The World of the Patriarchs

Abraham, the father of the Israelites, grew up in the ancient city of Ur in Babylon, but he moved to Haran with his father Terah, his wife Sarai, and his nephew Lot (Genesis 11:27-31). After his father died, Abraham completed his family’s original intention to move to Canaan (Genesis 12:1-5), and the Lord promised to […]

Samson’s Exploits

Judges 13-16 During the days when Israel was led by judges, Samson was born to an Israelite couple from the tribe of Dan near the border of Philistia. Samson was specially dedicated to God as a Nazirite (see Numbers 6:1-21), and the Lord foretold that Samson would lead the Israelites against the Philistines, who were […]

Paul’s Third Missionary Journey

Acts 18:23-21:19 Sometime after he finished his second missionary journey, Paul and Silas left Antioch and began a third missionary journey. As with their previous journey, they revisited the churches in Galatia and Phrygia and encouraged them. Then Paul fulfilled his promise to return to Ephesus, where he ministered for many months, preaching first in […]

Judea under Persian Rule

In 539 B.C., King Cyrus of Persia conquered Babylon, and a year later he announced that any exiled Jews who wanted to return to their homeland could do so (2 Chronicles 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-2). A contingent of Jews under the leadership of Zerubbabel did return (Ezra 1:3-2:70) and established the minor Persian province of Judea […]

Israel under the Maccabees

As the Seleucid Empire continued to lose land to rival powers and internal revolts, Antiochus IV Epiphanes sought to unify his diverse domain by forcing Greek religious and political practices upon all his subjects (1 Maccabees 1; 2 Maccabees 6-7). Eventually his harsh policies fomented open rebellion by faithful Jews under the leadership of Mattathias […]