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Is America a “New Israel” or a “New Babylon”?: Knowing the Difference Makes All of the Difference
This is why the Israelite prophets had such a difficult job eradicating the worship of the Canaanite deity Baal, a practice into which many Israelites fell after entering the land of Canaan. In fact, one of the messages of the book of Jonah for the ancient Israelites was that the Lord is God of the whole earth, not just one territory, and that it was not possible to escape his dominion by fleeing to a far country.
See Jonah , And there are several other interesting examples in the Bible. Also, the Syrian general Naaman, after his cure of leprosy by the power of the Lord, brought home sacks of earth from Israel so that he might stand on it while worshipping the deity whose ground he believed it was. Because rebellion against the Assyrian king was often the result of omens seen by local priests in outlying territories, Tiglath-pileser felt that in many cases he could crush rebellion best by deporting conquered peoples. Finding themselves in a new land, where their ancient gods had no power, the captive people would lose all hope of being led to freedom from their Assyrian conquerors.
Meanwhile, their homelands would have been resettled by another conquered people, making it even more unlikely that the captives could ever hope to recover their former position.
Babylonian Exile - New World Encyclopedia
His successor, Shalmaneser V, conquered the rest of the land but died at the siege of the Israelite capital, Samaria. Consequently, it was his successor, Sargon II, who deported a large number of the people and brought in captives from other lands to replace them. Sargon left an inscription detailing the captivity of the Ten Tribes, recording in particular the deportation of 27, people from Samaria alone. The people brought into Israel by Sargon turned to a mixed worship and intermarried with the remnants of the Israelites, thus forming the Samaritan community.
The Babylonian captivity left a population void in the southern part of Judah, which was soon filled by an influx of Edomites, descendants of Esau Edom , from across the rift valley to the southeast of the Dead Sea. Non-Jews were persecuted, and foreign religious expelled. During the Persian period and later, Judah was the state where Yahweh and only Yahweh was worshipped.
Both the Persians and the Greeks respected this exclusivity, but the Romans would greatly offend the Jews when they introduced foreign gods. The Jews had learned many things from the Persians and actively included Persian elements in their religion. It's important to note that this occurred side by side with the effort to purify the religion!
Most of these elements were popular elements rather than official beliefs; they would persist only in Christianity which arose among the people rather than the educated and priestly classes. Among these were.
In early Hebrew belief, the universe was dominated only by Yahweh. All history was the result of two forces: Yahweh and human will. Perhaps in an effort to make sense of the Exile , the Hebrews gradually adopted the Persian idea that the universe is composed of two diametrically opposed forces, one good, and the other evil.
So, after the Babylonian exile, the Hebrews, in their popular religion, talk about an evil force opposed to Yahweh, which becomes the "devil" in Christianity. Satan in the Hebrew story, Job , is actually a member of Yahweh's circle; he seems to be some kind of itinerant prosecuting attorney. Before the Exile, the Hebrews believed that the soul after death went to a house of dust which they called "Sheol," to abide for a brief time before fading completely from existence.
This belief was identical to all other Semitic versions of the afterlife. Therefore, Hebraism was primarily a this-world religion before the Exile. The Persians, though, believed that the souls of the good would reunite with the principle of good in eternal bliss; the souls of the evil would reunite with the principle evil to suffer until the final defeat of evil. In popular religion, the Hebrews adopted this view of the afterlife.
The Babylonian / Persian Influence
This view of the afterlife powerfully explains suffering in this life, such as the Exile; cosmic justice is apparent only at one's death rather than during one's life. Again, it is only in the popular Jewish religions, such as the Essenes and the Christians, where this view becomes orthodox. For another two hundred years, Persia dominated all of the Middle East and Egypt, and came within a hair's breadth of conquering Greece. During all this time Palestine was a tribute state of Persia. However, in the late fourth century BC, another man got the idea of conquering the world and set about doing it with ruthless efficiency.
He was a Greek: Alexander of Macedon. When he conquered Persia in BC, Palestine became a Greek state, and the children of Yavan would mix once again with the children of Shem. Download our mobile app for on-the-go access to the Jewish Virtual Library. Living in Jerusalem.
Foods of the Period. Sites in Jerusalem. Babylonian Exile.
After the Exile. Second Temple High Priests. The Great Revolt. Destruction of the Second Temple. Map of the Roman Exile. Art of the Covenant. The Temple Mount.