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The Rise of Judaism After the Babylonian Exile, Research Paper Example

Pages: 6

Words: 1697

Research Paper

The Babylonian exile was a daunting crisis for the Judeans, affecting their freedoms and beliefs and creating immense uncertainty about the future. The Babylonian exile occurred in the Kingdom of Judah between 598 and 587 BCE, when Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian king, destroyed Jerusalem. This invasion was also significant for the religious beliefs of the people of Jerusalem because the Babylonians looted and destroyed The Temple. These people had always believed in their God, who had created and preserved them and their land. Therefore, many questions emerged from this crisis, including if their God was angry at them or if the Babylonian gods were stronger than him. This crisis and the questions surrounding it led to the emergence and rise of Judaism. The Judeans in exile and those who were still in Jerusalem sought to find answers to their crisis through the beliefs and practices of Judaism. This study discusses the responses to the described crisis and the rise of Judaism in light of the issues that Judeans faced because of the Babylonian exile.

The Crisis During the Babylonian Exile

One of the important questions that arose during the crisis of the Babylonian exile was whether Yahweh was angry and whether the Babylonian gods were stronger than him. In addition, the Judeans asked themselves if Yahweh was angry what caused his anger. These questions are important because enemies overran Judah at Yahweh’s will. The Lord commanded the troubles that befell Judah to remove the people out of his sight because of the sins of Manasseh (2 Kings 24: 3). Manasseh had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and God was not willing to forgive such atrocities (2 Kings 24: 4); hence, he allowed the armies of the Babylonian king to destroy Judah. This account answers these critical questions and explains the people’s perceptions of Jerusalem after the initial shock of the raid. These perceptions also led to the rise of Judaism.

The account of Lamentations also narrates God’s anger that prompted the destruction of Jerusalem and the exile of the Judeans (Coogan 382). This account states that the Lord became like an enemy who destroyed Israel. He was angry and poured out his anger to the city and its people, which caused a vast fire in Zion. This fire consumed the entire city, its people, and its foundations. The account further explains the cause of the Lord’s anger, noting that the prophets and priests of Judeans were sinful and scornful. They shed innocent blood, prompting God’s anger with Zion (Coogan 382). This narration in lamentations further explains the effects of the Lord’s anger in Jerusalem, stating that the city was like a mother who had been stripped naked or a dead woman, meaning it was humiliated and destroyed (Coogan 382).

Another significant crisis that emerged during the Babylonian exile was about worshipping God. The Judeans were in a dilemma about continuing to worship God in Babylon. They were used to worshipping in The Temple; it was built solely for this purpose, and the Judeans found solace in their communion in it. However, they were in a foreign land after their capture, disrupting their worshipping practices. For example, when the Babylonians taunted them to sing about Jerusalem’s divine protection from Yahweh, they asked how they would continue singing their God’s song in a foreign land (Coogan 385). Moreover, the Judeans began to doubt Yahweh; they believed he had broken his promises to protect them and make them a strong nation that would not fall under the captivities of any other kingdom (Coogan 385). This crisis and its resulting doubts were critical in developing the new religion of Judaism.

The Restoration

After 586 BCE, there was a significant change among the Judeans and in the nation of ancient Israel. The Babylonian exile had led to a rebirth of these people, destroying ancient Israel and pushing them back to their religious beliefs. As noted above, God allowed their capture because they rebelled against him. Therefore, their time in exile reset them, pushing them back to their beliefs and humility before God. However, much of the change in mindset among the Judeans was the destruction of The Temple. The Temple had always served as their reminder that God was with them, and his protection would always make them victorious. Thus, the destruction of The Temple led to the erosion of the perception of unconditional divine protection (Coogan 376). The survivors of the destruction of Jerusalem knew that they had to reformulate their lives, considering the uncertainties that shrouded their futures. Nonetheless, there were still tensions between people exiled in Babylon and those who remained home (Coogan 376).

