Smith's Bible Dictionary – Captivities of the Jews


striding_lion_thumb.jpg The present article is confined to the forcible deportation of the Jew; from their native land, and their forcible detention, under the Assyrian or Babylonian kings

Nebuchadnezzar, in the first half of his reign (B.C. 606-562), repeatedly invaded Judea, besieged Jerusalem, carried away the inhabitants to Babylon, and destroyed the temple. The 70 years of captivity predicted by Jeremiah, (Jeremiah 25:12) are dated by Prideaux from B.C. 606. The captivity of Ezekiel dates from B.C. 598, when that prophet, like Mordecai the uncle of Esther (Esther 2:6) accompanied Jehoiachin. The captives were treated not as slaves but as colonists. The Babylonian captivity was brought to a close by the decree, (Ezra 1:2) of Cyrus (B.C. 536), and the return of a portion of the nation under Sheshbazzar or Zerubbabel (B.C. 535), Ezra (B.C. 458) and Nehemiah (B.C. 445). Those who were left in Assyria, (Esther 8:9,11) and kept up their national distinctions, were known as The Dispersion. (John 7:35; 1:1; James 1:1) The lost tribes. --Many attempts have been made to discover the ten tribes existing as a distinct community; but though history bears no witness of the present distinct existence, it enables us to track the footsteps of the departing race in four directions after the time of the Captivity.


-Some returned and mixed with the Jews. (Luke 2:36; Philemon 3:5) etc.

-Some were left in Samaria, mingled with the Samaritans, (Ezra 6:21; John 4:12) and became bitter enemies of the Jews.

-Many remained in Assyria, and were recognized as an integral part of the Dispersion; see (Acts 2:1; 26:7)

-Most, probably, apostatized in Assyria, adopted the usages and idolatry of the nations among whom they were planted, and became wholly swallowed up in them.


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Bibliography Information

Smith, William, Dr. "Entry for 'Captivities of the Jews'". "Smith's Bible Dictionary". 1901.


Map of the Deportation of Judah

Map of the Babylonian Captivity

2 Kings 24:20 "For because of the anger of the LORD this happened in Jerusalem and Judah, that He finally cast them out from His presence"

bible_persp9.gif In  the Book of II Kings we read of the deportation of the Jews from their land to the land of Babylon, and then the Book ends 37 years later with the account of Jehoiachin who was blinded and in captivity in Babylon. After 30 years of imprisonment, Evil-merodach ascended the throne of Babylon and at the beginning of his rule he chose to honor the Judean prisoner Jehoiachin. The Jewish king was given appropriate garments and an income and made a member of the court of Babylon, with other deposed kings. This was no doubt a comforting sign to the Jewish captives who were still in the "land of bondage."


In all actuality it was the Lord who had given favor to Jehoiachin, and it was the Lord that had allowed the promised Seed (Messiah) to pass through the loins of Jehoiachin as Matthew states:


Matt 1:11-16

11 Josiah begot Jeconiah (Jehoiachin) and his brothers about the time they were carried away to Babylon.

12 And after they were brought to Babylon, Jeconiah (Jehoiachin) begot Shealtiel, and Shealtiel begot Zerubbabel.

13 Zerubbabel begot Abiud, Abiud begot Eliakim, and Eliakim begot Azor.

14 Azor begot Zadok, Zadok begot Achim, and Achim begot Eliud.

15 Eliud begot Eleazar, Eleazar begot Matthan, and Matthan begot Jacob.

16 And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ.


God was faithful to His promises that they would remain in the land of Babylon for seventy years, and the "Son of David" would still come to bring salvation to the world.


Even in bitter captivity there was hope for God’s people, the promises were being fulfilled and the Scriptures continued to be written:


Ps 137:1-6

1 By the rivers of Babylon, There we sat down, yea, we wept When we remembered Zion.

2 We hung our harps Upon the willows in the midst of it.

3 For there those who carried us away captive asked of us a song, And those who plundered us requested mirth, Saying, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion!"

4 How shall we sing the LORD's song In a foreign land?

5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem, Let my right hand forget its skill!

6 If I do not remember you, Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth -- If I do not exalt Jerusalem Above my chief joy.




The Destruction of Jerusalem

The Deportation of Judah

Seventy Years

Treatment of the Jews in Babylon

Benefits of the Babylonian Captivity

Archaeology and the Babylonian Captivity

Dictionaries and Encyclopedias

Timeline of Events




Places of the Exile


Tel Abib







Map of the Babylonian Captivity

Bible History Online

The Story of the Bible

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