Historical Outline of the Exiles of Israel and Judah (30 March 2016, 21 Adar-B, 5776)
1. The Background. Kings of Israel
The Israelites had been united under King Saul followed by David and Solomon. About 930 BCEE they split into two separate kingdoms, the Kingdom of Israel in the north, and the Kingdom of Judah in the south.
The first King of Israel was Jeroboam ben Nebat (930-909 BCE).
Here are the Kings of Israel:
Jeroboam ben Nebat 930-909 BCE.
Nadab, 909-908 BCE
Elah, 886-885 BCE
Zimri, 885 BCE
Tibni, 885-880 BCE
Omri (overlap), 885874 BCE
Ahab, 874-853 BCE
Ahaziah, 853-852 BCE
Joram/Jehoram, 852-841 BCE
Jehu, 841-814 BCE
Jehoahaz, 814-798 BCE
Joash, 798-782 BCE
Jeroboam II (overlap), 793-753 BCE
Zechariah, 753 BCE
Menahem, 752-742 BCE
Pekahiah, 742-740 BCE
Pekah (overlap), 752-732 BCE
Hoshea, 732-722 BCE
2. The Assyrian Exile
The exiling by Assyria began in approximately 740 BCE (or 733/2 BCE depending on which source is used).
According to some opinions, it was during the reign of Menahem ben Gadi that the Assyrians, under the leadership of King Pul, captured the Tribes east of the Jordan i.e. the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-Tribe of Manasseh.
And the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria, and the spirit of Tilgathpilneser king of Assyria, and he carried them away, even the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh, and brought them unto Halah, and Habor, and Hara, and to the river Gozan, unto this day (1-Chronicles 5:26).
There are opinions that identify King Pul of Assyria with King Tiglathpileser but it seems that they were two separate monarchs and that Pul reigned earlier.
Menahem of Israel was followed by Pekahiah and he by Pekah. In his time Tiglathpileser conquered and exiled the more northerly Tribes leaving only Samaria and the area around it.
In the days of Pekah king of Israel came Tiglathpileser king of Assyria, and took Ijon, and Abelbethmaachah, and Janoah, and Kedesh, and Hazor, and Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali, and carried them captive to Assyria (2-Kings 15:29).
After Pekah came king Hosea and in his time the rest of the Israelites were exiled. In 722 BCE the ruling city of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, Samaria, was finally taken by Sargon-2 after a three-year siege started by Shalmaneser-5.
In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria took Samaria and exiled the Israelites to Assyria, and he repatriated them in Halah, and in Habor, the Gozan River, and the cities of Media (2-Kings 17:6).
The Assyrians in the time of Sennacherib (705-681 BCE) also exiled a great many from Judah. Sennacherib came agaisnt Jerusalem in about 701 BCE. These joined the Ten Tribes in the north.
13 Now in the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and seized them.
A Midrash ("Seder Olam") says that these were the cities of Simeon that were in the territory of Judah and were taken into Exile. An inscription of Sennacherib boasts of capturing 46 cities in Judah and exiling ca. 200,000 of their inhabitants. The Exile of the Last of the Israelites from Samaria and of Judaeans (or Simeonites) from Judah occurred during the reign of King Hezekiah of Judah.
Some of the Israelites were taken directly overseas by ship to Western Europe. In those areas they were ruled over by Assyrians and their Edomite partners. Phoenicians and Philistines (Minoans and Myceneans) also acted as agents for the Assyrians in this matter. The rest of the Israelites were taken overland to Halah, and in Habor, the Gozan River, and the cities of Media (2-Kings 17:6), and to Hara (I-Chronicles 5:26). Those Israelites who had been taken to area adjoining Assyria eventually became important in the Assyrian administration and army. Before then they had been persecuted and forced to abandon what little Israelite religion they still possessed. A portion of them achieved some degree of independence and federated with non-Israelite peoples identified with Gomer son of Japhet. The two groups together became the Cimmerians, and Scythians, and Goths.
