Captivity (properly some form of the root שָבָה, shabah', to take captive; but frequently expressed by other Hebrews words). The experience was so frequent as to have become a metaphorical expression (Job 42:10). The bondage (q.v.) of Israel in Egypt, and their subjugation at different times by the Philistines and other nations, SEE JUDGES, are sometimes included under the above title; and the Jews themselves, perhaps with reference to Daniel's vision (Daniel 7), reckon their national captivities as four — the Babylonian. Median, Grecian, and Roman (Eisenmenger, Entdecktes Judenthum, 1:748). But the popular distinction usually confines the term to the conquest and dispersion of the "ten northern" tribes by the Assyrians, the subsequent deportation of the remaining "two tribes" by the Babylonians, and the final disruption of the entire Jewish polity by the Romans. SEE CAPTIVE. The word Captivity, as applied to the people of Israel, has been appropriated, contrary to the analogy of our language, to mean Expatriation. The violent removal of the entire population of a city, or sometimes even of a district, is not an uncommon event in ancient history. As a measure of policy, no objection to it on the ground of humanity was felt by anyone, since, in fact, it was a very mild proceeding, in comparison with that of selling a tribe or nation into slavery. Every such destruction of national existence, even in modern times, is apt to be embittered be the simultaneous disruption of religious bonds; but in the ancient world, the positive sanctity attributed to special places, and the local attachment of Deity, made expatriation doubly severe. The Hebrew people, for instance, in many most vital points, could no longer obey their sacred law at all when personally removed from Jerusalem; and in many others they were forced to modify it by reason of their change of circumstances. Two principal motives impelled conquering powers thus to transport families in the mass: first, the desire of rapidly filling with a valuable population new cities, built for pride or for policy; next, the determination to break up hostile organizations, or dangerous reminiscences of past greatness. Both might sometimes be combined in the same act. To attain the former object, the skilled artisans would in particular be carried off; while the latter was better effected by transporting all the families of the highest birth, and all the well-trained soldiery. The Greeks used the special epithet ἀνάσπαστοι for a population thus removed (Herod. 6:93, passim).
I. ASSYRIAN CAPTIVITY OF "ISRAEL." —
1. Its Occurrence. — The kingdom of Israel was invaded by three or four successive kings of Assyria. Pul or Sardanapalus, according to H. Rawlinson (Outline of Assyrian History, p. 14; but comp. G. Rawlinson, Herodotus, 1:466),imposed a tribute, B.C. cir. 762, upon Menahem (1Ch 5:26, and 2Ki 15:19). Tiglath - Pileser carried away, B.C. cir. 738, the trans-Jordanic tribes (1Ch 5:26) and the inhabitants of Galilee (2Ki 15:29; compare Isa 9:1) to Assyria. Shalmaneser twice invaded (2Ki 17:3,5) the kingdom which remained to Hoshea, took Samaria, B.C. 720, after a siege of three years, and carried Israel away into Assyria. SEE HOSHEA. In an inscription interpreted by Rawlinson (Herodotus, 1:472), the capture of Samaria is claimed by king Sargon (Isa 20:1) as his own achievement. The cities of Samaria were occupied by people sent from Babylon, Cuthah, Ava, Hamath, and Sepharvaim; and Halah, Habor, Hara, and the river of Gozan became the seats of the exiled Israelites. SEE ISRAEL, KINGDOM OF.
The theory of this history is, that in the time of these conquering monarchs Assyria was rapidly rising into power, and to aggrandize Nineveh was probably a great object of policy. It is therefore credible, as Tiglath-Pileser had received no particular provocation from the Israelites, that he carried off those masses of population to stock his huge city with. His successor Shalmaneser made the Israelitish king Hoshea tributary. When the tribute was withheld, he attacked and reduced Samaria, and, by way of punishment and of prevention, transported into Assyria and Media its king and all the most valuable population remaining to the ten tribes (2Ki 17:6). That he did not carry off all the peasants is probable from the nature of the case; Hengstenberg, however, maintains the contrary (Genuineness of the Pentateuch, 1:71 sq. Edinb. tr.). The families thus removed were in a great measure settled in very distant cities, many of them probably not far from the Caspian Sea, and their place was supplied by colonies from Babylon and Susis (2Ki 17:24). SEE ASSYRIA.
2. Condition of the Assyrian Captives. — This was probably not essentially different in its external circumstances from that of their Judaite brethren subsequently during the exile in Babylon. (See below.) We know nothing, except by inference from the book of Tobit (q.v.), of the religious or social state of the Israelitish exiles in Assyria. Doubtless the constant policy of seventeen successive kings had effectually estranged the people from that religion which centered in the Temple, and had reduced the number of faithful men below the 7000 who were revealed for the consolation of Elijah. Some priests at least were among them (2Ki 17:28), though it is not certain that these were of the tribe of Levi (1Ki 12:31). The people had been nurtured for 250 years in idolatry in their own land, where they departed not (2Ki 17:22) from the sins of Jeroboam, notwithstanding the proximity of the Temple, and the succession of inspired prophets (2Ki 17:13) among them. Deprived of these checks on their natural inclinations (2Ki 17:15), torn from their native soil, destitute of a hereditary king, they probably became more and more closely assimilated to their heathen neighbors in Media. And when, after the lapse of more than a century, they were joined by the first exiles from Jerusalem, very few families probably retained sufficient faith in the God of their fathers to appreciate and follow the instruction of Ezekiel. But whether they were many or few, their genealogies were probably lost, a fusion of them with the Jews took place, Israel ceasing to envy Judah (Isa 11:13); and Ezekiel may have seen his own symbolical prophecy (Eze 37:15-19) partly fulfilled.
