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A Series of Biblical Events

A work in progress...

Michael Geelan

on 17 September 2018

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Transcript of A Series of Biblical Events

A Series of Biblical Events
Primordial History
Creation myths
First Humans
Deluge Myth
Distribution of the nations
By definition, these stories describe events that are beyond the scope of history.
Note: Given the nature of the Prezi format, it is impossible to plot the points on this timeline according to a precise mathematical scale.
ca. 9000 B.C.E
A settlement in Jericho was established
Archaeologists have unearthed the remains of more than 20 successive settlements in Jericho, the first of which dates back to 9000 B.C.E., almost to the very beginning of written human history.
The city's lush springs have attracted human habitation for thousands of years, including the Hebrews who, under the leadership of Joshua, invaded around 1240 B.C.E. (Joshua 6:1-27).
ca. 1850 B.C.E
The History in the Text Reflecting the History of the Text:
ca. 1600 B.C.E
Descent of Jacob's family into Egypt
The stories of father "Israel" begin in Genesis 37 and run through Genesis 50:26.
ca. 1270 B.C.E
The Exodus under Moses
The Exodus material is the heart of the Pentateuch. The redactor ( ) viewed the exodus event as the defining moment for the people of Israel.
The Pentateuch is arranged in such a manner so that the book of Genesis serves mainly as a Preface to the main story which is the Exodus event.
The rest of the books of the Pentateuch (and also the majority of the other books of the Old Testament) look back upon the Exodus event as the pivotal event in the formation of the people of Israel.
Properly speaking the "Exodus event" refers only to the first half of the book of Exodus (1:1 - 18:27), which deals with the Moses leading the Hebrews out of slavery in Egypt through a series of divine plagues.
Under the leadership of the Pharaoh Ahmose (1552-1527), there was an Egyptian revival and the Hyksos were expelled from Egypt, resulting in the loss of status for all who were not pure blood Egyptian.
The Hebrew song of victory over the Egyptians (Exodus 15:21 and 15:1-16) and the
Amorite victory song (Numbers 21:27-30) reflect an oral culture present among the Semitic peoples in the region. These songs are independent, old compositions, arguably the oldest in the Hebrew Bible. Writing centuries later, took these compositions and included them in his/her/their narrative.
ca. 1270-
1230 B.C.E
The Wilderness Journey
The stories relating the the wanderings of the Hebrews under Moses' leadership make up the largest chunk of material in the Pentateuch:
ca. 1230 -
1020 B.C.E
Israel enters Canaan
The Books of Joshua, Judges Ruth, and the first 8 chapters of I Samuel are set during this time period.
Exodus 19:1—40:38: Arrival at Sinai and the establishment of Mosaic covenant (and reestablishment after )
The biblical texts describe Joshua and the tribes of Israel taking control of Canaan by conquering its principal cities in a relentless display of force.
However, clues within the text as well as corroborating archaeological evidence suggest that Israelite settlement in Canaan took place through a gradual process of social transformation which included both assimilation and isolated military conquest.
During this period, the Israelites organized themselves into a confederation of tribes without one primary head or central authority.
An Egytptian stela dating ca. 1213 B.C.E. provides the earliest extrabiblical evidence of Israelites living in the Land of Canaan.
Written Material
The Canaanite city of Ras Shamra flourished between 1400 and 1200 B.C.E.
The History in the Text Reflecting the History of the Text:
ca. 1020 -
922 B.C.E
The United Monarchy
The Books of Samuel and 1 Chronicles describe how the people of Israel transition from a tribal confederation to a monarchy, first under King Saul (ca. 1020-1000), then under King David (ca. 1000-961).
ca. 922 -
721 B.C.E
The Divided Monarchy
The history of this era is recorded in the Books of Kings and 2 Chronicles.
The History in the Text Reflecting the History of the Text:
1 Kings and 2 Chronicles detail the reign of David's son Solomon (ca. 961-922).
Solomon did not die beloved by all the people. His concern for status abroad alienated him from the common folk who served in forced labor crews to complete his ambitious building projects (2 Kings 3:27).
Even before Solomon's death, Jeroboam, a crew foreman, was marshalling the support of his laborers from the northern tribes for a revolt (1 Kings 11:26-40).
