece: Birth of Euclid, mathematician (died in 194)
||Hinduism codified in India
||India: King Asoka rules Mauryan empire (to 232), uniting
central and northern India. He becomes a Buddhist.
||First Punic War between Rome and Carthage (to 241) begins a
century of struggle for control of the Mediterranean.
||Antiochus II Theos (the God) becomes king
||The second Syro-Egyptian war begins
|Rome takes Panormus in Sicily from Carthage.
Antiochus II marries Bernice, daughter of Ptolemy II
The Parthian kingdom is founded
Apollonius a Greek mathematician begins work in astronomy (to 220).
Judea is part of Ptolemaic empire based in Egypt (to 198).
Hebrew scriptures are translated into Greek.
and Jews in Palestine
The New Greek Cities
- Greek influence was also spreading in Palestine
- Old cities assumed new Greek names and esp. the non-Jewish cities practiced the Greek
way of life
- Greek buildings, gymnasiums, and forms of government
Prosperity and Migration
- Non-Jewish cities became very prosperous cause they were heavy into commerce (east and
- The Jews were big exporters of grain, wine, olive oil, cheese, fruit, and fish
- Jewish population increased heavily and many became artisans, merchants and farmers
Hellenization in Judea
* Note: Almost every ancient people of the Bible disappeared except the Jews
- They maintained their Judaism and were not at all attracted to the gods of Olympus
- They rejected the philosophy and culture as inferior to Judaism though respecting it
- The Jews stood more than ever before as a different and unique people
- The priests of Jerusalem and upper class wanted it to be the great trade center. They
wanted to externally resemble the people around them and yet maintain there Judaism and
not indulge in what they called "barbarianism."
The Sons of Tobias (The Tax Collectors)
- The chief advocates of Hellenism in Judea were members of a family who were believed to
have descended from Tobias the Ammonite who had scorned Nehemiah so much. Though they were
not Jewish they had intermarried with the family of the high priest and being important in
politics and government
- About 230 BC Joseph Ben Tobias bought from the king of Egypt the right to collect the
taxes from the entire district of Syria (Judea and all its neighbors).
- The way it worked was one man would pay the royal treasury a lump sum for the privilege
of collecting as much as he could from the inhabitants of a district. (He got rich at his
neighbors expense thus they wee extremely hated).
- Joseph Ben Tobias, his family, and his co-workers became a great economic power in
- They adopted the customs and ways of the Greeks the most and thus angered even the
||Seleucus II Callinicus becomes king of
Ptolemy III Euergetes becomes king of Egypt and rules to 221
The third Syro-Egyptian war begins as Ptolemy Invades Syria
||Peace between Rome and Carthage. Sicily becomes first Roman
||Seleucus invades Egypt
||Carthaginians begin conquest of Spain.
||Rome: Birth of Scipio Africanus, the general who leads Rome
in the Second Punic War (died in 183).
||Romans defeat Celts at Telamon in Italy.
||Antiochus III, the Great, succeeds his father and restores
power of Seleucid empire and becomes king of Syria and ruler
of babylon (to 187).
||China: Ch'in dynasty unites the country for the first time
in one empire (to 207). Greece: Philip V rules Macedonia (to 179).
Egypt: Ptolemy IV Philopater becomes king of Egypt and rules
The fourth Syro-Egyptian war begins
||Antiochus the Great invades Egypt
||Second Punic War (to 201). From Spain Hannibal crosses the
Alps with elephants to invade Italy, defeating Publius Cornelius Scipio at the river
Ticinis, and also defeated Sempronius Longus at the river Trebia.
- The Jews had no idea what was coming soon (major struggles) as a result of Greek
- At this time a man named Joshua ben Sirach (from Jerusalem) wrote a book on philosophy
but his philosophy differed greatly from that of the Greeks. He ignored subjects like the
physical universe, government, and society and was primarily interested in giving people
practical advice on how to live.
- According to him Moses and the prophets, and Proverbs and Eccesiastes give us all of the
answers. The wise man was the one who had no ambition and served God faithfully. He will
avoid friendship with the ambitious and wealth seekers.
- Little did he know that tragedy would follow. The poor were dividing from the rich,
things were getting hot.
||Hannibal annihilates the Roman army at Lake Trasimene.
Ptolemy IV invades Syria; Battle of Raphia
||Hannibal wins another great victory, at Cannae, inflicting
one of the worst defeats the Roman's suffer.
||Hannibal is defeated by the Roman general, Marcellus, at
Nola in southern Italy.
||Rome: Marcellus begins conquest of Sicily, completed in
China: Construction of the Great Wall begins.
||China: Shi Huangdi, to maintain his position of power the
emperor, has all historical documents burned and books are banned. After this time a
silk-based material is used for writing on, and Chinese script is standardized.
||First Macedonian War, in which the Macedonians and the
Carthaginians fight Rome (to 205).
||Rome: Scipio the Younger defeats the Carthaginians drives
them out of Spain.
||Egypt: Reign of Ptolemy V Epiphanes (to 181).