The nation thus transported by the monarchs of Assyria and Babylon were treated with no unnecessary harshness, even under the dynasty that captured them. So far were they from the condition of bondsmen (which the word "captive" suggests), that the book of Susanna represents their elders in Babylon as retaining the power of life and death over their own people (1:28), when Daniel was as yet a very young man. The authority of that book cannot indeed be pressed as to the chronology, yet the notices given by Ezekiel (Eze 14:1; Eze 20:1) concur in the general fact that they still held an internal jurisdiction over their own members. At a later time, under the Seleucidae, we have distinct proof that in the principal cities the Jews were governed by an officer (ἐθνάρχης) of their own nation, as also in Egypt under the Ptolemies. The book of Tobit exhibits Israelites in Media possessed of slaves themselves (8:18); the book of Daniel tells us of a Jew in eminent political station, and that of Esther celebrates their power and consequence in the Persian empire. Under the Seleucidae, SEE ANTIOCHUS, they were occasionally important as garrison soldiers; and it may be suspected that, on the whole, their lot was milder than that of the other conquered nations among which they dwelt.
3. Eventual Fate of the Exiles in Assyria. — Many attempts have been made to discover the ten tribes existing as a distinct community. Josephus (Ant. 11:5, 2) believed that in his day they dwelt in large multitudes somewhere beyond the Euphrates, in Arsareth, according to the author of 2 Esd. 13:45. Rabbinical traditions and fables, committed to writing in the Middle Ages, assert the same fact (Lightfoot, Hor. Hebr. in 1 Corinthians 14, Appendix), with many marvelous amplifications (Eisenmenger, Ent. Jud. vol. 2, ch. 10; Jahn, Hebrew Commonwealth App. bk. 6). The imagination of Christian writers has sought them in the neighborhood of their last recorded habitation; Jewish features have been traced in the Affghan tribes; rumors are heard to this day of a Jewish colony at the foot of the Himalayas; the Black Jews of Malabar claim affinity with them; elaborate attempts have been made to identify them with the Tartars (G. Fletcher, Israel Redux, Lond. 1677), and more recently with the Nestorians (Grant's Nestorians, N. Y. 1841), and in the seventeenth century with the Indians of North America. But, though history bears no witness of their present distinct existence, it enables us to track the footsteps of the departing race in four directions after the time of the Captivity:
(1.) Some returned and mixed with the Jews (Lu 2:36; Php 3:5, etc.).
(2.) Some were left in Samaria, mingled with the Samaritans (Ezr 6:21; Joh 4:12), and became bitter enemies of the Jews.
(3.) Many remained in Assyria, and, mixing with the Jews, formed colonies throughout the East, and were recognized as an integral part of the Dispersion (see Ac 2:9; Ac 26:7; Buchanan's Christian Researches, p. 212), for whom, probably ever since the days of Ezra, that plaintive prayer, the tenth of the Shemoneh Esre, has been daily offered, "Sound the great trumpet for our deliverance, lift up a banner for the gathering of our exiles, and unite us all together from the four ends of the earth."
(4.) Most, probably, apostatized in Assyria, as Prideaux (sub ann. 677) supposes, and adopted the usages and idolatry of the nations among whom they were planted, and became wholly swallowed up in them. Dissertations on the Ten Tribes have been written by Calmet (Commentaire Litteral, vol. 3 and 6) and others (the latest by J. Kennedy, Lond. 1855); also innumerable essays and disquisitions scattered in the works of travelers, and in the pages of various periodicals, mostly of a highly fanciful character. Every scriptural intimation respecting them, however, goes to show that they shared the ultimate history of their brethren of the kingdom of Judah transported to the same or adjoining parts. See below.
II. BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY OF "JUDAH." —
1. Its Date. — Sennacherib, B.C. 713, is stated (Rawlinson, Outline, p. 24; but comp. Demetrius ap. Clem. Alexand. Stromata, 1:21, incorrectly quoted as confirming the statement) to have carried into Assyria 200,000 captives from the Jewish cities which he took (2Ki 18:13). Nebuchadnezzar, early in his reign, B.C. 606-562, repeatedly invaded Judsea, and finally beseiged Jerusalem, carried away the inhabitants to Babylon, and destroyed the city and Temple. Two distinct deportations are mentioned in 2Ki 24:14; 2Ki 25:11; one in 2Ch 36:20; three in Jer 52:28-29, and one in Da 1:3. The two principal deportations were, (1) that which took place B.C. 598, when Jehoiachin, with all the nobles, soldiers, and artificers were carried away; and (2) that which followed the destruction of the Temple and the capture of Zedekiah, B.C. 588. The three which Jeremiah mentions may have been the contributions of a particular class or district to the general captivity; or they may have taken place, under the orders of Nebuchadnezzar, before or after the two principal deportations. The third is located by the date in B.C. 582. The captivity of certain selected children, B.C. 607, mentioned by Daniel (Da 1:3,6), who was one of them, may have occurred when Nebuchadnezzar (q.v.) was colleague or lieutenant of his father Nabopolassar, a year before he reigned alone. The captivity of Ezekiel (q.v.) dates from B.C. 598, when that prophet, like Mordecai, the uncle of Esther (Es 2:6), accompanied Jehoiachin.