When Solomon's son and heir, Rehoboam, offered no promise of lifting the burdern of oppression that his father had imposed, the northern ten tribes united under Jeroboam's leadership and declared their independence from Judah and Benjamin (1 Kings 12:1-25).
The History in the Text Reflecting the History of the Text:
The entire Book of
Leviticus (1:1—27:34): The Hebrews sojourn at Sinai while YHWH speaks to Moses (sometimes both Moses & Aaron).
Exodus 19:1—40:38: Arrival at Sinai and the establishment of Mosaic covenant (and reestablishment after ).
The entire Book of Numbers (1:1—36:13): The journey from Sinai to the plains of Moab.
The entire Book of Deuteronomy (1:1—34:12): Prior to dying, Moses renews the covenant at Horeb ( 's term for Sinai) with Joshua's generation on the plains of Moab before entering the Promised Land.
The Middle Assyrian Empire (1392-1056) expands while Egypt experience a general decline in power. This created a situation in the Near East where a group such as the Israelites could migrate freely into the land of Canaan.
In times of crisis, a leader or "judge" emerged from a particular tribe to guide Israel through the emergency.
Invasion of the Sea Peoples (Philistines) into the land of Canaan (ca. 1200 B.C.E.).
Dawning of the Iron Age.
Philistines defeat Israel and destroy their Holy site at Shiloh (ca. 1040 B.C.E.).
The last Judge was Samuel (ca. 1030 B.C.E.), and he provides the bridge between the period of the judges and the dawn of the monarchy.
The blessings of both Jacob (Genesis 49-1-28) and Moses (Deuteronomy 33-1-29) are most likely old compositions later used by and respectively in their narratives.
The "Ode to the Well" (Numbers 21:16-17) found in reflects an ancient local tradition.
Each of these passages possess an ancient oral formula which would have been used by the Israelites to defend the antiquity of claims to territories in Canaan.
The Song of Victory found in Judges 5 is an old composition later incorporated into the narrative.
Although Saul was the first king, he was more like a glorified judge. His influence was limited to the tribes in the central highlands and his kingdom was not recognized by the peoples beyond the Jordan.
David was the first real king in the strict sense of the term in that he united the tribes, established a capital city with a central administration, and other peoples recognized his territory as the "kingdom" of Israel.
The majority of the authors of the Hebrew Bible consider the reign of David to be high point in Israelite history.
Under Solomon's reign, the nation of Israel reached its zenith of power, wealth, culture, and influence. It was during his reign the first Jewish Temple was built in Jerusalem (ca. 950).
Monarchical excesses led to tensions between the resource-rich northern tribes and Solomon's government located in the south. These tensions would lead to the dissolution of the United Monarchy upon Solomon's death.
The Middle Assyrian Empire had lost its influence over the region. There was a vacuum of power, allowing for a nation like Israel to emerge and flourish.
It is also during this era that the prophets of Israel emerge as advisers to the kings.
The last judge of Israel, Samuel (1030-1010), is also identified as a prophet. He anoints Saul king then later proclaims him rejected by YHWH. Samuel then anoints David the new king but dies before seeing David take possession of the throne.
Nathan (1000-960) is Samuel's prophetic successor. He advises both David and Solomon.
Written Material
Cultural activity flourished in Jerusalem during the reign of Solomon. Prophets, writers, and archivists composed various forms of literature that find their way into the Hebrew Bible.
During this time, scribes put into writing oral traditions about Abraham and Jacob. They collected narrative and legal traditions that centered on Moses. All four sources of the Documentary Hypothesis would make use of this material in the composition of their texts.
The priests at the Temple in Jerusalem established laws governing the annual celebration of festivals, the sacrificial rituals, and the tithes to support the Temple personnel. This material is later incorporated into .
Storytellers and scribes supported the inauguration of kingship by describing its genesis in the traditions of Samuel, Saul, and David. The majority of these stories were later used by .
Solomon transformed Jerusalem into a cosmopolitan center. He may have instituted an academy for training diplomats. A testament to his patronage of sages is the earliest collection in the Book of Proverbs (10:1—22:16).
Priests and Levites composed psalms for Temple ceremonies and claimed David as their patron.
It is possible that some of the lyrics found in the Song of Songs date to this era.
The Sources Emerge:
It was during this era that the various oral and written stories and traditions dealing the history of the Israelites were compiled by the earliest sources of the Documentary Hypothesis.
