The Inter-Testamental Period

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“Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks…”

Dan. 9:25

“These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth.  But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.”

Dan. 7:17-18

“And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.”

Dan. 11:32



The Inter-Testamental Period comprises the 400 years between the close of the Old Testament when the Temple was rebuilt and the prophets ceased, and the coming of Jesus the Messiah, when God ‘hath in these last days spoken to us by His Son.’ (Heb. 1:2)

God left not his Church without guidance, but prophesied in detail what would happen during this era by the prophet Daniel.  Much of the political history of this time forms the general background to the New Testament and is illuminating thereto.

Hence, a knowledge of the Inter-Testamental Period will be of the utmost interest to the one that loves everything relating to God’s Word.




Apocrypha, Pseudepigraphia & the Dead Sea Scrolls
The Herods



Order of Contents

Scriptural Prophecies
Historical Background  4
Ancient History & Religion  3
Primary Sources



The Scriptural Prophecies of the Inter-Testamental Time


ch. 2:31-46  The Statue and the 4 Kingdoms till Messiah: 1. Babylon, 2. Media-Persia, 3. Greece, 4. Rome

ch. 8  The Ram (Media-Persia) and the Goat (Greece)

ch. 9:24-27  The Seventy Weeks, or 490 years till Messiah

ch. 10:20-12:1  Egypt, the Seleucid Empire, Antiochus Epiphanes, the Maccabees, and the Roman domination till Messiah



In order to see the incredible point-by-point historical fulfillment of these detailed and intricate prophecies, see Commentaries on Daniel.

That these prophecies are authentic, and were written during the Babylonian captivity (500’s B.C.), and not written after they were fulfilled during the 2nd century B.C. (per liberalism), see ‘The Authenticity of Daniel’ on the same page.



Historical Background

Top Recommendation

Edersheim, Alfred – ‘Introductory. The Preparation for the Gospel: The Jewish World in the Days of Christ’  (1883)   110 pp.  being Book 1, chs. 1-8 of The Life and Time of Jesus the Messiah, vol. 1

You need to read Edersheim’s ‘Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah’ cover-to-cover.  It may be one of the best books you ever read.

Edersheim was raised in Orthodox Judaism and became a Christian partially through the influence of ‘Rabbi’ John Duncan.  He entered the ministry in the Free Church of Scotland.  Later he transferred into the Church of England and was a renowned scholar on 1st century studies.



Alexander, Archibald – A History of the Israelitish Nation: From Their Origin to Their Dispersion at the Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, Part 5, Section 3 to Part 6, Section 8  (1853)  140 pp.

Alexander was the first professor of Old Princeton seminary.  This work is an expansion of his earlier work: Annals of the Jewish Nation During the Period of the Second Temple  1832  355 pages

Fairweather, William

The Background of the Gospels, or, Judaism in the Period Between the Old & New Testaments  Buy  (1908)  500 pp.

Fairweather was a minister in the post-1900, United Free Church of Scotland.

From the Exile to the Advent  (1895)  236 pp.  in Handbooks for Bible Classes, eds. Dods & Whyte

Schurer, Emil – A History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ, vol. 1 (Political History of Palestine, 175 – 4 BC)  (1891)  465 pp.  There are 5 volumes in this set

Schurer (1844–1910) was a German scholar.



General Ancient History & Religion

Rawlinson, George

The Seven Great Monarchies of the Ancient Eastern World, or the History, Geography and Antiquities of Chaldea, Assyria, Babylon, Media, Persia, Parthia, and Sassanian, or New Persian Empire, vol. 1 (Chaldea, Assyria), 2 (Media, Babylonia, Persia), 3 (Parthia, Sassanian/New-Persian)  (1875)

Rawlinson (1812–1902) was an Oxford scholar of ancient history who was committed to the historical truthfulness of the Scriptural account (and gave a series of the Bampton Lectures defending that proposition in detail, which was published as a book).

A Manual of Ancient History from the Earliest Times to the Fall of the Western Empire  (1871)  640 pp.

The Religions of the Ancient World, including Egypt, Assyria and Babylonia, Persia, India, Phoenicia, Etruria, Greece, Rome   n.d.  290 pp.  A chapter is devoted to each nation, about 30 pages long

“From none of them [these ancient religions] could the Hebrew religion have originated… The facts point to a primitive religion, of which monotheism and expiatory sacrifice were parts, gradually corrupted and lost except among the Hebrews.” – Rawlinson, Concluding Remarks



Inter-Testamental Primary Sources


Jewish Primary Sources


Books 11-16 of The Antiquities of the Jews  184 pp.  trans. William Whiston;  From 536 B.C. to 4 B.C.

Book 1 of Wars of the Jews  60 pp.  trans. William Whiston;  From the mid-2nd century B.C. to the death of Herod the Great

Josephus (37-100), the 1st century Jewish historian gives his recounting of the near history of the Jews before the New Testament era, many of which events may have been popularly in the minds of the 1st century gospel hearers.

Philo – The Works of Philo Judaeus, vol. 1, 2, 3, 4  Trans. C.D. Yonge

Philo (25 BC – 50 AD) was an Alexandrian, Egyptian Jewish theologian who was a contemporary of Jesus, who largely represented the thought of Hellenistic Judaism, which had developed outside the land of Israel since the Dispersion resulting from the Babylonian captivity.



Greek Primary Sources

Herodotus – The History of Herodotus, vol. 1, 2, 3, 4  trans. George Rawlinson

Herodotus (c. 484–c. 425 B.C.) a Greek historian, is often considered ‘The Father of History’.  He gathered materials and wrote a history of the origins of the Greco-Persian Wars, which were prophesied of by Daniel.



Roman Primary Sources

Suetonius – Lives of the Twelve Caesars & Lives of the Grammarians, Rhetoricians & Poets  570 pp. in Bohn’s Classical Library

Suetonius (AD 69-122) gives biographies of the 12 Roman Caesars, ranging roughly from 100 BC to 96 AD.

After reading these accounts, mixed heavily with superstition and fables, you will appreciate even more the plain, mutally confirming, self-evident truthfulness of the Gospels and the history of Acts.




“Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before Me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, He shall come, saith the Lord of hosts.”

Mal. 3:1




Related Pages

Old Testament Commentaries

Old Testament Background, Survey, Authenticity & Introduction

New Testament Commentaries

New Testament Background, Survey & Introduction

Whole Bible Commentaries

Bible Background, Survey, Authenticity & Introduction