There is a difficulty in the statement with which the book of Daniel opens, which is generally interpreted to mean that in the third year of Jehoiakim, Nebuchadnezzar besieged and captured Jerusalem, partially plundered the Temple, and carried off the first portion of the people into captivity, among whom was Daniel. The text, however, does not explicitly say so much, although such is the obvious meaning; but if this is the only interpretation, we find it in direct collision with the books of Kings and Chronicles (which assign to Jehoiakim an eleven years' reign), as also with Jer 25:1. The statement in Daniel partly rests on 2Ch 36:6, which is itself not in perfect accordance with 2 Kings 24. In the earlier history, the war broke out during the reign of Jehoiakim, who died before its close; and when his son and successor Jehoiachin had reigned three months, the city and its king were captured. But in the Chronicles, the same event is made to happen twice, at an interval of three months and ten days (2Ch 36:6,9), and even thus we do not obtain accordance with the received interpretation of Da 1:1-3. It seems, on the whole, the easiest supposition that "the third year of Jehoiakim" is there a mistake for "the third month of Jehoiachin." Hengstenberg, however, and Hävernick defend the common reading, and think they reconcile it with the other accounts; which may not unreasonably be done by understanding the date in Da 1:1, to refer to the setting out of Nebuchadnezzar on the campaign in question. SEE JUDAH, KINGDOM OF.
There has been considerable difference of opinion as to how the 70 years of captivity spoken of by Jeremiah (Jer 25:12; Jer 29:10) are to be estimated. A plausible opinion would make them last from the destruction of the first Temple, B.C. 588, to the finishing of the second, B.C. 516; but the words of the text so specify "the punishing of the king of Babylon" as the end of the 70 years — which gives us the date B.C. 538 — that many, with Jahn, cling to the belief that a first captivity took place in the third year of Jehoiakim, B.C.605. But, in fact, if we read Jeremiah himself, it may appear that in ch. 25 he intends to compute the 70 years from the time at which he speaks (ver. 1, "in the fourth year of Jehoiakim," i.e. B.C. 604); and that in 29:10, the number " seventy years" is still kept up, in remembrance of the former prophecy, although the language there used is very lax. There seem, in fact to be two, if not more, coordinate modes of computing the period in question, used by the sacred writers, one civil, and extending from the first invasion by Nebuchadnezzar to the decree of Cyrus B.C. 606-536), and the other ecclesiastical, from the burning of the Temple to its reconstruction (B.C. 588-517). SEE SEVENTY YEARS CAPTIVITY.
2. Its Extent. — Jeremiah dates by the years of Nebuchadnezzar's reign, and estimates that in his seventh year 3023 were carried off, in his eighteenth 832, and in his twenty-third only 745, making in all, as the writer is careful to note, 4600 (Jer 52:28, etc.). The third removal he ascribes to Nebuzaradan, the Babylonian general. That some misunderstanding here exists, at least in the numbers, appears undeniable; for 4600 persons was a very petty fraction of the Jewish people; and, in fact, 42,360 are stated to have returned immediately upon the decree of Cyrus (Ezr 2:64). In 2Ki 24:8-16, we find 18,000 carried off at once, in the third month of king Jehoiachin, and in the eighth year of Nebuchadnezzar, which evidently is the same as the first removal named by Jeremiah. After this, the vassal king Zedekiah having rebelled, his city is beleaguered, and finally, in his eleventh year, is reduced by Nebuchadnezzar in person; and in the course of the same year, "the nineteenth of Nebuchadnezzar" (2Ki 25:8), Nebuzaradan carries away all the population except the peasants. Perhaps we need not wonder that no mention is made in the book of Kings of the third deportation, for the account of the destruction was in a manner complete upon the second invasion. The first expatriation was directed to swell the armies and strengthen the towns of the conqueror; for of the 18,000 then carried away, 1000 were "craftsmen and smiths, all strong and apt for war," and 7000 of the rest are called "mighty men of valor." (Yet there is an uncertainty about verses 14 and 16 in 2 Kings 24. Probably here, as well as in Jeremiah 53, heads of families only are counted.) It was not until the rebellion of Zedekiah that Nebuchadnezzar proceeded to the extremity of breaking up the national existence. As the Temple was then burnt, with all the palaces and the city walls, and no government was left but that of the Babylonian satrap, this latter date is evidently the true era of the captivity. Previously Zedekiah was tributary, but so were Josiah and Ahaz long before; the national existence was still saved. SEE BABYLONIA.
