In the last two hundred years of Israel’s canonical history and the subsequent four-hundred-year interval, many significant political and religious developments occurred.
Judah came under the political dominion of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon (605 b.c.). When Egypt failed to support Judah, the city of Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians after a lengthy, tragic siege. The Jewish kingdom which began with Saul about five hundred years before was now over. Henceforth there would not be a royal aspirant to the throne of David until Jesus’ offer of Himself to Israel as her king.
The seventy years of exile (605–535 b.c.) gave birth to orthodox Judaism. Since the temple and the sacrificial system had been destroyed, the exiles congregated themselves into assemblies or synagogues for the worship of God, the study of the Old Testament, and fellowship. In the centuries that followed, synagogues sprouted throughout the Mediterranean world wherever the Jews emigrated. They were never designed to become a substitute for the temple.
The captivity also saw the rise of the scribe. Since the priests could not practice their ministry, they undertook a serious study and copying of the Old Testament Scriptures. The more they copied, the more they learned. Soon they became the “theologians” of orthodox Judaism.
During the reign of Darius, God raised up the prophets Haggai and Zechariah to convict the returned exiles of their sin of procrastination. With this encouragement, the Jews completed the task of rebuilding the temple in 516–515 b.c. By the end of the recording history of the Old Testament, the Jews were back in the land with a rebuilt temple and reconstructed walls around Jerusalem.
The prophetic era, begun with Moses, was also over. During the 400 Silent Years, no divinely authenticated prophet proclaimed new, authoritative truth. History, however, continued.
The Temple rebuilt at the end of the recorded history of the Old Testament was later enlarged and renovated by Herod the Great (John 2:20), stood for the next five centuries; it was the prominent temple of New Testament activities. From the destruction of the Temple gave way to the innovation of assembly. From here emerged Christian conversion and assembly.