This page contains Mac’s notes/syllabus for the entire course. You may use it to reference each class’ lecture material. The “blog” essays are written by Laurel, based upon the material in this syllabus but with additional, supplemental information and links. We will continue to update those blog entries as we have time.

If you have any questions, suggestions or simply want to see something covered more in depth, please feel free to e-mail Mac at or Laurel (the webmaster) at  When Brian finishes up the materials for the Israel trip, we will add those as well for your reference.



Mac and Laurel

Bible History III

The Bible has long been considered one of the most remarkable, fascinating and curiosity-arousing books that was ever written.  It is replete with facts, events and names that are without doubt historically accurate. But how does Moses, Daniel, Jeremiah and other ancient prophets come to know the names of both famous and infamous personalities?  How does Moses know the history, geography, and origins of nations of peoples thousands of miles away?  This is what we plan to examine along with the Bible’s great themes like covenant, theology, punishment and redemption leading to the birth of the Messiah.

But a note up front, our examination will not be an exhaustive one as no one class can be that thorough.  We will however attempt to establish with the best of our knowledge a working timeline of events like births of noted individuals, great events like Exodus, the falls of Troy, Jericho and the collapse of the Bronze Age from which Abraham first makes his appearance.  Geographic locations using maps will help us to see the ancient world in Egypt, Anatolia/Turkey, Asia and even India to China all connected by the famous Silk Road.

International ancient trade along the Silk Road trade route is key and we will see how God’s gift of Canaan to his people lie at the crossroads of the north/south Africa to Europe link and that Canaan itself lies at one of the western destinations of trade from the east. In time, the Mediterranean Sea will be added to the trade route from the Egyptians, Phoenicians, Romans and others to their enrichment. Abraham himself is born into a family of wealthy trade merchants and will become fabulously wealthy with God’s blessing passing on covenant responsibility to his heirs.

Finally, we must look closely at the great empires that affect the lives of Biblical characters first like Egypt, the Hittites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks and eventually the Romans.  All are there within the milieu of the long covenant struggles.  But it will be Moses, Hebrew baby adopted into pharaoh’s great house by his daughter the Bible story tells us rising to greatness as one of history’s richest personalities.  Where do we begin, first lets set the stage with the life of Moses in New Kingdom Egypt ca. 1580 bce forward.

New Kingdom Egypt

Hyksos expelled ca. 1580 bce by pharaohs Kamose & Ahmose I ca. 1550-1525

Thutmose I dynasty begins 1504-1492

Thutmose II 1492-1479

Queen Hatshepsut 1479-1458-57 ca?

Moses born here w-Biblical scholars believing Hatshepsut is pharaoh’s princess

Thutmose III 1479-1425 1 of 2 possible Exodus pharaohs

Exodus dating 1446 bce best agreed date by scholars

Amenhotep II *not a 1st born son 1428-1397 (Thutmose III’s 1st born dies mysteriously)

Thutmose IV 1397-1388

Amenhotep III 1388-1351-50 *(Gold King)

Akhenaton 1551-1334 *considered a heretic by Egyptians Amen to Aten name change

Smenkhare 1337-1333

Tutankhamun or Tut 1333-1323


The Importance & Impact of Covenants

                            Read Genesis Chpts. 15 & 16

Covenant keeping:  Covenant virtues:

  1. Obedience: Abraham
  2. Faithfulness: Jeremiah
  3. Trust: Isaac & Rebecca
  4. Reliance on God: Moses
  5. Perseverance: Jacob’s well
  6. Patience: Joseph
  7. Family: Jacob
  8. Testing : Job

The births and trials of Ishmael & Isaac

The birth of Jacob & Esau (twins)

Why Egypt? The most referenced nation outside Israel in the Bible. Old kingdom Egypt (2420-2258/ Pepi I &II) faded due to weak governmental leadership, excessive taxation due to previous building projects, and major adverse “Global Climatic Changes” leading to a first intermediate period or an “Egyptian Dark Age” circa 2150-2135. Kingdom splits 2135-1986 North-Herakleopolis // South-Thebes

Global Climatic Changes or GCC will affect Abraham’s land, North Africa, the Sinai & Arabia which may lead to Abram’s departure into Canaan, “a land flowing with milk & honey”

Middle Kingdom Pharaohs: A-me-nem-hat I (1956-1911) begins the 12th Dynasty and revives Egypt from Thebes (most heroic, influential powerful pharaohs rule from this capital ) Reorganizes government, begins international trade with new business partners, alliances with Crete and other Greek lands to the north, (*Athens had an ancient legend that it was founded by an Egyptian named “Kekrops”)  Phoenician kings for trade ships, invades gold rich Nubia to south, extensive military expeditions north to and beyond Hittite lands to eastern Black Sea lands called the Colchis (gold rich/ Jason’ Golden Fleece legend is here)

Into this Middle Kingdom (1956-1539/ 417 years) period Abraham arrives where Egypt is now strong, prosperous, and dominate.  He will, as Moses writes, leave Egypt fabulously rich with silver, gold, camels, donkeys, sheep, and servants returning to Canaan where his heir, Isaac will wander find a wife, and embrace the Covenant’s promises.  Jacob will also marry and become himself a wealthy sheik with sons destined to fulfill God’s promises, most prominent Joseph the eventual Vizier of Egypt.

Powerful nations in the region are: Hittites to the north in a land called Anatolia (Esau will marry two Hittite women) , Old Babylonian Kingdom Lands to east in Mesopotamia (Greek name), Kerma-Nubia lands to south of Egypt now modern Sudan / Nub is the Egyptian word for gold (Cush is Hebrew name) , Punt– now modern Somalia & greater Ethiopia region in Bronze Age



A.) Notes: Open map with setting Bronze Age picture of nations surrounding Canaan for Abraham -Hittites north, Arzawa or Hellenes, Wilusa or Trojans, Mitanni east, Amorites in Canaan, Philistines along coast, Egypt to south* Expanded covenant: Abraham marries Keturah & have six sons/ One is Midian & Moses’ father-n-law Jethro is a Midianite// Speech: Exodus 18: 1-37 // Abraham teaches all of his sons about Yahweh & some become priests

Why Canaan?

Joshua 1: 2-4 > “My servant Moses is dead.  Now then, you and all these people get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to the Israelites.  I will give you every place you set your foot as I promised to Moses.”

           Joshua chps. 10-11-12: defeated cities & king’s lists / Joshua’s warning against idolatry & covenant renewed in 23-24

    *Parallel time-line Invasion to Saul 360 yrs.:  *Joshua & Amenhotep III 1388-1351 & IV *Akhenaton 1351-1334 & son King Tut & Suppiliuliumas I Hittite > 1344-1322 & Judge Othniel 1358-1349 // Ramses the Great 1279-1213 & Kadesh Treaty w-Muwatalli ca. 1258 /Hattusili III > Judge Deborah 1234-1222  // Ramses the III & Judge Gideon 1195-1164 & *Egypt weakened after Sea Peoples

Cross-roads / Cross-hairs / Cross-ties

Canaan itself fully organized & occupied by the people called Canaanites of Noah’s fourth son Canaan and their cities. The Mesopotamian city of Nuzi called the land Kinahnu as synonym for red or purple dye.  The Greeks will call it Phoenicia from the valuable purple dye produced there.

List:  Tyrians, Sidonians, & Kittim (Cyprus) (Berytus or Beirut), Ugarit- Byblos – (Greek for papyrus > where we get the word Bible), 5 cities of the Philistines (Gath, Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Ekron etc.) Jezreel Valley & Har- Megiddo western Silk Road crossroads down to the Med. Sea, Moabites, Ammonites from Lotand his daughters, Edomites-huge copper mining & smelting complex on eastern Dead Sea, Amalakites, Midianites in western Arabia, Nabataeans & Petra and Jebusites who rule what will be renamed Jerusalem by David / Syria & greater Damascus, Dead Sea tribal cities- Zoar, Sodom, Gomorrah, Petra, Edom, Sea of Galilee (FRESH WATER source & FISHING)

The land is fertile, many natural resources, laced with trade routes from both land and sea. (See maps)  “A land flowing with milk and honey”.  

Scientists who study agriculture are very aware of the super-importance of bees and their contribution to food production.  The numbers of food products that are reliant on pollenization by bees is staggering.   *Currently in the United States many scientists are worried about declining populations of wild bee hives and crop reduction.  There is an essential business enterprise around the US where bee-keepers will transport their hives great distances to pollinate fields for farmers eager for abundant crops.

Isn’t it very interesting that God’s direct promise involves this mention of “honey” the by-product of bees in his covenant underscoring its relationship to the grasses and grains that feed goats and cattle which both produce milk? *Important note, this promise is a clear instruction to God’s peoples that He, not the pagan fertility gods like Baal will provide their needs. Many of God’s people lead by their kings will run afoul of this practice leading to their exile and ruin.

* Note: Scientists announced recently that they have discovered a parasite that has infected the US bee population. They are seeking a way to stop the spreading destruction to the hives nationally and thus preserve our agricultural commerce

Trade in Canaan: Frankincense, myrrh, coffee, porcelain from China, fabrics, spices like saffron, cinnamon, vanilla, pepper, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, musk aromatic resin called ‘ud and pronounced ood as in wood (Borneo, Vietnam & Cambodian jungles) all are traded and pass into Canaan.

Non-food trade: Obsidian (black stone for weapons & tools), turquoise, lapis lazuli, copper, bronze, tin, iron, arsenic, glass, beads, silks, bitumen or (Asphalt in Greek)

Dead Sea resources- * in 2000, modern Israel exported 28.3 billion dollars of exported goods mined in the Dead Sea.

Also, the Sinai lies between Canaan and Egypt rendering a critically strategic zone of concern for Egypt’s pharaohs.  Copper, turquoise and numerous mineral mines lace the region all important sources of riches for Egypt’s potentates.* In fact much later when Cleopatra rules Egypt under the auspices of first Caesar then Antony, the latter Roman general will make the Dead Sea and its wealth a special gift largely due to her implacable hatred of Herod the Great making her the richest queen of her time

Silk Road– Leads from east in China meandering through central Asia & southern route Northern India, Tibet & Orient. West into Mesopotamia splits into Anatolia/Cappadocia to Aegean cities in western Anatolia & into Greece// “Port cities on the coastline of Canaan & Red Sea for Solomon’s kingdom”

* Use map to show trade circuits with Canaan as the vital center of people and goods for the last 6000 years of history.  When God chose Jerusalem, it was like Abraham was pitching his tent at the nexus of I-75/85 & I-20 in Atlanta.  The covenant was to make them “a light to the nations” of God’s law, love and His plan of redemption. Canaan lies at an international cross-roads placing it at times in the cross-hairs of empires with extensive cross-ties between many cultures for thousands of years to this day.


End of the Bronze Age

Hekla volcano explodes in southern Iceland ca. 1159 BCE

Nations affected:  Much Central Europe devastated causing mass migrations south to

Greece, Anatolia and other Mediterranean super-states.

Homer’s war between Greeks & Trojans largely attested leading to Troy’s destruction & Hittite lands invaded by warlike Dorian Greeks called Phrygians.

Mitanni in northern Mesopotamia, Syria, Canaan on by marauding Sea-Peoples fall under heavy pressures from 1200 on w- Jericho, Ai, & Shechem in Canaan

Mycenaean Greece falls to aggressive Dorian invaders leading to a so-called “Dark-Age”.

Egypt weakened by an unsuccessful invasion by the “Sea-Peoples” under Merneptah & Ramses III leaving a vacuum for Israel’s rise to nation-hood.

Life for many in the late Bronze Age during its decline and collapse will tragically destroy the lives of thousands in many nations.  In Egypt, Mesopotamia, Anatolia, old Greece and central Europe’s inhabitants find themselves displaced by natural disasters from volcanic eruptions, drastic climatic changes altering agriculture creating mass migrations of rising aggressive groups invading other nations seeking new lands.

