The Merneptah Stele (1210 B.C.E.) THE FIRST MENTION OF “ ISRAEL” AS A PEOPLE “ ISRAEL IS LAID WASTE, HIS SEED IS NOT.” Cairo Museum, Egypt “ The name Israel is included among the list of defeated peoples, hence the name Israel stele, referring not to a country but to a tribe of the same name. ”
Iron Age ca. 1200 – 586 B.C.E. United Monarchy ca. 1020 – 925 B.C.E.
Israel elected Saul as its first king . Although he made no serious changes to the tribal organization, he unified Israel militarily and succeeded in rallying almost the entire nation to fight against Jabesh - Gilead . Although he did not remove the Philistine threat, he did have some successes against them . Saul's reign was short - lived and failed in establishing a dynasty .
Saul and the Witch of Endor, Gustave Doré, 1866
The City of David (1000 B.C.E.) “ The King and his men set out for Jerusalem against the Jebusites who inhabited the region. David was told, “You will never get in here! Even the blind and the lame will turn you back. But David captured the stronghold of Zion; it is now the City of Zion.” 2 Samuel 5:6-7 Area G The Jebusite (Canaanite) Fortress Zion The Spring of Gihon
Dr. Eilat Mazar A monumental structure, dating back to the eleventh century BCE, was discovered in excavations in the City of David by archeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar. Dr. Gabi Barkay , who has been awarded the Jerusalem Prize for Archaeology, believes it to be an official public structure, possibly Metzudat Zion or a palace from the time of Kings David and Solomon.
King David “… And the LORD said to thee, Thou shalt feed my people Israel, and thou shalt be a captain over Israel. So all the elders of Israel came to the king to Hebron ; and king David made a league with them in Hebron before the LORD: and they anointed David king over Israel . David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years.” SAMUEL 5:2-4
Tel Dan Stele Erected by Hazael, King of Aram (840 B.C.E.) Skirball Museum Jerusalem, Israel THE FIRST MENTION OF “ THE NATION ISRAEL” AND THE “ HOUSE OF DAVID” “ [I killed Jeho]ram son of [Ahab] KING OF ISRAEL … And [I] SLEW [the king] of the HOUSE OF DAVID . ”
Iron Age ca. 1200 – 586 B.C.E. Divided Monarchy ca. 925 – 721 B.C.E.
Pharaoh Shoshenq I (Shishak) of Egypt “ In the fifth year of King Rehoboam, King Shishak of Egypt came up against Jerusalem. He took away the treasures of the house of the Lord and the treasures of the King’s house; he took everything.” 1 Kings 14:25-26
Pharaoh Shoshenq I (925 B.C.E.) On an inscription at Karnak , Shoshenq boasts of his conquests of Arad, Gibeon and Megiddo (Armageddon) in the kingdoms of Israel and Judah . Five Years later, Shoshenq’s son Osorkon recorded giving gifts of silver and gold to the gods and goddesses of Egypt on a granite pillar in a temple at Bubastis. It seems unlikely to be a mere coincidence that almost immediately after Shoshenq had looted the wealth of Jerusalem that Osorkon could dispose so freely of so much gold. Amun Temple Karnak, Egypt
Shoshenq Megiddo Fragment
A fragment of Pharaoh Shoshenq’s commemorative stele found at Megiddo . The fragment is not well - preserved and only the name of the king and some phrases glorifying him can be read . Although the fragment does not prove that Shoshenq conquered Megiddo, it does imply that he had some control over the city.
Assyria asserts itself in the Levant 859 BCE
King Ahab (853 B.C.E.) The Kurkh Stele mentions the battle of Qarqar, which King Shalmaneser III of Assyria fought against Israel and Aram. It reports that King Ahab of Israel sent 10,000 soldiers and 2,000 chariots to the battle. British Museum
King Mesha of Moab/ King Ahab of Israel “ King Mesha of Moab was a sheepmaster, and he used to pay the King of Israel 100,000 lambs and the wool of 100,000 rams as tribute. But when Ahab died , the King of Moab rebelled against the King of Israel.” 2 Kings 3:4-5
The Moabite Stone (835 B.C.E.) Courtesy of The Louvre The Moabite Stone was erected by King Mesha the Moabite in 835 B.C.E. It mentions the name of Omri, King of Israel and “his son” King Ahab . “ Omri was the king of Israel, and he oppressed Moab for many days for Kemosh was angry with his land. And his son succeeded him.”