3. Its conparative Mildness. — The captive Jews were probably prostrated at first by their great calamity, till the glorious vision of Ezekiel (Eze 1:1) in the fifth year of the captivity revived and reunited them. The wishes of their conqueror were satisfied when he had displayed his power by transporting them into another land, and gratified his pride by inscribing on the walls of the royal palace his victorious progress and the number of his captives. He could not have designed simply to increase the population of Babylon, for his Assyrian predecessor had sent Babylonian colonists into Samaria. One political end certainly was attained — the more easy government of a people separated from local traditions and associations (see Gesenius on Isa 26:16, and compare Ge 47:21). It was also a great advantage to the Assyro-Babylonian king to remove from the Egyptian border of his empire a people who were notoriously well affected toward Egypt. The captives were treated not as slaves, but as colonists. There was nothing to hinder a Jew from rising to the highest eminence in the state (Da 2:48), or holding the most confidential office near the person of the king (Ne 1:11; Tobit 1:13, 22). The advice of Jeremiah (Jer 29:5, etc.) was generally followed. The exiles increased in numbers and in wealth. They observed the Mosaic law (Es 3:8; Tobit 14:9). They kept up distinctions of rank among themselves (Eze 20:1). And though the assertion in the Talmud be unsupported by proof that they assigned thus early to one of their countrymen the title of Head of the Captivity (or captain of the people, 2 Esd. 5:16), it is certain that they at least preserved their genealogical tables, and were at no loss to tell who was the rightful heir to David's throne. They had neither place nor time of national gathering; no temple, and they offered no sacrifice. But the rite of circumcision, and their laws respecting food, etc., were observed; their priests were with them (Jer 29:1); and possibly the practice of erecting synagogues in every city (Ac 15:21) was begun by the Jews in the Babylonian captivity.
The captivity is not without contemporaneous literature. In the apocryphal book of Tobit, which is generally believed to be a mixture of poetical fiction with historical facts recorded by a contemporary, we have a picture of the inner life of a family of the tribe of Naphtali, among the captives whom Shalmaneser brought to Nineveh. The apocryphal book of Baruch seems, in Mr. Layard's opinion, to have been written by one whose eyes, like those of Ezekiel, were familiar with the gigantic forms of Assyrian sculpture. Several of the Psalms appear to express the sentiments of Jews who were either partakers or witnesses of the Assyrian captivity. Ewald assigns to this period Ps 42; Ps 43; Ps 84; Ps 17; Ps 16; Ps 49; Ps 22; Ps 25; Ps 38; Ps 88; Ps 40; Ps 49; Ps 109; Ps 51; Ps 71; Ps 25; Ps 34; Ps 82; Ps 14; Ps 120; Ps 121; Ps 123; Ps 130; Ps 131. Also in Psalm 80 we seem to have the words of an Israelite, dwelling perhaps in Judaea (2Ch 15:9; 2Ch 31:6), who had seen the departure of his countrymen to Assyria; and in Psalm 137 an outpouring of the first intense feelings of a Jewish exile in Babylon. But it is from the three great prophets — Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel — that we learn most of the condition of the children of the captivity. The distant warnings of Jeremiah, advising and cheering them, followed them into Assyria. There, for a few years, they had no prophetic guide; till suddenly the vision of Ezekiel at Chebar (in the immediate vicinity of Nineveh, according to Layard, or, according to others, near Carchemish on the Euphrates) assured them that the glory which filled the Temple at Jerusalem was not hopelessly withdrawn from the outcast people of God. As Jeretmiah warned them of coming woe, so Ezekiel taught them how to bear that which was come upon them. When Ezekiel died, after passing at least twenty-seven years (Eze 29:17) in captivity, Daniel survived even beyond the Return; and though his high station and ascetic life probably secluded him from frequent familiar intercourse with his people, he filled the place of chief interpreter of God's will to Israel, and gave the most conspicuous example of devotion and obedience to his laws.
4. The Restoration from Babylon. — The first great event in the Return is the decree of Cyrus, B.C. 516 (which was possibly framed by Daniel; see Milman, Hist. of Jews, 2:8), in consequence of which 42,360 Jews of Babylon returned under Sheshbazzar, with 7337 slaves, besides cattle. This ended in their building the altar, and laying the foundation of the second Temple, fifty-three years after the destruction of the first. The progress of the work was, however, almost immediately stopped; for Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the rest abruptly refused all help from the half-heathen inhabitants of Samaria, and soon felt the effects of the enmity thus induced. That the mind of Cyrus was changed by their intrigues we are not informed, but he was probably absent in distant parts through continual war. There is some difficulty in Ezra 4 as to the names Ahasuerus and Artaxerxes, yet the general facts are clear. When Darius (Hystaspis), an able and generous monarch, ascended the throne, the Jews soon obtained his favor. At this crisis Zerubbabel was in chief authority (Sheshbazzar, if a different person, perhaps being dead), and under him the Temple was recommenced in the second and finished in the sixth year of Darius, B.C. 520-517. Although this must be reckoned an era in the history, it is not said to have been accompanied with any new immigration of Jews. We pass on to "the seventh year of king Artaxerxes" (Longimanus), Ezr 7:7, i.e. B.C. 459, when Ezra comes up from Babylon to Jerusalem, with the king's commendatory letters, accompanied by a large body of his nation. The enumeration in Ezra 8 makes them under 1800 males, with their families; perhaps amounting to 5000 persons, young and old: of whom 113 are recounted as having heathen wives (Ezr 10:18-43). In the twentieth year of the same king, or B.C. 446, Nehemiah, his cup-bearer, gains his permission to restore "his fathers' sepulchres," and the walls of his native city, and is sent to Jerusalem with large powers. This is the crisis which decided the national restoration of the Jewish people; for before their city was fortified they had no defense against the now confirmed enmity of their Samaritan neighbors; and, in fact, before the walls could be built, several princes around were able to offer great opposition. SEE SANBALLAT. The Jewish population was overwhelmed with debt, and had generally mortgaged their little estates to the rich; but Nehemiah's influence succeeded in bringing about a general forfeiture of debts, or, at least, of interest; after which we may regard the new order of things to have been finally established in Judaea. SEE NEHEMIAH. From this time forth it is probable that numerous families returned in small parties, as to a secure home, until all the waste land in the neighborhood was reoccupied.
