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Exile of the Jews - Babylonian Captivity

The Babylonian Captivity Ended With the Start of the Second Temple Period

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From United Monarchy
When the famous, wise, Old Testament king, Solomon, died, the United Monarchy fell apart. Instead of one, thereafter there were two kingdoms:
  1. Israel, the much larger kingdom in the north, and
  2. the southern kingdom of Judah.
The United Monarchy period ran from c. 1025-928 B.C.

Following the United Monarchy, the Divided Monarchy ran from about 928-722 B.C.

Assyrian Exile

By the time of the death of Assyrian King Tiglath-pileser III in 727, most of the northern kingdom of Israel was part of his Assyrian Empire. The hill country around Israel's capital city, Samaria, was all that was left to the people of Israel, but not for long. The Assyrian king after fter Tiglath-pileser, Sargon II, destroyed Samaria, made Assyrians of the Israelites, and exiled them.
The Israelite exiles to Assyria are referred to as the 10 lost tribes.

This was the end of the period of the "Two Kingdoms" or "Divided Monarchy" of Israel/Judah.
Judah still existed, but the Assyrians considered it distant and inconsequential; besides, Judah paid Assyria tribute, so it was left alone.

Growth of Judah

Some of the displaced Israelites moved to Judah, and the population of Judah grew. Within a few decades the population of Jerusalem, the capital city of Judah, may have increased from about 1000 to 15,000. The city built defensive walls surrounding Jerusalem and its suburbs.

Judah Under Hezekiah

Sargon II died in 705 while on campaign in Anatolia, and his son Sennacherib became king (705-681). King Hezekiah of Judah (727-698) entered an alliance against Assyria with Egypt and the southern Syrian states, including the Phoenician city of Sidon and the Philistine city of Ashkelon. In response, in 701, Sennacherib laid siege to many of Judah's cities. This period is well documented biblically, in Sennacherib's annals, and in a wall relief from the Assyrian palace in Ninevah. Sennacherib took back Sidon with little trouble, then Ashkelon, whose royal family he deported. Sennacherib's annals describe the conflict with Judah:
"As for Hezekiah the Judaean, who had not submitted to my yoke, I besieged forty-six of his fortified walled cities and surrounding smaller towns, which were without number.... I took out 200,150 people, young and old, male and female, horses, mules, donkeys, camels, cattle, and cheep, without number, and counted them as spoil."
p. 251 The Oxford History of the Biblical World, edited by Michael D. Coogan.
Sennacherib then besieged Jerusalem.
"As for Hezekiah the Judean... I locked him up within Jerusalem, his royal city, like a bird in a cage."
Ibid.
King Hezekiah of Judah had little choice but to surrender. He could retain his throne, but would resume his status as vassal and would pay the annual tribute. In addition, he lost many of his cities and had to pay a large indemnity.

Despite the losses and concessions, Judah did not go the way of Israel at this point, and so Hezekiah, who had instituted Temple worship and ordered the copying of the sayings of Solomon, was considered a righteous king in the Bible. His son Manessah was not.

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