Elijah the Prophet, 9 th century BCE
Then the word of the Lord came to him, He said to him, " Why are you here, Elijah? He replied, " I am moved by zeal for the Lord, the God of Hosts, for the Israelites have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and put Your prophets to the sword . I alone am left, and they are out to take my life. (I Kings 19:9-10)
Elijah on Mount Horeb, Rembrandt ( 1606-1669)
Seal of Jezebel (9 th - 8 th c. B.C.E.) This richly ornamented Seal of Jezebel bears the name “Jezebel” in Phoenician script. Jezebel is mentioned in the Bible as the wife of King Ahab, ruler of the northern kingdom of Israel. Israel Museum Jerusalem, Israel
Asherah Queen Jezebel financially supported 450 prophets of the god Baal and 400 of the god Asherah (1 Kings 18:19). In a great showdown on Mount Carmel, the prophet Elijah demonstrated the lack of power held by these gods and their prophets. This incident caused Jezebel to threaten Elijah’s life, which led him to escape to the Sinai desert.
King Jehu “ So Jehu slew all that remained of the house of Ahab in Jezreel, and all his great men, and his kinsfolks , and his priests, until he left none remaining.” 2 Kings 10:11
Shalmaneser III’s Black Obelisk (840 B.C.E.) “ I received tribute from Jehu successor of Omri : silver, gold, a gold bowl, a gold tureen, gold vessels, gold buckets, tin, the staffs of the king’s hand, spears.” Black Obelisk British Museum, London, England
King Adad-nirari III ca. 797 B.C.E. In the first decade of the eighth century BCE, King Adad-nirari III of Assyria campaigned against Damascus in southwestern Syria. While in the region, the Assyrian monarch also extracted tribute from King Joash of Israel, whom he calls by name in a boastful victory inscription –– the recently discovered Tell al-Rimah stela, which was published in 1968.
King Tiglath-Pileser III (Pul) of Assyria King Pul of Assyria invaded the land, and Menahem gave Pul a thousand talents of silver that he might support him and strengthen his hold on the kingdom. 2 Kings 15:19
King Tiglath-Pileser III (730 B.C.E.) Tiglath-Pileser is shown here in an eighth-century B.C.E. limestone Stele from his palace at Nimrud. In 738, he erected this inscription commonly referred to as the Iran Stele, in which he recounts the imposition of tribute on King Menachem of Israel. British Museum
The Annals of Tiglath-Pileser III “ In the days of King Pekah of Israel, King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria came and captured Ijon, Abel-beth-maacah, Janoah, Kedesh, Hazor – Gilead, Galilee, the entire region of Naphtali; and he deported the inhabitants to Assyria. Hoshea son Elah conspired against Pekah son of Remaliah, attacked him, and killed him.” 2 Kings 15:29-30 “ Israel (lit.: “Omri-Land Bit Humria ) . . . All its inhabitants (and) their possessions I led to Assyria. They overthrew their king Pekah ( Pa-qa-ha ) and I placed Hoshea ( A-ú-si-’ ) as king over them. I received from them 10 talents of gold, 1,000 (?) talents of silver as their [tri]bute and brought them to Assyria.” Summary inscription 4
The Annals of Tiglath-Pileser III “ [Jeho]ahaz sent messengers to King Tiglath-Pileser of Assyria to say, “I am your servant and your son; come and deliver me from the hands of the king of Aram and from the hands of the king of Israel, who are attacking me. Ahaz took the gold and silver that were on hand in the House of the Lord and in the treasuries of the royal palace and sent them as a gift to the king of Assyria.” II Kings 16:7-8 “ In all the countries which . . . [I received] the tribute of . . . Jehoahaz ( Ia-ú-ha-zi ) of Judah ( Ia-ú-da-a-a ) . . . (consisting of) gold, silver, tin, iron, antimony, linen garments with multicolored trimmings . . .” Summary inscription 7
Jonah Jonah Thrown into the Sea, Catacomb of Saint Peter and Saint Marcellino, Rome, 4th century CE According to the biblical Book of Jonah, God commanded Jonah to travel to the great Assyrian capital, Nineveh, and threaten its destruction: 1 Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying ,2 " Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you ." 3 So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD . Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, a three - day journey in extent . 4 And Jonah began to enter the city on the first day's walk . Then he cried out and said, “ Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown .” (Jonah 3:1-4) The date of the Book of Jonah is uncertain, but it clearly reflects a reality in which Assyria was a major power in the Middle East.
Founding of Rome, 753 BCE
The city of Rome was founded at the same time that the Assyrian Empire reached its peak.