Inherent in this action are wars of defense and survival countering savage invaders.  The Bible too details Israel’s aggressive actions in achieving Abraham’s covenantal goal of a Promised Homeland in Canaan.  We will read stories of war and violence known in scholarly circles as the “Ban” where entire populations will be slaughtered by Joshua’s forces after conquest. *(Joshua 11:20)  So how are we to deal with such horrific acts in scripture?  Why do the writers of the scriptures leave them graphically unvarnished for our reading without edit?  This is what we will examine today.

A) Moses words in Deuteronomy 7: 2-3: What did Moses know of Canaan’s inhabitants during his time in Egypt and especially Media?  Alliances by Canaan’s cities to either the Egyptian pharaohs or the Hittite kings demanded them to remain loyal. The Egyptian name of Canaan is Retjenu as an important trading zone for the pharaohs.

B) Book of Joshua 11: 12-15: Jericho, Ai, and others-

First, Bible history details that the Canaanites descend from Noah’s son Ham after the flood and humanity’s dispersion world-wide.  These Canaanites must have more than a smidgen of collective memory of the flood epic’s cause and effects as their existence was derived from their ancestor’s faithfulness.

In the intervening centuries that follow the Canaanites like their cousins all descend into their former idolatry and violence that brought about the God’s judgment and the flood.  Moses writes that Yahweh himself says that it is because of the detestable religious practices that he is judging the Canaanites and is quote; “vomiting them out of the land”.  And He strictly declares that it is not because of Israel’s self-righteousness that he is doing this but the Canaanites sins have rendered his judgment.

During this 360-year period from Joshua to King Saul, the greater world surrounding Israel of the Egyptians, Hittites, Trojans, Mitanni, Mycenaean Greeks and their islands all find themselves in disarray and upheaval with some disappearing forever.  In Canaan at the cross-hairs, Israel finds itself in the middle of two major empires competing for supremacy.

Great pharaohs and their Hittite counterparts divide the land north and south with willing and unwilling allies under their sway.   When both are weakened, Israel and other smaller Iron-Age kingdoms settle into powerful city-states both at war and allied depending on the circumstances.  Israel will never fully expel all of the Canaanite nations as enemies instead becoming imitators.

Important Pharaohs: Senworset I, II, & III (Abraham & Joseph & Jacob enter Middle Kingdom Egypt here),  Kamose & Ahmose I (brothers who begin New kingdom Egypt expelling Hyksos), Thutmose I, Queen Hatshepsut (it’s suggested that she drew Moses from Nile), *Thutmose III & his 2nd born son is Amenhotep II  & 1st born son was Amenemhat dies @ Exodus), Amenhotep III (His invasion of Nubia gave Egypt rich gold found in King Tut’s tomb) & Amenhotep IV or Akhenaton & his son King Tut, Seti I, Ramses II, Merneptah, Ramses III & The Sea Peoples invasion

Important Hittite Kings: Hattusili I & II, Telipinu (reformed legal system), *Tudhaliya II ruled Hattusa at the time of the Exodus his son is Suppiliuliuma I was the greatest Hittite warrior king, Muwatalli II (Battle of Kadesh against Ramses the Great), Hattusili III, Suppiliuliuma II (last Hittite king during kingdom invasion & Bronze Age collapse w-Troy in eastern Anatolia)

*Note from above: During the relative same time and after the Exodus the Hittites were unable to take advantage of Egypt’s crisis with a missing army because they were under attacks from invaders called the Kaska.


Proverbs on Enemies

     “Choose your enemies well for soon you will be like them”… George Santayana


“Never leave an enemy behind -for he will rise again to fly at your throat!”… Shaka Zulu

“The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”… Arabian proverb

“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, pray for and do good to them that persecute you.”… Jesus


Egypt, Joseph & Israel’s Rise


Remarkable by its prominence, Egypt is mentioned more than 550 times in the Old Testament alone. Moses says they descend from Mizraim in the Bible. Egypt represents many things to her admirers as a life-line, life-boat and an oasis of refuge in times of war, famine and a mysterious source of knowledge and inspiration even today.

 Manetho, an Egyptian priest engaged by one of Alexander the Great’s successors Ptolemy I, translated the hieroglyphs into Greek the chronological history still used today.  It is from this source that we can see much of the Biblical story of Abraham’s descendants unfold.

  1. (refer to timeline chart) > Old Kingdom, First Intermediate Kingdom, Middle Kingdom, Second Intermediate Kingdom, Hyksos invasion, New Kingdom.

Old Kingdom falls largely due to weak rulers and a Global Climatic Catastrophe that envelops the region of the near east. After a time of rebuilding and organization, a new dynastic set of pharaohs rise; pharaoh means “great house”.

Into this middle kingdom Abraham enters and leaves a richer man and later Joseph arrives.  But, how does Joseph, a Hebrew or stranger/foreigner, ascend to the throne second only to pharaoh himself?  Even more interesting, how does God fulfill his promise to Abraham that many nations and people will be blessed by Sarah’s offspring here in Egypt?

*It is now believed that Joseph comes to the throne during the reign of Middle Kingdom pharaohs Senworset II >1897 BCE Joseph’s Canal & III>1878-1839 BCE, the third becoming a legendary warrior pharaoh.  Volcano on Thera erupts in 1646 BCE with global cooling and climatic changes to follow.  Around 1627, either by migration from northern Canaan & Mesopotamia or subsequent invasion, the Hyksos desperate for fertile lands and water Egypt succumbs until 1580 & pharaohs  Kamose then Ahmose I.


II.                  Show Middle & New Kingdom achievements:

Vast building projects, Valley of the Kings burial sites, huge temple complexes, canal & agricultural developments, war memorials and pharaoh’s feats of conquests in statues, obelisks, and related monuments.

Establishment of expanded borders, forts, garrisons, and control of important trade networks. (show maps)

Establishment if international trade alliances in Crete, Cyprus, Hittite controlled lands, eastern Aegean kingdoms (Arzawa), Libya or Punt, Red Sea routes etc.

Rise in the power and influence of the priestly castes that carry great sway in nation

III.                     The Hyksos

 Egypt’s Middle Kingdom near the end weakens due again to age and poor less ambitious leadership by her pharaohs. Over many years, Egypt’s fame, wealth, and natural resources are a temptation to outsiders and invaders. Also, devastating climatic changes like droughts affect life in Egypt.  Out from the hinterlands in Mesopotamia and Canaan will come  powerful clans or raiders whom Manetho calls Hyksos, “rulers of foreign hills or lands”.

 They have three major technological advances first the heavy iron chariot, the war-horse absent up to now in Egypt, and most impressively a compound bow. They will also bring new agricultural, technological and other Near East innovations that will leave Egypt enriched by their presence. ( explain)

Hyksos are believed to be largely Semites made up of a mix of other Asiatic war-clans.  Some scholars believe that even some of Abraham’s descendants are Semites, cousins to Joseph. One group of scholars who study the ancient Nabatean culture, the Biblical Ishmaelites or Arabians, mixed with Esau’s Edomite clans from Canaan invades to become the famed Hyksos. The Egyptian priest Manetho gave them this designation meaning, “rulers of foreign hills”, are roughly the same Middle Kingdom time frame at its decline. Though controversial, this is a reasonable suspect in the mystery origin of the Hyksos.


1. How do we live out our values and principles in the marketplace as Joseph did?

2. What do we do when a dreams fails to materialize as we liked?

3. What quality do we best admire in Joseph?

4. How did Joseph mature?

5. What is Joseph’s legacy?



Moses, Pharaoh & the Exodus 

Exodus 47: 13-26 – Joseph, during the famine’s height, used the calamity to enrich pharaoh’s power and wealth in Egypt.  Prior to this, there were many prosperous land holders with serfs or peasants tied to the land beyond pharaoh’s reach and control.  Joseph’s scheme was to gain in exchange for food, grains and other essentials for the very lives of the people in full servitude.

This action set in Egyptian law made the pharaoh all-powerful in the dynasties to follow.  Egyptians, Hebrews and all serfs now fell under the heavy hand of a cruel task-master.  Because the Hebrews occupied some of the most fertile land in Egypt and being highly skilled workers made the ideal candidates for enslavement.  They made the state or Pharaoh wealthy beyond measure.  Enter Moses.

(*Notes on Joseph: “7 fat cows” refers to Egyptian cow goddess Hathor with seven divine aspects. She is known as the goddess of love, the sky, sun, the queen, music, dance & the arts.  Pharaoh’s troubling dream is used by God to make his purposes known reflected through their culture.) Later under Moses, the same kinds of trials for the Egyptians to endure would come via their many most potent symbols in their gods.)

      I  New Kingdom Pharaohs $$$: Kamose, Ahmose, *Thutmose I, II, Hatshepsut, *Thutmose  III, Amenhotep II & *III, IV Akhenaton (reformer- Amen to Aten god change) & Tut to Horemheb, Seti I & Ramses II

Kamose from Thebes begins revolt against Hyksos and his brother Ahmose will take over and complete expulsion from Egypt. Thus the New Kingdom begins with a line of conquering, building and dynamic Pharaohs causing Egypt to be the power-house in the near east region.  (Map study & trade expansion- explain)

        II. I Kings 6:1 480th year after Exodus Solomon’ temple began

Temple> 967-966 + 480 = 1445 BCE / Reigns of Thutmose III & Amenhotep II. Some scholars believe that it is Queen (Nefure) Hatshepsut daughter of Thutmose I who finds Moses floating in the Nile.  Moses’ life and times fit neatly into this New Kingdom dynasty. The root meaning in his Hebrew name “Mose”, to draw out of water matches the dynastic names of these pharaohs.

*Refresh Hyksos rise: At height of the famine, Jacob’s entire family enters Egypt but is it unreasonable to think that other family clans and desperate groups trek south out of Canaan, north and west from Sinai, Nubia and west from Lybia in search of food?

If after the drought and famine ends and Egypt begins a strong recovery, most of the foreign masses decide to remain under the prosperity of Joseph’s rule. After many generations and now weakening Egyptian rulers less effective than Sesostris III’s dominance, local disaffected clans see an opportunity for their northern cousins envious of Egypt’s location and status decide to seize the moment.  Now enters the pharaoh who knew not Joseph at the head of a vastly superior army of charioteers and warriors with technological advantages.

Perhaps they were armed and financed by rising Hittite, Amorite and Hurrian forces eager for a land grab. But at any rate as prophesied by Yahweh to Abraham, 400 years of hardship and trials begin leading to the expulsion of the Hyksos and rise of the New Kingdom pharaohs beginning with Ahmose I.

     III. First 40 years    The 480 years notes in I Kings is reliable enough to firmly place his life during the reign of a cruel Pharaoh Thutmose III who ruthlessly guards his throne against any rivals having deposed his “wicked step-mother” Hatshepsut who sat on his throne for several years as Pharaoh. Moses’ royal name is, Senmut/Tutmoses II, having been linked with the Queen Pharaoh herself even with statutes.

Reading our guide text, Acts 7:22 again, underscores the first forty years of Moses’ life & training as Pharaoh.

Education: math, sciences, literature, geography, reading multiple languages i.e. Akkadian, early Greek- (scholars tell of Greek colonists @ Avaris in Delta) Nubian, Canaanite, Hittite etc. as well as meeting with emissaries, ambassadors from many distant lands, allies and enemies alike. (Note Google or Bing “Armana Letters”)

Martial training for generalship, religious & spiritual training as a divine Pharaoh (living god of Egypt) all took some 40 years of prep *(explain Maat meaning divine justice and order correcting the chaos in the cosmos.)

IV.  Second 40 years: Moses’ flees to Sinai.  When Moses enters Sinai he is not in fact the beyond Pharaoh’s reach.  Egypt had long controlled this region as she laid claim to rich copper & turquoise mines using forced labor camps with prisoners doing the arduous work.  The region is also known for producing a mineral called, malachite, green in color in wide used as a favored cosmetic.  With many of the trade routes leading from Arabia and Sinai into Egypt, Moses’ flight is not merely hiding out but a God willed plan to prepare him for later action.

