9. Exile And Restoration

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586 - 538 B.C.


1. The history of this period is found in Nehemiah and Ezra, supplemented by the apocryphal book of I Esdras.

2. The Babylonian army left Judah a shambles. Battle losses, executions, starvation, and disease almost depleted the country.

3. Of 250,000, probably 20,000 were left. Samaria was untouched.

4. The exiles were well treated in Babylon—given considerable freedom. They built houses, farmed, and had some sort of religious life.

5. There were three deportations—in 597, 587, and 582.

6. Many Jews fled to Egypt—taking Jeremiah with them. Jer 43:7. Others went to Moab, Edom, and Ammon.

7. Long had the Jews trusted the dogma that David’s dynasty would never end. They even disregarded the prophets.

8. This was all a great shock to Jewish theology—the dogma of Israel as the “chosen people.”

9. After all, maybe the gods of Babylon were strong and mighty. Their faith was sorely tested.

10. The teaching of Jeremiah and Ezekiel prevailed. Their faith persisted. They lived through it.

11. There was a great revival of Sabbath-keeping—symbol of the covenant.

12. The priests completed their rewriting of the racial records and chronicles.

13. Presently there was born the hope of restoration.

14. Their king, Jehoiakim, who had been imprisoned, was released by Nebuchadnezzar’s son.

15. Babylonian power rapidly declined. Cyrus came to power and took over the empire.

16. The Second Isaiah revived hope in Israel. Jews prepared for the restoration.

17. Yahweh became “the Lord of History” — “Creator of the Universe.” Isaiah hailed Cyrus as the liberating agent of Yahweh.

18. Israel was about to be delivered as in former times they had been delivered from Egyptian bondage.


1. Babylon falls. Isaiah inspires Israel and Cyrus liberates them.

2. The book of Daniel tells the story of the fall of Babylon and the triumph of Cyrus.

3. There are two records of the restoration. Ezra 1:2-4; 6:3-5.

4. Cyrus was a new thing in rulers. He favored granting subject peoples cultural autonomy—freedom to have their own religion.

5. Sheshbazzar was followed by Zerubbabel as governor of Judah. The prophets Haggai and Zechariah offered encouragement.

6. The Jews returned in successive waves of dedicated rebuilders. The early arrivals met with bitter disappointment.

7. Cambyses maintained his father’s conquests and added Egypt. He continued to foster Jewish restoration.

8. The more prosperous Jews remained in Babylon. The early years were fraught with hardship and frustration. They were greatly hampered by the Samaritans.

9. It required 18 years to lay the foundations for the temple. At last they were aroused and finished the work in four years.

10. Haggai spurred the people to finish the temple. Hag 1:1-11. Zechariah joined in this revival.

11. In March 515 the temple was finished and dedicated. Ezra 6:13-18.

12. But the best things promised by the prophets did not materialize. Judah struggled along—as a sub-province of Samaria.

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