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Manual for Faculty
Unit 2: The Power of the Word
(Sixth Century B.C.E. to Second Century C.E.)
Introduction Teaching This Unit Directions to Students Bookmarks
Directions to Students
Before Viewing the Show

Examine map 3 which shows the extent of the Hasmonean state in the second century B.C., and map 4 which notes the major Jewish population centers in the Mediterranean world from the first through fifth centuries C.E.

Watch for . . . and Think About

Note the ruins of the Babylonian Empire. Why was it hard for Jews to mix with Babylonian society?

Observe the glories of Greece and Hellenistic civilization. What did the Jews find attractive in this culture and what repelled them?

Examine a model of the second Temple erected in Jerusalem. Do you see Hellenistic influence in its architecture?

After the defeat in 70 C.E. by the Romans the Arch of Titus was erected in Rome. What did it symbolize?

While Reading the Study Guide and Source Reader
Look for the following:
  • Jeremiah comforting the Babylonian Jewish exiles.
  • Cyrus' policy towards the Jews.
  • Where Jews lived outside of their homeland. Identify the Diaspora.
  • The attempt of the Jews returning to rebuild the Temple. What problems did they face? Identify Yehud, Judaea, and the Samaritans.
  • The Ptolemies, the Seleucids, and Judah Maccabee. Why did the Maccabees revolt against the Seleucid rulers? Were they successful?
  • The stages of Roman rule in Judaea. Identify Herod, the procurators, and the messiah.
  • The forms Judaism took during the last two centuries B.C.E. and the first century C.E. Identify synagogues, sects, Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes.
  • The issues that concerned the Jews living in the Diaspora during Roman rule.
After Viewing and Reading
  • Did the Babylonian exile end with Cyrus' call for the return of the Jews to their homeland? Why did some remain?
  • What type of religious worship was established by the Jews of the island of Elephantine?
  • How did Ezra and Nehemiah help consolidate the renewed Jewish settlement in the Holy Land? Who were the Samaritans and why did they cause problems for the Jews?
  • How did Daniel respond to the conflict between the Hellenizers and the Jews who wished to follow closely their own traditions?
  • Why was the festival of Hanukkah instituted?
  • Did the preaching of Jesus correspond with the ideals of the Jewish sects that flourished in the first century C.E.? What were the options faced by the Jews after the Temple was destroyed in the year 70 C.E.?
Suggested Readings

Roland de Vaux, Ancient Israel: Its Life and Institutions, trans. by John McHugh (McGraw-Hill, 1961)

John H. Hayes and J. Maxwell Miller, Israelite and Judaean History (Westminster Press, 1977)

W. Stewart McCullough, The History and Literature of the Palestinian Jews from Cyrus to Herod: 550 B.C. to 4 B.C. (University of Toronto Press, 1975)

David M. Rhoads, Israel in Revolution 6-74 C.E. (Fortress Press, 1976)

Morton Smith, Palestinian Parties and Politics That Shaped the Old Testament (Columbia University Press, 1971)

Victor Tcherikover, Hellenistic Civilization and the Jews, trans. from the Hebrew by S. Appelbaum (Jewish Publication Society of America, 1959)

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