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Saturday, October 6, 2012

Babylonians (Iraq) Couldn't Get Enough of Jews: Wanted More and More

Nadene Goldfoot 
 King Solomon was the son of King David of the tribe of Judah  and King of Israel about 961-920 BCE.  He and the Temple made news, probably causing other up and coming Kingdoms to covet their land and property.  The Queen of Sheba came to visit and was most  impressed.    This Queen of Ethiopia claimed to have returned home pregnant by Solomon.  Many Ethiopians have immigrated to Israel today, claiming descent.  They were practicing Judaism of the ancient days.  
Tiglath-Pileser III-Assyrians Take The Jews First
Ten of the 12 tribes of Israel were taken by the Assyrians a century before the Babylonians decided to take Judah and Jerusalem and almost all of the Jews that lived there.  We had 12 sons of Jacob that made up 12 tribes; Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Joseph and Benjamin.  The tribe of Judah, the largest, was not taken.  Most of the others were deported in 732 BCE and then again in 720 BCE.  They were taken for needed manpower to service their expanding realm.  They were exploited people.  Then the Assyrian kings wanted them to assimilate and enforced mingling of the populations and their Assyrianization.  They managed to empty conquered areas of their original population and replace them with deportees from elsewhere.  This was also done in Samaria after the Israelites were uprooted.  

Today we are confronted with Afghanistan, Pakistan and parts of India's large Pashtun group  who claim to be from  the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel.  They are claimants who have converted to Islam but many continue to show traces of Judaism in some ways.  
Nebuchadnezzar  Continually Takes Jews
Babylonia conquered Jerusalem in 634 BCE which was a part of the Kingdom of Judah and took many of the Jews.   597-598 BCE saw deportation of 3,023 Jews to Babylon.  Babylonia is today's Iraq.  Ezekiel, the prophet was a captive with the others.  They were hoping for a speedy return to their homes and were from the leading families.  In 586 BCE Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the Temple built by King Solomon in the kingdom of Judah and again more Jews were deported to Babylon.  Then the deportees had to follow the words of Jeremiah and figure that they were in exile for a long time.    821 inhabitants of Jerusalem were deported.  Nebuchadnezzar ordered another deportation of 745 Jews in 582-581 BCE.  That makes 4,600 Jews in all had been deported to Babylonia.  King Jehoiakim (reigned 608-598 BCE)  had renounced his allegiance to Babylonia, which was a bad move.  His son was King Jehoichin (reigned 598-597 BCE ) , who was only 18 and had been a king for only 3 months when he was taken captive to Babylonia.

Nebuchadnezzar took the best treasures of the Temple and palace and sent them to Babylonia.  Along with Jehoichin as captives were his wives, 5 sons, mother, servants, eunuchs and thousands of the chief men of the land.  This was recorded when he was only 23 years old.  This young royal was treated quite well according to the cuneiform tablets found in Babylon around the fabled "Hanging Gardens of Babylon" area.  He was able to retain his royal title while there.  It sounds like what royalty who  have lost their country do so today as well.

Judah fell in the 2nd exile in 586 and Zedekiah (597-586 BCE) , another son of Josiah (637-608 BCE) , though swearing fealty to Nebuchadnezzar, planned an insurrection, bringing about a siege that lasted for 1 1/2 years.  Nebuchadnezzar tried to starve the inhabitants of Jerusalem by circling it with a wall.  Zedekiah and his companions were caught.  They forced the king Zedekiah to watch them kill his sons, and then they put out his eyes.  He was taken to Babylon.  On August 7 the Temple, royal palace and all the homes in the cityof Jerusalem were set on fire.  The survivors were taken to Babylon as captives.  70 or 80 distinguished Jews including the high priest Seraiah were sent to Riblah and put to death.

Another 3rd deportation of Jews occurred after the 13 year siege of Tyre.  (585-573 BCE).  Nebuchadnezzar kept a standing army in Syria.  Judah's Jewish governor, Gedaliah, had been murdered.  By 582-581 BCE another partial deportation to Babylon took place.

In total, more than 36,00-48,000 Jews were taken in exile then.  The total population of the Kingdom of Judah was figured to be about 120,000 or higher.  About 1/4 of the population or less were led captive into Babylonia.

Started in 538,  a 2nd Temple was finally built by 515 BCE by the Jews which included today's Western Wall, which is a remnant of it. This is because the Persians' Cyrus II in 537 BCE had sent 40,000 Jews back to Eretz Yisrael.  In other words, he freed them.  Cyrus had conquered Nebuchadnezzar.   The exiles had returned by 519 BCE after being in another exile of 50 years by Babylonia.
Cyrus of Persia Sends Jews Back Home
The Persian Empire was so big in those days that Jews lived in 127 provinces of the Persian Empire.  Many stayed right in Shusha (Shushan) and were living there with Queen Esther who was married to Ahashueros (King Xerses).  Her son was Darius, the Persian.  He's the one who authorized the Temple's completion.

The Babylonians resettled many nations in their land, not just Jews.  Of those who took up the offer of going back home to Zion organized themselves.  Those whose families were connected to the Temple in Jerusalem were able to identify themselves as priests, singers, gatekeepers and temple servants in planning the rebuilding of the Temple.  Others organized themselves in towns of origin of their families.

Those that remained in Babylonia were the only group to preserve their identity and way of life.  They survived for 2,500 years and were a spiritual center for Judaism.  It's where the Babylonian Talmud was written.  Many people of Judah moved eastward during the Roman period to escape severe drought and famine and wound back up in Babylon as well.

Reference: Tanach, Stone Edition
Jewish Encyclopedia: The Babylonian Captivity"map_of the _
Jerusalem Post article Monday, July 20, 2009:  Whatever happened to the Jews exiled to Babylon?

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