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Intertestamental Period & Herod the Great

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Rediscovering Israel Online Biblical Study
Reading Assignment – Pg. 143-184
Reading Time: 4 minutes

As I was attempting to write this blog, I fully intended to try to redeem the Intertestamental Period for our sweet online community, who blundered her way through a challenging book on the subject a year ago.

I spent days researching the prophetic books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, logging dates and geographical positioning.

Sept. 17, 592 B.C.Ezekiel 8:1The shekinah glory of God left the Temple in Jerusalem (heading east)
Jan. 15-July 18, 586 B.C.Jeremiah 39:1King Nebudkenezzer’s army arrived in January, but it wasn’t until July 586 B.C. that they broke through the wall and ended Jerusalem’s reign
August 17, 586 B.C.Jeremiah 52:12The 1st Temple in Jerusalem – Solomon’s Temple is destroyed
August, 586 B.C.Jeremiah 52:18-19It may be at this time that the Ark of the Covenant is lost
April 28, 573 B.C.Ezekiel 40:1The glory of God returns to Jerusalem (from the east)

I charted out the different eras of political power in the Land of Israel and how each one impacted God’s chosen people:

  • Persian Era (397-336 BC)
  • Greek Era (336-323 BC)
  • Egyptian Era (323-198 BC)
  • Syrian Era (198-166 BC)
  • Maccabean Era (165-63 BC)
  • Roman Era (63-4 BC)

And I tugged on some pearl strings connecting this period to the Gospel.  

But tug as I may, chart and map as I might, this blog post just wasn’t coming together in a cohesive manner that you’d find worth reading.  So, to spare you from that monstrosity of a message, I’ll just share with you what I learned during my dissertation-level research.

The moral of the story is:
No matter where God’s people’s focus is or what political party is in control, He is still the same.


After Intentional Filling’s experience with the Intertestamental Period, we’re grateful that Kristi McLelland addresses this time period in a more concise and agreeable manner.

Hooray for the redemption of this period of time!

“Some commentaries refer to this period as ‘the silent years.’  This term seems a bit elusive, as it conveys the idea that God was silent for 400 years — that He wasn’t moving, speaking, or acting in human history.  What scholars actually mean by that terminology is not that God took a 400-year nap, got lost, checked out, or wasn’t living in covenant faithfulness with His people.  Rather it indicates that there were no writing prophets of Israel during this time; Malachi was the last.”

Kristi McLelland, Rediscovering Israel, Pg. 145

To us as Western believers, it is hard to understand how we jump from a stern lecture in Malachi to the “nursery” of baby Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew. But we sometimes forget that the intended audience of both of these books was Jewish.  These are the people who each year recount their history and zakhar/remember how God has worked in the lives of their ancestors.  We focus on the 400-year gap while the Jewish people recall how God moved despite the lack of a prophet.

As Kristi also says on Pg. 145 of Rediscovering Israel, “He [God] is geopolitically, historically, and culturally laying the groundwork for the incarnation, for the birth of the Son of God upon the earth.”

So, I took Kristi up on the suggestion and wrote, “A lot happened here,” on that white page in my Bible that indicates the ending of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament.

God never stopped moving.  He never let go.  He never stopped proving He is in control.*

Herod the Great?  Great what?

It is a real wonder that the culture, history, and language of the Jewish people have been preserved as well as it has.  They certainly have been a people who have had to adapt and overcome with the times and the people in charge.  

Though Herod was raised as a Jew, his rule and reign as a Roman official brought great hardship to the Jewish people.  

When touring the Holy Land today, evidence remains showing Herod’s prowess in architecture and getting the job done. But how did he obtain the funds necessary to carry out such designs?

Similar to King Solomon’s taxing foreigners entering the Land of Israel, which brought wealth to his kingdom, Herod the Great (manipulator or deceiver, maybe?) used the Hasmonean taxation system and taxed the Jewish people severely to fund his building projects.

“The influence of Herod the Great as a master architect and builder outlived his life.  His legacy of stone can still be viewed and touched today throughout the land of Israel…”

…including his elaborate building projects—Herodium, Caesarea Maritima, Massada, and the Temple Mount expansion—

“perhaps overshadowing his legacy as an evil dictator.”

Kristi McLelland, Rediscovering Israel, Pg. 183

What a time in history for the Son of God to enter the scene!

THANK GOD that even in the midst of the reign of an evil ruler, God didn’t stop moving.  In fact, He moved closer — down and among.  He didn’t let go; instead, He walked among us.  And He never stopped proving He is in control.

So, no matter what you’re facing, what giant is calling out to you, or what power is standing over you, just remember that God will not leave you or forsake you.  

Praise God – He is still the same God today as He was back then!

*Inspired by My God is Still the Same by Sanctus Real

How has God proven Himself to you that He is still in control, even when the rest of the world is shaking?

Shop this study

Rediscovering Israel | Kristi McLelland

A 7-week study to experience Scripture as a timeless, transformational Story demonstrating God’s love and faithfulness. String the Biblical pearls to encounter the Bible as one cohesive storyline, rather than a book of stand-alone accounts.

Rediscovering Israel by Kristi McLelland - Exclusive Spring Study for Annual Members Only | Intentionalfilling.com

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One Comment

  1. Ben Shira is the one that rocked our minds when we studied this course! In view of Ben Shira, we see how radical Jesus’ view of women was in this time space.
    It was difficult to believe but when I looked up quotes from Ben Shira it was even worse.
    So thankful for KMac and this resource Rediscovering Israel.

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