Midian and the Sinai will be an education in survival and cultural learning about Yahweh for Moses: local & regional tribes and leaders, dialects, safe watering sources, understanding of climatic & geographical trade routes, information gathering about Pharaoh’s agents & spies and military patrol routes in the region where he controlled trade flow (show map of Egyptian mines and sea routes)

Yahweh:Moses learns history that is unknown to him via Jethro the Midianite descendant from Abraham’s second marriage.  Jethro, being a cultic priest, would possess the knowledge of the covenant, family names and origins, details of family history, Isaac & Ishmael, Esau & Jacob, Lot and his daughters & grandsons Moab & Edom. Etc.  *(Midian doesn’t fall under Egyptian hegemony so Moses is safer there not in the Sinai.)

      Perhaps the greatest learning will be discovering Yahweh.  Jethro is said to be a priest and since he is a descendant of Abraham, we must assume that he has some knowledge of the God of Abraham and his heirs.

      V.  Moses’ third 40 years after Exodus

Moses’ life had transformed from one of a Pharaoh in waiting to a lowly shepherd not even of his own flocks. (Read Gen. 46:34) His life with wife Zipporah and sons has settled much of the rage against the enemies of his people and faith.  Another life transforming event on the sacred and secretive mountainside in Sinai is moments from happening.

Moses, the former royal, now shepherd, will meet on holy ground with the awesome God of his fathers embodied in Abraham’s covenant.  A special task is given to the exile/outcast whose return to Egypt will hurl the most powerful nation in the world into chaos and disorder.  Yahweh will challenge the quote, living god-king Pharaoh, along with the rest of the Egyptian pantheon of gods, goddesses and demons. Yahweh’s judgment will make sport of Pharaoh, his armies and his gods.

Which Pharaoh rules?  Thutmose III & regent son Amenhotep II > Thutmose leads 17 major campaigns conquering 350 cities from the Euphrates to Syria north & Libyan desert to the west & as far as Nubia & Punt to the south.  The Bible timeframe, 967/966 + 480 years before Solomon’s temple are reliable. *Note: Alexander the Great will link his legacy with Thutmose III as a powerful general and have his name carved into his tomb.

His son Amenhotep II, a second born son, will assume a powerful kingdom until his father’s death. If Thutmose is the pharaoh who dies with his armies in the Red Sea (see blue Sinai maps) then the complaint from Amenhotep II that he is unable to launch any invasions makes sense as his father’s army is decimated.  Amenhotep III during his reign will also complain that he has lost contact with a city in Canaan or Retjenu for Egyptians called Jericho. And finally, Amenhotep IV will completely abandon all international concerns during his religious reformation and new capital construction at Armana as Joshua wreaks havoc in the region as some believe. (Amenhotep IV lives 60 years after Moses & the Exodus; could he have been influenced by the catastrophic events of Moses during Exodus?)

*After this dynastic period ends the “mose” root used by the pharaohs will disappear for ages. But historians agree that this is the most comfortable place for Moses’ origins to be found.

  • The Plagues: These plagues match the most prominent gods & goddesses in the Egyptian pantheon
  • Hathor-cow goddess > mother goddess to women, fertility, children & childbirth. Her familiar the cow is struck down when Pharaoh’s prize live-stock all dies
  • Set/Sethred haired & eyed god of malevolence, destruction, chaos worshipped by the Hyksos when in power > Nile turns red an evil omen
  • Apep– closely associated with Set, represents evil, strife, darkness, destruction threatening to the sun god Ra
  • Horus– protector & patron of Pharaoh, both embody the duty of Maat- balance, order, unity in the universe
  • Hapi Nile river-god– water & fertility > Nile polluted by dead animals & red menace
  • Heket– Frog headed goddess- plague of frogs along with lice or mosquitoes
  • Ra– Sun God- powerful symbol of life giving light to Egypt

Exodus- Calamity strikes Egypt

Arguably, the most famous story in the Bible, the Exodus story is seen by some as Jewish, Christian and Islamic mythology and falsified history. But to Jews, Christians and Muslims, the story of Moses liberating God’s people by fantastic, supernatural methods lies within the foundation of our faith story.

When we examine the details from the Bible, what do the terrifying wonders mean to the Egyptians who suffer?  This is what we shall see.

Pharaoh/ Living god in Egypt– @ Sinai, Moses asks God, “who shall I say has sent me?” Pharaoh is the embodiment of Maat (see “b”) Authority and power embedded in a name or its invocation lies at the heart of this ancient practice.  While living in a region or a realm controlled by a certain god rendered the force of his or her essence a reality. To speak the name itself was a power display or omen that no human could take lightly.

It will continue even into Christianity as we pray or ask in the holy name of “Jesus Christ” when we make our petitions. Names then and now have great power and Moses is keenly aware that to confront the pharaoh in his realm can mean certain death.

  1. Maat– universal order, balance, justice concept. When things are right, the gods must be pleased.  When things go wrong, the cosmos is in chaos due to angry gods. *(Greeks are the only ancient people that openly defy the gods, Odysseus via the poet Homer.)
  2. Nun– deity of chaos & disorder / god of fearful waters
  3. *Apep– frog-headed god/ frightening events like unexplained darkness, eclipses, storms, earthquakes, plagues
  4. Seth– old god of evil disorder worshiped by hated Hyksos/ red eyed & haired flashing terrors, fearful god of desert places
  5. *Taweret– goddess of childbirth & fertility demon goddess, destroyer

Red Sea crossing @ modern Nuweiba south of Aqaba or Elat in Israel (show on map)

To Horeb / Sinai, Jebel al Lawz / Agar Galatians 4:25 Paul Sinai in Roman times


The Desert Trek: * Read Answer in Lev. 18: 24-30 Canaanites Judgment

A.) Bible counts 600-K men and some estimate range as from 1 to 2 million.  Let’s use the lower estimate to examine the scope of Moses’ task.

  1. Children, elderly, infirmed, injured, sick, medical needs, livestock & their food and watering needs
  2. Unified mass from all over Egypt: Some historians say that many different peoples from Greeks, Nubians, prisoners of earlier wars, inter-mixed families i.e. men or women with Egyptian spouses & children
  3. Trek throughout Egyptian Sinai region, crossing local tribal lands exhausting food & water supplies, day time heat & most importantly night time cold, Amazon: “In the Footsteps of Moses > wood or dung sources for camp fires.
  4. Snakes, scorpions, gnats, mosquitoes,
  5. a.) Disconnect from Egyptian laws, rules, civilization, normalcy, then adopting new God, laws, w-no temples, rituals

b.) Time allowed for destruction of culture & history for creating a new culture of Yahweh, Moses’ laws, rituals & customs.

B.)             *Invasion of Canaan & early conquests*

Read: Deuteronomy 7: 1-5 & 9: 4-5 > God’s reason for conquest and judgment, “not Israel’s righteousness” Read: Joshua 1:8-14 Rahab’s testimony

Fortified walled cities in Canaan- Jericho > (abundant water sources here), Ai, Shechem, Jebus, Megiddo, Hazor etc.  It is too much to tell the complete story of invasion but understanding Jericho’s destruction explains the whole.

Destroying a major fortified city with its impressive walls and fortifications sends a message well in advance of other battles.  After a miracle crossing of the Jordan River much like the crossing years earlier with Moses on dry land then a city whose massive walls collapse “outward” is an ominous sign just as Rahab foresaw.

Life for Canaanites has worsened. The region is older now and their culture and security have weakened.  In the larger picture, they are afflicted with the same problems of threat invasions like the Hittites, Mycenaean’s/Minoan Greeks, and the Mesopotamian powers.

God, over time watched Canaanite practices until his judgment fell upon them like the Egyptians.  Their carnal religious practices in worship including the worst, child sacrifice, offended him greatly and now they condemned for expulsion.

Egypt has now turned inward looking under Thutmose IV & his son Amenhotep III. After huge deposits of gold mines are found in Nubia/Cush/Sudan, the newest gold-king Pharaoh will initiate a tremendous building program inside Egypt’s borders and deploy a non-violent diplomatic policy toward their old vassals & adversaries who crave good, peaceful relations with an Egypt bursting with gold. (Refer to Détente’ in the 70’s)

Canaan lies vulnerable to invasions as the old land now will have a new rising power in the people of Israel as testified by Rahab.



Abraham’s Covenant Advances: Judges to Kings

From his initial calling in Ur, Abraham’s descendants have endured a long and arduous journey filled with challenges from Canaan down to Egypt and back. Our timeline shows a lapse of some nearly 800 years in development. What can we learn from this almost glacial pace in God’s plan unfolding for Israel?  Why so long a time?

But first, it is important here to acknowledge the decline and passage of a golden era in human history.  The Bronze Age in all of its glorious achievements has come to a violent end.  In Anatolia, the Hittites, Trojans and other smaller vassals are under siege and destruction by new invaders from Assyria and strange Greek speakers called, Phrygians and Lydians.  In Greece, the old Mycenaean culture falls to fierce invaders called Dorians who are themselves Greek speakers formerly living on the fringes of the empire and are now are in a land grab like the Israelites in Canaan.

Egypt too feels the sting of invaders who, like the Hyksos of old, seek land and plunder.  Ramses III comments in a famous bulletin that “the isles and the peoples of the sea are in turmoil with fires and catastrophes everywhere.”  The old age is doomed for eclipse by a new age of iron on the brink of succession.

In a word, Homer’s story of the famous siege of Troy and its annihilation will be transformed into our vocabulary as “des-Troy/ destroy”, an event etched into our collective memory by its demise.  Troy, Jericho, Mycenae, all of Minoan Crete, Hattusa all melt away into history so lost and forgotten that many believed they never existed.   Only Egypt will survive largely intact but will for the next 1,000 years suffer many invasions and conquests.



          Since Abraham, we have seen demonstrated an intimate portrait of God’s love, concerns and blessings for all humanity through the lives of Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Deborah, Samson and Samuel.  Aristotle’s quote, “the purest activity of God is thinking about thinking” rings hollow here.  Yahweh continues to allow his people to live out His covenant plan for some 326 years from Joshua to Saul’s ascent.  Now the original three kings of Israel set the stage for a 1,000 year drama leading to the Messiah’s arrival.



Covenant breaking begins here:

Prophets & Judges or “Champions”: Eli, Samuel, Deborah, Samson, Shamgar, Joel & Abijah- (Samuel’s sons) Judges 3:1-6 – Nations left by God to test Israel: 5 Lords of the Philistines, Canaanites, Sidonians, Hivites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites

Three Kings replace Theocracy: I Samuel 8: 11-18 (READ)

Saul- Young, handsome, courageous began with good intentions until all too human flaws corrupt his spirit. (Amalakites & the Ban)  I Samuel 15- “obedience is better than sacrifice”/ vs. 10 God regrets making Saul king / I Chronicles 10:13-14 Saul’s end

David- Unites the Kingdom: David’s fame and difficult rise to power makes him a brilliant military and capable administrator. He captures the Jebusite’s city-state and renames it Jerusalem or City of Peace.  Peace is the operative word as his achievements creates a kingdom for a generation at peace and prosperity with his neighbors.  Alliances bring wealth, fame and notoriety to the new kingdom in this so-called new Age of Iron. 2 Sam. 12: 7-11 Nathan’s judgment

Solomon– I Kings 10 & 11- Solomon’s wisdom, wealth & folly

Solomon becomes another wealthy “Merchant King” like the pharaohs of old and the other royals in the past Bronze Age. His trade alliances with on Hiram of Tyre, a Phoenician king whose naval trade vessels rule the Mediterranean, Aegean, and the Red Sea into the Indian Ocean Oriental trade made them fabulously wealthy.  They will construct a major seaport called Aqaba at the Red Sea with Petra and its riches in the middle road from the sea.

