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Between The Testaments
by Wayne Blank
All twelve tribes of Israel were together subjected to slavery by the Egyptian Kingdom before the Exodus. After their return to the Promised Land from Egypt, the twelve tribes eventually divided into two distinct kingdoms - the northern kingdom of "Israel" with their capital up in Samaria, and the southern kingdom of "Judah" with their capital at Jerusalem. The northern kingdom was conquered by the Assyrians, and taken away - they were then lost to history and are known today as the "Lost Ten Tribes" of Israel.
The southern kingdom of Judah, commonly known to us today as the "Jews" (see The Chosen People) were themselves conquered by a series of two Asian, and then two European, empires - Babylonian, Persian, Greek, Roman.
The Old Testament ends with the Jews under the rule of the Persians, who were then roughly half-way through their time of supremacy. Then came the Greeks.
Since there is a gap of over 3 centuries in the record between the Old and New Testaments, the account of the Greeks in Bible History is less than the other empires, although the book of Daniel (written long before the Greek period) does deal with the Greeks in Prophecy - Alexander the Great (a photograph of a statue of him is shown above), the four generals who divided up his kingdom after his early death, and Antiochus IV (Epiphanes) who defiled the second Temple in a manner similar to that of an end-time "beast" will defile the yet to be built third Temple. The first and second books of Maccabees, from the Biblical "Apocrypha" also deal with the Greeks and the Jews who struggled against them during the inter-Testamental period.
The Greeks' turn ended a little more than a century before the start of the New Testament, when the Romans began their rule over the area. They did leave their mark however, in more ways than one - the New Testament was originally written mostly all in Greek.
Fact Finder: In which Greek city did Paul speak on "Mars Hill" (the
Areopagus) in an attempt to convert some of the Greek intellectuals?