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:
Zerubavel ben Sh’alti’el, Yehoshua ben Yehotzdak, and last of the prophets
Ezra and Nehemiah
The temple at Elephantine
Alexander the Great
The Ptolemaic and Seleucid dynasties
The translation of the Torah into Greek
The Antiochus III and Antiochus IV
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)
Herod and Roman subservience
The reconstruction of the temple
The rise of rabbinic leadership and the tradition of interpretation
The beginnings of political rebellion against Rome.
In the final lecture in his series on the twelve ‘minor’ prophets of Israel, the Trei Asar, David examines the prophets who lived during the period after Israel’s return to Zion, following the Babylonian exile, namely:
With their unique post-exilic messages, these three prophets addressed the concerns of a population grappling with rebuilding Jerusalem after generations away. Some of the ideas expressed in their powerful prophetic books include:
the need to rebuild the leadership of Israel
the importance of building a new temple in Jerusalem
a call to do teshuva
rebuilding oneself through dialogue with God
the failure of previous generations
creating righteous leadership
the implications of changing geopolitical realities
the end of the prophetic epoch.
David closely examines key passages of these biblical texts, explaining their meaning and the implications of their messages.
As always, he places the prophets, their lives, and their words in historical context. He also emphasises the lasting importance of their ideas for the Jewish people as a nation and for us all as individuals.
A Podcast on Tanach (Hebrew Bible) and Jewish History
When the Persian King Cyrus the Great sponsored a Jewish return to the Land of Israel to rebuild a temple in Jerusalem he launched an era in Jewish History known as the Second Temple Period. In this podcast episode, David explores the first four centuries of the Second Temple Period. Beginning with the return from exile in Babylonia, he charts a historical path through Alexander’s conquest, examining the consequences of Hellenism on Jewish life. David then discusses the extraordinary rise of the Hasmonean Dynasty, its ultimate decay, and final disastrous consequences.
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