The period of the divided kingdom ended with the people of Israel being taken into captivity. First, the people of the northern kingdom were conquered by Assyria, leaving Judah to struggle on alone. Finally, the southern kingdom of Judah was conquered by the Babylonians, leaving all the children of Israel in exile from the land. Here is an overview and timeline of the exile of Israel and her return from captivity.
- Shalmaneser II (860-825 BC) – began to “cut off” Israel
- Adad-Nirari (808-783 BC) – took tribute from Israel (Jonah’s visit?)
- Tiglath-Pileser III (747-727 BC) – deported most of Israel
- Sargon II (7220705) BC – carried the rest of Israel captive
- Sennacherib (706-681 BC) – invaded Judah; Assyrian Captivity of northern kingdom
- Esar-Haddon (681-668 BC) – very powerful
- Assur-banipal (668-626 BC) – most powerful and brutal
- Weak Kings (626-605 BC) – who lead to defeat of Assyria
Fall of Judah
- 612 BC – Babylonians and Medes conquer Assyria.
- 605 BC – Babylonians battle Egyptians at Carchemish.
- 605 BC – Nebuchadnezzar becomes king of Babylon; The Babylonians invade Judah; First wave of deportation of Jews to Babylon; Daniel is taken captive and begins to prophesy.
- 601 BC – Babylonians battle Egypt, both sides suffer losses; Judah decides to realign itself with Egypt.
- 597 BC – Jehoachin becomes king of Judah; Babylonians capture Jerusalem; Second wave of deportation to Babylon from Judah; Ezekiel is taken captive to Babylon; Zedekiah becomes king of Judah.
- 593 BC – Ezekiel begins to prophesy.
- 586 BC – The Babylonians destroy Jerusalem and the Temple; Jerusalem’s walls and gates are burned with fire; Third wave of Jews deported to Babylon; Babylonian Exile begins.
- 539 BC – The Fall of Babylon; Beginning of the Persian Period to 332; The Decree of Cyrus II allowing Jews to return.
- 516 BC – The Jews rebuild their Temple (70 years).
Developments in Judah (2 Kings 25:22-26; Jeremiah 40-44)
- Judah as a province of Babylon: no king; governor appoint; new captial is Mizpah.
- Small population left in Jerusalem under hard conditions; “the poor of the land” (2 Kings 25:12).
- Gedaliah assassinated by Ishmael (2 Kings 25:23-26; Jeremiah 40:7-41:18); governor appoint by Babylonians.
- Jeremiah gives advice (Jeremiah 40:1-6; 42:1-43:3) to stay in land.
- People flee to Egypt (Jeremiah 43:4-44:30); Jeremiah follows them; Babylon conquers Egypt and people further dispersed.
By the Waters of Babylon (605-539 BC)
- Humiliation (Psalm 137).
- Institutions remained: synagogue evolved; elders, prophets (Ezekiel) and priest maintained (Jeremiah 29).
- Freedom of movement; Jews could buy a house and move.
- Freedom of correspondence: could write/receive letters.
- Possibility of government positions (e.g. Daniel).
- Living in a fertile prosperous land with agricultural possibilities.
- Too comfortable? (Josephus Antiquities 11.1.3).
Rise of Persia
- Restoration predicted (e.g Jeremiah 25:11).
- Cyrus, King of Persia, reigns 559-530 BC.
- Cyrus conquers the Meades, Assyrians and up to India, creating a vast Persian empire.
- Fall of Babylon (October 539 BC); Cyrus greeted as a conquering hero.
- Edict of release (Ezra 1:1-4; Ezra 6:3-5).
Content of the Edict
- Ezra 1 is more theological; Ezra 6 is the official record.
- Temple to be rebuilt and cost defrayed by Cyrus (Ezra 6:8).
- Building specifications and dimensions.
- Return of gold and silver items taken by Nebuchadnezzar.
- All Jews who wished could return to Judah.
- Jews who remain in Babylon may assist project with freewill offerings.
