Upcoming virtual lecture Wednesday, June 3, 2020, at 8 pm via Zoom
With the destruction of the First Temple in 586 B.C.E., the ancestors of the Jews left the land of Israel in large numbers. Over the course of the next two centuries, we find a considerable amount of archaeological evidence for Jewish life both in Egypt and Babylonia.
This evidence includes – most remarkably – the outpost of Jewish soldiers and families at Elephantine, opposite Aswan in the far south of Egypt.
The evidence in Babylonia includes hundreds of cuneiform tablets attesting to Jewish businesses and mercantile interests. These people clearly took Jeremiah’s charge (29) to heart and successfully reconstructed their lives in exile:
“Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile.”
Gary Rendsburg is the Blanche and Irving Laurie Professor of Jewish History at Rutgers University
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