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Messianic Prophecy

Jewish sacrifices and feasts were halted, copies of the Law were destroyed, and circumcision was forbidden. Finally the worship of Zeus Olympios was introduced in the Temple, perhaps with the assumption that the supreme Gr. Jews who refused to comply with these measures were tortured and killed. The nation of Israel and the monotheistic religion of Israel were in danger of extinction. Mattathias was the descendant of a priest named Hashmon, and therefore the members of his family were sometimes called Hasmoneans.


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Mattathias refused to offer sacrifice to a pagan god and killed the Syrian officer who ordered the sacrifice and also a Jew who was willing to participate. Then Mattathias and his sons fled to the hills and were joined by some of the Hasidim pious Jews. After the death of the aged Mattathias, his son Judas took the leadership of the revolt.

Because of his skill in leading guerilla attacks he was called Maccabeus, prob. Finally Lysias, the regent of Antiochus, rescinded the orders proscribing Jewish religious practices. In Jerusalem Judas removed pagan elements from the Temple, rebuilt the altar of Yahweh, and rededicated the Temple in December, Antiochus died in , and his successor, Demetrius I, appointed Alcimus high priest in Jerusalem.

Perhaps in disappointment at not being chosen high priest or in fear, Onias, son of the murdered Onias III, fled to Egypt.

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There he established a Jewish temple at Leontopolis, ten m. N of Heliopolis. In Judea, since religious freedom had been attained, some Jews stopped fighting; but Judas carried on the war to achieve political independence from Syria also.

Overview: Judges

To secure foreign support, he made a treaty of friendship with the Romans, who were interested in weakening the Seleucid power. After some victories over the Syrians, he was finally defeated and killed at Elasa in Because of internal struggles for power in Syria many Syrian garrisons were withdrawn from Judea. One of the claimants for the Seleucid throne, Alexander Balas , appointed Jonathan high priest and then civil governor in Judea. Jonathan took control of several cities on the coast: Joppa, Azotus Ashdod , and Ekron. A Syrian general, Trypho, offered to parley with Jonathan, but instead imprisoned and killed him.

Simon, the last surviving son of Mattathias, took over the rule and high priesthood of Judea Simon renewed treaties with Sparta and Rome, and Rome warned the Ptolemies and the Seleucids to respect the independence of Judea. The Jewish people in declared Simon their ethnarch, or national ruler, with the right of succession for his descendants.

Antiochus VI sent an army into Judea, trying to reestablish some Syrian control. Finally John Hyrcanus had to surrender and pay tribute. After Antiochus was killed fighting the Parthians, John was able to reassert Judean independence. He proceeded to expand his rule beyond the borders of Judea. East of the Dead Sea he captured Medeba. Then he subjugated the Samaritans, taking both Shechem and Samaria and destroying the Samaritan temple on Mt.

His northward conquests went as far as Scythopolis Beth-shan. The Idumeans were compelled to be circumcised and to observe the Jewish religious laws. John Hyrcanus ceased to support the Pharisee party, because they said he should relinquish the high priesthood. The Pharisees carried on the tradition of the pious Hasidim, who had originally supported the Maccabean revolt. The Pharisees emphasized personal piety, study of the law, and observance of the details of traditional ceremonial requirements.

John Hyrcanus came to favor the Sadducean party, because they supported him in his priestly as well as in his civil office. The Sadducees were the aristocratic priests who were concerned about the Temple, its ritual, and its income. Some coins of John Hyrcanus have been found at Qumran, indicating that the Essene community was there in his time or soon thereafter. This monastic group withdrew from the world to copy and study the Scriptures and to perform religious rituals, including frequent ablutions. They considered themselves as preparing for the soon coming of the Messianic prophet, king, and priest.

Aristobulus I is said by Josephus to have taken the title of king. He conquered Galilee and forced the Gentile inhabitants to become Jews. Under Alexander Janneus the power of the Maccabees reached its greatest extent, but their original religious purpose for the national good was replaced by personal ambition and cruel oppression. The Pharisee party rebelled against him because of his lax performance of his high priestly duties. Alexandra , the widow of Alexander Janneus, succeeded him as civil ruler, She appointed her son Hyrcanus high priest and another son, Aristobulus, the commander of the army.

