What impact did the Babylonian captivity have on the Jewish Fatih?

When I learned about the Babylonian captivity it was taught as a mere footnote in the history of the OT. As I have studied it more deeply and the words of the prophets who lived through it, I now see this event as the main reason why Judaism was not ready for the coming of the Messiah, Jesus.

Not only were the Jews conquered, but they were forced to destroy the temple of Solomon and use the same stones to rebuild the ziggurat dedicated to Marduk in Babylon where human sacrifice was practiced. After such a humility defeat and forced labor, it is hard to eleven that went back to any sense of normality, especially for the generation that grew up in captivity.

We know the OT was rewritten after this exile and the prophets tell us that the priests scribes had gone astray, but how far astray did they really go?

You study the Scriptures , because you think that in them you will find eternal life. … there is one who witnesses about me and I know that his witness about me is absolutely true. … But if you do not believe what he wrote, how can you believe what I say ”? … What you don’t seem to understand is that the Scriptures point to Me .

The Jews back then and even today have a problem, and that is, the Jews look more to tradition than the scriptures.

It does make you wonder. Slavery in Egypt, the Babylonian captivity, the Jewish War of 66 AD, the Holocaust. All these and more have left scars.

Dear Phil,
The slavery in Egypt is what held the Hebrew’s together in my opinion. The Egyptians gathered slaves from all over the world of every race and ethnicity. It was those who had the same belief (not race) who left with Moses. This held them together and gave them common ground. This all happened before the first edition of the Bible was written anyway.
Best Wishes, Shawn

It was?

No a ziggurat was (as John Walton suggests) where the gods came down to dwell in their temple. I can find no evidence that the Babylonians practiced HS outside of funerals.

The only way that the gods would come into pagan temples was with blood sacrifice which the priests offered. It is the life energy in fresh blood that the gods (demons) can manipulate to create signs and communicate with the priests and king.

And that which they have need of, both young bullocks, and rams, and lambs, for the burnt offerings of the God of heaven (Ezra 6:9)

Yes, they mostly used animal sacrifice to fulfill the gods’ desire for life energy, but when you read further in Ezra you will find that the king created a number of decrees that gave him ample opportunity for human sacrifice.

Slavery in Egypt is an interesting event. While not expressed in the Bible specifically, I wonder if indeed it is not the tribes staying inEgypt after the famine that was the cause. Well, of course it was the cause, but consider:
God gave the Israelites the promised land.
Jacob and family were rescued from famine through Joseph, who was in his position after the sins of his brothers (and perhaps his own arrogance)
Jacob and crew decided to settle down and continue living in the Nile delta rather than return to the land God gave them.
They entered slavery due to the system Joseph himself established when he taxed the grain and such in the good years, then sold back the peoples own grain to them in trade for their land and finally their freedom. We tend to forget that Joseph enslaved Egypt and consolidated pharaoh’s power as recounted in Genesis 47:

20 So Joseph bought all the land in Egypt for Pharaoh. The Egyptians, one and all, sold their fields, because the famine was too severe for them. The land became Pharaoh’s, 21 and Joseph reduced the people to servitude,[c] from one end of Egypt to the other.


Dear Phil,
Slavery had existed in Egypt long before Joseph’s 17th century BCE service to the Pharaoh. It was not just the decedents of Jacob who were enslaved there either. There were peoples from all over the populated world living as slaves under the Pharaohs. Yes, Joseph helped to manage the great famine caused by the volcanic ash from the eruption of Santorini in 1623 BCE.
Best Regards,

I agree. Far from a being a mere footnote, I am tending to accept the suggestion that the entire “Deuteronomistic History” (Josh-Judges -Sam& Kings -looking back on Deuteronomy) was compiled as a sustained argument/explanation as to why the chosen covenant people ended up in Babylon.
One effect of the Exile that my old bible school prof noted was that before the Exile idolatry in Israel was an on going and recurring problem. The exile seems to be the medicine that cured that particular sickness in the covenant people.

But I am not sure why/how you think it made “Judaism not ready for Messiah” Can you clarify a bit more?