Rosetta Stone recording his ascension is carved.
||Africa: Hannibal is recalled to Carthage to repel a Roman
invasion by Scipio the Younger. Scipio defeats Hannibal at Zama and ends the Second Punic
War. Carthage surrenders Spain and Mediterranean lands and Carthaginian fleet is
Ptolemy V ( Epiphanes ) becomes king of Egypt
||China: Reign of the Han dynasty (to A.D. 9), founded by Lui
||The fifth Syro-Egyptian war begins Carthage
surrenders to Rome
||Second Macedonian War begins between the Greeks and Philip
V of Macedon (to 196). With the help of the Romans, the Greeks are victorious, and Philip
is forced to surrender to Greece.
The Mishna begins to appear among the Jews
||Judea part of Seleucid empire under Antiochus III and IV
||Hannibalis political reforms in Carthage make him
unpopular. His enemies force him to flee into exile.
||Ptolemy V marries Cleopatra, daughter of
||Syrian War (to 189). Antiochus III defeated in war with
||Greece: Birth of Hipparchus, astronomer (dies 120).
Antiochus III defeated by Romans at Magnesia
||Seleucus IV Philopator becomes king of
||India: Last Mauryan king overthrown and the Reign of the
Sunga dynasty (to 172), is founded in the Ganges Valley, by Pushayanitra.
||Hannibal commits suicide to avoid being captured by the
Maccabees Fight for Survival Against Astronomical Odds
The Maccabean Age
* The period between 200-150 BC were very important and filled with stirring events. These
events forever changed the Jewish people and Judaism even to the present day. Since all
that happened outside of Judea we must make mention of the ambitions and fortunes of the
empires and kingdoms that controlled the world and their powerful rulers.
Judea Becomes a Syrian Province
- The Syrians desired to reunite all of Alexander's conquests.
- By 198 BC Antiochus III, called "the Great" took the first step when he forced
Egypt to give up Palestine
- Only one obstacle lay in the path of the Seleucid's march to world dominion--Rome
- Rome had just destroyed the power of Carthage and was gradually dominating the
- Antiochus was forced to give up Egypt and give hostages (his royal family) plus large
sums of money (which they exacted from the peoples subject to them) as security against
any Roman invasions.
- But Antiochus and his successor, Seleucus IV, continued to plan conquests.
- The Seleucid empire began to crack when most of Asia would no longer submit to the
tyranny (especially Israel)
Factions Among the Jews
- Differences of opinion and many factions developed within Judaism. (Some were for the
Syrian ambitions and some were against them)
- The family of Tobias and Hyrcanus, son of Joseph, were on the side of Egypt (obviously)
and others were on the side of Syria because they thought Syria was too powerful
- The common people didn't really get involved (they knew they would be taxed by either
side) until it involved their religion and then real political parties began to develop
||Ptolemy VI Philometor becomes king of
Egypt and rules (to 145).
||Africa: early Meroitic writing appears.
||Perseus, son of Philip V of Macedonia, continues war with
Rome (to 167).
||Antiochus IV Epiphanes becomes king of Syria and Seleucid
empire (to 163).
||Ptolemy VII becomes co-regent of
Egypt with his brother Ptolemy VI
Rome's third Macedonian war begins (to 167).
Macedonians under Perseus attack Rome once again.
Mithridates I begins the conquest of Babylonia and Media, adding
those countries to Elam, Persia, and Bactra to form the Parthian Empire
||Egypt: Antiochus IV invades the country and captures
Ptolemy VI. The Egyptians proclaim his brother, Ptolemy Vl11 Euergetes, king. Antiochus
withdraws, and the two brothers reign jointly.
Antiochus Epiphanes captures Jerusalem
||In the battle of Pydna the Romans defeat the Macedonians
and capture their leader, Perseus.
The Romans interfere in Antiochus's war with Egypt and prevent his
Antiochus pollutes the Temple in Jerusalem and suspends the sacrifices of the Jews
||Antiochus begins persecution of the Jews. The Jewish Temple
in Jerusalem is dedicated to the worship of the Greek god, Zeus.
Attack on Judaism
The Sanctity of the Temple
- The pro-Syrian group wanting the favor of Seleucus and revealed that there was much
wealth in the Temple in Jerusalem
- In those days (having no banks) all Temples were used for storing treasures. A thief
would not dare arouse the anger of a god by taking what the god protected.
