Apostolic Church: The time from the death of the Lord to the death of the Apostles (approximately AD 100) is the Apostolic Church. The four Gospels and the epistles are our firsthand source for information on family life during this era. There are also other writings from this time that you can now find online.


Babylonian Captivity: Political animosity arose between Babylon and Judea in the late seventh century BC. Some Israelites left Judea just prior to the final and most destructive Babylonian invasions, like Lehi and his family in 600 BC. Most were deported to Babylon in waves. The first wave took many educated and wealthy people, like the prophet Daniel. Another large group included King Zachariah in approximately 587 BC. Their exile ended under King Cyrus in 538 BC (2 Chronicles 36:23). Yet only a few Israelites returned to their homeland; many had become Hellenized and chose to stay in Babylon or moved across the Mediterranean. By counting the number of exiled priesthood holders, we find one-sixth of the number returned to Judea (Brown, Birth of the Messiah, 258).


Intertestamental Period (400 BC-4BC):  The time between the New and Old Testaments is known as the intertestamental period. Christians refer to the era from Malachi (c. 420 BC) to John the Baptist, as “400 years of silence,” because it was the time without the voice of a prophet. The Apocrypha includes writings from this period.



Jewish Pilgrimage Feasts: Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles: Deuteronomy 16:16 reads: “Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God.” Jews from around the Roman Empire came to Jerusalem during the respective weeks of the three major feasts that spanned the warmer half of the year: Passover fell in the early spring, Pentecost fifty days later, and the feast of Tabernacles in the autumn (Exodus 23:16-17).


  1. Passover remembered the children of Israel’s flight out of Egypt on the night when the firstborn Egyptians were slain. The Hebrews sacrificed a lamb and spread the blood over their doors so that the destroying angel passed over them. They left in haste without the required time for their bread to rise, hence, it is also known as the feast of unleavened bread (Exodus 12:18-15).

  2. Pentecost, Feast of Weeks, or Firstfruits, celebrated the first of the barley harvest and remembered the time when the fleeing children of Israel followed Moses to Mount Sinai to present the people to the Lord (Exodus 23:16).

  3. Tabernacles, booths, or Sukkot, was a feast of “ingathering” of the harvest (Deuteronomy 16:3; Leviticus 23:34). The feast renewed the covenant between God and Israel—which included reading the Torah every seventh year. The booths recalled the days when Israel wandered in the desert and the Lord’s Tabernacle was illuminated by night with a pillar of fire and covered by day with a cloud. 


Although the feasts were initially for families, by the time of the late Second Temple, rabbis numerated that women, children, and those incapable of the journey did not have to attend (Mishnah, Moed: Hagigah. 1.1).


“All are subject to the command to appear excepting a deaf-mute, an imbecile, a child, one of doubtful sex, one of double sex, women, slaves that have not been freed, a man that is lame or blind or sick or aged, and one that cannot go up on his feet. . . . Who is deemed a child? Any that cannot ride on his father’s shoulders and go up from Jerusalem to the temple mount.


The School of Shammai and the School of Hillel say. " Any that cannot hold his father’s hand and go up”.


This list of optional worshipers did not keep them from attending though. It is clear that many females came (Mishnah, Taanith, 4:8).