#110 Jewish History in Six Chapters (1)

This Jewish History lecture examines the Second Temple Period (Bayit Sheini), which spans from approximately the year -500 (or 500 BCE) to the theoretical year 0 (3260 to 3760 in the traditional Hebraic calendar).

The period is divisible into four distinct phases, named after whichever political power was in control of the Jewish People in the Land of Israel and the Temple in Jerusalem. These entities were:

  • The Persian (Achaemenid) Empire
  • The Hellenistic (Greek-based) dominions
  • The Hasmonean dynasty
  • The Rome Empire

Each of these phases includes several significant historical events or people that provide the keys to understanding the era as a whole. They were:

Persian

  • Zerubavel ben Sh’alti’el, Yehoshua ben Yehotzdak, and last of the prophets
  • Ezra and Nehemiah
  • The temple at Elephantine

Greek 

  • Alexander the Great
  • The Ptolemaic and Seleucid dynasties
  • The translation of the Torah into Greek
  • The Antiochus III and Antiochus IV 

Hasmonean 

  • Yehudah, Yonatan, Shimon, Yochanan Hyrkanus, Yehudah Aristobulous, Alexander Yannai, Shlomtziyon, Yochanan Hyrkanus II and Aristobulous II
  • The conversion of the Idumeans
  • The conflict between ‘Scribes’ and ‘Sadducees’ (Tzeduqim)

Rome           

  • Herod and Roman subservience
  • The reconstruction of the temple
  • Hillel 
  • The rise of rabbinic leadership and the tradition of interpretation
  • The beginnings of political rebellion against Rome.

        

This is an edited lecture of the live talk given in 2020 for Chabad South Africa and Daminyan Shule in Melbourne. It is the first part of a six-part overview series of Jewish History that starts with the Second Temple Period and ends (at the beginning) with the Biblical Period.