The great mass of the Israelitish race nevertheless remained in the lands to which they had been scattered. Previous to the captivity, many Israelites had settled in Egypt (Zec 10:11; Isa 19:18), and many Jews afterward fled thither from Nebuzaradan (Jer 41:17). Others appear to have established themselves in Sheba (see Jost's Geschichte, etc.), where Jewish influence became very powerful. SEE SHEBA. Among those that returned to Judea, about 30,000 are specified (comp. Ezra 2
and Nehemiah 7) as belonging to the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and Levi. It has been inferred (Prideaux, sub ann. 526) that the remaining 12,000 belonged to the tribes of Israel (comp. Ezr 6:17). Also from the fact that out of the twenty-four courses of priests only four returned (Ezr 2:36), it has been inferred that the whole number of exiles who chose to continue in Assyria was about six times the number of those who returned. Those who remained (Es 8:9,11), and kept up their national distinction, were known as The Dispersion (Joh 7:35; 1Pe 1:1; Jas 1:1); and in course of time they served a great purpose in diffusing a knowledge of the true God, and in affording a point for the commencement of the efforts of the evangelists of the Christian faith. See below, and comp. RESTORATION SEE RESTORATION (of the Jews).
5. Effects of the Captivity. — The exile was a period of change in the vernacular language of the Jews (see Ne 8:8, and SEE CHALDEE LANGUAGE ) and in the national character. The Jews who returned were remarkably free from the old sin of idolatry: a great spiritual renovation, in accordance with the divine promise (Eze 36:24-28), was wrought in them. A new and deep feeling of reverence for at least the letter of the law and the institutions of Moses was probably a result of the religious service which was performed in the synagogues. At the same time their theosophical and daemonological views were developed by their contact with Oriental systems, and perhaps by the polemics thereby engendered, and especially by their review of their own religious resources; and their more careful study of the didactic portions of the O.T. Scriptures; certain it is that from this period we can date not only a fuller angelology, SEE ANGEL, but also more subtle philosophical distinctions, SEE PHILOSOPHY] and in particular a more distinct recognition of the great doctrines of the immortality of the soul, and even of the resurrection of the body, which we subsequently find so unquestioned by the orthodox Pharisees. SEE SECTS (OF THE JEWS). All this was the natural consequence of the absence of the ritual services of the Temple, which brought out the more spiritual elements of Mosaism, and thus was the nation better prepared for the dispensation of the Gospel. A new impulse of commercial enterprise and activity was also implanted in them, and developed in the days of the Dispersion (see Jas 4:13), which they have continued to feel even to the present time. In fine, an innovation was effected upon the narrow and one-sided notions of Judaism by the associations of the exile, which, although it resulted in the defection of many from the national faith (but of these few cared to return to their native land), yet — like the earlier Sojourn in Egypt (with which, in the glowing pictures of prophecy, it was often compared) — ended in the colonization of Palestine with a fresh and more thoroughly cultured population, yet more scrupulously devoted than ever to the theocratic cultus, who volunteered with pious zeal to lay anew the foundations of the Hebrew polity.
6. The Dispersion, ἡ Διασπορά (2 Macc. 1:27; Jas 1:1; 1Pe 1:1; Joh 7:35; Josephus, Ant. 12:1, 3, etc.; Sept. for גָּלוּת, which it also renders ἀποικία, μετοικεσία, αἰχμαλωσία), is the collective name given to all those descendants of the twelve tribes (Jas 1:1; τὸ δωδεκάφυλον, Ac 26:7) who lived without the confines of Palestine (ἔξω, 1Co 5:13., etc.; הִיָּם מַדַינִת, חוּצָה לָאֶרֶוֹ, Talmudic Mishna), during the time of the second Temple. The number of exiles, mostly of the tribe of Judah and Benjamin (Ezr 1:5, etc.), who availed themselves of the permission of Cyrus to return from their captivity in Babylon to the land of their fathers, scarcely exceeded, if indeed it reached, the number of 50,000 [the total stated both in Ezra and Nehemiah is, exclusive of the slaves, 42,360; but the sum of the items given — with slight differences — in both documents, falls short of 30,000]. Old Jewish authorities see in this surplus Israelites of the ten tribes (comp. Seder Olam Rabbah, ch. 24), and among these few but the lowest and humblest, or such as had yielded to authority, were to be found (comp. Mishna, Kidushin, 4:1; Gem. 71:1). The great bulk of the nation remained scattered over the wide dominions of the Persian empire, preferring the new homes in which they enjoyed all the privileges of native-born subjects, and where they had in many cases acquired wealth and honors, to the dangers and difficulties of a recolonization of their former country. But while, by the hands of the despised minority who had bravely gone forth, was to be recreated not only the Temple, the visible center of Judaism, but also the Astill more imposing and important edifice of the Jewish law and Jewish culture, to the much larger section which remained behind, and gradually diffused itself over the whole of the then known world, it was given to participate in the intellectual life and the progress in civilization of all the nations with whom their lot was cast. To the Dispersion is thus due the cosmopolitan element in Judaism which has added so vastly not only to its own strength and durability, but also, geographically at least, to thee rapid spread of Christianity. So far, however, from the dispersion paving the way for the new faith by relaxing the rigor of Jewish law, written or oral — as has been assumed by some — one of the strongest ties by which these voluntary exiles were bound to Palestine and Jerusalem consisted in the very regulations and decisions