In 63 BCE, the Roman Empire becomes the dominant power in Palestine.
Romulus and Remus with the she - wolf
Isaiah and Ahaz
"Be careful, keep calm and don't be afraid. Do not lose heart because of these two smoldering stubs of firewood—because of the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram and of the son of Remaliah. Aram, Ephraim and Remaliah's son have plotted your ruin, saying, "Let us invade Judah; let us tear it apart and divide it among ourselves, and make the son of Tabeel king over it.” (Isaiah 7:4-6)
King Shalmaneser V (727-722 B.C.E.) “ King Shalmaneser marched against him, and Hoshea became his vassal and paid him tribute… In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria. He deported the Israelites to Assyria and settled them in Halah, at the [River] Habor, at the River Gozan, and in the towns of Media. -2 Kings 17:3,6 The Destruction of the Northern Kingdom of Israel – “The Ten Lost Tribes”
Babylonian Chronicle 1 (7 th c. B.C.E.) “ On the twenty-fifth day of the month of Tebet Shalmaneser (V) ascended the throne in Assyria <and Akkad>. He ravaged Samaria .”
King Sargon II of Assyria (720 B.C.E.) “ Then the king of Assyria came up throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria, and besieged it three years. In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.” (2 Kings 17:5-6)
King Sargon II (720 B.C.E.) Sargon II succeeded Shalmaneser V as king of Assyria during or shortly after the siege of Samaria, which is described in 2 Kings 17:1-6 . Sargon nevertheless took credit for the capture of Samaria and the final elimination of the northern kingdom of Israel. Following the lead of his predecessor Tiglath-Pileser III, Sargon ordered the forced relocation of the conquered Israelites. British Museum
The Assyrian Repopulation of Samaria “ The king of Assyria brought [people] from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim, and he settled them in the towns of Samaria in place of the Israelites; they took posession of Samaria and dwelt in its towns.” 2 Kings 17:24
King Sargon II The Nimrud Prism (720 B.C.E.)
The Nimrud Prism infers a massive deportation of the Israelites following their defeat at the hands of King Sargon and the repopulation of the area with people from lands conquered by earlier Assyrian campaigns.
The British Museum “ I repopulated Samaria more than before. I brought into it people from countries conquered by my hand. I appointed my eunuch as governor over them. And I counted them as Assyrians.”
Iron Age ca. 1200 – 586 B.C.E. Judah Under Assyrian and Babylonian Domination ca. 721-586 B.C.E.
Assyria Attacks Lachish Hezekiah ignored Isaiah’s warning that revolt against Assyria was a mistake: "Woe to the obstinate children, declares the LORD, to those who carry out plans that are not mine, forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit, heaping sin upon sin; who go down to Egypt without consulting me; who look for help to Pharaoh's protection, to Egypt's shade for refuge." Isaiah 30:1-2 “ In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, King Sennacherib of Assyria marched against all the fortified towns of Judah and seized them. King Hezekiah sent this message to the king of Assyria at Lachish: “I have done wrong: withdraw from me; and I shall bear whatever you impose on me,” So the king of Assyria imposed upon king Hezekiah of Judah a payment three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold.” 2 Kings 18:13 - 14
Sennacherib’s Lachish Relief (701 B.C.E.)
This relief depicts in graphic detail the Assyrian attack mounted against the fortified city of Lachish which details include the use of Assyrian siege engines, the torture and murder of captives, and Judeans led off into exile.
The British Museum
The Azekah Inscription, 720-701 BCE
The Azekah Inscription is an account of an Assyrian campaign by Sargon II against Hezekiah, King of Judah . Two tablets of the inscription were discovered at Nineveh . The style of the inscription is similar to Sargon II's " Letter to the God, " composed after his campaign to Urartu . The date of this campaign is uncertain, but it describes the conquest of Azekah ( northwest of the entrance to the Elah Valley ) and an unidentified city.
The Siloam Tunnel “ When Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib intended to attack Jerusalem, he planned with his civil and military officers to stop up the water of the springs outside the city; and they helped him. They gathered together a large number of people and stopped up all the springs and the stream which flowed through the land. ‘Why should the kings of Assyria come and find much water?’ they asked … Hezekiah closed the upper outlet of the waters of Gihon and directed them to the west side of the city of David .” 2 Chronicles 32:2–4
Hezekiah’s Tunnel Inscription (701 B.C.E.)