Solomon’s fame will draw many to his courts, Greeks, Mesopotamians, Indians, Egyptians and the world’s most famous queen of her time, Sheba of Arabia & Ethiopia/Aksum, Somalia


Kingdoms of the Iron Age) Anatolia: Sea-Peoples & Ionian Greeks, Phrygia & Lydia, Mesopotamia: Urartu, Mitanni, Neo-Assyria, Canaan: Sidon, Tyre, Israel, Damascus/Syria, 5 Philistine cities: Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron, Gath, Gaza, Lesser Egyptian nation

Phrygia  Kingdom of fabled Gold King Midas & land of the famous, “Gordian Knot”.  Legend held that whoever could untie the knot would rule all of Asia. *Note, Gordias, the founder, was a Macedonian like Alexander the Great who slashed the knot with his sword.   

Another Greek legend said that King Midas tried rid himself of the “Golden Touch” curse by bathing in a river but failed causing it to fill with gold nuggets in massive abundance which flowed into Lydia.

Lydia, Gold & Greatness: Troy along with the destruction of the Hittite Empire left a void and power vacuum in Anatolia.  But new smaller kingdoms emerged staking their claims to region real estate holdings rich in natural resources i.e. water, minerals etc. Lydia’s kings soon found that their land was laced with gold-rich rivers staggering the imagination.  Their discovery will do to Lydia what the discovery of gold did to Amenhotep III’s Egypt making it more famous and wealthy.

From King Gyges to King Croesus, their lavish legacy of opulence will give rise to small cities in western Anatolia whose fame and presence will extend to the New Testament era where the evangelist Paul will plant the seeds of Christianity in the seven cities later mentioned in the Book of Revelation. They are; *Ephesus/ (7 Wonders member), Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, *Sardis,Philadelphia, Laodicea

Sardis, Gyges’ capital city, lies at the crossroads of the sea, Silk & Spice trade routes at what will become later known as the Persian Royal Road extending east & southward to Susa, the fabulously wealthy and famous western capital of the Persian Empire founded by Cyrus the Great.

Note, King Gyges is believed by some Biblical scholars to be the mysterious “Gog” in Ezekiel’s prophesy ruling in a land called “Magog”.  This area will become an enemy of Israel, the Church & Christianity under heavy mass persecution.


Solomon’s Rule                 

Open class with 23rd Psalm: .you anoint my head with oil/ prevents deadly viper strike used by shepherds

The shadow of death/ David’s post Goliath trials as fugitive

The presence of my enemies/ refuge among Philistines

Wisdom & poetic literature/ enduring idioms i.e. Solomon’s “cast your bread upon the waters” trade investment illusion like Egypt’s surplus grain trade

With the advent of a united kingdom of Israel, the beginnings of the great debate whether Yahweh’s followers yesterday or today can effectively involve themselves in politics while living out their beliefs.  Israel’s first two kings, Saul and David suffer the ravages of personal failures, weaknesses and inner conflicts that afflict all humanity.  The prophetic words of warning by Samuel become starkly visible as they come true regarding the travails of kings and their impact on the people. (*God works with imperfect people)

Thus a new king named, Solomon, an expression of God’s grace and forgiveness is given to David and Bathsheba to mollify their shame.  This newest king would be granted special favor by God in the form of three essential attributes for ruler-ship, wisdom, knowledge & understanding. I Kings 2:3-14 // I Chronicles 1: 7-12 / 14-17, 7:19-22, // I Kings 11: 1-13 Solomon breaks covenant (ancient covenants had rituals that invoked the name of the alliance gods like Yahweh & Baal)

Solomon’s Covenant Violations

  1. Marries foreign women en-masse
  2. Makes alliances with foreign nations: Egypt, Tyre, Sidon, Damascus/Aram, Edom, Ophir> Gen. 10:29 ( best choice = Mumbai India & Sri Lanka, East Africa, South Arabia, Somalia
    1. Breeds horses for war: Egypt for chariots & Southern Turkey- Kue horses. Deut. 17: 14-20(read)
    2.  *Allows many foreign gods to be worshipped in Israel & builds temples and other cult centers for their followers: Ashtoreth, Milcom, Chemosh, Molech
    3. Enslaves many of his own people in forced labor for his many building projects @ Gezer, Megiddo, Jerusalem, Aqaba etc.

Taxes, Tariffs, Custom Duties

  1. Forced labor on foreigners living in Israel as tax
  2. Forced labor on descendants of original Canaanites still living in country
  3. Custom duties on goods entering Israel
  4. Tariffs & tolls paid on trade routes and roads controlled by kingdom
  5. Duties on ships in Israel’s ports
  6. Taxes on religious related goods i.e. temple sacrificial elements from both Jewish & pagan cites

Finally when Solomon dies, Rehoboam takes throne while Jeroboam returns from exile in Egypt.  Jeroboam, along with an alliance of northern tribal leaders pleads with his brother to lower taxes and reduce burden on the people.  Rehoboam refuses and makes the worst inaugural address in the ancient world.  “My father whipped with you whips of leather but I will whip you with scorpions”…Rehoboam

We can imagine after hearing those words, all of the oxygen was sucked out of the room and with that to avoid civil war, the kingdom will split into an uneven halves as the people had enough of the heavy-hand of Pharaoh Solomon.”  Judah gets the two southern tribes and Israel gets ten from central to far north. (Rehoboam south & Jeroboam north.)   Thus God’s promise that the sword would never leave David’s house along with civil strife, murder and all of the negative aspects of royalty begins.


Empires of the Iron Age: Assyria

While Judah and Israel adjust to their recent separation weakening both kingdoms, a new, violently aggressive power emerges in northern Mesopotamia eager for land, trade take-over and hegemony over the entire region.

The so-called, Neo-Assyrian Empire will set an appallingly wicked standard for atrocity and cruelty in warfare.  The method to their madness may be classified under the headline banner, “the acquisition and maintenance of power.”  This goal will be widespread from lands in Greece to Anatolia, Media, Canaan and Egypt.

Empires that follow Assyria will borrow heavily from the Assyrian trait for being excellent organizers of lands under their control lending themselves more or less on a state policy of “terror” as a tactic. (*Note: Additionally, Assyrian mathematical and scientific achievements are now being revealed.  They are the first people to divide a circle into 360 degrees, use latitude & longitude as it relates to various mid-east locations, & advanced understanding of medical techniques and medicine, building& engineering methods derived for & from warfare & city-sieges)

We do not have to imagine their horrific practices but simply read in their king’s own words the grotesque details written in their annals. (read from “Barbarian Tides”)  Each succeeding king will take great pains to surpass their predecessor’s level of terror and cruelty.

It will be little wonder why, Jonah will make an errant voyage of escape to, Tarshish, (modern Spain), to avoid Assyrian redemption.  God’s grace and love will even extend to the hated Assyrian nations with Jonah’s preaching.

The ancient Greeks called Nineveh “Ninus” after a legendary king the same as the modern city of Mosul in Northern Iraq


Solomon’s sad legacy unfolds > 931-586 BCE


To Think About  What if Atlanta’s own Clark Howard had been Solomon’s Director of Budget, Finance, Treasury, & Trade?     

(1.) 2 Kings 16: 2-4 / 5-9 (Tiglath-pileser & Ahaz/Judah alliance)

    (2.) 2 Kings 17: 2-6 (Shalmaneser & Hoshea/Israel), vs.14-18 Broken Covenant

(3.) Sargon II invades and destroys Israel in 722-721 deporting survivors for forced labor in Nineveh and imports thousands into region. Read vs. 24-34 Samaritans formed out of transplanted prisoners from many Assyrian conquests, mixed races, languages, customs & religions

(4.) Good King Hezekiah/ Chpt. 18: 3-4 & 6-8// King Sennacherib or (Smack-a-rib) 13-36

     ( 5.) Chpt.19 Isaiah’s prophesy & 185,000 Assyrian soldiers died during the night & Sennacherib assassinated by his sons while praying in temple of god Nisroch/ ( Some Bible scholars suspect that the Assyrians camped in a swampy area that produced (methane) rich swamp gas (carbon dioxide) causing them to die in their sleep.)  Sennacherib’s famous siege @ Lachish south of Jerusalem demonstrates the fearsome Assyrian city-taking ability w-details found in reliefs @ Assyria.  Esarhaddon, Sennacherib’s son becomes king.

     ( 6.) Chpt. 21 & Generational failure Hezekiah’s son Manasseh & his son (details in 2 Chronicles33: 10-13 redemption) Amon 6.) Good King Josiah- Chpt. 22 & 23 Destroyed pagan cult sites, commanded restoration of Passover (Chpt. 23: vs 22) & Book of the Covenant & Law, exiled mediums, wizards, all idols etc.

(7.) Read Chpt. 23: vs. 26-27 God’s condemns Judah 8) Nahum 593-570 to Assyria


Judah/Israel Facts

Judah 20 kings / Israel 19

Judah taken in 587-86 BCE by Babylon / Israel taken by Assyria in 721 BCE

Judah lasted 345 years approx. / Israel lasted 209 years from 931 from Solomon’s death

Jonah served under Jeroboam II 782 BCE when Assyria was weak for 37 years under Ashur-dan III’s rule 772-755 when rebellions, plagues and famines ravaged Assyria (prophet Nahm)

Judah had 10 prophets / Israel had 2 / Assyria had 2 prophets Jonah & Nahum.


Elsewhere in the world, nations advance

Greece– small city-states expanding in 7th century onward- Athens, Sparta @ (Laconia & Messina), Macedonia, Thebes, Delphi & the famous oracle

The major source of tension stems from the Ionian/Dorian conflict during the dark days after the Dorians invade, Sparta, Crete, Macedonia, Thebes all have become the most war-like peoples in the Greek world leading to 900 bloody years up to Rome’s ascension.

Phoenicia & CarthageTyre’s colony in North Africa expands due to the Assyrian threat. They want a place to escape (see map) where they can continue trade unmolested. Carthage has two excellent harbors, extremely good climate for vast agriculture, and a key central Mediterranean base for trade i.e. Sicily, Corsica, Sardinia, Etruscan trade partners in Northern Italy, Tarshish (Spain & her Islands, access to Atlantic Ocean to British Isles (list trade items)

Rome- Founders of legend, Romulus & Remus, descendants of Aeneas last King of Troy. A tiny hamlet in the north of Italy surrounded by other hostile tribes, Latins, Samnites, Sabines, & powerful Dorian Greek city-states in Southern Italy i.e. Syracuse, Etruscan trading empire dominate the entire region and will come to control early Rome

AnatoliaLydia & Phyrgia flourishes flush with gold, land & sea trade, pre-Socratic philosophers rise here in western Anatolia (Miletus) developing the fundamentals of their work in schools dedicated to inquiry & study.

Egypt More Hyksos-type invaders, Ethiopians, Sudanese and Libyans who take Egypt as a prize but honor the memory. It is the Assyrians who begin the real and repeated destruction of temples, cities and tomb robbing not the Greeks or Romans as some have suggested. A Sudanese king will give the Greeks their first permanent trade settlement in Egyptian territory in the eighth century.

Sheba & EthiopiaAbraham & Sarah’s blessing expands-“out of her shall come kings” & “all nations shall be blessed”

Solomon’s heir, Menelek I, rules from Aksum’s famous Addis Abba, a fabulously wealthy kingdom rivaling Meroe/Sudan & Egypt of the Pharaoh. They fully embrace Judaism and will in the 4th century AD become a Christian nation in that African region blending both elements into a true Judeo-Christian heritage.

When Jerusalem falls to Islam under Saladin during the Crusades, Christians from Europe & Asia Minor pilgrims flock to Aksum as a replacement holy city thanks to these *Monophysite Christians. *(Jesus, like God, is one divine substance not half any mortal elements) (Docetics in AD era w-Gnosticism)

Google: “Sheba, Solomon and the Ark”, “Aksum in Ethiopia”, “New Jerusalem in Ethiopia”


Empires of the Iron Age: Babylon

In 612 BCE, imperial Assyria succumbs to the same fate of Troy and Jericho.  Led by Mesopotamia’s newest hegemony mighty Babylon, a rare determined coalition of nations will invade and annihilate the hated Assyrians and their great cities, Nineveh and Calah.