on all ritual and legal points which they received from the supreme religious authorities, either brought back by their own delegates, or transmitted to them by special messengers from the Central Court, the Sanhedrim (Ac 28:21). Generally it might be said of the whole Diaspora, as Philo (Flacc. § 7) said of that of Egypt: that while they looked upon the country in which they had been born and bred as their home, still they never ceased, so long as the Temple stood, to consider Jerusalem as the spiritual metropolis to which their eyes and hearts were directed. Many were the pilgrimages undertaken thither from their far-distant lands (Ac 2:5,9-11; Joseph. War, 6:9, 3, etc.). The Talmud (Jeremiah Meg. 3:75; comp. Tos. Meg. 100:2) speaks of no less than 380 synagogues in Jerusalem, besides the Temple, all belonging to different communities of the Dispersion (comp. also Ac 6:9). Abundant and far exceeding the normal tax of half a shekel (Shek. 7:4) were the gifts they sent regularly for the support of the holy place (gold instead of silver and copper, Tos. Shek. 100:2), and still more liberal were the monetary equivalents for sacrifices, propitiatory offerings (χύτρα, Philo), for vows, etc., which flowed from all countries into the sacred treasury. The Sanhedrim again regulated the year, with all its subdivisions, throughout the wide circle of the Dispersion; the fact that the commencement of the new month had been officially recognized being announced either by beacon-fires to the adjoining countries, or by messengers to places more remote. That, in general, there existed, as far as circumstances permitted, an uninterrupted intercourse between the Jews abroad and those in Palestine cannot be doubted. Probably, owing to this very connection, two foreign academies only seem to have existed during the time of the second Temple; the youth of the Dispersion naturally preferring to resort to the fountain-head of learning and religious instruction in the Holy City. The final destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem was thus a blow hardly less sensibly felt by the Dispersion than by their brethren of Jerusalem themselves. From that time forward no visible center bound the widely-scattered members of the Jewish nation together; nothing remained to them but common memories, common hopes, and a common faith.
(a.) Foremost in the two or three chief sections into which the Dispersion has been divided stands the Babylonian (ὑπὲρ Εὐφράτην, Josephus, Ant. 15:3, 1), embracing all the Jews of the Persian empire, into every part of which (Es 3:8) — Babylonia, Media, Persia, Susiana, Mesopotamia, Assyria, etc. — they penetrated. The Jews of Babylonia proper prided themselves on the exceptional purity of their lineage — a boast uniformly recognized throughout the nation. What Judaea, it was said, was with respect to the Dispersion of other countries — as pure flour to dough that Babylonia was to Judaea (Jerus. Talm. Kid. 6:1). Herod pretended to have sprung from Babylonian ancestors (Joseph. Ant. 14:1, 3), and also bestowed the high-priesthood upon a man from Babylon (Joseph. Ant. 15:2, 4). In the messages sent by the Sanhedrim to the whole Dispersion, Babylonia received the precedence (Sanh. 11); although it remained a standing reproach against the Babylonians that they had held aloof from the national cause when their brethren returned to Palestine, and thus had caused the weakness of the Jewish state (Yoma, 9); as indeed living in Palestine under any circumstances is enumerated among the (613) Jewish ordinances (Nachmanides, Comm. to Maimonides's Sepher Hammizvoth). The very territory of Babylonia was, for certain ritual purposes, considered to be as pure as Palestine itself. Very little is known of the history of the Babylonian Diaspora; but there is no reason to suppose that its condition was, under Persian as well as under Seleucidian and Parthian rule, at most times other than flourishing and prosperous; such as we find that it was when it offered Hyrcanus "honors not inferior to those of a king" (Joseph. Ant. 15:2, 2). Of Alexander the Great, Josephus records expressly that he confirmed the former privileges of the Jews in Babylonia (Joseph. Ant. 11:8, 5), notwithstanding their firm refusal to assist in rebuilding the temple of Belus at Babylon (Hecat. ap. Joseph. Ap. 1:22). Two great cities, Nisibis in Mesopotamia, and Nehardea on the Euphrates, where the moneys intended for transmission to Jerusalem were deposited (Joseph. Ant. 18:9, 1, 3, 4, etc.), as was the case also at Apamea in Asia Minor, Laodicea in Phrygia, Pergamus and Adramyttium in AEolis — seem to have been entirely their own, and for a number of years they appear even to have enjoyed the undisputed possession of a whole principality (ib. 5). Great calamities, however, befell them, both about this time under Mithridates (ib. 9), and later under Caligula, through the jealousy of the Greeks and Syrians; and at both of these epochs they emigrated in large numbers. Whether they had in those times, as was afterward the case, a universally recognized ethnarch at their head, is open to doubt, although Seder Olam
Sutta enumerates the names of fifteen generations of such, down to the third century. The ties which linked Babylonia to Palestine were perhaps closer than in the case of any other portion of the Dispersion, both on account of their greater proximity, which enabled them to communicate by beacons (Beth-Biltin being the last station on the frontiers; Rosh Hash. 2:7), and of their common Aramaic idiom. That this Dispersion was not without an influence on the development of the Zoroastrian religion (comp. Spiegel, intr. to Zendavesta), which in its turn again influenced Judaism (and, at a later stage, Gnosticism), can hardly be doubted; at the same time, it was Babylon which, after the final destruction of the Temple, by its numerous and far-famed academies, became for a long time the spiritual center of the Jewish race, and was the seat of the prince of the Diaspora (Resh Gelutha). SEE BABYLON.