3. The Kings of Judah
These are the kings who reigned in the southern Kingdom of Judah:
KINGS OF JUDAH
Rehoboam, 933-916 BCE
Abijah, 915-913 BCE
Asa, 912-872 BCE
Jehoram/Joram, 850-843 BCE
Ahaziah, 843 BCE
Athaliah (queen), 843-837 BCE
Joash/Jehoash,- 843-803 BCE
Amaziah, 803775 BCE
Uzziah/Azariah (overlap), 787-735 BCE
Jotham (overlap), 749-734 BCE
Ahaz, 741-726 BCE
Hezekiah, 726-697 BCE
Manasseh, 697-642 BCE
Amon, 641-640 BCE
Josiah, 639-608 BCE
Jehoahaz, 608 BCE
Jehoiakim, 608-597 BCE
Jehoiachin, 597 BCE
Zedekiah, 597-586 BCE
4. Judah and the Israelites of Scythia
The Assyrians more or less maintained control of Judah through the reigns King Manasseh and Amon. King Josiah son of Amon overthrew the Assyrian domination. Meanwhile the Ten Tribes in their places of exile had begun to assert their independence already in the reign of Sennacherib King of Assyria. Eventually they took de facto control of the whole Empire and attempted to join forces with Josiah who was killed fighting on their behalf at Megiddo in the central north of Israel. In the time of King Josiah small pockets of Israelites (identified as Scythians) had begun to return and resettle in the areas to the north and southwest of Judah. These attempts however were unsuccessful. With the death of Josiah the new settlements were mostly abandoned and the Scythian -Israelites returned to their places of Exile. In the north the Assyrians had attempted to re-assert themselves and regain control of their Empire. The Assyrians were opposed by Scythians, Medes, and Babylonians who fought and defeated the Assyrians and destroyed their Empire. The Scythians played a major role in this but their allies from Medea got the Scythian leadership drunk and wiped them out. The rest of the Scythians were gradually pushed out of the Middle East into the north where they had already obtained a foothold. The Medes and Babylonians at first divided the former Assyrian Empire between them. The Babylonians however were the dominant party. The Babylonians considered themselves in many ways to be a continuation of Assyria and were so considered by contemporaries.
5. The Exile of Judah by Babylon
In Judah King Josiah was followed by Jehoahaz and he by Jehoiakim.
In 605 BCE, Nebuchadnezzar, of Babylon, besieged Jerusalem, resulting in tribute being paid by King Jehoiakim and many of the Judaeans being exiled in ca. 607 (or 603) BCE. These included Daniel and his companions and others.
1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.2 The LORD gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the vessels of the house of God; and he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and he brought the vessels into the treasury of his god.3 Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, the chief of his officials, to bring in some of the sons of Israel, including some of the royal family and of the nobles, 4 youths in whom was no defect, who were good-looking, showing intelligence in every branch of wisdom, endowed with understanding and discerning knowledge, and who had ability for serving in the kings court; and he ordered him to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. 5 The king appointed for them a daily ration from the kings choice food and from the wine which he drank, and appointed that they should be educated three years, at the end of which they were to enter the kings personal service. 6 Now among them from the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 7 Then the commander of the officials assigned new names to them; and to Daniel he assigned the name Belteshazzar, to Hananiah Shadrach, to Mishael Meshach and to Azariah Abed-nego.
A few years later the King of Judah stopped the payments. Nebuchadnessar renewed the siege (ca. 597 BCE). This was in 597 BCE. Nebuchadnessar exiled King Jehoiakim and 10.000 of the people (2 Kings 24:14). Among these were Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:1-2); and the ancestors of Mordecai and Esther (Esther 2:5-6).
Jehoiakim was followed by Jeconiah (also known as Jehoiachin) who was exiled with his court and many others. Josephus says Nebuchadnezzar, had exiled three thousand Jews from Judah, after deposing King Jehoiachin in 598 BCE. After him came Menachem who was re-named Zedekiah. Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed in 586 BCEE.
The inhabitants were carried into exile.
20 Those who had escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon; and they were servants to him and to his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia, 21 to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its sabbaths. All the days of its desolation it kept sabbath until seventy years were complete.
15 Then Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away into exile some of the poorest of the people, the rest of the people who were left in the city, the deserters who had deserted to the king of Babylon and the rest of the artisans. 16 But Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard left some of the poorest of the land to be vinedressers and plowmen.
This was the end of Judah for that time.
When Jerusalem fell the king of Babylon allowed many of the poorer people to remain. Gedaliah was appointed to rule over them.
22 Now as for the people who were left in the land of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had left, he appointed Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan over them.
Gedaliah however was murdered (2-Kings 25:25).
The people feared that Nebuchadnessar would blame them for his death. They fled into Egypt (2-Kings 25:25). This was against the advice of Jeremiah who nevertheless went along with them (Jeremiah 43:6-7). They settled at Tahpanhes (Jeremiah 44:1). Nebuchadnessar eventually also conquered Egypt and the settlers from Judah suffered.
6. Release of the Exiles of Judah
Meanwhile in Babylon, King Jehoiachin (who had been in captivity since 597 BCEE) was released by the Babylonians. The Royal Family of Judah, descendants of David, became the representative heads of the exiles in Babylon. They were known as the Exilarchs. The Medians were superseded by the Persians who had formerly been one of their tributary peoples. Cyrus the Persian conquered Babylon in 539 BCE. Cyrus gave an order to allow the rebuilding of the Tempe and the return of the Jews to Judah. Small groups did begin to return. Jerusalem and the Temple were rebuilt, a community was established, more and more Jews kept coming, early marriages and child-bearing were encouraged, the populations expanded, and Judah was again on the map.