The written records of one kingdom would often emphasize/manipulate events within the tradition in order to cast the kingdom in a favorable light.
Conversely, the written records of one kingdom would often emphasize/manipulate events within the tradition in order to cast the rival kingdom in a negative light.
The era ends when the Neo-Assyrian Empire under the leadership of Shalmaneser V and then Sargon II invades the Northern Kingdom of Israel and utterly annihilates it.
Two versions of the city's founding:
Genesis: 33: 18-20
Genesis 34
The ten northern tribes called themselves "Israel" while the two southern tribes were known as "Judah."
Jeroboam established his capital first at Shechem and later at Tirzah. Around 880 B.C.E., Omri made Samaria the royal city (1 Kings 16:23-28).
The dynasty that began with David, then Solomon, then Rehoboam remained intact throughout the duration of the Southern Kingdom of Judah and even into the Babylonian Exile. The Jerusalem temple still served as the primary site for religous observance.
The Assyrian conquerors were brutal. Much of the Israelite population was slaughtered while members of Israel's aristocracy were humiliated by being paraded around on leashes hooked through their mouths.
The Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser III (745-727) embarked on a campaign to reduce the known civilized world into one empire with him as the king. Coming from the north, his armies first invaded Israel in 738 and forced its king to pay a heavy tribute to Assyria (2 Kings 15:19).
In 736, the nation of Syria made an alliance with Israel against Assyria. The southern kingdom of Judah, under the leadership of King Ahaz, refused to join the coalition.
In 735, Syria and Israel invade Judah in attempt to depose Ahaz and place upon the throne a puppet who would join the alliance against Assyria.
Ahaz called out to Tiglath-Pileser III for help and the Assyrians defended Judah, conquering Israel and Syria, but the post-war alliance only brought more trouble for the king of Judah. Ahaz had to pay tribute to Tiglath-Pileser III with treasures from the Temple in Jerusalem and the royal treasury. He also built idols of Assyrian gods in Judah to find favor with his new ally.
Due to the vast array of political intrigue during this era, this was a prolific literary period. Two major types of compositions emerge:
With the exception of two, all of literary prophets of the era brought their message to the Northern Kingdom of Israel:
produced between 922 and 850 B.C.E.
produced roughly around 750 B.C.E.
Also in the North during this time, a group of Levites began writing material that would eventually become part of .
ca. 721 -
587 B.C.E.
The Kingdom of Judah
ca. 587 -
538 B.C.E
The Babylonian Exile
The Davidic line of kings effectively ended with the death of Jehoiachin in exile some time after his release from prison between 562 and 560 (2 Kings 25:27-30).
The History in the Text Reflecting the History of the Text:
ca. 538 -
332 B.C.E
Reconstruction in Judea and the Persian Era
ca. 332-63 B.C.E
The Hellenistic Era
The vast Persian Empire finally had to give way to the Greek armies of Alexander the Great, who conquered the eastern Mediterranean in 332 and the whole ancient Near East by 326 B.C.E.
During his lifetime, Alexander overwhelmed the world with his armies, and, after his death, with his language and culture (Hellenization).
By this point, more Jews lived outside of Palestine than within. As a consequence, the first language of most Jews from this point on was Greek.
Once Alexander the Great conquered the eastern Mediterranean, Greek thought influenced the composition of Hebrew literature. During this time, Jewish literary activity flourished both within Judah and beyond its borders in the Diaspora:
Written Material
63 B.C.E -
70 C.E
The Roman Period
70 - 393 C.E.
Prior to the fall of Jerusalem, those books that the Jews considered "scripture" were stored in the Temple. Based on the evidence, these books numbered either 22 or 24 (though the difference in numbering may not have meant a difference in content).
When the Temple was destroyed, a new method was needed to distinguish between "scripture" and "non-scripture (or "canonical" and "noncanonical").
By around 200 C.E., there is an official listing of 24 sacred books within Rabbinic literature.
Rabbinical Judaism
& The Early Church
The Romans allowed the high priest to remain in office, using him as an administrative liaison with the local Jewish leadership, but there was no doubt who controlled the land.
Written Material
Within Western Christianity, there was no officially recognized list of canonical Old Testament books until late in the 4th century C.E. This general lack of concern for defining the canon allowed for an acceptance of religious texts beyond the 24 defined as canonical by Judaism.
