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Cultural and Historical Background for Old Testament Studies

These articles give invaluable historical information to help you understand the world of the Old Testament better. They are listed approximately in the order of the events of the Old Testament.

Jewish Calendar

The whole Jewish religious system was built around the yearly calendar. Here are the Jewish months, the events of the agricultural year, and their religious festivals as commanded in the Law of Moses.

Canaanite Religion

A description of the sordid religious practicies of the Canaanites, which helps to explain why God commanded Joshua to wipe them out.

Israel's Enemies

Who were the Perizzites, Kenites, and all the other -ites? A brief introduction to the different peoples who lived in the Promised Land.

Holy War?

War in the Ancient Near East was not just between armies, but between the gods of the nations. When an army was victorious, that proved their god was more powerful than their enemy. See how this helps us to understand warfare in the Old Testament.

Dates of Kings

A helpful list of dates of the kings of Israel and Judah during the divided monarchy, as well as dates of kings of other nations, including Assyria and Babylon.


A description and history of Syria or Aram, Israel's northern neighbour, who they fought at frequent intervals during the early years of the divided monarchy.


A summary of the history of the barbaric Assyrians, who captured Samaria and took Israel (the northern kingdom) into exile.

The Syro-Ephraimite War

A description of the events of the Syro-Ephraimite War during the reign of Ahaz of Judah. This is helpful background information to the early chapters of the Book of Isaiah.

701 BC

A summary of the events leading up to the miraculous deliverance of Jerusalem from the armies of Sennacherib during the reign of Hezekiah in 701 BC.


A description of the history of the new Babylonian Empire, whose main king, Nebuchadnezzar, captured Jerusalem and took the Jews into exile.


This summarises the history of the Persian Empire and gives a brief description of Persian government organisation, giving helpful background information for the post-exilic period and the Book of Esther.

Greek Empire

A short account of the amazing career of Alexander the Great, who conquered the known world in under ten years.

400 Silent Years

A short summary of the events that ocurred during the years between the Old and New Testaments.

Ptolemy / Seleucus

A description of each of Ptolemies of Egypt and the Seleucid kings of Syria as predicted by Daniel chapter 11.

Antiochus Epiphanes

Read more about the “contemptible person” predicted by Daniel, who persecuted the Jews and sacrificed a pig on the altar of the temple in Jerusalem.