Return and Restoration
First Stage of Return to Judah
- Ezra 1-6 – Rebuilding the temple
- Ezra 1 – edict of return
- Ezra 2 – list of returnees; leading role for Zerubbabel (2:2); approx. 50,000 return
- Ezra 3:1-6 – rebuilding and rededicating the altar; Mosaic worship restored
- Ezra 3:7-13 – laying the temple foundation about 6 months after altar dedication
- Ezra 4:1-23 – opposition to rebuilding; work stops for approximately 10 years
- Ezra 5:1-6:15 – Encouragement to rebuild from Haggai & Zechariah; work resumes in 530 BC
- Ezra 6:16-22 – Completed temple is dedicated and Passover celebrated
- Ezra 7:1-8:36 – Second return of the Jews to Jerusalem; 458-457 BC (1 year)
- Ezra 9:1-10:44 – Restoration of the people
- Biblehub: Ezra Timeline
Second Stage of Return to Judah
- Nehemiah 1:1-11 – Nehemiah learns Jerusalem has no walls; 445 BC
- Nehemiah 2:1-20 – Nehemiah commissioned to return to Jerusalem
- Nehemiah 3:1-6:19 – Building the walls amidst continued opposition
- Nehemiah 8:1-18 – reading and exposition of the Law
- Nehemiah 9:1:10:39 – Covenant renewal
- Nehemiah 12:27-47 – Dedication of Jerusalem city walls
- Nehemiah 13 – Nehemiah’s second administration; returns 432 BC to a bad situation
- Biblehub: Nehemiah Timeline
- Alfred Edersheim: Sketches of Jewish Social Life
- Alfred Edersheim: Old Testament History
- Alfred Edersheim: The Temple —Its Ministry and Services
- Jacob Abbott: Cyrus the Great by Jacob Abbott (1904)
- Flavius Josephus: From The Death Of Ahab To The Captivity Of The Ten Tribes (157 Years)
- Flavius Josephus: From The Captivity Of The Ten Tribes To The First Year Of Cyrus (182 Years)
- Flavius Josephus: From The First Of Cyrus To The Death Of Alexander The Great
- The New Babylonian Empire and Ezekiel – BibleHistory.com
- The New Babylonian Empire and Egypt – BibleHistory.com
- The Babylonian Captivity – BibleHistory.com
- The Divided Kingdom – Biblehub.com
- The Kingdom of Judah – Biblehub.com
- The Captivity of Judah – Biblehub.com
- The Restoration – Biblehub.com
- Deportations and Returns under Assyria and Babylon -Idubiblia.org
- Assyrian and Babylonian and Greek Empires -Idubiblia.org
Invasions of Jerusalem
There were 4 significant invasions of Jerusalem in Old Testament history:
- By Shishak, king of Egypt, ca. 925 BC during the reign of Rehoboam (1 Kings 14:25-26; 2 Chronicles 12).
- By the Philistines and Arabians between 848–841 BC during the reign of Jehoram of Judah (2 Chronciles 21:8–20).
- By Jehoash, king of Israel, ca. 790 BC (2 Kings 14; 2 Chronciles 25).
- By Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, in the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC.
Exile Kings in the Bible
|Assyria||Tiglath-Pileser III||744-727 BC||2 Kings 15:29; 2 Kings 16:7-10; 1Chronicles 5:6-26|
|Assyria||Sargon II||721-701 BC||2 Kings 17:3; 2 Kings 19:9; Isaiah 20:1|
|Assyria||Sennacherib||704-681 BC||(Assyrian Captivity of northern kingdom)|
|Assyria||Esarhaddon||680-699 BC||Isaiah 36:37; 2 Kings 18-19; 2 Chronicles 32|
|Assyria||Ashurbanipal||668-627 BC||2 Kings 19:27; Ezra 4:2; Isaiah 37:38|
|Babylon||Nebuchadneezar II||604-562 BC||(Babylonian captivity of southern kingdom)|
2 Kings 24-25; Jeremiah 21;
|Babylon||Nabonidus||551-539 BC||Daniel 5|
|Medo-Persian||Cyrus & Dairus||529-530 BC||Daniel 6; Isaiah 44:28; Isaiah 45:1; 2 Chronicles 36|
|Medo-Persian||Ahasuerus (Cambyses)||529-522 BC||Ezra 4:6|
|Medo-Persian||Artaxerxes (Ahasuerus)||423-405 BC||Esther|