While the Assyrians conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel, the Southern Kingdom of Judah remained.
However, it was literally surrounded by hostile forces.
This, along with the beginning of the reign of the religiously devout King Hezekiah, spurred the people to embark on a series of reforms.
The idea was to bring Judah into compliance with their covenant with YHWH.
The arrival of refugees from the north, such as the members of Levitical circles that produced , would have brought a new seriousness to the peoples of Judah.
It was thought that the Northern Kingdom of Israel had so grievously offended the covenant, YHWH used the Assyrians to punish them. If Judah wanted to avoid the same fate, it needed to be in complete compliance with the covenant.
The new commitment to the faith seemed to pay off, for when the Assyrian troops of Sennacherib (704-681) were at the gates of Jerusalem after ravaging cities throughout Judah in 701, he inexplicably withdrew his forces allowing the city to stay in Hezekiah's command.
Unfortunately, Hezekiah's successor, Manasseh, abolished the reforms of his father and practically surrendered the heritage of Judah to the Assyrians. Many priests and prophets faithful to YHWH lost their life during his reign.
Judah survived despite Manasseh, but the religion of YHWH was decimated.
But now there was a new Empire...
Unfortunately for Judah, Josiah was killed in a battle against Egyptian forces.
Fortunately Manasseh's grandson, Josiah, ascended to the throne in 640 and by 629 embarked on an epic religious reform movement even greater than that of Hezekiah.
It was during this reform that the once mighty Assyrian Empire collapsed after its military defeat to the Babylonians in 612.
The Egyptians were the main rival to the Babylonians, and so they took control of Judah and made sure that Josiah's successor would be loyal to the Egyptians. This king's name was Jehoiakim (609-598).
Eventually the Egyptians were forced to relinquish control of their territories (Judah included) when the Babylonian forces under Nebuchadnezzar II (634 – 562) defeated them in 605.
In 600, Egyptians were successfully able to defend the country of Egypt from Nebuchadnezzar. Jehoiakim took this as a sign of weakness, and rebelled against the Babylonians.
This was a bad idea...
Nebuchadnezzar responded by sending troops of mixed nationalities against Jerusalem. Jehoiakim died (perhaps violently) at the end of 598.
Jehoiakim's eighteen year old son, Jehoiachin (598-597), succeeded him to the throne, but reigned only three months before Nebuchadnezzar's own forces invaded Jerusalem in 597 and deported the king, along with thousands of the leading citizens, to exile in Babylon.
The Babylonians sanctioned the passing of the crown to Jehoiachin's uncle Zedekiah (the third son of Josiah). Being only 21 years old, Zedekiah lacked the experience and sober judgment required to stabilize life in Judah.
Zedekiah was too easily swayed by public opinion, he never formulated a policy for governing that was his own.
The popular opinion of the day was that YHWH would soon defeat the Babylonians. Just like when the Assyrians failed to ultimately conquer Judah in 701, it was popularly thought that the kingdom would also stand against the Babylonians. Zedekiah was swayed by this line of thinking.
This was a bad idea....
In 588, Nebuchadnezzar's army arrived at the gates of Jerusalem and set up siege works around the city walls to hedge in the population.
In 587, the Babylonians broke through the walls and burned down the Jewish Temple.
Zedekiah was captured and delivered to Nebuchadnezzar.
An additional 20,000 people were taken into exile.
In 582, the Babylonians swept through Judah for a third time and deported the remaining people into exile.
Written Material
As was the case in the previous era, this was a time when prophetic literature flourished. The sources of the Documentary Hypothesis continued to develop as well.
Whether that counsel was accepted depended on the kings and citizens of the era. For the most part, the prophets were rejected.
The oracles of the most important literary prophets date to this era:
The source, which originated in the North, made its way into the Southern Kingdom after the destruction of Israel in 721.
A scribe in Jerusalem knit into the Southern Kingdom's during the reforms of Hezekiah. The result was .
Meanwhile, the Temple priests completed their alternative to . This was the source.
Finally, Levitcal priests who fled to Jerusalem from the north in 721, brought with them an early edition of . This edition was sealed in the Temple throughout the reign of Manasseh.
In 622, while the Temple was being renovated as part of Josiah's reforms, was discovered. A member of the Levitical school in Jerusalem expanded it into the first edition of Deuteronomy. We call this .
This was the constitution of Judah under Josiah.
