THE FALL

Fall of Israel (Northern Kingdom)

The Northern Kingdom of Israel fell to the Assyrians around 721 BC. This loss of the Promised Land and defeat at the hand of enemies is clearly explained as the result of disobedience to the covenant, turning away from God, and worshiping false gods and idols (2 Kgs 17:6-18). The Assyrian policy was to scatter the peoples they defeated. Thus, the leading citizens of Israel were relocated to other lands, while foreigners were relocated to live in the land of Israel.

Fall of Judah (Southern Kingdom)

The Southern Kingdom of Judah fell to Babylon early in the 6th century BC. Unlike Assyria, Babylon took the leading citizens of Judah and placed them in exile back in the land of Babylon. Thus, the Babylonian conquest of Judah begins what is known as the “exilic period.”

The Babylonian conquest of Judah actually took place over a period of several years and involved at least three deportations of citizens from Judah to Babylon. The initial siege of Jerusalem and the first deportation are described in 2 Kgs 24:10-16. The poor (farmers, uneducated, etc.) were left in Judah, while the leading citizens (the educated, priests, rulers, administrators, scribes, military officials, artisans, etc.) were taken into exile to Babylon. This first deportation is dated around 598 BC.

The second deportation and the actual destruction of Jerusalem are described in 2 Kgs 25:8-12. The city of Jerusalem and the Temple were burned. More leading citizens were taken into exile to Babylon, while the poor were left behind. This second deportation is usually designated the “Fall of the Southern Kingdom” or the “Fall of Jerusalem,” because of the destruction

of the capital city (Jerusalem). This second deportation is dated around 587 BC.

A third deportation seems to have taken place around 582 BC.

 

Living Conditions during the Exilic Period, in Babylon

The Judean exiles in Babylon were not placed in prisons or dungeons. Instead, they were actually allowed to live under rather comfortable conditions. Scripture indicates Babylon began to treat the exiles with some sense of favor and tolerance (2 Kgs 25:27- 30). The exiles were allowed to settle in villages and rural areas near Babylon itself. They were free to establish their own neighborhoods and even engage in profitable business ventures. from back in Jerusalem, was able to write letters and maintain contact with the exiles.

 

Some of the exiles became so comfortable and prosperous they remained in Babylon, even after the period of exile ended, when Babylon fell to Persia.

It is in relation to this period of the exile of the Judeans from the Southern Kingdom that the term “Jews” begins to be applied to the remnant of Israel. The term is especially applied at first to the exilic remnant during the rebuilding of life centered around religious faith (focused on the Torah) in the postexilic period.

Living Conditions during the Exilic Period, Back in Palestine

 

The land of Judah lay in ruins from the devastation of war. Almost all the fortified towns in Judah were destroyed (razed to the ground). The population of the land was drained away by various factors. Some had been taken into exile, many were killed in battle, many died from the impact of war (i.e., from starvation or disease), and some fled as refugees (to Egypt and elsewhere). Babylon did not replace the population with others from outside nations (as was the Assyrian policy that repopulated Samaria, in the North, with a foreign element).

 

The few poor people who remained in Judah eked out a minimum subsistence living off the land, among the ruins. The Temple remained a holy spot for pilgrimages to offer sacrifice, even among its burned ruins.

 The “Jewish Diaspora”

 

Israelite settlement outside of Palestine actually began with the fall of the Northern Kingdom. In 721 BC, Sargon II of Assyria deported many inhabitants of Samaria. They were resettled in Assyria; in Halah, on the Habur river in Gozan; and in the cities of the Medes (2 Kgs 17:6). These deportees have sometimes been referred to as the “ten lost tribes of Israel.”

As previously described, the exilic period, brought on by the conquest of the Southern Kingdom by Babylon, resulted in some dispersion as well. That is, some Jews remained in the comforts of Babylon even after the exile; and some fled from Palestine to Egypt during the war.

As a result of these dispersions, in the period following the exile, three major centers of Jewish settlement developed. There were major Jewish settlements in Palestine, Babylon, and Egypt.

2 thoughts on “THE FALL

  1. The reign of the kings were ending and God once again was going to re-establish His status as the one true God and the One the people of Israel needed to put thier trust in.But because of thier disobedence and because of all the pagan and barbarian things they had allowed to become part of thier lives,God made a move and He explains it through His prophets: Ezekiel 33:28-29: "I will make the land a desolate waste,and her proud strenght will come to a end,and the mountains of Israel will become desolate so that no one will cross them.Then they will know that I am the Lord,when I have made the land a desolate waste because of all the detestable things they have done."{I think that explains it and then He goes and scatters them}

  2. Once again, God says it and so be it! He is patient and long suffering but also Holy and just and perfect in His loving, caring and purposes. I am amazed every time I go into these scriptures and am reminded of the time frame. That there are so many years between the demise of the Northern and Southern Kingdoms. The appx. 16 years for the total destruction and exile of the Southern. I could spend days going on Rabbit trails concerning the scattering of the Northerners and the exile to Babylon of the South, plus how that affected the entire race even into 2011. That over half of the Jews today live all over the world rather than going back to Israel. It is sad for me to hear that only a remnant went back to Jerusalem after Babylon. That most were comfortable with the life they had in other lands. There is so much we are missing inside the pages of our Bible because we have so many other distractions. Man I need to turn the world off more! Help me to Hunger and thirst for more of you Lord.

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