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The Old Testament World

The World of the Old Testament

Psalm 8:3-4 - "When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have ordained; what is man, that you think of him? What is the son of man, that you care for him?"

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Ancient Assyrian Man with BeardThe Old Testament and Bible History. The world was much different in Old Testament times. The Old Testament was the period between Genesis and Malachi in the Bible. It started with Adam and Eve and then about 2000 years later God called Abraham to leave his homeland near the Persian Gulf and to travel to a land that he had never seen before, that God would show him. Abraham obeyed and eventually his descendents inherited the promised land known as Israel. The first kings of Israel were Saul, David, and Solomon. After that the kingdom was divided and 10 tribes went to the North, and the remaining two tribes stayed in the South. The Northern Kingdom was called Israel, and the southern kingdom was called Judah. All of the northern kings were evil and worshiped idols, and God sent the Assyrians to destroy them in 722 BC. In the southern kingdom of Judah some of the kings served the Lord. but eventually the kingdom fell and the city of Jerusalem and the Temple of Solomon were destroyed in 586 BC. The Jews that survived were taken away as captives to the land of Babylon where they remained for 70 years. After that the Persian ruler Cyrus who had conquered Babylon allowed the Jews to return and rebuild their temple. the Old Testament ends at this point, Ezra encourage the people of Israel with the Word of God, and Malachi prophesied about those who had forsaken the Lord.

The Old Testament World. The world of the Old Testament goes from the land of Egypt in the South, to Chaldea and Persia in the East, up through Media and Urartu in the north, and over to Lydia and the land of the Hittites to Greece and Macedonia on the west. These were the borders of the Old Testament world, also known as the ancient near East. In the middle of them was the land of Canaan which became Israel, the inheritance of the descendants of Abraham. there were many nations in the land of Canaan, and also around the land like the Amorites and the Edomites in the Moabites. To the north of Israel were the Phoenicians on the coast, and the Syrians to the east. Moving further east from Israel where the Assyrians, and journeying down the Tigris and Euphrates rivers was Babylonia, and Chaldea. To the east of them were the Persians and the Zagros Mountains. There are many cities and mountains and rivers and deserts mentioned in the Bible within this area known as the Old Testament world.

Israel in the Old Testament. The land of Israel was originally called the land of Canaan. The Canaanites were very evil and were a cursed people by the Lord. When the time is right God called the descendants of Abraham to come into claim the promised land. Moses brought them to the border, and Joshua the captain of the Lord's army brought Israel across the Jordan River and into the land of Israel to conquer the nations that live there. the seven nations of Canaan where the Canaanites, the Amorites, the Hittites, the Jebusites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, and the Girgashites. After they conquered the land they divided it among the 12 tribes of Israel, and then there was the period of the Judges. The Judges were raised up as deliverers whenever Israel would disobey God and the enemy would come and torment the land. We finally cried out for a king and Saul was chosen, but later David was the rightful King and he built Israel into a great kingdom, and later his son Solomon made Israel wealthy and famous. After Solomon's death the kingdom divided into North and South. The Northern Kingdom was conquered by the Assyrians in 722 BC because of their rebellion against God, and the southern kingdom was conquered by the Babylonians in 586 BC. Later the Persian ruler Cyrus allowed the Jews to return and rebuild their temple. The Old Testament ends Israel paying tribute to the King of Persia.

The Nations. It is important take a brief look at the nations that existed during Old Testament times. Let's follow the map above and look briefly at a few of the nations that existed during Old Testament times.

Egypt. In the earliest times Egypt was the first most powerful kingdom in the ancient world. Egypt was the land of the Nile River and it was called Mizraim in Hebrew, and there are some 30 dynasties in Egyptian history. In the Old Testament when the famine hit the land of Canaan that was during the period of the Middle Kingdom of Egypt or the 11-12th dynasties (2050-1750 BC).

Syria. Ancient Syria was the territory of the Aramaeans, it was located north of Israel and its capital was Damascus. Syria was a powerful nation and a threat to Israel, and they went to war many times throughout the period of the Kings.

Assyria. Ancient Assyria was also known as the land of Asshur, and it's capital was Nineveh. This nation was called by God 722 BC to, destroy the northern kingdom of Israel. God made them a fierce fighting machine and they were unstoppable, they were also ruthless and barbaric. They became a mighty empire before they were conquered by the Babylonians and the Medes in 612 BC.

