Archive | September, 2014

Jesus’ Birth and Flight to Egypt

As the time drew near for Jesus to be born, a mandatory Roman census made it necessary for Joseph to return to his ancestral home of Bethlehem. There Mary gave birth to Jesus, and later, wise men from the east came to worship him. The wise men’s recognition of a new king, however, troubled King […]

The Setting of Matthew

The events in the book of Matthew take place almost entirely within the vicinity of Palestine, an area extending roughly from Caesarea Philippi in the north to Beersheba in the south. During this time it was ruled by the Roman Empire. The opening chapters describe events surrounding Jesus’ birth in Judea, where Herod had been […]

The Setting of Malachi

c. 460 b.c. Malachi likely prophesied several decades after the first exiles of Judah, now under Persian rule, had returned from Babylon to the minor province of Judea and rebuilt the temple. Edomites had migrated northwest from their traditional homeland just south of Moab into the area immediately south of Judea, and this land was now […]

Jerusalem at the Time of Zechariah

c. 520 b.c. Zechariah prophesied to the people of Jerusalem after they returned from Babylon in 538 b.c. and before they rebuilt the temple in 515. The city of Jerusalem lay in ruins, the walls and the temple having been destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 b.c. Within a year after returning from Babylon, the people had laid the foundation […]

Palestine at the Time of Zechariah

c. 520 b.c. By Zechariah’s time the borders of the land of Israel and Judah, later called Palestine, had been completely redrawn from the days before the Assyrian and Babylonian invasions. The minor Persian province to which exiles of Judah returned from Babylon was now called Judea, and it encompassed only a fraction of the territory […]

The Near East at the Time of Zechariah

c. 520 b.c. Zechariah prophesied to the people of Judah soon after they had returned from exile in Babylon. Several years earlier, in 539 b.c., Cyrus the Great, who had united the Persians and the Medes under his rule, conquered Babylon and absorbed its territory into his empire. A year later he permitted the people of Judah […]

Jerusalem at the Time of Haggai

c. 520 b.c. Haggai prophesied to the people of Jerusalem after they had returned from Babylon in 538 b.c. and before they had rebuilt the temple in 515. The city of Jerusalem lay in ruins, the walls and the temple having been destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 b.c. Within a year after returning from Babylon, the people had laid […]

The Near East at the Time of Zephaniah

c. 620 b.c. Zephaniah prophesied during the reign of Josiah, when Egypt, Judah, and Babylonia (with the help of the Medes) were regaining their autonomy and eroding the power of Assyria. Shortly after this time the Babylonians would replace the Assyrians as the dominant power in the Near East.

The Near East at the Time of Nahum

c. 660–614 b.c. Nahum likely prophesied sometime between the zenith of Assyria’s power around 664 b.c. and the fall of Nineveh in 612. During this time the Assyrian Empire was in decline as Egypt, Judah, and Babylonia (with the help of the Medes) regained autonomy and eroded the power of Assyria. Nahum foretold of the fall of Nineveh, […]