- Seleucus dispatched Heliodorus (an official) to confiscate the money in the Temple
- Heliodorus left without taking the money (legend is that a certain Jew beat him up)
- The Syrian plan was thwarted and the true intent of the Hellenized Jews was revealed
Removal of the High Priest and Info on Antiochus Epiphanes (The Madman)
- The pro-Syrian group decided to remove the high priest. (Hoping to control the
- They did this because of the change in the government of Syria
- Seleucus IV had died and had been succeeded by his brother Antiochus IV (who usurped the
- Antiochus IV also wanted to conquer Egypt like the others and unite his empire
* He gave himself the surname "Epiphanes" which means "the visible
god" (in otherwords he was Zeus incarnate)
- He acted as though he really were Zeus and the people called him "Epimanes"
meaning "the madman"
- Since Palestine bordered Egypt he needed a loyal Hellenized population there
- Then a group of Jews came to him and devised a plan. The high priest Onias III should be
removed and his Hellenized brother Jason was to take his place. (set up a Greek
Constitution and coin Greek money)
- The plan was followed and all the Jews were outraged. It was the first time since the
Babylonian Captivity that a non-Jewish government had interfered with the priesthood
(treating the sacred office as though it were nothing other than a governmental office)
- But worse was to come. Now the Hellenizers had full control of the government in
Jerusalem and they began to build gymnasiums within the city and encouraged the young to
spend all their time there.
- The young priests engaged in sports. Jerusalem was filled with Greek styles, clothes,
names, language, and worst of all, Greece's religion and loose morals.
- The most radical Hellenizers felt that things were not moving fast enough so they
convinced Antiochus to remove Jason (Jason fled) and replace him with Menelaus (not a
member of the priestly family)
- Menelaus had no sympathy for the Jewish traditions whatsoever and was only concerned
- The Temple treasury did not contain enough money to pay Antiochus what he had promised
so he sold some of the holy vessels of the Temple to raise the money he needed.
Judaism was to be Destroyed
- To Antiochus to be un-Hellenized was stiff-necked nonsense
- If Judaism stood in the way then Judaism was to be destroyed so he gave the orders
- The Syrian army marched into Jerusalem and many of the people were killed and others
escaped to the hills. Only the known Hellenists were allowed to remain
- Orders were given: NO Sabbath, NO Holy Days, and NO Circumcision
- A Statue of Zeus/Antiochus was placed in the Temple above the altar
- The most detestable animals (including the pig) were brought and sacrificed on the altar
- An abominable act was perpetrated on Kislev 25, 168 BC according to the Book of
Maccabees that "left the Jewish people desolate." (They call this the
Abomination of Desolation in Daniel) but Jesus taught that this was a prelimary of the
secondary and greater fulfillment coming in the last days and seventieth week of Daniel.
||Jews, under the leadership of Judas Maccabeus, rebel
against the persecution of Antiochus IV (to 164, when Jewish worship is restored).
||The Jerusalem Temple repaired and cleansed
NOTES: Antiochus - Death
of Judas Maccabee (168 - 160 BC)
The Hopeless Situation
The Party of Hasidim
- As Hellenism was gaining ground the rich upper class Jews were for it and the common
people adhered ever so strictly to Judaism and the commandments. A new class was forming
among the people. The Hasidim: [Heb., = the pious], is a term used by the rabbis to
describe those Jews who maintained the highest standard of religious observance and moral
action. The first Hasidim, also called the Assideans or Hasideans, were members of a sect
that developed between 300 BC and 175 BC. Rigid adherents of Judaism, they led the
resistance to the Hellenizing campaign of Antiochus IV of Syria and were important in the
revolt of the Maccabees.
- With Antiochus' edict to abolish Judaism there were only two options for the Hasidim: to
die fighting or to die as martyrs (they could not fight but they could die for their
- There was no army and the leaders were the Scribes whose interests were far from
- The little book "Pirke Abot" (chapters of the fathers) reveals what the
Scribes were concerned with:
a. to be very moderate in passing judgment
b. to raise a generation of educated men
c. to protect the law of the Torah
- Judaism was declared illegal and thousands were put to death
- Men, women, and children were loyal to Judaism and died as martyrs
- The stories were told of Hannah who encouraged her 7 sons to die rather than abandon
Judaism and Eliezer the old man who chose death as an example to the younger fellow Jews
- Thousands of Jews abandoned their homes (when the Greek army was approaching) and fled
to the hills
- What was most disastrous were the Jews who had defected to the Hellenizers. Knowing who
were the Hasidim they did not hesitate to betray them over to the Syrians. They did this
openly and publicly
The Sabbath Attacks
- Many peasant Jews put up a strong fight against the Syrian soldiers
- The Syrians did most of their attacking on Saturdays (Sabbath Holy Days)
- The end of the Jewish people was soon approaching
Part 1 2 3.