2nd Temple Judaism

Second Temple Judaism

Just what is Second Temple Judaism? It’s mind-blowingly fascinating.

It’s the reason I geek out anytime I discover a book written by a 2nd Temple scholar.


Because it was the religion of Jesus.

And Paul.

2nd Temple Judaism was the Jewish belief system from the time of the captivity in the 6th century BC through the destruction of the Temple in AD 70. It was a fascinating, yet short-lived but unique Jewish theology that was confirmed as accurate by nearly every author of the New Testament and Jesus himself.

  • Mosaic Judaism (pre-captivity) is basic Old Testament Judaism, the religion Moses codified at Sinai, and includes Bible books such as Genesis, Exodus, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, Jonah, Isaiah, etc.

  • 2nd Temple Judaism includes Old Testament books written during and after the captivity (such as 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Daniel, etc), as well as Deuterocanonical and apocryphal books such as the Maccabees, the Book of Enoch, the Apocalypse of Moses, etc.

  • Rabbinical/Modern Judaism (post-temple destruction) includes texts such as the Talmud, Midrash, the writings of Maimonides and encompasses present day Orthodox beliefs.
Here are a few examples:
  1. Decades before Jesus began His earthly ministry, the Jewish philosopher, Philo, wrote that the Greek ideology of a universal life force they called the “logos” was the Jewish God’s “begotten son.” The apostle John confirms this, and takes it one step further by saying that Jesus is and was the logos, God's begotten son.

  2. The Second Temple Books of the Wisdom  of Solomon, the Apocalypse of Moses, the Pesikta Rabbati, and 3 Baruch recount that it was Satan who possessed the serpent in the Garden of Eden. This was indirectly confirmed by Jesus in John 8:44 and directly confirmed in Revelation 20:2. (No Old Testament book makes this connection.)

  3. The book of Enoch and the Septuagint (the Greek version of the OT translated during 2nd Temple times) explicitly states that the “sons of God” in Genesis 6:4 were angels. 2 Peter 2 and Jude 1 both confirm this interpretation.
Want an example from Scripture itself?
  • Mosaic Judaism didn’t really have a formative view of Satan. Everything was under God’s control anyway, so everything was attributed to God. The author of 2 Samuel (believed to be Samuel, along with additions by the prophets Gad and Nathan) reflected this view in chapter 24 when he attributed God as the instigator of David’s unauthorized census.

  • Rabbinical/Modern Judaism does not believe in any evil spiritual being in opposition of God. They believe “the satan” (ie the accuser) in the book of Job is an angel whose job is to spy on mortals and report his findings to God. Sort of like Slugworth from the 1971 Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory movie. Rabbinical Judaism believes the evil we see in the world stems from the evil inclination within mankind.

  • 2nd Temple Judaism adamantly believes in the “person” of Satan, a high-ranking fallen angel in direct opposition to God. Thus, this belief is reflected in the post-Captivity account of David’s census by Ezra in 1 Chronicles 21.
There are a ton of more examples, and we'll explore them in depth in Blogging His Story.

And maybe you’ll even geek out along with me.