Without access to adequate water sources, Jerusalem was extremely vulnerable to being besieged. Thus, King Hezekiah built a tunnel which channeled water from the Gihon spring in the Kidron valley to a protected reservoir on the west side of the city, thus allowing Jerusalem to survive the siege of the Assyrian king, Sennacherib. The Siloam Tunnel inscription describes the process of its construction.
Istanbul Archaeology Museum Turkey
Warren’s Shaft, 8 th century BCE
Warrens' Shaft is a tunnel which is part of an underground aqueduct system in Jerusalem that runs from Gihon Spring . It is named after the British engineer - Charles Warren - who explored it in 1867 . It consists of a series of steeply sloping underground tunnels and a deep vertical shaft that permitted residents to safely reach the water of the Gihon Spring from above without going outside the city wall .
King Sennacherib of Assyria “ And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the LORD went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses. So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh.” 2 Kings 19:35-36
Sennacherib’s Prism (701 B.C.E.)
Both Sennacherib and the Hebrew Bible discuss the unsuccessful Assyrian siege of Jerusalem, albeit with understandably different perspectives on the outcome. While 2 Kings 19:35-36 reports that an angel of the Lord struck down 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in their camp, which effectively ended the siege, Sennacherib implies that he never meant to capture Jerusalem. As for Hezekiah, Sennacherib boasts, “him I made a prisoner in Jerusalem, his royal residence, like a bird in a cage.”
Sennacherib’s Bull Inscription 693 B.C.E.
This inscription was carved on the pair of human-headed winged bulls which flanked the main entrance to the throne room of Sennacherib. It includes the most detailed surviving account of the tribute sent by Hezekiah, king of Judah, after the Assyrian campaign to Palestine in 701 B.C.E.
The Assyrian Empire and other Israelite Prophets
Jeremiah 2:18 – "Now why go to Egypt to drink water from the Shihor? And why go to Assyria to drink water from the River?“
Ezekiel 23:9 - "Therefore I handed her over to her lovers, the Assyrians , for whom she lusted.“
Hosea 5:13 - "When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah his sores, then Ephraim turned to Assyria , and sent to the great king for help. But he is not able to cure you, not able to heal your sores.“
Micah 5:6 – "He will deliver us from the Assyrian when he invades our land and marches into our borders.“
Zechariah 10:10 – "I will bring them back from Egypt and gather them from Assyria . I will bring them to Gilead and Lebanon, and there will not be room enough for them."
“ May The Lord bless you and keep you . The Lord make his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” THE PRIESTLY BLESSING Numbers 6:22-27:
The Oldest Biblical Scripture: The Silver Scroll Amulet (650 B.C.E.) Israel Museum This silver plaque and another silver plaque found next to it are the earliest known fragments of a biblical text, predating the oldest of the Dead Sea scrolls from Qumran by almost four hundred years . Inscribed in Paleo-Hebrew and rolled up into tiny scrolls, both plaques served as protective amulets for the dead and were uncovered in a burial cave at Ketef Hinnom. The inscriptions were written in the cursive style by a non-professional scribe.
First Example of “Ethical Monotheism” “ If ever you take your neighbors garment in pledge , you shall restore it to him before the sun goes down, for that is his only covering, if it is his mantle for his body, in what else shall he sleep? And if he cries to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate.” Exodus 22:25-26
Hashaviahu Ostraca (630 B.C.E.)
Inscribed on this Ostraca is the complaint of a reaper, to the governor, that an officer has confiscated his garment unjustly and thus requests his help in retrieving his clothing.
Israel Museum Jerusalem, Israel
King Manasseh of Judah (687-642 B.C.E.)
“ The Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they would not pay heed, so the Lord brought against them the officers of the army of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh captive in manacles, bound him in fetters, and led him off to Babylon.”
- 2 Chronicles 33:10-11
“ I called up the kings of the country Hatti and (of the region) on the other side of the river (Euphrates) (to wit): Ba’lu, king of Tyre, Manasseh ( Me-na-si-i ), king of Judah ( Ia-ú-di ) . . .”
Prism B of Esarhaddon, King of Assyria (680-669 B.C.E.)
Pharaoh Necho and Josiah – The Battle of Megiddo, 609 BCE
“ Pharaoh - Nechoh king of Egypt went up against the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates : and king Josiah went against him, and he slew him at Megiddo , when he had seen him” ( 2 Kings 23:29 )
"I will summon all the peoples of the north and my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon , declares the LORD, and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants and against all the surrounding nations. I will completely destroy them and make them an object of horror and scorn, and an everlasting ruin. I will banish from them the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, the sound of millstones and the light of the lamp. This whole country will become a desolate wasteland, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years ."