(b.) The second great and pre-eminently important group of the Dispersion we find in Egypt. Of the original immigrations from Palestine (comp. Zec 10:11), and of those which took place in the times of the last kings of Judah (Jer 41:17-18), we have no more certain traces than of those under Artaxerxes Ochus (Josephus; Ap. 1, etc.). It was only after Alexander the Great, who first settled 8000 Jewish soldiers in the Thebais, and peopled a third of his newly-founded city Alexandria with Jews, and Ptolemaeus, the son of Lagus, after him, who increased the number of Egyptian Jews by fresh importations from Palestine, that the Egyptian Dispersion began to spread over the whole country, from the Libyan desert in the north to the boundaries of Ethiopia in the south (Philo, Fl. 2:523), over the Cyrenaica and parts of Libya (Joseph. Ant. 16:7, 2), and along the borders of the African coast of the Mediterranean. They enjoyed equal rights with their fellow-subjects, both Egyptian and Greek (ἰσοπολιτεία, Joseph. Ap. 2:4, etc.), and were admitted to the highest offices and dignities. The free development which was there allowed them enabled them to reach, under Greek auspices, the highest eminence in science and art. Their artists and workmen were sent for to distant countries, as once the Phoenicians had been (Yoma, 3:8, a.; Erach. 10, b). In Greek strategy and Greek statesmanship, Greek learning and Greek refinement, they were ready disciples. From the number of Judaeo-Greek fragments, historical, didactic, epic, etc. (by Demetrius, Malchus, Eupolemus, Artapan, Aristaeus, Jason, Ezechielus, Philo the Elder, Theodotion, etc.; collected in Müller, Fragm. Hist. Grcec. in, 207-230), which have survived, we may easily conclude what an immense literature this Egyptian Dispersion must have possessed. To them is owing likewise the Greek translation of the Bible known as the Septuagint, which, in its turn, while it estranged the people more and more from the language of their fathers, the Hebrew, gave rise to a vast pseudo-epigraphical and apocryphal literature (Orphica, Sybillines, Pseudophoclea; poems by Linus, Homer, Hesiod; additions to Esther, Ezra, the Maccabees, Book of Wisdom, Baruch, Jeremiah, Susannah, etc.). Most momentous of all, however, was that peculiar Graeco-Jewish philosophy which sprang from a mixture of Hellenism and Orientalism, and which played such a prominent part in the early history of Christianity. The administrative government of this Egyptian, or, rather, African Dispersion, which, no less than all other branches, for all religious purposes looked to Jerusalem as the head, was, at the time of Christ, in the hands of a Gerousia (Sukkah, 51, b; Philo, Fl. 2:5, 28), consisting of seventy members and an ethnarch (alabarch), chosen from their own body, of priestly lineage. These sat at Alexandria, where two of the five divisions of the city, situated on the Delta (the site best adapted for navigation and commercial purposes), were occupied exclusively by Jews (Josephus, Ant. 14:7, 2). Of the splendor of the Alexandrine temple, there is a glowing account in the Jerusalem (Suk. 10, b); and when, in consequence of the Syrian oppression in Palestine, Onias, the son of the last high-priest of the line of Joshua, had fled to Egypt, where Ptolemy Philometor gave him an extensive district near Heliopolis, a new temple (Beth Chonyo) had arisen at Leontopolis (Joseph. Ant. 13:3, 2, f.), B.C. 180, which bade fair to rival the Temple of Jerusalem. Such, indeed, was the influence of the Jews in Egypt, whom Philo (Fl. 6) in his time estimates at a million, that this new temple was treated with consideration even by the Sanhedrim (Menach. 109, a). Their condition, it may easily be inferred, was flourishing both under the Seleucidian and Roman sway, but under Caligula, and still more under Nero (Joseph. War, 2:18, 7), they, like their brethren in other parts of the Roman empire, suffered greatly from sudden outbursts of the populace, prompted and countenanced in some instances by their rulers. From Egypt the Diaspora spread southward to Abyssinia, where some remnants of it still exist under the name of the Falasha, and in all likelihood eastward to Arabia (Miishna, Shab. 6:6), where we find a Jewish kingdom (Yemen) in the south (Tabari ap. Silv. de Sacy; Mem. de l'Acad. de Inscr. p. 78), and a large Jewish settlement (Chaibar) in Hejaz in the north. SEE ALEXANDRIA.
(c.) Another principal section of the Dispersion we find in Syria, whither they had been brought chiefly by Seleucus Nicator or Nicanor (Joseph. Ant. 7:3,1), when the battle of Ipsus, B.C. 301, had put him in possession of the countries of Syria Proper, Bablylonia, Mesopotamia, Persia, Phoenicia, Palestine, etc. Under his and his successors' fostering rule they reached the highest degree of prosperity (l. c.), principally at Antioch on the Orontes, and Seleucia on the Tigris, and other great cities founded by Seleucus; and the privileges which this king had bestowed upon them were constantly confirmed up to the time of Josephus (Ant. 12:3,1). Antiochus Epiphanes, or Epimanes, as he was called, seems to have been the only Syrian potentate by whom the Syrian dispersion was persecuted; and it was no doubt under his reign that they, in order to escape from his cruelty, began to emigrate in all directions — to Armenia, Cappadocia (Helena, the Jewish queen of Adiabene, Joseph. Ant. 20:2), Cyprus, and over the whole of Asia Minor; Phrygia and Lydia alone possessed Jewish colonies of a previous date, planted there by Antiochus the Greek (Joseph. Ant. 12:3, 4). Hence they dispersed themselves throughout the islands of the AEgean, to Macedonia, to Greece, where they inhabited chiefly the seaports and the marts of trade and commerce. SEE SYRIA.