In the aftermath, Neo-Babylon’s greatest ruler Nebuchadnezzar, will assume his father’s throne, kingdom and his powerful military.  They, under his leadership, move into the territories formerly held by Assyria, especially those that have wealthy trade cities, ports and major routes re-diverting the flow of trade bounty to Babylon.

Nebuchadnezzar’s wealth, fame and reputation will create a fabulous city-state attracting visitors, traders from places as far away as Greece, Egypt and Anatolia, and east from Asia.  Judah and Benjamin are now the lone surviving tribal states are too drawn into the realm of Babylonian hegemony.

But, though less abusive than his Assyrian forerunners, Nebuchadnezzar will enforce his rule intolerant of sedition, rebellion and taxation revolt.  The warrior-king will eventually lead three sequential invasions into Judah, 606, 597 and finally 586 BCE, destroying David’s famed city and Solomon’s glorious temple.   The survivors of David lineage will be taken enslaved to pagan Babylon and a new phase of Judah’s history begins. Last king Zedekiah will undo many of Josiah’s reforms turning back the clock. He makes a fatal alliance with Pharaoh Hophra of Egypt and Babylonian will destroy them first.

Rise of the Major Prophets: “A new dimension of Yahweh’s rule” These prophets oversee multiple invasions by Assyrian & Babylonian kings as judgment for their sins of idolatry, mass murder, neglect of justice and general moral & spiritual corruption fulfilling David’s warning of doom to Solomon. (expand)

Isaiah 64yrs as prophet- Chapter  44: 28 & 45: 1-15 > Isaiah prophesizes Cyrus the Great & his famous Messiah forth-telling (date died under Manasseh 687 –sawn in half )

Ezekiel– Major prophesies against other nations, i.e. God’s universal judgment against all nations Chapters 25- 32/ Read Chpt. 27:12-24 Phoenicians extensive trade// Chpt. 29:17-21 & 30:4-19 Egypt’s humiliation by Assyria & Babylon not Greeks

(NOTE: Read Chpt. 27 Verse 23- Ezekiel knows of Eden’s location?)

Jeremiah- Chapter 31:31-33 > 1. A new covenant  

Jeremiah 32: 1-5 Jerusalem’s destruction and downfall & Jeremiah chapters 43 & 44- Do not go to Egypt.    (Preaches non-resistance to Nebuchadnezzar)

Daniel- Daniel, like Joseph in Egypt, will find himself at the King’s court as advisor & counselor. A mysterious dream by King Nebuchadnezzar opens the door for Daniels ascension.

But Daniel’s jealous enemies seek his destruction through a staged test of faith in the famous “Lion’s Den”.  Daniel triumphs through God’s intervention and goes on to make startling prophesies via another dream featuring a gigantic statue.  Four powerful empires including Babylon will rise and fall before the Messiah’s arrival. 

******************************************************************************************************************************  Judah in Babylon and life changes

1. God rules everywhere, no longer mere national or regional deity

2. Rabbinical Judaism begins here with no temple life possible

3. Synagogue community life begins in Babylon

4. Jewish laws copied & codified for broad use

5. Financial & business skills flower here as Judah remembers Joseph’s example of making the nation of foreigners prosper.

6. Messianic expectations expand here w- Isaiah’s visions taking root and Cyrus the Liberator freeing the people like Moses

Life in Israel & Judah mirrors that of life in many pagan lands God’s people were experiencing many of the same geo-socio-political struggles as many other nations advancing in the Age of Iron living in city-states trying to institute law-order and civilization.

Greece: Sparta- Law giver Lycurgus 8th century / Athens- Draco 621 BCE- extreme criminal penalties / Solon-reformer- 5th century / Pharaoh’s resurgence-Maat

Persia- Zoroastrian religion dominates before Cyrus / Rome vassal under Etruscans in Italy 6th-5th century / Italy-Etruscans 8th Century BCE onward


Empires of the Iron Age: Persia

In 539 BCE, mighty Babylon sits weakened and vulnerable ripened for conquest.  In Persia, modern Iran, a new conqueror, Cyrus the Great, ruler of what is called the Achemenid Dynasty, sweeps fast from the Iranian plateau east and west propelled by a revolutionary vision.

As prophesied by Isaiah & Daniel, he subdues older empires like the Medes, Babylonians and their vassal lands on to Anatolia and down to Egypt.  Remarkable by its ancient appearance, Cyrus’ warrior code, civil policies of equity and tolerance surpass all of the horrors ordered by previous invaders.

Cyrus, will like Moses of Israel, be viewed as a liberator/law-giver sent by God to rescue his people and mistakenly confused as the promised “messiah” in the fifth century BCE.  Cyrus’ mark on world history as highway builder, the world first postal service, and purveyor and practitioner of a new to the west religion of Zoroastrianism render him truly a Great among ancient conquerors.

  1. Geography: Persia on map
  2. Trade takeover importance: ports in Phoenicia & Aegean east coast
  3. Reconstruction in Babylon: Susa & Persepolis & Royal Road
  4. Conquest regions list: a.) Lydia b.) Cappadocia c.) Canaan d.) Egypt, Meroe/Sudan e.) India & Persian Gulf region


It is here, in Persia, where the Greeks like Herodotus of Halicarnassus, Solon of Athens, and Lycurgus of Sparta begin to travel, trade and tour the ancient east never before opened to them. They will create a detailed and deep lexicon of names, place-names, sites and wonders all in the flexible and accurate Greek language.  Tales of their travels feed the minds and thoughts of the pre-Socratic Greek philosophers tapped then by the greats, Socrates, Plato & Aristotle

Changes to Judaism in Persia: First called “Jews” here

Existence of Zoroastrianism: some of its characteristics:

  • It’s deities — Ahura Mazda & Ahriman i.e. theological duality
  • Angels & demons hierarchy
  • Sons of Light & Darkness
  • Hell & damnation theology 25,000 years of suffering (i.e. after-life & resurrection >Pharisees belief)
  • Reflective of a “great cosmic” war between Ahura Mazda’s forces of good & light w- Ahriman’s forces of evil & darkness (Cyrus believed that Yahweh visited him in a dream and commanded him to re-establish Jerusalem temple worship)

Biblical prophets share messianic concepts and ideas (Three Zoroastrian priests at Jesus’ birth noted as astrologists and diviners of signs and prophesies)

Queen Hadassah or Esther story is here of attempted Jewish holocaust by an ancient Amalakite enemy (Esther 1:1-4)


What is Greek: Hellenic to Hellenism

Among ancient cultures adored by many, few equal the curiosity and admiration of Egypt and Greece.  As we have seen in the Bronze Age, Egypt’s glory survived unsurpassed as the civilized center of the ancient world.  Her kings, monuments, wealth and longevity created a must-see destination for many including Greeks.

But what is Greece and who are these intriguing people?  It is plain to see that their influence on the ancient world lives on today i.e. the words Egypt, Nile, pyramid, hieroglyph, Mesopotamia and myriad other Greek names lie embedded in our language. Greek myth loan words> Mentor-Iliad, Odyssey/Odysseus, Tantalus/tantalize,

It should be noted, however, that Greek is a Roman designation as the Greeks called themselves Hellenes from earliest times.  The Hellenes descend from three basic groups of invaders to the Greek mainland proper, the islands of the Aegean and Adriatic Seas, Crete, Anatolia and to a lesser extent, small pockets in Italy.  They are by legend, Aeolian, Ionian & Dorian tribes according to ancient scholars.

Biblically, Moses states that they descend from Japheth/Yawan, son of Noah, who inhabit northern lands and the islands.  Briefly, Aeolian & Ionians are early colonizers that rule the western side of Anatolia/ modern Turkey.

Ionian Greeks rule most city-states in Greece until the sweeping invasion of a warlike tribe of invaders called Dorians engage in a mass land-grab of western and southern Greece and many islands including Crete. (Thera’s volcanic blast)

After Troy’s destruction depicted in Homer’s tale the Iliad, Greek city-states in all three regions settle into a sustained dark age of wars for some years until the emergence of powerful, feuding city-states.

They will become known as Athens, Sparta, Thebes, Macedonia, Corinth, Thessaly, Megalopolis, Crete, Rhodes, Argos and others.  The spiritual heart of Greece will be a city dedicated to the god Apollo named, Delphi or dolphin.

A class of Greeks called Phrygian and Lydian Greeks will rise in Anatolia creating rich, warlike kingdoms jousting with near-eastern powers.  But, the constant feuding between the two dominant powers in Greece, Athens and Sparta, result from what historian, Michael Grant calls the Ionian/Dorian conflict.

Into this milieu of war and violence, philosophy, history, art, literature, the sciences including systematic mathematics, geography and so on are given birth.

Great notable personalities rise to prominence in war, arts and philosophy like, Themistocles, Leonidas, Pericles, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Aesop, Pythagoras, Herodotus, Homer and many others.

The world though will come to know this culture of Greece through the heroic, savage and fantastic conquests of Alexander the Great, histories most famous warrior admired by Hannibal, Caesar, Trajan, to kings eastward to Bactria, India and China.

The Iskander or “founder of cities”, Alexander will introduce the world to the glories of Hellenism with the controversial of a world united as one under an umbrella of Greek culture.

Conflicts of culture will arise especially in our Biblical history journey when something called “forced Hellenization” is impressed upon Jews in 166-142 BCE under a Greek Seleucid tyrant, Antiochus IV or Daniel’s, “king of the north”, who loves all things Greek


Why does God uses Greek to write the a Hebrew Bible?

One of the most valuable qualities of the Greek language lies in its flexibility and emphasis on accuracy.  The Greek scholars were exacting in the specific usage and meaning of their words in describing ideas or things.  Their lexicons required that if they were talking about rain for instance, they wanted to know if it’s drizzling, misting, steady or a monsoon’s downpour.

They began the process of defining things by their basic structure, use and function. Also, they were eager to understand of what substance are all things composed?  Some early philosophers believed that this universal life substance was air, fire, water, earth or some unknown substance.

Language then becomes the most essential tool for understanding, learning and expression.  They create systematic modes of study for a wide range of subjects and ideas. Aristotle, for example, looked to the creatures living in the Aegean Sea on the Turkish side of Greek colonies and began his analysis and cataloguing of animal life labeling them in Greek terminology.

In later years to come after the conquests of Alexander the Great, his general Ptolemy Soter I, rules Egypt and commissions the building of a great library in Alexandria.  The library is to contain works from scholars, poets and historians from the known world.  His heir Ptolemy II, will ask the Jews living in Egypt to make a contribution of their Hebrew scriptures translated into Greek for all to study.  Yahweh thus will be introduced to the wider world.

Ptolemy II’s request is carried out when six Jewish translators from each of the twelve tribes will perform the academic work.  What happens in amazing in each copy is an exact same translation giving weight to its historical authenticity.  Some ideas translate easily while others need explanation by the scribes with critical background information for the Greek audience.  The same will be largely true when the New Testament writers, Luke, Mark, Paul and others begin to write down the legacy of Jesus’ life and works, they use Greek.

Alexander has spread Greek from Egypt all the way to Persia and India.  Everything from coinage to measurement to civil and academic ideas are done in Greek.  God uses others cultures, peoples to his glory and achieving his divine will.

Greek examples in scriptures:

be ye therefore perfect even as your father in heaven is perfect”

English conveys faultlessness & superiority

Greek word reflects not the English meaning by a word called “telios” meaning intentional use and function.  A screw-driver is not used a chisel or to drive nails.  An axe is not used to cut a birthday cake as a cake-knife is designed for that purpose.  In context, the Bible is saying that we are not designed for sinning.  To be perfect with the Greek meaning is to live morally in obedience to God’s word not in an impossible faultlessness for mortals.

Jesus asks Peter; “Peter do you love me?” three times.  In English this seems painfully redundant.  But when we read the Greek, the first two times Jesus asks using the Greek word, “agape” for God’s divine, pure love.  The third time, because Peter doesn’t understand, he uses the word, “philios” meaning brotherly love which Peter can relate. These are but two good examples of what the Greek language affords to study, learning and in our case, knowing God’s word.


