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The Inter-Testamental Era
by Wayne Blank
All twelve tribes of Israel were together subjected to slavery by the Egyptians before the Exodus. After their return from Egypt to the land promised to them, 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 (see also When Israel Became "Israel" and "Judah"). 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 (see The Galilee Captivity).
The southern kingdom of Judah, commonly known to us today as the "Jews" (see also Was Paul A Jew or a Benjamite?) 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 (see also Covenant and Testament), the account of the Greeks in Bible history is less than the other empires, although the book of Daniel, which was written long before the Greek period, does deal with the Greeks in Prophecy - Alexander the Great and his generals who divided up his kingdom after his early death (see the Fact Finder question below). 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.
Greek supremacy in the region 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: Who was Cleopatra? What was her connection to both the Greeks and the Romans in Bible history?