In addition to an early draft of Deuteronomy, also includes an account of the history of Israel from the orations of Moses on the plains of Moab to its culmination in the reign of Josiah. This first edition of the includes the books of Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings up to 2 Kings 23:25.
The "Jews" in Babylon had to determine how their faith in YHWH could survive without a king, a land, or the Temple.
This era marks a religious and cultural turning point for the descendants of the people of Israel. Without a king, it fell to the prophets, priests, and scribes to counsel and lead the exiles who found themselves in an entirely new reality.
In the absence of the Temple, religious observance turned increasingly toward the oral and written traditions of the patriarchs, the Mosaic covenant, and the prophets. Priests prophets and scribes rethought these traditions as they tried to make sense of the fact that they had been expelled from the land that YHWH had promised them.
The Exile is considered the transitional point from the era of ancient Israel, to the beginning of early Judaism.
After the death of Nebuchadnezzar II in 562 B.C.E, the Babylonian Empire began to gradually collapse in upon itself. The empire's last king (Nabonidus) was not actually Babylonian (ironically, he was Assyrian). He was generally disliked, allowing for the Persian faction, led by Cyrus the Great, to conquer the region in 539 B.C.E. This marks the end of the Babylonian Empire and the beginning of the Persian Empire.
One of the first acts of Cyrus was to repatriate displaced peoples and restore their temples and cult sanctuaries. The Book of Ezra states that this policy included exiles of Judah, who are allowed to return Jerusalem to rebuild their Temple in 538 B.C.E.
Written Material
Because of this policy, the Bible describes Cyrus in glowing terms. He is the only non-Jew called a "Messiah" (Isaiah 45:1). The Book of Ezra states that Cyrus "the LORD, the God of Heaven" has given "all the Kingdoms of the earth" (1:2).
Living in Exile also brought "the Jews" into contact with new religions. One of these religions - Zoroastrianism - had an influence on how authors of "exilic" (period during the Babylonian Exile) and post-exilic (period after the Babylonian Exile) understood God, the cosmos, and the ultimate destiny of humanity.
The Babylonians designate the region of the former Southern Kingdom "Yehud" (province of Judah). Former exiles are referred to as the Yehudi (where we get the English word "Jew" ).
Written Material:
The role of prophecy shifted during this era. Prophets during the era of the monarchy often spoke to kings, warning them of impending doom if they led the people astray from the covenant.
Since the "impending doom" was now a reality with the destruction of the monarchy, prophets of this era generally spoke words of hope, comfort and consolation.
The "Exilic" Prophets:
The Book of Lamentations, which has been attributed to the Prophet Jeremiah, was composed by survivors who remained in Judah after the Babylonian invasion and the destruction of the Temple.
A relatively small group of hardy exiled Jews return to the site of the former Kingdom of Judah (now the Persian province of Judea) under the leadership of Zerubbabel (the governor) and Joshua (the priest).
Through the persistent encouragement from the post-exilic prophets, the people rebuilt and rededicated the Temple in 515 B.C.E.
The Persian Empire was distinguished by its respect for local religious and cultural traditions.
The returning Jews exhibited initial enthusiasm to resettle the land and rebuild the city, but tensions eventually arouse within the community, especially between families who had remained in the land and those who returned from exile.
Ezra, the priest and scribe whom Babylon sent to Jerusalem, gave post-exilic Judaism a definitive shape when he carried out his reforms in 458 B.C.E.
A Levite, who belonged to a school of Deuteronomsts in Babylon, completed the final editions of Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomistic history between 539 and 525 B.C.E. These final editions are what we call . With these final editions, is now complete.
A priest (whom we call ) edited the various source material of , , , and the material found in Deuteronomy into its final form. This occurs around 400 B.C.E. This coresponds to the era of Ezra's reforms.
Although they deal with beginnings, they were actually written later than the earliest writings of the Old Testament.
The names of the tribes are eponymous and etiological; their relationship to one another is personified in the stories of the children (and grandchildren) of Father "Israel" (Jacob).
Our objective is twofold:
To inform the viewer of the chronological sequence of events relating to the Biblical story.
To display the historical circumstances that led to the production of the texts that now form the Bible.
In other words, we would like to show both the history
the text and the history
the text.

The bulk of this material was written by , with significant sections of added to the creation and the deluge myths by .