(d.) Although, to use the words of Josephus (Ant. 14:7, 2), the habitable globe was so full of Jews that there was scarcely a corner of the Roman empire where they might not be found — a statement fully confirmed by the number of Roman decrees issued to various parts of the empire for their protection (Joseph. Ant. 14:10 sq.) — there is yet no absolute proof of their having acquired any fixed settlements in the metropolis itself anterior to the time of Pompey, who, after the taking of Jerusalem, carried back with him many Jewish captives and prisoners to Rome, B.C. 63. These, being generally either allowed to retire from the service, or ransomed, remained there as Libertini, and in time formed, by the addition to their number of fresh immigrants from Asia and Greece, a large and highly influential community, which occupied chiefly the Transtiberine portion of the city, together with an island in the Tiber. Their prosperity grew with their numbers, and suffered but short interruptions under Tiberius (Suet. Tib. 100:36). The expulsion under Claudius (Suet. Cl. 25) and Caligula (Joseph. Ant. 18:6) is contradicted (Dio Cass. 60:6; Orosius, 7:6). They built numerous synagogues, founded schools (even a short-lived academy), made proselytes, and enjoyed the full advantages of Roman citizens (in the decrees they are styled πολίται ῾Ρωμαίων, πολίται ἡμέτεροι ῾Ιουδαῖοι, Joseph. Ant. 14:10). The connection between the Roeman Dispersion and Palestine was very close, especially so long as the young princes of the Herodian house were, in a manner, obliged to live in Rome. There is no doubt that to the influence of this powerful body, whose number, origin, strange rites and customs, attracted no small share of public notice (Tacitus, Suetonius, Cicero, Juvenal, Horace, Martial, Justinian, etc., passim), and to their access to the imperial court was due the amelioration of the condition of the Jewish people throughout every country to which the sway of Rome extended. It was also through Rome chiefly, both before, and still more after the final destruction of Jerusalem, that the stream of Jewish emigration was poured over the greater part of Europe. Of the world-wide influence of the Jewish Dispersion on Christianity, which addressed itself first of all to the former as a body (Ac 13:46; Ac 2:9,11), farther mention will be found under the article JEWS.
The most important original authorities on the Dispersion are Joseph. Ant. 14:10; 14:7; Apion. 2:5; Philo, Leg. ad Caium; id. Flaccum. Frankel has collected the various points together in an exhaustive essay in his Monatsschrift, Nov. Dec. 1853, p. 409-11, 449-51. Comp. Jost, Gesch. d. Judenth. p. 336, 344; Ewald, Gesch. d. Volkes Isr. 4. SEE DISPERSED JEWS.
III. Subsequent States of Captivity. —
1. The extermination suffered by the Jewish inhabitants of Palestine under the Romans far better deserves the name of captivity; for, after the massacre of countless thousands, the captives were reduced to a real bondage. According to Josephus, in his detailed account (War, especially 6:9, 3), 1,100,000 men fell in the siege of Jerusalem by Titus, and 97,000 were captured in the whole war. Of the latter number, the greatest part were distributed among the provinces, to be butchered in the amphitheaters, or cast there to wild beasts; others were doomed to work as public slaves in Egypt. Only those under the age of seventeen were sold into private bondage. SEE JERUSALEM.
2. An equally dreadful destruction fell upon the remains of the nation, which had once more assembled in Judaea, under the reign of Hadrian (A.D. 133), which Dion Cassius concisely relates; and by these two savage wars the Jewish population must have been effectually extirpated from the Holy Land itself, a result which did not follow from the Babylonian captivity.
3. Afterward, a dreary period of fifteen hundred years' oppression crushed in Europe all who bore the name of Israel, and Christian nations have visited on their head a crime perpetrated by a few thousand inhabitants of Jerusalem, who were not the real forefathers of the European Jews.
4. Nor in the East has their lot been much more cheering. With few and partial exceptions, they have ever since been a despised, an oppressed, and naturally a degraded people, though from them have spread light and truth to the distant nations of the earth. SEE JEWS.
IV. Metaphorical Uses of the Term "Captivity." — "Children of the captivity" is a common figure of speech denoting those who were in captivity, or perhaps sometimes literally their posterity (Ezra, 4:1). "Turn again" (Ps 126:1), "turn away" (Jer 29:14), "turn back" (Zep 3:20), or, "bring again" (Eze 16:53) "the captivity," are figurative phrases, all referring to the Jewish nation in bondage and their return to Canaan. A similar expression is used in relation to individuals (Job 43:10): "The Lord turned the captivity of Job," i.e. he released him from the unusual sufferings and perplexities to which he had been in bondage, and caused him to rejoice again in the favor of God. "He led captivity captive," or "he led captive those who had led others captive" (Eph 4:8), is a figurative allusion to the victory which our blessed Redeemer achieved over sin, the world, death, and hell, by which our ruined race are brought into bondage (Ps 68:18; Ro 8:21; Ga 4:24; Heb 2:15; 2Pe 2:19; Col 2:15). SEE EXILE.