The Babylonian Exile or Captivity was a forced exodus of the Jews to Babylon. This was known as the ultimate punishment for the people of Israel because of their inability to uphold the covenant with YHWH. The exile began from a revolt in Judah that led to conquest by the Babylonians in 598 B.C.E. The destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, the Holy City for the people of Judah, was the aftermath of this happening. About twenty thousand citizens were deported to Babylon where they resided for approximately seventy years. When the Babylonians were conquered by the Persians under Cyrus, the people of Judah were allowed safe return back to Jerusalem, given a free degree of self-rule. The Exile had the effect of reminding the Jews of the importance in keeping the covenant with YHWH as it brought about identity changes, reestablishment of community life and distinction of religion.
Mostly members of the upper class, consisting of royal family, nobility, bureaucrats, priests, Temple personnel, merchants, and artisans, were deported to Babylon. The deportation was the first time Jews were “compelled to maintain their religion identity while being separated from their spiritual land.” Many small, unfortified towns and villages back in Judah were left unharmed; they reemerged and strengthened themselves by continuing the religion and literary activities. Additionally, they remained in active communication with Judeans in Babylon. “Mutual influence and interchange took place which eventually lead to the support of the reestablishment of Judah and Jerusalem.”
Not all Jewish communities continued on their faith with YHWH. Before the exile, many communities began to scatter all over the Middle East, Egypt and Babylon; however, the exile led the major step to the dispersal. The Jewish communities that were deported consisted of the Assyrians, Northern Kingdom’s population and the Judeans. In Babylon, the Assyrians could not maintain their faith with YHWH; making themselves be known as the “Lost Tribes of Israel” but the Samaritans were newcomers that were able to maintain the older and more authentic Jewish practices. Meanwhile, the Northern Kingdom’s population turned away from worshipping YHWH in Babylon as they merged with other religion and culture. Nonetheless, the Judeans maintained their religion as they lived as families among communities. Prophets like Jeremiah, had encouraged exiles to build houses and plant gardens to lead a normal life that will help seek welfare. These communities practiced faith and maintained religion influence throughout the stay in Babylon.
Eventually the Babylonian empire fell to the power of the Persians under the ruling of King Cyrus. The Persians allowed a fair degree of self-ruling and even encouraged and fostered local customs and religious practices of the people. Cyrus issued a decree that gave the Jews permission for the establishment of the Jewish community in Judah and...