They describe beginnings and etiologies, many of which were borrowed from their Mediterranean neighbors.
The History
the Text Reflecting the History
the Text:
The transgressions of the first family bears a striking resemblance to the Court History of David's family (2 Samuel 11:1 -12:25; 13: 1-37). was a contemporary of the Court Historian.
places 's "Tower of Babel" story at the end of the primordial history, thus concluding an eleven chapter narrative on how human arrogance leads to banishment. intended the story to be a parody of Babylon, but the story took on greater significance in the time of .
Begins the ancestral "history" of the children of Israel.
Often misunderstood as meaning "untrue."
A myth can be defined as a story about God or the gods and their activities, which tries to make sense of the world and our place in it.
Myths are common" to
nearly all religions
and all peoples.
Unlike scientific and historical claims, myths are not susceptible of proof or demonstration. What matters for myths are the
truth claims
they make.
These truth claims are not subject to verification or disproof they are rooted in beliefs about the world, and they attempt to convey these beliefs in imaginative stories.
"History" refers to past events that are matters of public record - things that anyone can see or experience.
While there is much historical value in the stories of the patriarchs, due to the variant sources from which they were derived, it is impossible to accept them as pure "history."
- Anachronisms
- Internal Inconsistencies
- Doublets and Triplets
Rather than a "history," the stories of Abraham and the patriarchs are better understood as "legends."
A legend is a narrative about real or alleged historical figures told in order to entertain, to teach a moral, and/or to explain why things are as they are.
Begins in Genesis 12 and run through Genesis 25:10.
Two names: "Abram" ("high father") and "Abraham" ("father of multitudes").
Abraham's journey to a specific
region contrasts sharply with the end of the primordial history.
Description of Abraham is consistent with the archeological evidence of seminomadic herdsmen living in the Fertile Crescent in the mid-19th Century B.C.E.
Political stability allowed the region to prosper.
The Code of Hammurabi, king of Babylon from 1792 to 1750 B.C.E., addresses families and societal structures consistent with the ancestral narratives.
Mari and Nuzi texts corroborate the certain issues within the Abraham cycle.
The conflict between Jacob and his twin brother Esau explain the later tensions between the nation of Israel and their ethnically similar neighbors, the nation of Edom.
The legends of Jacob reveal that he is a complex character. He is at times compassionate, at times michevious, and at times rebellious.
His name change to "Israel" ("God strives") reflects his eponymous in nature - he represents the nation that will come forth from his offspring (35:9-11).
The "children of Israel"
become the eponymous ancestors of the tribal peoples that will come together to form the nation of Israel.
The History in the Text Reflecting the History of the Text:
The story of father Israel's favorite son, Joseph, reflects the events of the 17th century B.C.E. when the "Hyksos" (literally, "foreign rulers), apparently from Asia, took control of Egypt and established their capital at Avaris in the northeastern region (1720-1552 B.C.E.).
It would have been more likely for a Semite like Joseph to attain a high government office during the reign of the Hyksos than at any other period in the history of ancient Egypt.
The children of Israel could have moved from southern Canaan into Egypt with relative ease as the Hyksos welcomed foreigners.
The History
the Text:
While the transmission of traditions are still overwhelmingly oral at this stage, there are two examples of written material:
While arranged his material to make the Exodus event the defining moment in the history of Israel, there is not one piece of archaelogical evidence to support the text's depiction of events.
Whatever the Exodus event actually was, the following historical observations can be made:
Scholars typically situate the Exodus event about 250 years later, either late in the reign of Seti I (1294-1279)
or early in the reign of his son Rameses II (1279-1212).
The Pentateuch describes the "Hebrews" buildings at "Rameses," the city in the northeast that the pharaoh historically made into his capital (Exodus 1:11).
There appears to be at least a loose connection between the word "Hebrew" and "Habiru."
The term "habiru" appears in numerous documents dating to the second millenium B.C.E.
The term does not refer to an ethnic group, though many Semitic peoples were involved.
Refers to a social stratum of peoples who lacked citizenship in established nations of the Near East. They were "wanderers" or "outsiders" who lived a rootless existence on the fringes of society.
Various groups of habiru formed guerrilla bands that attacked caravans or raided villages, jhired themselves out as mercenary soldiers, and sometimes were forced into slave labor on building projects.