Alexandra was known for her piety, and she favored the Pharisees, who sought revenge on those who had wronged them in the time of Alexander Janneus. On the death of Alexandra, the ambitious Aristobulus II, with the help of the Sadducees, seized the throne Hyrcanus, a mild and retiring person, conceded the high priesthood also to his brother Aristobulus. Hyrcanus and Aretas besieged Aristobulus in Jerusalem. The Rom. Aristobulus, Hyrcanus, and a delegation of Pharisees all appealed to Pompey, who was in the process of making Syria a Rom. Pompey came to Jerusalem and captured the Temple after a siege of three months.

Judea came under the control of the Rom.

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The independence which the Maccabees so bravely won lasted only eighty years. Pompey took away from Jewish control the Gr.

All of Pal. The confusion in Pal.

Old Testament: Judges

When Pompey was defeated and killed, Antipater and Hyrcanus gave their allegiance to the victorious Julius Caesar, who named Antipater procurator and Hyrcanus ethnarch. Antipater gave the administration of Judea to his son Phasael, and of Galilee to another son, Herod. Herod distinguished himself by the suppression of brigands in Galilee.


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After Antipater was poisoned in 41, his sons Phasael and Herod were appointed joint tetrarchs of Judea by Antony, who then controlled the eastern Rom. He forced Hyrcanus out of the high priesthood and ruled as the last Maccabean king and high priest , facing the growing challenge of Herod. The Romans did not want an ally of Parthia in control of Judea and appointed Herod king of Judea in With Rom. So Herod finally controlled all of Pal.

He rebuilt much of the city of Jerusalem and its walls. He also rebuilt Samaria, giving it the name Sebaste corresponding in meaning to Lat. In Jericho he constructed a winter palace, which has recently been excavated. For defense he built fortresses such as Herodium, Masada, and Machaerus. He also donated money for buildings, including pagan temples, in Tyre, Sidon, and even in Rhodes and Athens. His most famous building project was the new Temple which he began in Jerusalem c. He used tremendous stones for the wall of the court, which can still be seen, marble for the Temple itself, and gold on the domes.

This was the Temple which was often visited by Jesus and which He warned would soon be destroyed. Herod sponsored not only Hel. His court chronicler, Nicolas of Damascus, wrote a Universal History , on which Josephus drew for his histories. In his relations to his family Herod showed jealousy, fear, and cruelty. Out of ill-founded jealousy he killed his favorite wife, Mariamne, the granddaughter of Aristobulus II. Out of fear he killed three of his own sons. Herod left Judea, Samaria, and Idumea to his son Archelaus, who ruled 4 b. After Augustus deposed Archelaus, this area was ruled by Rom.

To marry Herodias he cast off his former wife, whose father the Nabatean king, Aretas IV, waged war against him and took some cities in Perea. It was this Herod who examined Jesus in Jerusalem before the crucifixion. Agrippa was the grandson of Herod the Great and the Maccabean princess Mariamne. The fact that he had Maccabean blood made him popular with the Jews. The Alexandrian Jewish philosopher Philo, who interpreted the Bible in the light of Plato, headed an Alexandrian Jewish delegation to complain to Caligula about this riot.

Finally in a. The Book of Acts, calling him only Herod, indicates that he wanted to please the Jews and therefore executed the Christian Apostle James and imprisoned the Apostle Peter. In the mid-1st cent. A Jew, Asinaeus, rose to be governor of Babylonia under the Parthians. In Seleucia near modern Baghdad the thousands of Jews gained such power that there was a violent riot against them. In the little kingdom of Adiabene in northeastern Mesopotamia the royal house was converted to Judaism.

The Romans made him king of Chalcis in Syria c.

Judges Commentaries & Sermons | Precept Austin

This Agrippa took part in the examination of Paul, who paid tribute to his concern for Jewish affairs. Agrippa tried to prevent the Jews from revolting, and when the revolt came, he remained loyal to Rome who had given him his kingdom. He ruled these northern and eastern sections of Pal. Two of the procurators are mentioned in the Book of Acts, Felix a.