Intertestamental Period

A timeline of events during the Intertestamental Period, occurring in Palestine, Greece and Rome, Egypt and North Africa, Syria and Turkey, and the Fertile Crescent.

Greece and Rome

Wars of the Diadochi

322 BC - 301 BC

Diadochi fight for control of Alexander's kingdom

322 BC - 282 BC

Ptolemy gets Egypt, Palestine, southern Syria
Seleucus get most of Asia Minor, northern Syria, Mesopotamia and remainder of eastern empire
Antigonids get mainland Greece, Thrace, and other territory

Delos - oldest diaspora synogogue

200 BCE - 100 BCE

Jews expelled from Rome

139 BC

Jews expelled from Rome for “attempting to transmit their sacred rites to Romans”

Synagogue at Ostia (earliest layer), port city for Rome

40 - 70

The Jewish community in Ostia is mentioned in an inscription found in Castel Porziano, to the south-east of Ostia. We hear of the [universitas] Iudaeorum [in col(onia) Ost(iensi) commo]rantium, and of the gerusiarches ("president of the elders") Caius Iulius Iustus. In the necropolis to the south of Ostia, on the Pianabella, the funerary inscription has been found of an archisynagogus, Plotius Fortunatus. Note that these Jews have adopted Roman names.

Syria and Turkey

Alexander crosses into Asia Minor

334 BC

Alexander defeats Darius III at Issus

333 BC

Alexander takes Tyre

333 BC

Battle of Magnesia

190 BC

Antiochus defeated by Rome


Palestine ruled by the Persians

538 BC - 332 BC

Second Temple built

516 BC

Ezra and Nehemiah

458 BC - 445 BC

Legend of Alexander's trip to Jerusalem to bow before the High Priest

333 BC

Antiquities 11.8.1-6

Samaria revolts, bringing Greek troops into Palestine

332 BC

Jewish troops join Alexander's conquests(?)

332 BC

Ag. Apion 1.22 §§ 192.201-4

Ptolemy takes Palestine

301 BC

Allows High Priest Hezekiah to migrate to Egypt with a great many Jews

Palestine ruled by the Ptolemies

301 BC - 198 BC

Joseph pays tribute when Onias refused

260 BC

Joseph, a Tobiad and nephew of High Priest Onias II, pays tribute when Onias refused

Joseph won tax farming rights from Ptolemy II

260 BC

Zenon papyri

Zenon visits Palestine

259 BC - 258 BC

Zenon was the secretary to a finance minister of Ptolemy II

Hyrcanus wins tax farming privileges from his father Joseph

250 BC - 200 BC

Hyrcanus, Joseph’s youngest son, wins tax farming privileges from him when his father and brothers shift their loyalty to the Seleucids

Composition of Tobit

250 BC - 175 BC

The Healing of Tobit by Bernardo Strozzi, 1635

Antiochus III defeats Ptolemy V

200 BC

Antiochus III takes control of Palestine and southern Syria

Battle within Jerusalem between pro-Ptolemaic and pro-Seleucid factions

200 BC

Antiochus III grants tax reprieve to pro-Ptolemaic forces (Ant. 12.3.3-4 §§ 138-46) for repairs

Simon II repairs Jerusalem

200 BC

Palestine ruled by the Seleucids

198 BC - 142 BC

Seleucus IV raids temple treasury

187 BC - 177 BC

Seleucus IV tries and fails to raid temple treasury, although otherwise peaceful time

Hyrcanus ben Joseph builds palatial estate

180 BC

Hyrcanus ben Joseph of Tobiad family builds palatial estate at ‘Araq el-Emir in Transjordan

Onias III deposed as High Priest

175 BC

Onias III serves as high priest when his brother Jason paid bribe to Antiochus for high priesthood and to Hellenize Jerusalem. Onias III is deposed by Antiochus IV and replaced by Jason, who established Greek gymnasium education in Jerusalem.

Menaleus bribes Antiochus for high priesthood

172 BC

Menaleus bribed Antiochus for high priesthood (outbidding Jason) and sold off temple vessels. A riot ensues.

Onias III killed by Menaleus

170 BC

Jerusalem Temple plundered

169 BC

Citadel founded in Jerusalem

168 BC

Jason attacks Menaleus to regain high priesthood

168 BC

Antiochus sends army to put down riot and orders the suppression of Jewish religion.

