Rare Clay Tablets Shed Light on the Babylonian Exile https://mosaicmagazine.com/picks/history-ideas/2015/02/rare-clay-tablets-shed-light-on-the-babylonian-exile/

February 3, 2015 | Ilan Ben Zion
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At Israel’s Bible Lands Museum, on display for the first time is a collection of some 100 clay tablets documenting the lives of Jews exiled to Babylonia after the destruction of the First Temple in 586 BCE. These “Al-Yahudu” tablets, named for a Jewish settlement in Babylonia, are written in the Akkadian language and cuneiform script. Ilan Ben Zion writes:

Before the Al-Yahudu texts were found and studied, scholars had only an outline of life for Judeans in Babylon, said Dr. Wayne Horowitz, Hebrew University’s professor of Assyriology, who helped prepare the exhibit and the corresponding academic literature. . . . “[N]ow we’re actually seeing the community living its life, really fleshed out.”

He compared the experience of the exiled Judeans to that of new immigrants to Israel in the early years of the state. They were settled in a region of southern Babylon that had been ravaged by years of war and forced to rebuilt infrastructure and dig canals—the rivers by which they wept when they remembered Zion [according to Psalm 137].

“Once they had built the infrastructure they were allowed to settle and build their lives,” Horowitz explained. Within a short while, the community became more prosperous and secure, a fact documented in the financial documents preserved in clay.

Read more on Times of Israel: http://www.timesofisrael.com/by-the-rivers-of-babylon-exhibit-breathes-life-into-judean-exile/