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The Benefits of the Babylonian Captivity
The 70 Years in Babylon Brought Many Changes in God's People
During the 70 years in Babylon the Jewish people learned a big lesson. They were despaired because they lost their Temple and their homeland, but they had not given up hope. God was with them and they were revitalized in many remarkable ways. God loves His people and He fully intended to keep His promises to their father Abraham. During their captivity they were cured of many things, and they recommitted themselves.
1. Cured of Idolatry
The Jews were almost completely cured of idolatry, no matter what their faults and downfalls were in later periods of history, they never returned to the idolatry of the nations around them as they had. The Babylonian Captivity had taught them to abhor the worship of idols.
2. The Scribes and Rabbinic Literature
The situation caused them to be separated from Jerusalem and the Temple and thus there came a new order called the "Scribes." In their earliest stages they served the Jewish colonists in a very valuable way, especially in teaching, guarding and preserving the Scriptures. The Scribes produced the rabbinical literature known as the Mishna (Godís laws allegedly passed down orally and not recorded in Scripture), the Gemara (a commentary on the Mishna and a compilation of accepted traditions). These two volumes were later added to and combined to form the Talmud (Babylonian Talmud). Their was also other important literature and secular writings.
3. The Synagogues
Places for assembly or "synagogues" were instituted in order to conduct formal Jewish worship, and to provide schools for education while they were far from their homeland. It was the difficult circumstances of the Babylonian Captivity that allowed for the synagogues, without these unusual circumstances there might not have been synagogues which kept the national spirit of the Jewish people even after the fall of the Second Temple.
4. The Teaching of the Scriptures
The Jewish people pursued the Scriptures. They compiled the Scriptures and studied them intensely, realizing the reason for the Captivity and teaching this to their children. Later Ezra, the Scribe, taught the Scriptures and gave light to its meaning.
5. Unification of the Jewish People
Similar to the captivity in Egypt, the Babylonian Captivity brought a common hardship and isolation which brought a common sympathy and a closer relationship with each of individual of the nation. They returned united and purified, anyone who would not learn this lesson remained in Babylon only to become lost in history.
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"
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:
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 Godís people, the promises were being fulfilled and the Scriptures continued to be written:
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.
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Table of Contents
The Destruction of Jerusalem
The Deportation of Judah
Seventy Years in Babylon
Treatment of the Jews in Babylon
Benefits of the Captivity
Archaeology and Babylon
Dictionaries and Encyclopedias
Timeline of Events
Places of the Exile