Many folks are confused by this statement of Jesus in Jn. 10.8. Reading only the Old Testament, readers are puzzled by the reference that it somehow cites biblical characters. The solution to this designation of “robbers” is to see Jesus pointing to the politicos found in the time between the Testaments. Here is a podcast previewing an upcoming publication, by George Athas, which deals with this time of 2nd Temple Judaism. The producers of the podcast should have cited Jn. 10.8 but they missed the opportunity. I plan to purchase the book and read it with a grain of salt. What follows is a critique based upon the transcript of the podcast, so, forgive me if the flow seems disjointed.
I do not agree necessarily with all of George’s premises, especially the time of writing Ecclesiastes, which is no more pessimistic than the rest of scripture, and optimistic overall, and Daniel. Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes as the book affirms in ch. 1. The bible does not have a problem with different names for one person, but, it seems, historians do. The traditional (about 530 B.C.E.) dating of the book of Daniel is mostly controversial for those who don’t believe in the detailed prophecy of Ch. 11. If it’s not prophetic, then it’s fraudulent. The premise of the chapter is that God is providential and sovereign in His dealings. My later paragraph further supports the traditional compositional date of Daniel.
Neither do I think that the Jewish Priesthood were employees of the Davidic Kings. This idea is just not found in either Kings or Chronicles, as Athas affirms. Yes, there was a unique connection between the Davidic Kingship and Jewish Priesthood, but, in very complex and prophetic ways, was grounded in the promise of the Messiah from the line of David (the Davidic Covenant- 2Sam. 7). He would be the One joining the two offices together in His person (see Zech. 6.13).
Also, while the 12 Minor Prophets might have been further copied and compiled in one folder during this period, they were written in their historical setting, and, I would argue, known and read among the Jewish Priests and people from that time. Also, as is mentioned in the podcast (or transcript-with a few mistakes), there were rival priests in the group known as the Essenes who kept the word of God. These Essenes observed a time span found in the book of Daniel (Dan. 9.24-27) as the “10 Jubilees” (Some think Daniel speaks of the 70 weeks and calculate 490 years but that is ignoring the Jubilees. This prophecy probably included the Jubilee as noted in the first 7-week reference- a period of Jubilee. One of the reasons for the Babylonian Exile was the ignoring of Jubilee Observance). These Essenes were looking for Melchizedek to return, or One like Him, as we know from the N.T., who would be incarnated, and thus “in the line of Melchizedek” since becoming flesh. Both Melchizedek who met Abraham and the Word are one and the same in my view. This view of the 10 Jubilees makes Daniel, the book, more likely being composed and published before Daniel’s death about 530 B.C.E. since they were following a dating scheme lasting nearly 500 years.
The synagogue also, while more formally established, during this timeframe between Malachi and Matthew, had its roots during the time of Wilderness Wanderings under Moses. God told Moses that the Levites would not have a territory but scattered in Israel according to Jacob’s prophecy (Gen. 49.5-7). The priests also had cities taken from the other tribes where they lived and taught the people (more or less) on the weekly Sabbath days. One of the functions of the priests was to teach the Israelites the intricacies of the Law, and therefore, in embryonic form, the Synagogue (on the Sabbath), more or less, was present very early on without an overt mention. So, in this conception about the Synagogue origin, I do not totally agree with Dr. Athas.
With these qualifications, I am happy to pass on this podcast (or transcript):