The tensions between these groups is a critical part of the restoration of the Judeans after the Babylonian exile because it led to a split of the region. These tensions also impacted the Judaism religion. One of the groups (those who were not exiled) continued to the Promised Land and Jerusalem, whereas the diaspora (the exiled group) had to endure torture and other immense hardships in Babylon. Some also fled. The narrations of Psalms 137 demonstrate some of these hardships. First, it mentions that the exiled Judeans were full of grief when they remembered their home, Jerusalem. The Babylonians also taunted the Judeans by telling them to sing one of their songs of Zion that describes Jerusalem as a majestic and impregnable city because it had the divine protection of Yahweh (Psalms 137: 3). This torture might have caused questions about Yahweh’s strengths relative to the strength of the gods of Babylon. Moreover, these tensions increased because the people who had not been exiled claimed that God had given them the land (Coogan 393).

Nonetheless, despite these challenges and tensions, Israel was restored. Ezekiel’s vision had demonstrated that exile was not permanent because Yahweh had not abandoned his people (Coogan 399); he was punishing, not banishing them. Therefore, there would be a time when he would save them from exile and lead them back to the Promised Land. Jeremiah’s prophecy demonstrates this message of hope to all Judeans exiled in Babylon. God said that he loved all the people of Israel with an everlasting love, and he has always been faithful to them; hence he would rebuild them (Jeremiah 31: 3-4). This message was significant because it reshaped the emergence of Israel. Although the religious beliefs of these people changed, their belief in God would increase after the rise of Judaism.

The Rise of Judaism

The rise of Judaism is pegged on the experiences of Judeans in exile in Babylon and the new covenant about which Jeremiah prophesied. The Lord promised that a time was coming when he would make a new covenant with Israel and Judah (Jeremiah 31: 31). However, the Lord insisted that this new covenant would not be like the previous one that the Judeans had broken, leading them to exile (Jeremiah 31: 32). The unique message in this prophecy indicated that God still wanted the people of Judah and Israel to be close to him, so he decided to create a new covenant with them. However, this message was also unique because God stated that this new covenant was unlike the last one. The new covenant would be instilled in people’s hearts, and everyone will know God (Jeremiah 31: 34)

The rise of Judaism also pushed the restoration of the Jewish community after its return from exile in Babylon. This restoration began with the reconstruction of The Temple. The Temple was utterly significant to the Jewish people since it symbolized their relationship with God and the stature of Jerusalem. This restoration process also matched the troubles and restoration process that Job faced. Job faced incredible challenges, particularly the death of his loved ones and the loss of all his property. Job lost his sons, daughters, sheep, camels, and oxen (Job 1: 13-19). These challenges relate to the Babylonian exile that befell Judeans. However, after his sufferings, God restored everything he had and blessed him with more. Similarly, after their exile in Babylon, God restored the people of Israel and Judah and made a new covenant with them.

Another significant concept in Judaism is prophecy; Judaism is formed on several principles, including prophecy. Persons who follow Judaism believe that God communicates to them through prophets; God reveals various events to prophets who warn or inform them about these occurrences. For instance, in his prophecy about two eagles and the vine, Ezekiel spoke about how a great eagle with vast wings raided a land. The eagle broke the top of the cedar and took it to the city of merchants (Ezekiel 17:4). Ezekiel then told the people of Jerusalem that God had told him that this vision means that the king of people will raid Jerusalem and take its king and other officials to Babylon (Ezekiel 17:12). God also called the people of Jerusalem rebellious, illustrating that he was angry with them. This aspect also explains some of the questions that arose during the crisis. The people of Jerusalem rebelled against and angered God, so he allowed the king of Babylon to conquer them. He had also revealed this event to his prophet Ezekiel.

Conclusion

This study has evaluated the rise of Judaism after the Babylonian exile. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had invaded Jerusalem, destroying The Temple and exiling some Judeans. He had also captured all leaders and officials of the city. This event led to a crisis among Judeans who wondered why God did not protect them and how they would continue living. This paper has discussed that God allowed the Babylonian exile because he was angry with the people of Jerusalem, particularly their prophets and priests. In addition, the study has explained the emergence of Judaism after the crisis as God promised to return the Judeans to the promised land and forge a new covenant with them. Therefore, after the exile, the Judeans returned home, and the restoration of Jerusalem began.

Works Cited

Coogan, Michael D. The Old Testament: A Historical And Literary Introduction To The Hebrew Scriptures. 4th ed., Oxford University Press, 2018.

The Harpercollins Study Bible: Fully Revised & Updated. Harpercollins, 2006.

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