Messianic expectation in Jesus time (400 years later) was still a powerful hope. Many of the prophets had seemed to say that the return from exile would culminate in the restoration of the Kingdom of Israel by the anointed “Son of David”. Ever since the return under Cyrus the government had not been a fully restored ongoing messianic kingship.

If anything the Exile seems to be the very thing that made a promised messiah a necessity.

Of course as is often typical, those in positions of power such as Herod and perhaps the Sadducees didn’t really want to relinquish power to any up-start messiah who might try to capture the public imagination based on the old prophesies.

Jesus wasn’t the only messianic candidate, and it seems his own disciples expected his ministry would include a resolution of the problem of those remaining in the exile lands (John 7:35)

After his resurrection one of their primary concerns / questions was whether his role as vindicated Messiah would most likely lead to the full restoration of the kingdom to Israel (Acts 1:6). Even after his ascension Jesus apostles considered it their responsibility to minister to the remnants still in the lands of the Exile (1Peter 1:1 James 1:1)

Dear Erik,
This is a much longer answer than can be answered here, but let me draw a stickman for you. Under the guidance of the Wisdom of Solomon, the Hebrew culture reached a high level of enlightenment, which continued unobstructed through the time of Socrates. The line from the first writing of the OT by the Yahwehist to the apostle Paul went through the Ionian Greeks, not the Jews.

The level of enlightenment achieved under Solomon never returned after the heathenistic exile that the Jews had to endure. When the OT was rewritten after the exile, it had lost its spiritual message and was replaced with materialistic ritual. The creation of the Hexapla is what uncovered this path, explaining why the Ionian Greeks were prepared for the coming of Jesus and the Jews were not.

Thanks Shawn
Interesting Theory
It seems there certainly were a lot of “god fearers” among the gentile “Greeks” just looking to get into full relationship with the Jewish LORD. And delighted to take advantage of Paul’s and Jame’s less than full Mosaic observance enty requirements to do it.
I think it was Justin Martyr who argued that Plato had prepared the Greeks for Christ in a way similar to what Moses had for the Hebrews.

Nevertheless I am still reading the OT as presenting the Exile as a purification rather than as you suggest as a loss of enlightenment.
I have not studied the Hexapla etc with this particular theory in mind but am not sure that there are enough significant differences between the Septuagint and Hebrew texts to make the case.
I need to study it a bit more…being just a bit cautious when I hear the terms “enlightenment” “Wisdom of Solomon” and the work of Origen mentioned together …
Is Hermes Trismegistus our next source?

I actually recognize Homer, Hesoid, Äsop, Sappho, and Socrates building the enlightened groundwork for the preparation of the Ionian Greeks.

Solomon’s enlightenment was mishandled similiar to the victory of the last World War. Which as a side note led to the reformation of Israel as a state. The Hebrew prosperity led to corruption and greed and for that a split kingdom.

Even today we see simularities between the divided Hebrew kingdom and the polarized two party system in the United States.

Dear Tim,
I agree with you say about what Solomon’s prosperity led to, but not his enlightenment. True enlightenment does not lead to greed or lust for power, it has a different weakness. The enlightenment from Solomon lead eventually to the creation of democracy - equality for all. This worked for a short period of time becuase the majority of the Greek citizens had become enlightened and Greece enjoyed an enlightened democracy with open discourse. The unedited dialog became the preferred political method, allowing each listener/reader the ability to draw their own conclusion.

The death of this enlightened democracy was subtle, and most historians do not recognize it, but we are now living through a similar period as when Socrates was put to death. Once the unenlightened residents of Athens (Dorian and Spartan) became the majority, the enlightened democracy fell into an oligarchy. The enlightened founders of the democracy became fools in the eyes of power-hungry majority.

The enlightened are often turned into fools by the barbarian conquerers. It is only through the dialogs that Plato was able to preserve the unaltered words of Socrates. For the unenlightened, they were the words of the fool which would have been destroyed had it not been for the ‘wise’ words of the Dorians and Spartans that were printed alongside his.

Enlightenment dies in soundbites and thrives in dialog.

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