The Axial Age“Mankind Seeks a Better Way”   800-200 BCE

 The Iron Age advances into a new era blighted by wars, conquests and empire building.  Across the world from Italy, North Africa, all the way east to India and Cathay (China), nations war in both local and regional conflicts.  In Greece for example, the city-states engage in turbulent devastating conflicts that will weaken the disunited country.

In the near east, Persia ascends under the dynamic leadership of a new ruler, Cyrus the Great whose desire for empire and power are equal his ambitions.  During the backdrop of this almost universal plague of wars and pestilence, a group of deep thinkers begin a resolute challenge to old ideas and religious modes of evaluating life.

Greece’s intellectual spur is lead by pre-Socratic and Eleatic philosophers will examine mankind’s moral state hoping to align themselves with the so-named “good” in life.  Every notion is challenged by the new wise-men whose actions will hold intellectual sway for a thousand years.

From the east, thinkers like Zoroaster in Persia ca. 1500 BC found a new religion based on a belief of a great cosmic war in the heavens between forces of good and evil that will influence the west in their thinking.  In Asia the (Buddha 563 ca. BCE), Mahavira Jains, Confucius, and all question and examine mankind’s morality in religion, wars, and social justice.  In early China around the 10th century BC a pre-Axial concept guided rulers in these dynasties called the “Mandate of Heaven” based on four essential constructs.

Egypt will remain largely free of axial influences largely due to her deep historical belief in the “maat” and pharaohnic foundations; they have not needed any alternatives by their thinking. Maat emphasized cosmic justice, order, and good moral conduct from the pharaohs and the peoples.  The pharaohs became the arbiters of this justice and order acting as a go-between the gods and humanity.  But, because of the tragic and repeated cycle of Hyksos style invaders; she never will again produce dynamic native-born leaders like the pharaohs of old.  And as a side note, Ethiopia, Meroe/Sudan both remain very stable unlike the rest of the civilized world rooted behind solid leadership.

From the Bible, the Hebrew prophets under divine unction preach from a purely moral context based on God’s laws given by Moses with the added dimension of real-time prophetic revelations.  Men like Isaiah, Jeremiah, (Daniel 606-539), Ezekiel, Amos, Hosea and others ending in a final voice of Malachi from 700- 400 BCE.  These men directly challenge humanity with Yahweh’s exacting moral requirements on subjects like social justice, peace, and covenant-keeping.

When viewed in wider context, humanity’s most vexing crisis and challenges are filtered through each of these philosophical prisms to affect change for the better.  Some will be successful to a certain degree while others will endure rejection and severe persecution resulting from challenges to the known and accepted ways of thinking which maintain power among rulers.

But in time, these new ideas will crystallize and settle into accepted orthodox ways of thinking and living.  Cyrus & Darius the Greats (550-486) *Darius’ royal decree re: Yahwehin Daniel 6:25-26 will accept Zoroastrianism along with Hebrew ideas of Yahweh.  The Mauryan Dynasty’s Ashoka 273-232 BCE, will after a terrible war and massacre becomes a devout Buddhist and will spread the faith east to Cathay, west to Greece, Rome, Egypt and Canaan.

The Kushan Dynasties in Central Asia to Northern India will successfully combine Hellenism with Buddhist teachings as the basis of their philosophy for some 300 years until the re-emergence and revival of Hinduism under the Guptas who drive Buddhism out of India.  Confucius’s followers will be severely persecuted by China first emperor Qin or Chin because they believe and teach that the people have to right to rise up against bad government and leader.

Christianity an offshoot of Judaism will serve as the religious and theoretical foundation for Constantine’s neo-Roman Christian empire on to the Western Europe.  Christianity is also adopted by Ethiopia’s kings around 325 AD blended with Judaism already present in country.

The Axial Age produces paradoxically a time of moral and social examination that provides meaning to their adherents.  The ravages of war, social injustice and moral turpitude are mollified as humanity is prepared for the Messiah’s arrival.   Jesus enters this world with a kingdom message of love, redemption, universal brotherhood and hopes for mankind and will at times confront these existing ideas competing for change.

NOTE:  Greek mythology and Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey sagas together serve the Greek world as archetypes for social and moral conduct to be emulated and avoided.  Their hero sagas of Heracles, Perseus and Odysseus are read and studied by men like Alexander the Great, kings and princes to gain insight to form character for leadership i.e. Carl Jung & Joseph Campbell (refer to class @ Emory by Katherine Legan)  Pre-Socratic Philosophers: Thales, Pythagoras, Anaximander, Heraclitus > Socrates-Plato-Aristotle


Age of Empires: Hellenistic Greece

Around 400 BCE, Bible prophets and prophesy fall silent after the life of Malachi.  The Jews are involved in a slow but steady rebuilding of their battered homeland around Jerusalem under the full auspices of the Persian king’s authority.   Now the world rises to a time of the Gentiles and their ascendancy.  These new powers from Persia to Greece, Carthage on to Rome will rule the Mediterranean basin leaving a paradoxically complex culture of wars, destructions and rebuilding of great cities ruled by megalomaniacal personalities from each empire.

The world is now being prepared for the coming Messiah who will with His reign create and empire of God’s design over-taking the previous secular kingdoms well beyond the land of Abraham’s promise.

  • Persian wars- (499-479) Marathon/Salamis, Thermopylae/ Artemisian Strait, Plataea
  • Peloponnesian Wars- (431-405) Athens vs Sparta to Theban hegemony
  • Rise of Macedon- (375-322) King Philip & Prince Alexander ( protector of man)

Five influences on Alexander’s life:

Philip– Firmly a man of the times, power-hungry, rapaciously ambitious, politically astute, military genus, vengeful, selfish, cruel, perfect Greek tyrant, “Alexander’s lion blocking the cave’s exit”

Olympias– true political stage-mother, Alexander’s first tutor, ambitious, architect of Alexander’s destiny creation, courtly intrigue and snares revealed, she teaches her son to be weary, cautious, trusting few even in his closest circles

Aristotle– Master tutor & mentor, organizes & disciplines young Alexander’s mind, created greater Greek world vision helping Alexander to become a “complete warrior-king”, Alexander’s patronage sends vast new discoveries from many conquered places back to Lyceum for study and cataloging *(Aristotle’s nephew Callistilles will go with Alexander & @ one critical time attempt a coup & assassination & is executed)

Darius III King of Persia- (*Note pre-war letters king to king) The greatest empire in world history with valiant lists of kings, exotic mysterious conquered places from Northern India to Southern India/ Sri Lanka & her sea trade, ancient Bactria (modern Pakistan) & Central Asia’s Kashmir Valley, Mesopotamia, Phoenicia, Arabia, Egypt, Meroe/Sudan or Ethiopia (Grk. “men with burned faces”)

Destiny & Mythology– Alexander believes that he descends from both the line of Heracles & Achilles, Trojan War epic in Homer’s Iliad is his Bible, the gods grace his life i.e. at his birth the temple of Artemis burns to the ground on the same night and legends say that the goddess was absent to attend his birth, two famous oracles @ Delphi in Greece & Siwa in Egypt declared him a “Son of Amon” bless his arrival.  Josephus, the Jewish historian, circa 66 AD, says that when he arrives at Jerusalem, the High Priest read of his coming from the Book of Daniel. Many Jews will join in his eastward conquests admiring the Greek King.

“Alexander honors many local gods and temples by sacrificing when required and he believes that he is destined to unite the whole world under one Greek banner and national flame.”

How Alexander conquers the Persian world

King Philip is assassinated and Alexander subdues all of Greece proper: Athens, Sparta, destroys Thebes Heracles favorite city & former hostage city of Philip his father.

Alexander moves across Hellespont into Anatolia: @ Battle of Granicus then moves down along Aegean coastline attacking rich Persian port cities and trade route towns, i.e. Miletus, Sardis, & Ephesus.  Gives Ionian Greeks allied to Darius chance to switch sides and join Greeks for one Greece united.  Afterwards, he takes all Persian held cities sending Persian troops rushing back toward Mesopotamia.

Alexander moved to Gordium where he cut the Gordian knot. (secures winter wheat supplies here)  Then on to Cilician Gates, narrow mountains pass that leads to Syria & Palestine.  Alexander can’t pursue Darius yet because he must cut off Persian reinforcements and beneficial Persian trade from cities in Phoenicia, Arabia, Syria, Jerusalem, Egypt, Meroe & Carthage in the west (very famous sieges and wars here.

After securing Egypt, it’s off east to Babylon and Persia in pursuit of fleeing Darius. @Arbela/Gaugamela Alexander’s armies will face Indian war elephants for the first time in Persian army and 40-K Persians are killed. *Here in Egypt, Alexander is shown the tomb of Thutmose III and will have his name carved into the walls here linking him with one of Egypt’s greatest warrior-pharaohs and will himself be declared a pharaoh/liberator. He declares himself to be a son of Amon legitimizing his reign.

After a long series of battles, the beleaguered Persian army is abandoned by many soldiers and eventually will be betrayed and murdered by a noble named, Bessus, who hopes to ingratiate himself to Alexander to his demise.  Alexander will have him tied between two trees bent by ropes on his legs and will utter famous words, “that only a king should king a king.”  After Darius’s death, Alexander is declared “Lord of all Asia” taking Susa, Babylon and Ecbatana > Persian fortress & treasure cities.

Unsatisfied with his success, Alexander pushes his armies further into former Persian lands of Bactria, Pakistan/Afghanistan, on to mysterious India where Greeks and westerners will encounter huge, fearsome war elephants in battles.  (Aristotle’s nephew Callisthenes is executed by Alexander for plotting)

Alexander then rules Northern India fighting many smaller wars with fierce tribes unwilling to surrender any more of their home-country.  Then, when Alexander decides to cross a major river to meet an enormous army on war elephants, his men mutiny, and they head back to Babylon where he dies @ 33

With no named successor, Alexander whispers the immortal words when asked to whom does your kingdom fall; “my kingdom to the strongest.” His successors are known as the Diodachi, in Greek, or the Successors.


Empires of the Iron Age: The Hellenistic Diodachi (di-o-da-key) 322-275 BCE = 47 yrs.

      “The end and perfection of conquest is to avoid making the same mistakes that the conquered have made…” Alexander- Plutarch

As a postscript in an effort not to diminish Alexander and his conquests; few human personalities have created a legend full of fantastic myth, lore and historical hyperbole like Alexander the Great.  Despite his audacious ego and at times uncontrollable deadly rages, all of his surviving generals will still live in awe, respect and fear of his memory.  Historians remind us that even after his death whenever his generals met in council, an empty seat and Alexander’s helmet adorned with the white plume was placed at the table in honor of his memory as they believed his spirit remained present.

Many generals and conquerors to follow the Iskander or “Founder of Cities” will try to exceed his deeds, exploits and valor in years to come.  Pyrrhus, Demetrius, Hannibal Barca, Julius Caesar, Roman general Trajan, Hadrian in the west, India’s Chandragupta, and even China’s first emperor, Chi Qin Wang Di, use Alexander’s legend and a pivot-point to greatness.

The world will never see his like again and maybe we are all the better for that reality.  As Plutarch puts it; “his was a life of wars, struggles and unrelenting ambition.”  The world lays steps closer for a true redeeming Messiah worthy of our emulation.

“The conqueror’s sublime ideal is to rule with skill what has been taken by force.” Aristobolus of Egypt- “Lion of Meroe” novel by Mac

Daniel’s four little horns are reduced to the successors to Alexander’s empire.  His greatest generals are, Lysimachus, *Antipater & Cassander (Macedon & Greece) *Seleucus I (Babylon & Syria &Jerusalem) *Ptolemy I (Egypt, Meroe) *Antigonus & Demetrius (Asia Minor or Gog of Magog in Ezekiel), Perdiccas (Cappadocia), Eumenes,

Alexander’s death touched off a power-play among his generals who literally took his direction in truest Greco-warlord expression.  Each of them spied a region then seized full control of the same age old inducements like the empires of Egypt, Assyria, Babylon and Persia.  Every region in the Hellenistic empire had its own sources of wealth, land and strategic interests proving valuable to anyone capable of holding under his control.