The History
the Text:
The name "Moses" is actually Egyptian (not Hebrew). It means "son" or "son of." So:
Ahmose = "son of Ah" (a moon god)
Rameses = "son of Ra" (a sun god)
Some scholars suggest that the historical Moses was of Egyptian origin who came to lead a small band of habiru out of Egyptian slavery. Through the process of oral tradition, the story takes on legendary overtones in the Israelite tradition and eventually comes to be the defining moment for all of Israel.
There are remarkable similarities between the story of the Exodus event and the story of the 5th century scribe/priest Ezra:
- The author of Ezra-Nehemiah inferred that Ezra's journey from Babylon represented a new exodus insofar as he transported abundant silver and gold from a foreign people, just as the Israelites had done when they left Egypt (Ezra 7:14-19; 8:24-30).
- Ezra's outstanding stature in Babylon mirrored that of Moses in Egypt (Ezra 7:6; Exodus 11:3).
- As the author of Ezra-Nehemiah recounts the history of the Israelites, God is said to have only directly spoke to people when giving the commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai (Nehemiah 9:13-14).
- The Passover celebrationfollowing the dedication of the second Temple reflects back upon Passover celebrated during the Exodus event (Ezra 6:19-22; Exodus 12:14-20).
Given the close connection of to Ezra and his reforms, it is no wonder why made the Exodus event the defining ingredient in the post-exile Jewish society.
The History in the Text Reflecting the History of the Text:
Within the Biblical tradition, "prophecy" refers to the discernment of God's action and the communication of God's purposes at a specific point in history.
A prophet is a man or woman called by God, and ultimately recognized by the people, to announce God's word to his or her generation.
The Bible describes prophecy as an intensely personal event that begins in God and shapes the prophet's life into a foreshadowing of how the prophetic word will transform the community.
Prophecy is viewed as both a grace and a ministry.
The era of the prophets in ancient Israel and post-exilic Judah extended at least from the time of Samuel (ca. 1030) to the advent of Alexander the Great (332). Thus, there is a great diversity of form and content found in the prophetic literature.
Written Material:
Because Jerobaom was not from the royal household, there was never a Davdic lineage of kings in the Northern Kingdom of Israel.
In fact, there was really no lineage of any kind that lasted more than four generations. Insurrection and revolution were the order of the day as rulers from NINE different families seized the throne at one time or another over the course of two centuries.
In order to solidify and legitimize their right to rule a new kingdom of Israel, the northern kings established new religious festivals and constructed sanctuaries.
- the literary prophets
- the sources of the Documentary Hypothesis
While the Literary Prophets dealt with contemporary issues of the day, the sources dealt with the history of Israel. HOWEVER, BOTH types of writings were affected and shaped by the same historical events.
The political intrigue that dominates this era necessitated sound prophetic counsel.
The Sources Continue to Develop:
The Cyrus Cylinder (539 B.C.E.)
Between 520 and 518 B.C.E., the literary prophets Haggai and Zechariah emerged giving a prophetic impetus for the reconstruction of the Temple.
Around 500 B.C.E., 3rd Isaiah writes to revitalize the community of Judah after decades of subservient existence and a not-so-glorious new Temple.
Around 475 B.C.E., the prophet Malachi called for greater adherence to the laws governing the priesthood and marriage.
After 400 B.C.E., prophetic literature became increasingly apocalyptic. Into this category falls Obadiah, Joel and 2nd Zecchariah. These three texts were written between 400 and 350 B.C.E.
Sages from a wisdom tradition wrote the long introduction to Proverbs (Proverbs 1:1 - 9:18) and brought the whole book to completion between 400 and 350 B.C.E.
A Levite wrote Ezra - Nehemiah around 375 B.C.E.
A scribe in Judah completed the final edition of Ruth between 375 and 350 B.C.E.
A scribe living in the Diaspora wrote the original version of Esther around 350 B.C.E.
Composers and liturgists edited the various psalms from the monarchical period between 350 and 332 B.C.E.
A poet completed the Song of Songs, perhaps around 350 B.C.E.
A Levite in the reconstructed Temple in Jerusalem wrote Chronicles around 330 B.C.E.
Although difficult to date, the books of Job and Ecclesiastes were written at some point before the end of the Persian period (say after 375 but before 332 B.C.E.).
It was during this era that the majority of the written material that would become the "Old Testament" emerged.
