THE TRUTH ABOUT THE BABYLONIAN “CAPTIVITY.” (Posted 13 April 2011)
There are a number of Jewish personalities that play roles in the novel and trilogy of The Last King of Babylon www.lastkingofbabylon.com
Therefore, a brief discussion of the so-called "Babylonian Captivity" is in order.
The impression that most people in the West have about the Babylonian “captivity” of Jewish folklore is that it was very total, very captive, and very oppressive. In other words the visions always conjured up in Bible schools throughout the West is that ALL of the inhabitants of the kingdom of Judah were deported en mass to Babylon in 586-585 B.C. when Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem.
JUDEAN REVOLTS AGAINST BABYLON
In the first place, not all of the country of Judah rebelled against the Babylonians during this time. These wars against Babylon only involved Jerusalem and a handful of other cities. Many other cities, such as Mizpah and others in the north stayed out of the wars against the Babylonians and were left untouched by Nebuchadnezzar’s soldiers. The book of Jeremiah makes this quite clear, and this is confirmed also by archaeology. There is evidence of great destruction and burning in Jerusalem and its allied cities in the early 6th century B.C., but none in Mizpah and the rest of the country.
The Babylonian cuneiform accounts confirm the Biblical accounts in that only “leading citizens” and “artisans” were deported. The peasants and lower class people were allowed to stay put and fend for themselves—under Babylonian control of course. Now, if we add up all the numbers of peoples deported during each of these four deportations as depicted in all the sources both Biblical and Babylonian we can come up with no more than 35,000-40,000 max—and that includes counting many of them twice as their names are mentioned in both the Bible and in the Babylonian records. That was perhaps six or seven percent of the entire population of the kingdom of Judah. It is true, however, that many other people fled the Babylonian wars, some going to Egypt, some going to what is now Tunisia, and others fleeing into northern and western Arabia, as well as the neighboring countries of Edom and Moab. But, none-the-less, the great majority of Jews remained behind in “Palestine.”
Unfortunately for the Arab and Palestinian propagandists, the facts of history show that neither the Babylonian “exile” nor the Roman-caused “diaspora” ever included ALL of the Jews. In both cases, large numbers of Jews continued to live in the areas that used to be within the territory of the old kingdom of Judah (excluding the city of Jerusalem, of course). Over seven million Jews continued to live in the eastern Mediterranean areas under Roman rule up until the early Middle Ages. In actual fact it was the coming of Islam and the “ethnic-cleansing” that inevitably comes along with that totalitarian system that nearly denuded "Palestine" of Jews, not the Babylonian “captivity” or the Roman “diaspora.”
FATE OF THE JEWS IN BABYLON
So, what happened to those Jews who really were deported to Babylonia during the period of the Babylonian “captivity?” Well, other than the handful of political elites who were incarcerated or held in “house arrest” everybody else was given plots of land and “seed” money to get started (there are Babylonian cuneiform records showing the exact monetary amounts given to each person). The Jews, of course, were not the only peoples carted off to Babylon. They did the same thing to the Philistines, and in some cases Phoenicians, and Syrians as well. This was normal practice in ancient times when one state is conquered by another. Talented people, such as scribes and artisans, were valuable resources for any conquering power. For a modern parallel we have only to look at the allied defeat of the Nazis in WWII. With the end of the war there was a mad scramble by the victorious powers to latch on to Germany’s rocket and jet propulsion scientists (its “scribes” and “artisans”).
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