King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon “ At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against Jerusalem, and the city was besieged. And Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came against the city, and his servants did besiege it.” 2 Kings 24:10-11
Nebuchadnezzar's Chronicle (604-562 B.C.E.)
“ He [Nebuchadnezzar] encamped against the city of Judah [Jerusalem] and on the second day of Adar, he seized the city and seized the king. He appointed a king of his own pleasure over it [the city]. He took from it significant tribute and conveyed it to Babylon .”
- Chronicle of Nebuchadnezzar II
British Museum London, England
King Jehoiachin “ And he (Nebuchadnezzar) carried away Jehoiachin to Babylon , and the king’s mother, and the king’s wives, and his officers and the mighty of the land, those carried he into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon.” 2 Kings 24:15
Babylonian Ration List (592 B.C.E.)
One of a group of cuneiform texts with lists of the rations for captive kings and their retinues living I the vicinity of Babylon. This text is dated in the 13th year of Nebuchadnezzar II (592 B.C.E.). Jehoiachin and his sons are mentioned. Other names known to us from the bible occur.
Staatliche Museen Zu Berlin Berlin, Germany
Lachish Letters, c. 587 BCE
"Let him also know that we are watching for the beacons of Lachish, in accordance with all the fire-signals that my lord has given, but we do not see Azekah."
House of Ahiel, 586 BCE
Discovered in the City of David, Ahiel’s house is a typical Israelite four-room house from the First Temple Period.
It was burnt during the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BCE .
The Bulla of Jehuchal ben Shelemiah
A mud-imprinted stamp that was used to seal rolled-up official documents, written on papyrus. The “bulla” was hiding among the large stones in the structure, on the northeastern side of the site. This “bulla”, one centimeter in diameter, contains three lines of Hebrew script typical to the end of the First Temple era, with the name of Jehuchal ben Shelemiah . The biblical narrative tells that Jehuchal was a senior official in the court of King Tzidkiyahu (Jeremiah, 37:3; 38:1). The other side of the “bulla” shows remnants of the papyrus, which it sealed. The finding of this “bulla”, used for official correspondence, also testifies to the use of the structure for state purposes until the end of the First Temple era.
Gemariah Son of Shaphan “ It was then that Baruch—in the chamber of Gemariah son of Shaphan the scribe, in the upper court, near the new gateway of the House of the Lord—read the words of Jeremiah from the scroll to all the people in the House of the Lord.” Jeremiah 36:10
Gemariah Son of Shaphan ca. 586 B.C.E.
Bullae from Judah, including the personal seal impression of Gemariah Son of Shaphan
" Belonging to Gedaliah, who is over the House . ”
Seal of Gedaliah, 586 BCE "Then he made Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, governor over the people who remained in the land of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had left. Now when all the captains of the armies, they and their men, heard that the king of Babylon had made Gedaliah governor, they came to Gedaliah at Mizpah.” (2 Kings 25:22-24) Gedaliah the son of Ahikam governed the people of Judah after the destruction of the First Temple :
Arrowheads from Babylonian Destruction, 586 BCE
On the seventh day of the fifth month…the chief of the guards, an officer of the king of Babylon… burned the Temple of the Lord, the king’s palace, and all the houses of Jerusalem …The entire Chaldean [ Babylonian ] force that was with the chief of the guard tore down the walls of Jerusalem on every side. ”
( 2 Kings 25:8-10)
The Persian Empire and Isaiah 2 ca. 536 – 333 B.C.E.
"You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle and be drenched with the dew of heaven. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes."
Prayer for King Nabonidus of Babylonia (555-539 B.C.E.) “ I was afflicted [ with an evil ulcer ] for seven years…and an exorcist pardoned my sins . He was a Jew from among the [ children of the exile of Judah, and said, ] ‘Recount this in writing to [ glorify and exalt ] the Name of the [ Most High God ] ’” ( I . 3-5.)
Belshazzar's Feast and the Writing on the Wall, Rembrandt ( 1606-1669)
Stela of Nabonidus, 555-539 BCE
Relief showing Nabonidus praying to the moon, sun and Venus
"for the inhabitants of Babylon, Cyrus declared the state of peace”
Nabonidus Chronicle, c . 539 BCE
In the month of Arahsamna, the third day [ 29 October ] , Cyrus entered Babylon , green twigs were spread in front of him—the state of peace was imposed upon the city . Cyrus sent greetings to all Babylon . Gobryas, his governor, installed sub - governors in Babylon .
