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Second Temple Judaism (520 BC-70AD). Brief historical survey. Major elements: temple, Torah, messianic expectations. Major religious groups. Timeline. 1020-922 undivided monarchy 922 Solomon’s kingdom divided into Northern (Israel) and Southern (Judah)

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Second temple judaism 520 bc 70ad
Second Temple Judaism (520 BC-70AD)

  • Brief historical survey.

  • Major elements: temple, Torah, messianic expectations.

  • Major religious groups.



1020-922 undivided monarchy

922 Solomon’s kingdom divided into Northern (Israel) and Southern (Judah)

721 Northern kingdom is defeated by the Assyrians

597-538 Babylonian exile; 587 Temple destroyed

538-332 Persian rule; 520 Temple rebuilt. Second Temple Judaism begins.

332-167 Hellenization under Alexander the Great and his successors from Egypt & Syria

167-63 Hundred years of independence under Maccabees

63 BC Roman conquest of Palestine. Independence lost till 20th c. AD!

70 AD Second Temple destroyed.


1948 Recognition of the State of Israel

Persian king cyrus 580 529 bce
Persian king Cyrus (580-529 BCE)

Defeated the Babylonians

Allowed the Hebrews to return from Babylon and to rebuild the Temple

Alexander the great 356 323 bce
Alexander the Great (356-323 BCE)

  • Conquered Asia Minor, Palestine, Egypt, Persia

  • Hellenization

Alexander sarcophagus
Alexander Sarcophagus

Royal Necropolis of Sidon, chamber #3. Last quarter of 4th c BC. Istanbul Archeological Museum


So far has our city [Athens] surpassed the rest of mankind in thought and speech that her pupils have become the teachers of the rest of the world; and our city has brought it about that the name ‘Hellenes’ suggests no longer a race, but an intelligence, and the title ‘Hellenes’ is applied rather to those who share our culture than to those who share common blood. – Isocrates.

Antiochus iv forced hellenization
Antiochus IV—forced Hellenization

  • Ordered to destroy the Scriptures

  • Abrogated Sabbath observance

  • Prohibited circumcision

  • Sacrificed swine in the Temple

King Antiochus, God manifest, bearing Victory

Inscription prohibiting strangers to enter the temple of jerusalem
Inscription Prohibiting strangers to enter the Temple of Jerusalem

Copy. Museo di Civilta Romana, Rome.

Original. Archeological Museum, Constantinople.

Second temple judaism main events
Second Temple Judaism: main events Jerusalem

  • 520. Jews return from Babylon and rebuild the Temple

  • 332 BC Alexander the Great conquers the Near East. Hellenization.

  • 167 BC Maccabean revolt against Antiochus IV. One century of independence.

  • 63 BC Romans conquer Palestine.

  • 66-70 AD Jewish war. Temple destroyed.

Young Alexander

Pharisees sadducees

Pharisees Jerusalem


Acts 4:1

Acts 5:17

Acts 23:6-8

Mark 12: 18-27

Luke 18: 10-12

Acts 5:34

Mark 7:1-13

Mark 8:11

Mark 3:6

Acts 23:1-8

Pharisees & Sadducees

Essenes in qumran 2 nd c bce 1 st c ce
Essenes in Qumran Jerusalem(2nd c. BCE-1st c CE)

  • Lived in an isolated community founded by “Teacher of Righteousness”

  • Rejected Temple worship

  • Expected two messiahs, royal & priestly

  • About 4000 in 1st c. CE

  • Massacred by Romans in 68 AD. Disappeared towards the end of 2nd c CE

A fragment of hosea commentary from qumran
A Fragment of Hosea Commentary Jerusalemfrom Qumran

Who do you say that i am
Who do you say that I am? Jerusalem

…On the way [Jesus] asked his disciples, "Who do people say that I am?" And they answered him, "John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets." He asked them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered him, "You are the Messiah." And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him. Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” Mk 8: 27-33.