Temple desecrated by pagan cult

167 BC

Practitioners of Judaism persecuted

Jews rebel

167 BC

Rebellion eventually led by the Maccabees

Maccabees retake the Temple

165 BC

December: Maccabees retake the Temple and restore the cult. Antiochus withdraws his decree.

Temple rededicated (Hanukah)

164 BC

Menaleus executed

162 BC

Menaleus executed, Alcimus appointed High Priest

Judas Maccabee defeats Nicanor

161 BC

Judas makes treaty with Rome

Judas Maccabee killed at Battle of Elasa

160 BC

Jonathan takes over

Death of High Priest Alcimus

159 BC

High priesthood vacant

159 BC - 152 BC

Treaty between Jonathan and Bacchides

157 BC

Syrians withdraw from Palestine

Jonathan serves as High Priest

152 BC - 142 BC

Appointed by Alexander Balas

Simon serves as High Priest

142 BC - 134 BC

Simon confirmed as High Priest, commander, and ethnarch in 140, supports rival Seleucid faction

Jews claim freedom from foreign rule

139 BC

Jews claim freedom from foreign rule, in theory but not reality

Composition of Judith

135 BC - 104 BC

Judith with the Head of Holofernes by Cristofano Allori, 1613

Simon assassinated

134 BC

Antiochus VII invades and besieges Jerusalem

134 BC

John Hyrcanus I becomes High Priest

134 BC

John Hyrcanus I, Simon’s son, becomes high priest and makes peace with Seleucids

John Hyrcanus I serves as High Priest

134 BC - 104 BC

John Hyrcanus I serves as high priest ruling like king, but without title; makes independence real in 129/128

Hasmonean expansion into Palestine

126 BC - 104 BC

Hasmonean expansion into Samaria, Idumea, and Galilee

Gamla Synogogue

10 BC - 70 AD

Dr. Lee Levine came forward in writing and in SBL sessions and elsewhere and made emphatically clear that there were indeed purpose built synagogues even in Jesus' day and thereafter, and that in fact the practice may well pre-date the Herodian era. One of the sites Levine most based his argument on was in the lower Golan Heights, at the village of Gamla, sometimes also called Gamala (from the Hebrew word for camel, because the hill on which the village rests looks like the hump, or perhaps the nose of a camel from a certain angle). As it turns out, Levine was absolutely and positively right. A little of the history of Gamla is in order, since it is not a city mentioned in the Bible.

The village seems to have begun as a Selucid outpost in the 2nd century B.C. where a fort was established as a sort of early warning signal for those living in the Holy Land. It seems to have begun to become a civilian settlement of Jews sometime later in that century. Bible readers may know this site if they have read Josephus' Antiquities, in particular 13.394 which recounts how Josephus himself, as a Jewish commander early in the Jewish war in the A.D. 60s fortified this outpost as one of his main lines of defense of Galilee from Roman attack.

Fertile Crescent

Darius III killed

331 BC

Alexander takes over Persian Empire as far as the Ganges in India

330 BC - 323 BC

Alexander dies in Babylon

323 BC

Antiochus III rules Seleucid Empire

222 BC - 187 BC

Antiochus IV Epiphanes rules Seleucid Empire

177 BC - 164 BC

Death of Antiochus IV

164 BC

Antiochus VII dies

129 BC

Antiochus VII dies; Judea is de facto independent; Hyrcanus campaigns in Transjordan

Egypt and North Africa

Jewish Temple erected at Elephantine in Egypt

525 BC

Alexander buried in Alexandria

323 BC

Earliest evidence of synagogue from Ptolemaic Egypt

300 BC - 200 BC

Translation of Torah into Greek

250 BC

c. 250 BC

Antiochus IV invades Egypt

170 BC

Onias IV flees to Egypt

170 BC

Onias IV fled to Egypt and built alternative temple at Heliopolis in c. 160 (Ant. 13.62-73)

Antiochus' first Egyptian campaign

169 BC

Antiochus invades Egypt again

168 BC

Antiochus IV invades Egypt again and Romans forced him to withdraw;

Onias IV builds a temple at Leontopolis

160 BC

Onias IV builds a temple at Leontopolis in Egypt after being expelled by the Hasmoneans (destroyed in 73 CE)