But the ancient Greek curse of constant violence against rivals fueled by megalomaniacal egos fosters frequent invasions and wars for each others territories. (Use map & show impact)

King of the southKing Ptolemy Soter of Egypt: Daniel 8:21-22> 322-63 BCE *Ptolemy hijacks Alexander’s body ensuring his rule @ Memphis, Egypt’s political heart. (General Perdiccas lost Alexander’s body in a battle w-Ptolemy. *In 280 BCE Alexander’s body is relocated to Alexandria by Ptolemy II.

King of the northKing Seleucus: Syria, Palestine, & Babylon 322-63 BCE / Maccabean Revolt / Hasmonean Dynasty/ Idumean Dynasty

Out of this line will come Daniel’s abomination that maketh desolate prophesy. Antiochus IV or Epiphanes or god-king in Daniel 12:11- 1,290 days after 175-164 BCE

Lysimachus- Greece, Thrace, Anatolia Black Sea region all taken by Seleucus in 281 BCE

Antigonus & Demetrius– Father & Son Kings of Greece, Lydia (Gog in Magog) & Cappadocia lands all taken by Lysimachus & Seleucus (Galatians in the Bible here)

As the two surviving empires the Seleucid and Ptolemaic, settle into an uneasy time of constant assassinations, warfare, territorial gains and losses, Rome’s ultimate victory over Hannibal and Carthage give her supreme rule over the middle and western Mediterranean.

When a Greek king Philip V makes a fatal alliance with Hannibal to over-power Rome and her Legions, Rome feels an obligation to repay their treachery in blood.  The Legion’s maniple will engage and defeat the Greek phalanx in a famous battle at a place called Cynocyphale or “Dogs Head” in Greek.   The outcome proves compelling as Rome now sweeps into lower Greece and her famous Hellenistic cities then on to Anatolia.  Afterwards, she moves south into Palestine routing the Seleucid forces all the way to Babylon.

Around 63 BCE, Rome’s Pompeii will finally invade and capture Ptolemy’s Egypt bringing and end to the Hellenistic Age.  Queen Cleopatra will fall with Mark Antony and their deaths will conclude a glorious time won by Alexander the Great.  Rome now has made the Mediterranean a Roman Lake so-to-speak absorbing the lion’s share of the Hellenistic soul into her bosom.  Greek art, philosophy, science, literature down to statute, stone and flesh all belong to Rome.  A new chapter begins for mankind and the Iskander’s legend endures until modern times.


Age of Empires: Jewish Life in Palestine after the Return

The Hellenistic world after Alexander under his generals leads a fragile existence rocked by constant wars, assassinations and land-taking east to west.  Inside this milieu of war and violence sits the tiny Jewish enclave around Jerusalem surviving at the largess of these Greek tyrants.  Daniel’s uses a graphic illustration to describe these times as God’s people in Judah are like wheat ground between two millstones”; the Ptolemaic and Seleucid empires.

A Seleucid Dynasty, huge in land mass and hegemony controls the Jews.  From Anatolia, to Antioch in Syria on to the east Babylon to Persia, Seleucid domination compels a Hellenization of the Jews and their culture.  Antiochus IV, or Epiphanes i.e. god-king, becomes a hellish tyrant who regularly offends the Jews with what he believes are superior Greek ideas.

His ultimate atrocity is found in Daniel’s, “abomination that maketh desolate”, when he erects a statue of the Greek thunder-god Zeus in the Jewish temple and has a sow sacrificed in his honor.  This insult detonates a long and bloody rebellion that will end in a re-born, unified Jewish state since the time of David and Solomon.

It is during this time that the origins of the three parties of Pharisees, Sadducees and Essenes are formed who will come in direct contact with Jesus creating conflicts.  But, who are these parties and what do they teach?  Here lies our study today.

Hellenism vs. Judaism: Antiochus IV Epiphanes – a Hellenizer hated Judaism & sought to abolish & outlaw its practices leading to the Maccabean Revolt (ca. 167 BCE) by Judas Hasmon nicknamed Maccabeus or Hammer” became the Hasmonean family rulers of Judea after (140 BCE) to one John Hyrcanus >Sadducee convert (135-105 BCE) king of an independent state that ruled all of Palestine until the Romans installed an Idumean or “Edomite” named, Herod the Great.

Alexander Jannaeus> Sadducee (ca. 103-76 BCE) son of Hyrcanus & a Sadducee offended the Pharisaical Jews by malpractice of the temple ceremony leading to an appalling massacre of some 6,000 and further death-persecution of another 50,000 Jews (Read handout on Jannaeus)

After repeated Hasmonean wars in Judea Palestine, Rome became more aggressive an upon General Pompey’s intervention, Judea, the nation came fully under Rome’s hegemony installing a vassal King Herod utterly loyal to Caesar & Rome.

Sadducees– Openly friendly to Hellenizers more interested in worldly political affairs and commercial expansion. They accepted Mosaic Law only not the oral traditions of the scribes. Upper class land-owners elite

Short list of beliefs:

  1. Extremely self-sufficient to the point of denying God’s involvement in everyday life. (existential practice & Free-Will to choose good or evil)
  2. Denied any resurrection of the dead- Matt. 22:23
  3. Denied any afterlife, holding that the soul perished at death therefore no penalty or reward after the earthly life.
  4. Denied existence of a spiritual world i.e. angels, demons, Heaven ( none of Zoroaster’s or Plato’s teachings accepted) Acts 23:8

The Sadducees ceased to exist after 70 A.D. because their lives were tied to political fortunes with Rome and the priestly duties were lost with the destroyed temple in Jerusalem.

Pharisees or “separated ones” Composed of middle-class businessmen in contact with the common or masses.  Accepted the written word as inspired of God and the oral traditions of the scribes as equals. (Nicodemus- means “victory of the people”, Paul, Gamaliel, Josephus)

  1. Believed that God controlled all things yet decisions made by individuals also contributed to the course of a person’s life.
  2. Pro resurrection of the dead.
  3. Pro after-life reward & punishment
  4. Believed in existence of angels & demons

Pharisees were against the rebellion against Rome and were the first to make peace afterward.  Compiled the Mishnah, (600-plus legal interpretations of the law) and more New Testament references to them with Jesus. (Pharisees are very often portrayed in negative light because of their New Testament conflicts with Jesus and later his Apostles.  To call someone a Pharisee may refer to closed-mindedness, separatist or elitist POV, but is this totally fair?

As in many cases, it is the “bad apples” that create the negative publicity. Josephus, a Pharisee, saves precious texts during Jerusalem’s catastrophe preserved for us today.  Paul, a Pharisee, travels the length and breath of the Roman world spreading the Gospel.  And originally, they fostered a restoration and reverence for God’s law absent in earlier times of Israel’s history.  “At least it must be said that even a broken clock is right twice a day.” 

Scribes: Lawyers or interpreters of the law & traditions

Essenes: Sect living near the Dead Sea that rejected Temple & religious life under city leaders as corrupt, immoral and not living according to the true law of God.

Schools Hillel & Shammai: Ca. (60 BCE – 10 AD)

Ultimately, everything we do condenses into a pool of philosophy; that is why universities award Ph-d’s, i.e. a philosophy of history, mathematics, divinity etc.   For the Jews, a pivotal philosophical platform was essential in interpreting and transmitting the Word of God in an understandable way.

Two prominent Jewish teachers of rabbis of the law held great influence and sway among the people.  Political motivations aside, great influence and power came via the beliefs of these men into the lives of Jesus, Paul and early Christian apologists.

Hillel– open heart & minded, peace-loving, gentle disposition, invited discourse with gentiles & Jews alike, less strict in his interpretations of the law i.e. spirit vs. the letter, patient, civility, flexibility & compassion rather than a Draconian” or a loose constructionist approach.

Hillel is believed to be similar to Moses in life maybe lived 120 years, 40 in Babylon, 40 years study and the last 40 spiritual head of the Jewish people.

Many of Hillel’s sayings closely resemble Jesus’ quotations (read Hillel p.4-6)

His son is Simeon & grandson is Gamaliel, Paul’s teacher & mentor Acts 22:3

Shammai: Rigid, strict interpreter of the Law of Moses, anti-pagan or Roman, his followers choose to join revolt against Rome 66-70 AD and will be destroyed with Temple forever. His rhetoric is fiery, incendiary when needed, a true fundamentalist or modern term “a strict constructionist”. Many of the disputes and conflicts with Jesus erupt from the beliefs of the Sadducees and their teachings, angels, resurrection, laws etc.

Isn’t it interesting that Paul the Pharisee behaves more like a Sadducee when he persecutes Christians?


 Age of Empires: Carthage, Rome,  246 BCE-100 AD

 While the empires of the east rose and fell with a Hellenistic imprint now prominent, two rising empires, Carthage, a trade and naval colossus, and Rome, an expanding land-based Legionnaire style military, have been on a deliberate collision course for decades leading to what will be named “The Punic Wars.”

First, it should be noted here that in the east, a new empire has arisen in the lands Babylon, Media, and the Old Persian Empire where the Seleucids have lost control called, Parthia. (See map- 247 BCE- 226 A. D.) They will hijack ancient trade routes and develop equally aggressive armies to rival the Roman legions. After a brief invasion of Roman Palestine, they will be driven out as Rome assumes full control.

During expansion simultaneous with Rome and Carthage’s rise they will, around, 42 BCE invade Syria, Palestine & Jerusalem further compounding the Hasmonean family power struggle also involving Herod the Great with Roman aide through Marc Antony.  Jerusalem becomes a battle-ground further making Daniel’s prophesy of “Judah ground between two millstones” a reality.  This point expanded in a later class.

Back to Carthage, an older nation ruling from North Africa controlling vast trade networks and colonies have become the target of the aggressive Romans.  Rome has limited trade, no navy, and has been caught between Alexander in Greece and Carthage to its south.

With the Hellenistic Greeks weakened by constant wars, Rome sees an opportunity.  They intentionally create wars with Carthage called, Punic, a Latin word for Phoenician, and will directly challenge the imperial empire of Carthage in three savage wars.  But, first a map study.

Carthage & Utica: Two excellent harbors, great ship building technology, huge fleets,(they are masters of kings sailing and trade since the days of the great pharaohs and, Solomon & Hiram of Tyre Carthage’s mother-land,) Both cities have excellent climate w-good rainfall & large areas of fertile soil, Strong, infantry for warfare i.e. Hannibal Barca

Her Colonies & trade zones: Spain and its territorial islands, Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, western North Africa to its interior, British Isles, Coastal West Africa, Trade allies of the Etruscan Empire in Northern Italy who dominated the region early in the Iron Age.  Aegean Islands, including Crete, Cyprus and old trading ports along the coast of Palestine to Egypt, in more ancient times they navigated the coastline of east Africa and extensively in the Indian Ocean at the financial largess of Solomon & Hiram

Rome’s Reasons for Success:

  •  Rome’s brilliant generals: Scipio’s Africanus & Asiaticus, Marius, Sulla, Crassus, Pompey, Caesar, Antony, Titus, Trajan, Hadrian, Marcus Aurileus
  • Her Legions i.e., the Roman Maniple formation & extreme training & creation of a fully prepared soldier
  • Rome’s ability to adapt, learn and recover even from catastrophic losses. The Romans also studied the failures of other nations using history as a guidepost for rule. “Those who do not study history’s mistakes are doomed to repeat them and those who do will make new ones”… George Santayana
  • Rome’s use of science & technology in war & civil affairs i.e. Accomplished builders of famous Roman roads, aqueducts, buildings, warships etc.
  • Uniform monetary system throughout the empire and universal taxation & census
  • Roman law & originally the idea of  “Republic” i.e. the Romans hated Kings and their renal dynastic failures (Julius Caesar ended the Republic by declaring himself emperor) 
  • The willingness to make & justify “appallingly wicked decisions”   i.e. final destruction of Carthage, Caesar’s armies slay one million Gauls, Crassus ends Spartacus’ revolt with crucifixion of some 6,000 rebels, destruction of Carthage , Jerusalem, Corinth, etc. They believed in making the critical example for the colonies to witness thus nullifying a temptation to revolt.

