Second Temple Judaism: A Brief Historical Outline
Part Two

Bruce N. Fisk

(Back to Part One. Forward to Part Three)

2. From the Death of Alexander the Great to the Decree of Antiochus IV

2.1. The Division of Alexander's Empire

323 Alexander dies in Babylon at age 32.


 Babylon and North Syria


West, i.e. Macedonia


South Syria and Egypt


Thrace and West Asia

2.2. The Ptolemaic Dynasty [323-198 BCE]

323-285 Ptolemy I Soter rules first as satrap of Egypt and then as king (Dan.11:5).

285-247 Ptolemy II Philadelphus

280 Two powerful families emerge to control the middle east:

252 Berenice, daughter of Ptolemy II, marries Antiochus II, to seal a political alliance, but she and her son are murdered by Laodice, other wife of Antiochus (Dan.11:6)

247-221Ptolemy III Euergetes I

246 Ptolemy invades Syria to avenge the death of his sister Berenice and her son (Dan.11:7-8).

240 Peace settlement.

221-203Ptolemy IV Philopator

See the legends recorded in 3 Maccabees (generally dated to 1st c.BCE).

203-181Ptolemy V Epiphanes becomes king at age 5.

198 His forces lose the battle of Panion to the Seleucids.

2.3. The Seleucidic Dynasty [198-167 BCE]

305-281 Seleucus I Nicator

281-261 Antiochus I Soter

261-247 Antiochus II Theos

252 Ant. marries Berenice, daughter of Ptolemy II, to seal a political alliance. Laodice, his first wife, has her assassinated (Dan.11:6).

247-226 Seleucus II Callinicus (son of Laodice)

226-223 Seleucus III Soter Ceraunos

223-187 Antiochus III the Great

219-217 Antiochus attempts to acquire Phoenicia and Palestine, but is defeated by Ptolemy IV at Raphia, near Gaza (Dan.11:10-12; cf. 3 Macc.1:1-5).

198 Antiochus defeats Ptolemy's general Scopas at the battle of Panion. Phoenicia and Palestine (Dan.11:13-17) come under Seleucid control.

219-196 (cf. Sirach 50:1-21).

190 Antiochus is defeated by the Romans at Magnesia.

187 Antiochus dies while attempting to loot a temple of Bel (to raise money to pay off Rome).

187-175 Seleucus IV sends his son Demetrius to Rome in exchange for his younger brother, Antiochus (IV).

175-163 Antiochus IV Epiphanes [Theos Epiphanes = God (i.e. Zeus) manifest]

175 Antiochus IV Epiphanes seizes power from Seleucus IV, his brother.

1. House of Tobiah - tend to be pro-Ptolemies
2. House of Onias - tend to be pro-Seleucids [Onias (Gk) = Honi / Johanan (Heb) = John]

170/169Antiochus attacks Egypt but fails to conquer Alexandria.

168 Antiochus attacks Egypt again but is challenged and humiliated there by Roman envoys who enforce a treaty between Egypt and Rome.

167 Antiochus issues a decree abolishing Jewish religion.

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