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.
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
Jews expelled from Rome for “attempting to transmit their sacred rites to Romans”
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.
Antiochus defeated by Rome
Ag. Apion 1.22 §§ 192.201-4
Allows High Priest Hezekiah to migrate to Egypt with a great many Jews
Joseph, a Tobiad and nephew of High Priest Onias II, pays tribute when Onias refused
Zenon was the secretary to a finance minister of Ptolemy II
Hyrcanus, Joseph’s youngest son, wins tax farming privileges from him when his father and brothers shift their loyalty to the Seleucids
The Healing of Tobit by Bernardo Strozzi, 1635
Antiochus III grants tax reprieve to pro-Ptolemaic forces (Ant. 12.3.3-4 §§ 138-46) for repairs
Antiochus III takes control of Palestine and southern Syria
Seleucus IV tries and fails to raid temple treasury, although otherwise peaceful time
Hyrcanus ben Joseph of Tobiad family builds palatial estate at ‘Araq el-Emir in Transjordan
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 bribed Antiochus for high priesthood (outbidding Jason) and sold off temple vessels. A riot ensues.
Antiochus sends army to put down riot and orders the suppression of Jewish religion.
Practitioners of Judaism persecuted
Rebellion eventually led by the Maccabees
December: Maccabees retake the Temple and restore the cult. Antiochus withdraws his decree.
Menaleus executed, Alcimus appointed High Priest
Judas makes treaty with Rome
Jonathan takes over
Syrians withdraw from Palestine
Appointed by Alexander Balas
Simon confirmed as High Priest, commander, and ethnarch in 140, supports rival Seleucid faction
Jews claim freedom from foreign rule, in theory but not reality
Judith with the Head of Holofernes by Cristofano Allori, 1613
John Hyrcanus I serves as high priest ruling like king, but without title; makes independence real in 129/128
John Hyrcanus I, Simon’s son, becomes high priest and makes peace with Seleucids
Hasmonean expansion into Samaria, Idumea, and Galilee
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.
Antiochus VII dies; Judea is de facto independent; Hyrcanus campaigns in Transjordan
c. 250 BC
Onias IV fled to Egypt and built alternative temple at Heliopolis in c. 160 (Ant. 13.62-73)
Antiochus IV invades Egypt again and Romans forced him to withdraw;
Onias IV builds a temple at Leontopolis in Egypt after being expelled by the Hasmoneans (destroyed in 73 CE)