Many Jews Thrived in Babylonian Captivity

Sept. 27 2016

While the 6th-century-BCE capture and destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar was undoubtedly a national catastrophe—bringing with it the loss of sovereignty and of the main center of religious worship, as well as great deal of human suffering—a recent study suggests that many of the large numbers of Jews who found themselves exiled to Babylonia managed to flourish there. This account does not, in fact, conflict with the biblical narrative:

According to the Bible . . . [Judah’s last monarch], King Jehoiachin, was given special treatment—even over other imprisoned kings (2 Kings 25:30; Jeremiah 52:31-34). Moreover, cuneiform ration lists discovered in Nebuchadnezzar’s South Palace in Babylon show that captive kings and high officials received monthly rations of grain and oil.

The lives of non-royal Judahites, too, are preserved in Babylonian records. Texts from Nippur contain the names of Judahites who served as witnesses in land contracts. The Judahite identity of the witnesses is revealed by their names, [which are formed using elements of the Tetragrammaton]. . . .

Records from the city of Susa (the biblical Shushan, where the book of Esther is set) refer to Judahites . . . serving as royal courtiers, and in Sippar, a few [presumably Jewish] names appear under the designation “royal merchant.” However, the majority of [the] evidence that the Babylonian exile wasn’t so bad [stems from] cuneiform texts from in and around a settlement called “Judahtown” (Babylonian āl-Yāḫūdu).

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Read more at Bible History Daily

More about: Ancient Near East, Babylonian Jewry, Exile, Hebrew Bible, History & Ideas

 

Iran’s Dangerous Dream of a Triple Alliance with Russia and China

Aug. 16 2022

Unlike Hamas, which merely receives support from the Islamic Republic, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)—with which Israel engaged in a short round of fighting last week—is more or less under its direct control. In fact, the recent hostilities began with a series of terrorist attacks launched by PIJ from Samaria, which might in turn have been a response to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s call “to open a new front in the West Bank against the Zionist enemy.” Amir Taheri writes:

In Gaza, the Islamic Republic has invested heavily in promoting Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. . . . Islamic Jihad is in a minority in Gaza, hence the attempt by Tehran to help it create a base in the West Bank.

Reliable sources in Baghdad say that [Iran’s expeditionary and terrorist paramilitary] the Quds Force has been “transiting” significant quantities of arms and cash via Iraq to Jordan, to be smuggled to the West Bank. The Jordanian authorities say they are aware of these “hostile activities.” King Abdullah himself has publicly called on Iran to cease “destabilizing activities.”

But such schemes, Taheri explains, are part of a larger strategic vision of creating a grand anti-Western alliance even while engaging in nuclear negotiations with the U.S. and Europe:

Last month, Khamenei praised Vladimr Putin for his invasion of Ukraine. And this month, China’s ambassador to Iran, Chang Hua, praised the Islamic Republic for supporting China in “asserting its sovereignty” over Taiwan.

It is clear that some dangerous pipe-dreamers in Beijing, Moscow, and Tehran have fallen for the phantasmagoric vision of “three great powers” banding together and with help from “the rest,” that is to say, the so-called Third World . . . to destroy an international system created by the “corrupt and decadent.”

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Read more at Gatestone

More about: China, Iran, Islamic Jihad, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Russia, West Bank