Where & When Did the Events of the Old Testament Take Place?

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Objective: To learn where the events of the Old Testament take place; What events does the Old Testament describe? These notes are taken from the book, Encountering the Old Testament by Bill T. Arnold & Bryan E. Beyer, which includes an interactive CD-Rom.

Where did the events of the Old Testament take place? 1.Syria-Palestine; 2. Mesopotamia; 3. Egypt; 4. Greece A. 1; B. 1, 2 & 3; C. 2, 3 & 4; D. All of them.

B. 1, 2 & 3. The ancient Near East known as the Fertile Crescent covered three areas: Mesopotamia, the land between the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers (modern Iraq, parts of Iran, Syria & Lebanon); Egypt. Compared to Mesopotamia, Egypt was relatively free from invasion. As a result, Egypt did not encoutner the large number of ethnic and cultural infiltrations. Egyptian history, therefore, is not one of constant power changes and new people groups, but rather the rise and fall of mostly native Egyptian dynasties; Syria-Palestine. Its primary geopolitical importance was in its role as a land bridge along the Fertile Crescent. Throughout ancient history, the empires of the great river cultures, Egypt and Mesopotamia sought to control access to Syria-Palestine for both economic and military/political reasons.

What are the 4 subregions of Israel?

1) The coastal plains. This region was one of the richest in ancient Israel because of its fertile soil and the accessibility of water (numerous springs and high groundwater level).; 2) The ridge or central mountain range: The highest point is the towering Mt. Hermon at over 9,200 ft. The central hills of Ephraim and the Judean hill country are quite similar. Many major cities lay along this north-south road including Shiloh, Shechem, Bethel, Jerusalem,, Bethlehem and Hebron in Judah; 3) The Jordan Rift--Descends from an altitude of about 300 ft. in the north to 1,275 ft. below the Mediterranean at the shore of the Dead Sea; 4) The Transjordanian highlands- East of the Jordan Rift, the land rises sharply into a plateau, which gradually gives way to the Arabian desert. The eastern extremes of the Transjordanian highlands enjoy no natural border with the Arabian desert. The fate of this mountain plateau in biblical times was often tied to its relationship with the desert.

What were the Highways of the Ancient Near East?

1) The way of the sea (Via Maris). This title comes from Isaiah 9:1, and refers to an international road running along the Levant coast. The Via Maris moves northward and splits into two branches, the western continuing along the coast and the eastern passing through the Jezreel Valley to Megiddo and from there to Megiddo, and from there to Hazor and Damascus and on to Mesopotamia; 2) The king's highway - Taken from Numbers 20:17, 21:22. This road extends from the Gulf of Aqabah at Elath through the Transjordanian highlands to Damascus. This was a secondary route from Damascus to Egypt. It was most popular for nomadic caravans transporting commercial goods and for trade of agricultural products.

What events does the Old Testament Describe?

1) Israel's Ancestry: The Patriarchs; 2) Israel's Beginnings: Moses & Joshua; 3) Israel's Statehood: David & His Dynasty.

Who are the Patriarchs?

Abraham, Isaac & Jacob as well as the 12 sons of Jacob. God is often referred to in Scripture as the God of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob. Around 2000 BC, God calls Abram to leave Ur of the Chaldeans in southern Mesopotamia with his extended family and journey to Haran where his father, Terah, died. Abram was called to travel on in faith to unknown lands. When Abraham reached Canaan, God established a covenant with him and promised to give him a vast number of descendant and the land of Canaan as an inheritance. Isaac's wife had twin sons, Jacob & Esau. Although Esau was the oldest, Jacob became the child of the patriarchal promises. Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel, had 12 sons. His favorite son, Joseph, was betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery, and taken to Egypt. While in Egypt, Joseph was blessed by God and miraculously rose to high political office in the foreign land. Through a set of divine circumstances, Joseph's brothers come to Egypt in search of food. Joseph provided food for them and saved their lives. Israel and all his children moved from Canaan to Goshen in the northeastern Delta of Egypt.

When were the beginnings of Moses?

During the Late Bronze Age (around 1550 BC), while Israel suffered under the heavy burden of slavery in Egypt, Moses was born to the tribe of Levi. At the time of Moses' birth, the pharaoh was attempting to control the rapidly growing Israelite population by killing newborn Israelite boys. But Moses was miraculously saved by Pharaoh's own daughter and raised in the Egyptian royal court. Moses was prepared and called by God to lead the Israelites out of their bondage in Egypt.

When was the beginning of Israel's Statehood?

Somewhere toward the end of the Bronze AGe, Joshua and the children of Israel had taken Canaan and settled in the central highlands. During this time, leadership arose from the ranks of the common people on a temporary ad hoc basis. These "judges" were divinely gifted and ordained to consolidate the strength and resources of the tribes of national or regional crisis. Military threats arose from surrounding neighbors, particularly the Philistines to the southwest. Around 1200 BC, Samuel anoints Saul as the first king over Israel. But Saul failed to maintain his relationship with God and was eventually rejected as king of Israel. God then instructed Samuel to anoint a man after God's own heart (1 Sam. 13:14), the young David, as the next king of Israel. Under David's strong leadership, Israel finally defeated the Philistines and forged a degree of peace and security in Syria-Palestine. David's reign ushered in a period of stability that would become Israel's golden age. He unified the tribes and provided economic and political freedom. Solomon expanded Israel's borders to the Euphrates in the north and to Egypt in the south. He rules during the only period of Israel' history that may be called an empire. He brought great wealth and prosperity to the nation through international trade. God gave Solomon wisdom in all matters, including the ability to govern the people.

What & when was the Divided Kingdom?

The success of the united monarchy was short-lived. Solomon, like Saul before him, allowed his heart to turn away from God (1 Kings 11:4). Shortly after the death of Solomon, the kingdom split into two weaker nations, Israel in the north and Judah in the south; this became the so-called divided monarchy (930 BC). Northern Israel fell quickly into religious apostasy. By contrast, Judah, the southern kingdom continued to have one royal family, the Davidic dynasty for nearly 350 yrs. (931-587 BC).

When was Israel's Babylonian Exile?

In 597 BC, Nebuchadnezzar attempted to end Judah's rebellious streak by capturing Jerusalem and taking King Jehoiachin into exile in Babylonia, along with many of the people of Jerualem, including the prophet Ezekiel. Another rebellion under Zedekiah resulted in the total destruction of Jerusalem in 587. The Babylonians not only destroyed the city and deported much of the population, but they also tore down the temple and effectively ended the Davidic dynasty.

When was Israel's Restoration and who led this restoration?

In 539 BC, under the reign of the Persian King Cyrus, and the beginning of the Persian Empire, Jewish exiles begin returning from Babylon in 3 separate groups led by Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah.

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