The ‘Silent’ Years
Foretold in Daniel chapter 11
The 400 year period between the old and new testaments is generally referred to as the 'silent years', the time during which God did not communicate with His people.
Following the death of Alexander the Great in 323 B.C., the Greek Empire is divided between four of his generals: Cassander, who takes Macedonia and Greece; Lysimachus, who takes Asia Minor and Thrace; Seleucus, who takes the largest portion of Syria and Babylon; and Ptolemy, who takes Egypt, Arabia and Israel. Israel, being the northern extremity of Ptolemy’s region, effectively becomes a buffer state between the south and the north and is caught up in the 150 years of incessant warfare between the two regions. These events are foretold in Daniel chapter 11.
In time, Antiochus Epiphanes, leader of the Seleucids, invades the Temple, defiling it by entering it and preventing sacrifices and offerings. The “abomination of desolation” is committed by Antiochus Epiphanes himself by placing an image of Jupiter Olympus on the altar of God and sacrificing a pig on it.
Over time, Antiochus had persuaded many Jews toward a more Hellenistic life, encouraged by apostate high priests. But there are those who held strong to the laws of God and resisted all the threats, tortures and death inflicted by Antiochus. Such a person is Mattathius Hasmoneas, whose deeds are to lead to an uprising known as the Maccabean revolt. The revolt of Mattathius and his sons gains much support and lasts from 167 to 160 B.C. It has its setbacks, but eventually brings about a period of peace and independence for the Jews. Nevertheless, there are to be deep divisions within the Hasmonean dynasty which will lead to its downfall, with the Jewish nation left to await a time appointed by God for their restoration.