King Cyrus of Persia and the First Return to Zion “ King Cyrus of Persia, in the first year of his reign made a decree that the house of God should be rebuilt (in Jerusalem). ‘Take these vessels ( Cyrus said to Sheshbazzar , whom he had made governor of Judea) go and put them in the Temple in Jerusalem and let the house of God be rebuilt on its site.’” (Ezra 5:13-15)
Cyrus Cylinder (559-530 B.C.E.)
This Cylinder outlines the imperial policy of tolerance, enacted by King Cyrus of Persia for religious freedom that permitted the construction of the Second Temple and the restoration of the high priesthood in Jerusalem.
"This is what the LORD says to his anointed, to Cyrus…“ (Isaiah 45:1)
Chapters 40-66 of Isaiah are considered by scholars to be written by a different prophet than the one who wrote chapters 1-39 . Second Isaiah, or Deutero - Isaiah, would presumably have prophesied about Cyrus once his name was recognized in the ancient world . This would have been after 550 BCE and probably closer to 539 when Cyrus conquered Babylon .
Darius I, 522-486 BCE
The Prophet Haggai, c. 520 BCE
Haggai 1:1-4 - "In the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest… Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?“
Haggai 2:9 – "The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house, says the LORD Almighty. And in this place I will grant peace, declares the LORD Almighty."
The Battle of Marathon, 490 BCE
One of the earliest recorded battles, the Battle of Marathon is considered a defining moment in European history. Darius I attempted to conquer the remainder of Greece. His failure gave the Greek city-states confidence in their ability to defend themselves.
Greek Corinthian helmet and skull from the Battle of Marathon
Esther, c. 500 BCE
"Then Haman said to King Xerxes, There is a certain people dispersed and scattered among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom whose customs are different from those of all other people and who do not obey the king's laws; it is not in the king's best interest to tolerate them.“ (Esther 3:8)
Esther Presented to Ahasuerus, Rembrandt ( 1606-1669)
Xerxes I and the Battle of Thermopylae, 480 BCE
Xerxes I ( son of Darius I ) planned to invade Europe through Greece . He gathered an army of approximately a quarter of a million men and set off for Greece .
Three hundred Spartan soldiers almost defeated Xerxes’ army, which lost 10,000 soldiers.
Xerxes I portrayed on the Apadana Audience relief . Photo courtesy of Livius . org .
Second Return to Zion, 433 BCE "this Ezra came up from Babylon . He was a teacher well versed in the Law of Moses, which the LORD, the God of Israel, had given. The king had granted him everything he asked, for the hand of the LORD his God was on him.“ (Ezra 7:6) "Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire .“ (Nehemiah 1:3)
Yehud Coin (4 th Century B.C.E.)
In the 4th Century B.C.E. silver coins were minted in Jerusalem, carrying the inscription “ Yehud ”, the Aramaic word for Judea. This right to mint coins is an indication of the great degree of autonomy granted to Judea in the last decade of Persian rule. In the Persian Empire, the right to mint coins attested to the respected political status of a province. This coin is the first common usage of the Word “Judea.”
Israel Museum Jerusalem, Israel
Yahud Stamps, c . 539 BCE
YHD stamps were introduced to the region after the Persians wrested control of much of the Near East from the Babylonians in 539 BCE and Judah became known as its Persian equivalent, Yahud .
The Jewish Community in Elephantine
Contract from Elephantine, 451 BCE
One of the Aramaic papyri found in the Jewish mercenary colony of Elephantine in Egypt . The date appears on the top of the document : the 20th of Sivan, in the year 24 of Artaxerxes, King of Persia ( July 6, 451 BCE ). This papyrus is a contract of sale of immovable property between the Elephantine Jews—Micah and Anani.
“ The Festival of the Unleavened Bread” (419 B.C.E.)
A communal archive of about a dozen documents discovered on the Island of Elephantine in 1910 contained this letter. It is deemed to be a copy of a letter from the citizens of Elephantine requesting information as to how to celebrate the “ festival of the unleavened bread.”
"Now our forefathers built this temple in the fortress of Elephantine back in the days of the kingdom of Egypt, and when Cambyses came to Egypt he found it built. They (the Persians) knocked down all the temples of the gods of Egypt, but no one did any damage to this temple."
Alexander the Great ca. 334 – 323 B.C.E.
The front of this gold coin depicts Alexander the Great, and the city name “Acco” (Acre) appears on the reverse.