The Babylonian Captivity
(the key points)
The Babylonian exile was the period in Jewish history during which the Jews of the ancient Kingdom of Judah were captives in Babylon.
According to the Hebrew Bible, there were three deportations of Jews to Babylon. The first, in 597 BCE, involving king Jeconiah and his court and many others, a second in 587 BCE of the next king, Zedekiah, and the rest of the people, and a possible deportation after the assassination of Gedaliah, the Babylonian-appointed governor of Yehud Province, possibly in 582 BCE. The forced exile ended in 538 BCE after the fall of Babylon to the Persian king Cyrus the Great, who gave the Jews permission to return to Yehud ...view middle of the document...
But in the following years two parties formed at the court in Jerusalem: one pro-Egyptian and the other pro-Babylonian.
In 599 BCE, the pro-Egyptian party was in power and Judah revolted against Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon began the Siege of Jerusalem (597 BC), and Jehoiakim, the king of Judah, died in 598 BCE with the siege still under way. He was succeeded by his son Jehoiachin also called Jeconiah, aged eighteen. The city fell about three months later, on 2 Adar (March 16) 597 BCE, and Nebuchadnezzar pillaged Jerusalem and its Temple and took Jeconiah and his court and other prominent citizens (including the prophet Ezekiel) back to Babylon. Jehoiakim's uncle Zedekiah was appointed king in his place, but the exiles in Babylon continued to consider Jeconiah as their Exilarch, or rightful ruler.
Despite the strong remonstrances of Jeremiah and others of the pro-Babylonian party, Zedekiah revolted against Babylon and entered into an alliance with Pharaoh Hophra of Egypt. Nebuchadnezzar returned, defeated the Egyptians, and again besieged Jerusalem. The city fell in 587. Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the city wall and the Temple, together with the houses of the most important citizens, and Zedekiah was blinded, and taken to Babylon, together with many others. Judah became a Babylonian province, called Yehud Medinata (Judah Province), putting an end to the independent Kingdom of Judah. Rabbinic sources place the date of the destruction of the First Temple to be 3338 HC (423 BCE) or 3358 HC (403 BCE), while modern historical dating is c. 587 BCE.
The first governor appointed by Babylon was Gedaliah, a native Judahite; he encouraged the many Jews who had fled to surrounding countries such as Moab, Ammon, Edom, to return, and took steps to return the country to...