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The Three Captivities
During the time of the division of the Jewish monarchy, the northern kingdom of Israel continually turned to idolatry. Every one of their kings were evil and led the people astray. The Lord had continually warned them that if they would not repent, he would "read them out of their land" and scatter them throughout the nations.
Finally in 722 B.C. the northern kingdom of Israel was captured by Assyria during the reign of Hosea. Assyria was one of the most wicked and cruel peoples in the history of the world. After the fall of Samaria, the capital city of the northern kingdom, the inhabitants were deported to land far away. They were replaced by strangers from various parts of the Assyrian Empire. Around 136 years later, 586 B.C. , the southern kingdom of Judah, and the capital city Jerusalem, were utterly destroyed by the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar. The inhabitants were deported to Babylon during the reign of the last king of Judah, Zedekiah.
According to the promises made by God, through the prophets, they would remain in Babylon for 70 years and be allowed to return by the decree of a Persian king. At the end of the 70 years, Cyrus the Persian, who was at that time the undisputed ruler of the world, issued a decree commanding the restoration of all Jews who had desired to return to their homeland. Under Zerubbabel and Joshua (hereditary high priest) a number of Jews returned to the land promised them by the Lord. Under Ezra and Nehemiah the Temple was rebuilt and the walls were restored.
After this, during the conquests of Alexander the Great, the Jews were left alone to enjoy a season of peace. But after Alexander died, a Syrian ruler named Antiochus Epiphanes brought terrible persecution upon Israel and profaned the new Temple. These troublesome times were predicted by Daniel the prophet.
The Hasmonean Rule
Then came Hasmonean Rule which lasted for about 100 years. This time period is recorded in the books of the the Maccabees.
Herod the Great
Herod the Great, who had rebuilt a magnificent Temple in Jerusalem for the Jews, was an Idumaean, and the first foreigner who had ruled in Judea. He was raised to this lofty position by the Romans. He had received popular favor among many of the Jews through his marriage with Mariamne, a princess of the Hasmonean Dynasty. But soon after he was despise by the Jews because he placed a golden eagle over the great gate of the Temple. This eagle was quickly torn down upon the death of Herod the Great. This was the same Herod the Great who jealously tried to murder He who was born the King of the Jews.
By the authority of Herod the Great, Archelaus his son was giving administration over Idumaea, Judea, and Samaria. Shortly after, Archelaus, was banished by the Roman government, when Pontius Pilate became procurator of the new Imperial province of Judea.
Around the same time Herod Antipas was given the tetrarchy of upper and lower Galilee, and the district of Perea.
Philip, the brother of Herod Antipas, was given tetrarchy of Ituraea and Trachonitis.
These were the political divisions that existed during the time that our Lord walked in the Holy Land.
Palestine A Roman Province Of Syria.
© Bible History Online http://www.bible-history.com
Maps are essential for any serious Bible study, they help students of the Scriptures understand the geographical locations and historical backgrounds of the places mentioned in the Bible.
Map of NT Israel (Click to Enlarge)
Israel in the First Century
Map of Israel (First Century AD)