THE INTERTESTAMENTAL PERIOD (400 silent years)
(1 Sam 3:1) . . . And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation.
In between the Old Testament and the New Testaments (the Intertestamental Period) there is a period of time called the 400 silent years. That is, no Bible books were written and no true prophets existed that spoke for God. But as we shall see, this time period was anything but quiet. So what was going on during this pocket of time?
Alexander the Great conquered the world and brought the Greek culture and language (Hellenization) to the empire.
The Ptolemies and Seleucids battle it out, with Israel sandwiched in between (predicted in detail by Daniel the prophet four centuries before these kings existed (Dan 11:5-20).
Antiochus IV Epiphanes erected an altar to Zeus on the altar of burnt offering outside the temple, and had a pig offered on the altar. A family of Jews (the Maccabees) fought back and eventually won independence and restored temple worship. (Hanukkah holiday born)
The Jewish people produced a sizable body of literature including the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament), the Apocrypha, and the Dead Sea Scrolls.
The Jewish parties of the Sadducees and Pharisees came into existence. Other groups include the Herodians, the Essene community out by the Dead Sea, and the Jewish zealots (sicarii).
The synagogue form of worship was developed and established amongst the diaspora (Jews living outside of Israel).
In 63 B.C., Pompey of Rome conquered Palestine, putting all of Judea under control of the Caesars.
In short, Roman civilization had brought peace (Pax Romana) and a road system which aided travel; the Grecian civilization provided a language which was accepted as the lingua franca of the empire; the Jews had endorsed monotheism and held out the messianic hope in the synagogues of the Mediterranean world. God was working behind the scenes so that one day the silence would be broken and John the Baptist would look at Jesus and say . . . Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29)
Take courage, when God is silent He’s getting ready to do something special! (Hab 1:5)