Babylonia. Ancient Babylonia was the southern portion of ancient Mesopotamia, the soil was very fertile and this was the area of the Tower of Babel. The ancient Babylonians became dominant as a world power and under King Nebuchadnezzar they conquered Jerusalem in 586 BC. Their capital city Babylon gained world fame under the monarch Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. He built the great Ziggurat on the ruins of an earlier Ziggurat. The golden table in his palace weighed 20,000 pounds of solid gold. The Jews were brought captive to the land of Babylon, to the land of idolatry.

Chaldea. The ancient land of Chaldea dominated southern Mesopotamia in the ancient world. Ancient Sumer and Ur were powerful cities in ancient Chaldea. In 700 BC the famous King Nabopolassar of Chaldea founded the neo-Babylonian Empire.

Persia. The ancient Persians were descendents of Elam, the grandson of Noah and oldest son of Shem. The famous cities of the Persians were Persepolis, Susa, and Pasargadae. The famous rulers were Xerxes, Darius, and Cyrus the Great. Cyrus was the Persian King who uttered a decree to allow the Jews to return to Jerusalem to rebuild their temple. According to the prophet Daniel the Messiah would die in Jerusalem 483 years after this decree was made. Queen Esther was also an important part of the Old Testament being the wife and Queen of the Persian King Ahasuerus (Xerxes). The Old Testament ends with Israel being a satrapy of the Persian Empire.

Media. The Medes are mentioned throughout the Old Testament, and originally the Persians and the Medes were all one big territory. They were fierce fighters and dwelt in mountainous territories below the Caspian Sea. The Medes helped the Babylonians conquered Assyria, and the Medes helps the Persians conquer Babylon. It is also important to note that both Daniel and Esther mention the laws of the Medes and the Persians.

Urartu. Ancient Urartu was a large kingdom around the time of king Solomon in the mountains between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. In the Old Testament the main focus of this area is with Noah's Ark resting on the Mountains of Ararat, which was located in the region of Urartu.

Lydia. During the time of David and Solomon the territory in the far north in Asia Minor was called Lydia. The powerful Hittites were the rulers of that region for centuries. The Bible talks much about the Hittites and how powerful the Warriors were. They were one of the seven nations in the land of Canaan when the Israelites took the land.

Macedonia. Macedonia was a country in the Balkan Peninsula north of Greece. Alexander the Great was the famous Greek conqueror who is originally from Macedonia, the son of Philip of Macedon. The kingdom of Greece and Macedonia had not fully developed by the end of the Old Testament. During the end of the Old Testament Persia was in power, and Israel was a province or satrapy in the Persian Empire. Although the prophet Daniel mentions in his prophecy about the four world governing empires, that Greece will arise as the third world power in his vision.

The Empires of the Old Testament. The empires that ruled the world during Old Testament times were the Babylonians, the Assyrians, and the Persians. The prophet Daniel made an astounding prophecy that came true exactly as he said. He predicted that the empires that would rule the world would be the Babylonian, the Medo-Persian, the Grecian, and the Roman Empire. He also declared that at the end of time that would be another Roman Empire before the Messiah returns to set up His Kingdom on earth that will never pass away.

Important Old Testament Events. The major events that happened throughout the Old Testament are divided into three major sections: from Adam to Abraham, from Abraham to King David,and from King David to Malachi and the end of the Old Testament. All the events of the Old Testament happen during these three periods. The main events were: Creation, the Fall, the Promise of a Messiah, the Flood, the Tower of Babel, Abraham's Journey from Ur to Canaan, Moses and the Exodus, the 10 Commandments, The Wilderness Wanderings, Joshua and the Promised Land, The Period of the Judges, The Period of the Kings, The Assyrian Captivity, The Babylonian Captivity, The Return And Rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Second Temple.

Important Old Testament Men. Some of the important men mentioned in the Old Testament were: Adam, Cain Abel, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, Solomon, Uzziah, Josiah, Hezekiah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Nehemiah, and Ezra.

Important Old Testament Women. Some of the important women mentioned in the Old Testament were: Eve, Sarah, Hagar, Rachel, Leah, Rebecca, Rahab, Deborah, Bathsheba, Naomi, Ruth, and Esther.

The study of the Old Testament is very important in the study of the Bible, let's pray:

Dear Jesus, we thank you that you are the same God yesterday today and forever. Your Word declares in the Old Testament that you are awesome in power, fearful and praises, and doing wonders. It also says that your mercies are new every morning, and we need your mercy today Lord. Everything in the Old Testament happened for a specific reason, and the ultimate goal was that you would lead us to Christ. We thank you Lord that your plan is the wisdom of the ages. Help us to trust your wisdom and to be thankful for your mercy. We love you. In Jesus name… Amen!

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