When Marcus Anthony Put Herod the
Great Over the Kingdom of Judæa in 37 B.C. that
Principality Was 126 Years Old and the Roman
Empire Would Be Born Ten Years Later
by Mark Mountjoy
While we wait for our new platform to be ready, I'd like to address some potential genuine concerns Christians may have since some of my historical assertions may strike you as exaggerated or unfounded. The traditional interpretation of Babylon, Medeo-Persia, Greece, and Rome as the Four Kingdoms of Daniel 2 and 7 continues to hold a SUPER STRONG place in many people's minds and hearts. The four kingdoms are typically interpreted and understood in terms of world history. Is this global history? Or is the real aim of the Four Kingdoms Jewish history?
1 The Four Kingdoms of Daniel 2 and 7 are interpreted as global history.
2 The Four Kingdoms are typically interpreted and understood in terms of exhaustive world history
3 Is the real aim of the Four Kingdoms Jewish history till the coming of Jesus Christ and his Church and kingdom?
And, I don't know about anyone else, but when I read the writings in Daniel 2 or 7, it is all too easy to focus on the problems and ignore what was happening in the rest of the wider world and in other civilizations and "histories." Although Babylon was far from governing the entire world, one might have the impression from reading Daniel 2:37-38 that it did so. Neither the Medes and Persia or the Greeks had global power by any stretch of the imagination. The Bible study chart I made for this study shows how there were numerous other kingdoms and civilizations existing concurrently with the four kingdoms throughout the same time period, but they are NOT the subject of the prophesy associated with Jewish salvation history.
In order to show that the Scriptures have a specific historical focus that was like, 1 to 2, 2 to 3, and 3, 4, and then the expected apocalyptic events happened as the New Testament promised they would nearly 2,000 years ago basically sums up with the Atavist belief paradigm champions against the more accepted and widely popular view that the Roman Empire itself was the fourth kingdom, but there are no historical results that point to the Romans being the object of Bible prophecy fulfillment in any contemporary history. The Romans took actions to impede the Jewish aspirations of establishing a Messianic kingdom led by a human warrior Messiah. These actions align precisely with the teachings of the New Testament, which opposed the Jewish efforts in the first and second centuries to defy the beliefs, teachings, predictions, and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Almost 600 Years of Frustration Led to First and
Second Century Jewish Attitudes About Prophecy
The relevant history we need to be familiar with is contained in the works of Josephus called Antiquities of the Jews. This large body of literature shows is what Christians need to be familiar with in order to correctly judge between what is popular and what is actually true. Where you need to start for the first kingdom is in Antiquities is Antiquities of the Jews Chapter 10.6:1-84 with the conquest of Judah by King Nebuchadnezzar.
The second kingdom history of the Medes and Persians is in Antiquities of the Jews 10.11.1-219. Josephus notes that at the time of the Persians the number of the children of Israel in Media was past finding out (Antiquities of the Jews 11:5.2:131-133).
Book 12.1.1. begins the history of the Jews under Alexander the Great and the Diodochi and Ptolemy's decree to translate the Tanakh into Greek is covered in Ant. 188.8.131.52.
We find there that the kings of Asia highly honored the Jewish people (Ant. 184.108.40.206ff) and we also learn that the Jews paid taxes to both the kings of the North and the kings of the South at the same time during the Hellenistic era (Ant. 12.4.1:154-155).
In this challenging period King Antiochus IV Epiphanes made an expedition against Jerusalem (Ant. 12.5.1:237-241) and here is where the Hasmoneans appear (Ant. 12.6.1:265). They defeat the Greeks and establish their first Hanukkah (Ant. 220.127.116.116-7:325). The Hasmoneans later made a league with the Romans whose government was only a far away republic (Ant. 13.8.1:23).
Under the Jewish king, Alexander Janneaus a six year-long civil war broke out in the Hasmonean kingdom and 50,00o Jews were killed (Ant. 13.13,5:376). And the end of the Hasmonean dynasty took place in 37 B.C. when the Hasmonean son-in-law, Herod the Great, was put in charge of their territorial realm (Ant. 14.16.4:487-491). By 37 B.C. that kingdom had lasted 126 year and it would last a little longer under the iron and clay fist of Herod and his descendents.
I feel, dear friends, that there may be a level of unease, perhaps mistrust. However, I am not completely sure of this. But as I hope the study charts will show, the customary approach of blaming and holding the Roman Empire accountable cannot be continued. There is so much more that could be said, but we cannot possibly hope to ever arrive at the same conclusions about anything and be on the same page if we fail to be explicit about our premises and assumptions. The way I understand the history found in Josephus, the Hasmonean Empire came fourth after the Jew left Babylonian captivity and the Roman Empire came afterward. Rome destroyed Jerusalem and the Hebrew State but the last vetages of the Roman itself far outlived any of those groundbreaking events and survived a staggering 1, 383 years till 29 May 1453! Any comments, feedback or suggestions about how to clarify our stance on this issue from you are sure welcome. God bless.
Caption: The Beth Horon Pass where Judas the Maccabee won his first victory against the Greeks. Courtesy of Zev Radovan.