The Deportation of the people of Judah by King Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon initiated a seventy-year period of captivity. It was God's judgement upon His people for apostasy, corruption and evil. The captivity did have God's purifying impact.

There were three deportations of captives to Babylon. The first included chosen individuals of the royal court and upper class, taken for special training. The second and third deportees were of lower class. Many of the remaining 'poor' people left in Judah migrated to Egypt.

Archaeology has shown that most of the cities in Judah as well as Jerusalem had been devastated and destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar.

The Jewish captives had many privileges in Babylon and were taken to several building settlements where they worked on the King's projects. Many were able to work as merchants and had prosperous trading businesses. The land on which they lived was irrigated and fertile and when the return to their homeland was made possible, many decided to stay, unwilling to give up their plenty for their deserted homeland.

Many were assimilated into Babylonian life and broke with their traditional customs, but other Jews wishing to prevent this, faithfully observed the Sabbath and other practices that set them apart from other nations. Old traditions were preserved. The Jewish communities were the religious and political elite.

The Jewish community was allowed to have self-government with its elders, priests and prophets. Although the deportees went through emotional agony, the punishment from God was not severe and tormenting. The captives were not ill-treated. They kept their own customs and were free to build their own properties. Many rose to high positions in the Babylon governmental service.

During these years of exile the Hebrew people became known as Jews, after their homeland of Judah. The people had always been impressed by idol worship but after their captivity they found idolatry no longer attractive. They began to value the written records of God's messages.

The banishment was the source of the institution of the synagogue, the gathering together of people without The Temple, to worship and study God's Word as small groups. Synagogues laid the basis for the rapid spread of Jewish communities throughout neighbouring countries.

The Jewish people began only to speak Aramaic; translators and interpreters became necessary for the understanding of their lost native language.

 The Hebrew people never again had a monarch on the throne as a free nation. The period of Gentile domination was prophesied by both pre-exile and post-exile prophets, that foreign rule will come to an end when Christ The Messiah returns to be the head of all nations.

The Persian Empire conquered the Babylonian Kingdom. All peoples were encouraged to keep their new and old customs as well as their own religion, which brought about King Cyrus of Persia issuing a decree to allow the Jews to return to their homeland. Cyrus allowed the returning exiles to rebuild their Temple and receive The Temple treasures that had been taken by the Babylonians.

There were three separate groups that returned to Jerusalem. The first with Zerrubabel, second with Ezra and the third with Nehemiah.

The return of the captives to Judah brought the Jews back to God's Law.




ZERRUBABEL   c. 559 B.C.


c. 520 B.C.


c. 519 B.C.
ESTHER   c. 460 B.C.


EZRA   c. 458 B.C.


 NEHEMIAH   c. 445 B.C.


c. 433 B.C.

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Managed by Stefan Kreslin,Last updated August 2017