From Babylon to Bethlehem – Messianic Hope

December 14, 2009

The Romans came to rule Judea in 63 BC. Leading up to that, the high
priests of the Hasmonean Dynasty were the de facto kings in Israel,
though their official title was Ethnarch. This dynasty began from the
Maccabees, and lasted roughly eighty years. They did not want to be
seen as usurping the rightful place of the line of David, since they
were dependent on the pious Jews. The line of David was still known
through this period, but it had fallen into obscurity. In this sense,
the Hasmonean state is a biblical anomaly, lacking any leaders truly
chosen by God. These rulers tended to be despots of a sort similar to
Oriental and Hellenistic despots. These rulers were also expansionist,
reacting to the rising birth rates of the neighboring countries. These
circumstances give rise to a large upsurge in Messianic hope.

Salome Alexandra instituted a number of changes that pleased the
Pharisees, and was fondly remembered by them for this. Her sons,
Aristobulus II and Hyrcanus, fought for the high priesthood. At this
point, Pompey comes to Israel and seeks an alliance with Hyrcanus,
since Israel had sought such an alliance before. Hyrcanus was confirmed
as high priest, but the position of king was saved for Rome, with local
political authority resting in Hyrcanus’ minister, Antipater the
Idumean. Antipater made his son Phasael governor of Jerusalem and his
other son Herod, who would be called the Great, was made governor of
Galilee. Then, in 43 BC, Antipater was poisoned and the two sons
battled for control of Judea.Messianic hope in the days of the Maccabees; the rise of the Pharisees and Salome Alexandra; Roman History.

The closing theme is Gerard Satamian’s Chansons Sans Paroles Op. 2 Pastorale, from the album Dry Fig Trees.

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