The Punic Wars: #2 against Hannibal

           “Choose your enemies well for soon you will be like them” …George Santayana

After the first Punic War, Rome’s initial triumph allowed her to gain control over some Carthage’s colonial trade zones and lands.  Embittered by Carthage’s defeat and the humiliation of his father, Hamilcar, Hannibal swore “never to be a friend of Rome” but more to the point, seething with revenge.

Following his father’s and an older brother’s deaths, Hannibal will be named full commander of the military in Spain and will incite what will be one of the greatest legendary conquests since the age of Alexander the Great.

Hannibal’s elephants: Historians believe they were from a now extinct sub-species of African elephants that lived in the Atlas Mountains region of modern Morocco. Evidence from witnesses believed that Hannibal’s mahouts before battles plied the animals with strong wine and then prodded them in their ankles with spear tips sending the into a murderous rage into the Roman formations.  The resulting chaos and panic by the Roman soldiers who’d never fought this kind of enemy in war would be devastating. The combined force of rampaging 8-10 ton elephants gave Hannibal an early advantage that could not be matched by the Romans.

Crossing the Alps:  This was a feat unmatched even by Alexander in scope and audacity.  Hannibal lost most of his elephants which they gladly used as food and many of his less conditioned troops. He made into Italy and won the support of Rome’s enemies in Gauls and Ligurians.

Invasion of Italy: (218-203) > 3 Triumphs, Trebia, Trasimene, Cannae. @ Cannae, estimated Roman casualties range between 50 & 70,000 dead /(* Legends report that so many Romans & Carthaginians die at Cannae that the fields where they fell produce seven years of bumper wheat harvests.) Hannibal was unable to take Rome without proper siege equipment, solid supply lines and additional troops from Carthage, so he ravaged Italy and the Romans for seventeen years without complete victory.

Scipio Africanus: Zama & defeat & effects of Roman victory

Carthage stripped of more colonies, they must get prior approval to war against enemies from Rome, they must disband most of the navy fleet with a few ships to ward off piracy, and they must pay a heavy tax indemnity to Rome as a penalty.

A 3rd Punic War & Carthage’s destruction 146BCE/ Cato’s famous words; “Carthage must be destroyed”.  The Romans become concerned when they see Carthage’s recovery and power re-growing and do not want another prolonged war.

Rome’s aggression is triggered when Carthage appeals to Rome to be allowed to go to war against Numidian invaders from the south, Rome says no.  Unwilling to be subject to her southern enemy, Carthage goes to war.

Rome responds with lightning action. They make alliances with the Numidian king a then launch a savage assault against Carthage.  Weakened by previous wars with few remaining fighters and great leaders, Carthage falls in one of the cruelest destructions just like Troy, Jericho and others we’ve studied. Rome judgment is exacting and final ending the long existence of one of the Mediterranean’s greatest empires.

                                                          Rome’s Punishment

  1. Carthage must give up all colonies.
  2. Carthage must abandon up all naval vessels & trading.
  3. All inhabitants who remain must now live at least ten miles from the sea.  
  4. Carthage will be leveled completely and legends say that the Romans use slaves to salt the fields surrounding the region so that nothing will grow. (They do the same to Judah in 70 AD)
  5. Most of the survivors are sold into slavery and deported.
  6. Rome will build a new city & name it Carthage that will become another jeweled city in the Roman Empire and the lands will become Rome’s “bread-basket” in decades to come along with a Romanized Egypt.


Modern historian, Donald Kagan, uses the Punic War tragedy to illustrate a point about war and its outcomes in deterring future conflicts. Professor Kagan coins the term, “livable peace” to emphasize that if peace terms are so harsh and impossible when imposed, you may be in effect sowing the seeds for more war.  Carthage could not abide by the terms imposed by Rome especially with an enemy in Numidia eager for invasion and conquest of a weakened neighbor.

        The terms imposed by the World War I allies against Germany, he asserts, the peace is so unlivable that it feeds the hellish impulses of one, Adolph Hitler and his Nazi war machine. With no colonies left, disease, poverty and death pervasive; Hitler and his Nazis create war over Alliance peace.    African Carthage never recovers as Roman Peace proves un-survivable.


                                   Review # 2: Alexander to Rome


        We pause now to review a huge swath of classical history to examine the effects of Hellenistic conquest through the newest world power, Daniel’s fourth empire, Rome.


  1. List some of Alexander’s achievements.
  2. What were some of his goals?
  3. Who assumed his kingdom control?
  4. How was Judah impacted?
  5. How did Rome come to control the Mediterranean?  

 The Silk Road travel, trade & cultural impact

  1. East to West: China under the Qin & Han Dynasty
  2. China to India & Mauryan Dynasties
  3. India to Bactria, Central Asia, Persia, & Babylon
  4. Babylon west to Palestine, Egypt, Anatolia, Greece, Rome
  5. Roman Roads North Africa, north & west into Europe

 Rome’s Imperial Sweep: 202-63 BCE

 After Hannibal’s defeat in 202, Rome found herself master of the western Mediterranean.  Having defeated the most potent enemy and threat to Rome’s prosperity, her leaders soon realized the full power of their war machine and began to use it to their advantage.

 In the intervening years after Zama and Hannibal’s death, Carthage slowly began to revive itself.  Alarmed, Rome’s leaders refused to brook the rebirth of a new Carthage.  In 149 BCE, Rome’s legions invaded leaving old Carthage in ruins. They build a new Carthage what came to be known as “Africa”, modern Tunisia, and it became another jeweled city like, Alexandria in Egypt, Ostia in Italy and Ephesus in Anatolia.

What follows in 146 BCE is an aggressive Rome repaying old grievances against Macedonian kings Philip V & Perseus his son.  They go on to war against Antiochus III the Seleucid king in Syria & Palestine eventually ending in the conquest of Egypt’s Ptolemaic dynasty ruled by Queen Cleopatra and her younger brother in 63 BCE by Pompey the Great.

But like the Greeks before, Rome too suffers from internal violence, corruption and civil wars.  After Marius professionalizes the military, he will be overthrown by his chief rival, Counsel Sulla.  Sulla violates Rome’s most sacred law bringing his legions into the city, slaughtering and exiling enemies and instituting reforms bringing tentative peace circa 85 BCE.

In coming years, Rome struggles with an enormous empire, vast wealthy land & trade holdings and rapaciously ambitious generals vying for control.  The Republic submits to what is called a “Triumvirate”, the rule of a super-rich Crassus, Julius Caesar & General Pompey.

 During Rome’s civil war, Hasmonean Jews under John Hyrcanus II switch sides from Pompey to Julius Caesar in Alexandria Egypt and he sends 3,000 warriors to fight.  After war, a grateful Caesar relieves the Jews of heavy taxes imposed under Pompey, rebuilds parts of Jerusalem and expands freedoms.  Jews will mourn Caesar’s death and Herod the Great now freed of Antony and Cleopatra will side with Augustus. 

Judah under Herod the Great

  1. General Mark Antony drives Parthians out of Palestine
  2. Civil War in Rome and Octavian or Augustus victorious
  3. Augustus places Herod in power
  4. Herod the builder, terror, & Roman vassal (Masada, Caesarea Mauritania, Herodium, 2nd Temple Complex) Jews revolt when Herod dies & Romans destroy Sepporhis north of the Galilee
  5. In 2006, archeologists believe they’ve discovered Herod’s destroyed tomb in the Herodium who dies in 4AD & in 47AD all Jews expelled from Rome by Claudius
  6. Jewish Rebellion >(66-70AD) Jerusalem by Titus & 2nd great Jewish Diaspora throughout Roman Empire lands, Masada taken (73AD), 2nd rebellion by Jews against Rome & Hadrian by Bar Kochba>(132-135 AD) / Hadrian changes Judea name to Palestine in (131AD) and Jerusalem becomes Aelia Capitolina& Jews are forbidden to live there
  7. In 79 AD, Mount Vesuvius erupts and destroys Pompeii & Herculaneum > Titus the Roman general who annihilated Judea & Jerusalem is Caesar and many Roman veterans of the Jewish War had retired to these cities. Many Jews & Christians believe that Vesuvius is Yahweh’s vengeance on Rome for her wickedness, idolatry and destroying Jerusalem & her temple in 70 AD.  In the aftermath, many Romans convert to both Judaism & Christianity as the new faith spreads.
  8. Byzantines holds Palestine from 400-1100 AD more years of the Christian era then the rise of Ottomanic Islam
  9. Muhammad born (570-630 AD) Islam then sweeps Mediterranean Roman world challenging the Christian Byzantine Empire, Gothic Spain, on to the old lands in the east & Asia.

The Jewish Revolts: 33-73 AD & 132-136 AD

Following the resurrection of Jesus his disciples fan out of Judea into the wider Roman controlled world led by Peter, Paul and Thomas spreading the gospel under duress and rising persecution.  Under the new dynasty of Julio-Claudian emperors, the cult of Jesus later to be called Christians at Antioch in Syria, are soon targeted as threats to various Roman rule.

Caligula and to a lesser extent Claudius rage against the Jews and Christians as the demented Caligula infuriates the Jews by ordering that his likeness in a statue be erected in the Jewish temple and he must be worshipped as a god. (Another example of Daniel’s abomination that creates desolation.)  His assassination by his enemies prevents this action but the fuse is lit in Judea.

Under Claudius’ reign, Jews & Greek conflicts in Rome, Alexandria and Judea cause him to expel all Jews from Rome seeing them as the primary cause of rioting and conflicts.  Most Christians are Jews who are lumped together by Romans as one people who stir agitation with this new movement of Christianity.

Roman governors and provincial leaders become increasingly cruel exacerbating raw Roman/Jewish relations with heavier taxes and more crucifixions.  One late Roman governor Florus will actually rob the temple treasury of its silver detonating the revolt and war breaks out.

Meanwhile in Rome an insane Nero wreaks havoc in the great city plundering vast sums from the treasury building massive monuments to himself.  When he dies civil war breaks out and Rome goes through some six emperors in one year until the generals eager to bring peace selects and recalls Vespasian from Judea to serve as emperor leaving Titus his son to end the rebellion.

Matthew 24 Jesus prophesies events (read details)

70 Jerusalem falls after a horrendous final thirteen month siege & two opposing factions war *Jewish Zealots burn stored food supplies & slaughters Jews who want to surrender

Some rich pay for escape but are in turned killed by the Romans and Josephus says that mostly the poor are slaughtered

The scene that Josephus paints in strikingly Assyrian in cruelties with famine, disease, cannibalism, and escapees throughout the country are hunted down and slaughtered and in Jordan. *At this point Josephus confirms Jesus’ prophesy of the horrors of the calamity against Judah in Matthew 24

Titus orders a “zero tolerance policy” and thousands die

The Temple set on fire, validation of Jesus’ words “that not one stone would be left on another.”

Josephus the Pharisee pleas with Titus to allow him to rescue as many of the ancient scrolls as possible to preserve Jewish history

City leveled, thousands enslaved and deported and region laid waste as an example

73 fortress at Masada falls with last rebels committing mass suicide

In 132-136 a final ill-fated revolt led by a radical rabbi named Bar Kochba will bring Hadrian’s full wrath on Jews in Judea causing him to change its name to Palestine after their ancient enemy the Philistines and Jerusalem’s to Aelia Capitolina some 500,000 will die and the survivors will be spread throughout the vast Roman Empire.


1 Comment

  1. Its like you read my mind! You seem to know so
    much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something.
    I think that you could do with a few pics to drive the message home a little bit, but
    other than that, this is great blog. A great read.
    I will certainly be back.

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