By 250 B.C.E., the city of Alexandria was a center of Judaism where scribes began translating religious texts into Greek. The finished product came to be known as the Septuagint (LXX).
At his death, Alexander's empire was divided between the Ptolomies and the Seleucids, two dynasties that ruled from Egypt and Syria respectively.
The region of Palestine eventually came under the jurisdiction of the Seleucids.
Seleucid oppression of the Jews reached a climax under Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175-164 B.C.E.) and provoked the Maccabean Revolt.
Within Judaism, groups of 'Hasidim" ("pious ones") disinguished themselves as nonconformists in the world because of their strict adherence to the Torah.
Although the Maccabeans were successful in driving out the Seleucids, not every Jew was happy with the new leadership. New traditions emerged which gave rise to the Pharisees, Sadducees, Zealots, and Essenes of the New Testament times.
Around 275 B.C.E., a skilled folklorist wrote the book of Jonah, which is a parable rather than an account of a particular prophet's life and message.
The book of Tobit originated around 200 B.C.E. to provide inspiration for devout Jewish families in the Diaspora.
Around 180 B.C.E., Joshua ben Sira, a revered teacher in Jerusalem, collected his teachings in Hebrew. Someime between 132 and 117 B.C.E., his grandson translated them into Greek. Beyond its theological content, this book is important because it gives testimony of a collection of books virtually identical to what would become the Jewish Canon.
Around 164 B.C.E., a Jewish group ("the wise") with pacifist leanings wrote the apocalyptic book of Daniel to encourage people to resist, at all cost, the infamies that Antiochus IV Epiphanes carried out at the Temple and among the Jews in Palestine.
The book that would become known as 2 Maccabees is likely older than 1 Maccabees by about 20 years. They date to approximately 124 and 104 B.C.E. respectively. Each deal with the Maccabean revolt, but approach it from different viewpoints.
The book of Judith emerged around 100 B.C.E. to describe - in story form - how Jewish ingenuity can overcome foreign occupation.
Also around 100 B.C.E., editors added material to the books of Daniel and Esther.
From the Greek word "apocálypsis" (to uncover), refers to a style of literature that emerged around 200 B.C.E. and lasted until around 200 C.E.
Literature in this genre are typically prose narratives describing revelatory visions given to the author by a divine agent. These visions a highly symbolic. Sometimes the visions are explained, sometimes they are not explained.
Attempted to answer questions relating to Theodicy that conventional prophetic literature could not.
The descendants of the Maccabees (the Hasmoneans) ruled Judah as an autonomous state for about eighty years, until 63 B.C.E., when the Roman general Pompey conquered it.
In 40 B.C.E., Rome appointed a king to rule the Jews of Palestine. He was known as Herod the Great.
Known for his ruthlessness but also for his magnificent building projects.
Despised by his subjects.
After Herod's death in 4 B.C.E., the leadership of Judea was divided among his three sons:
Archelaus received the lion's share - Idumaea (Judea and Samaria). He also recieved the title "Ethnarch" ("ruler of the people." No Jewish rulers would ever be called "king" again)
Herod Antipas became "Tetrarch" of Galilee (region directly north of Idumaea region) and Perea (region east of Idumaea).
Philip became Tetrarch of the region northeast of Galilee ( Batanea, Trachonitis, Auranitis, and "the House of Zenodorus."
This arrangement did not last long, in 6 C.E., the Romans grew dissatisfied with Archelaus and had him deposed.
Idumaea would now be governed by a Roman official known as a "
This was the political situation for the duration of Jesus' life.
The era was marked by considerable political unrest. Eventually, a group of Zealots led a revolt against Rome in 66 C.E., which culminated in the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 C.E.
There were only two books written during this era that find their way into the Catholic OT:
- The final edition of Baruch (ca. 60 B.C.E.
- The Wisdom of Solomon, written by an Alexandrian scholar after 30 B.C.E. as an instruction on how Torah observance produces a righteousness that makes the soul eternal.
St. Augustine (354-430) argued that the determining factor for what was "scripture" and what was not was the discretion of the Church.
At the Synod of Hippo, the Catholic Church gave an offical canon (both Old Testament and New Testament). The Old Testament Canon numbered 46 books divided into 4 sections. These additional books are found in the Septuagint, but not all of the books in the Septuagint are in the Catholic canon.
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