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C O U R S E 
The Bible's Prehistory, Purpose, and Political Future
Dr. Jacob L. Wright, Emory University
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
Judahite Communities in Babylon
Notes taken on December 28, 2015 by Edward Tanguay
587 BC: Siege of Jerusalem
Nebuchadnezzar II
culminated in the destruction of the city
after Siege of 597, Nebuchadnezzar installed Zedekiah as tributary king of Judah at the age of twenty-one
revolted against Babylon, and entered into an alliance with Pharaoh Hophra, king of Egypt
Nebuchadnezzar responded by invading Judah
siege lasted 30 months
"every worst woe befell the city, which drank the cup of God's fury to the dregs"
after seeing his sons killed, Zedekiah was blinded, bound, and taken captive to Babylon, where he remained a prisoner until his death
Babylonian general Nebuzaraddan was sent to complete its destruction
Jerusalem was plundered and Solomon's Temple was destroyed
most of the elite were taken into captivity in Babylon
Gedaliah was assassinated two months later, and the population that had remained and those who had returned then fled to Egypt for safety
after the siege: Judahite Communities in Mesopotamia
we have no large body of evidence like the archive of Elephantine that describes daily life
Ran Zadok (Tel Aviv University)
"The Cuneiform Text"
database of cuneiform texts that mention any Judahites or Israelis
Laurie Pearce (Berkeley)
Cornelia Wunsch (Leipzig)
Kathleen Abraham (Tel Aviv)
Caroline Waerzeggers (Leiden)
most of the research is being done on cuneiform documents and using them to try to reconstruct life of exiled Judahites in the Mesopotamian region around Babylon
kinds of texts
Weidner Texts
relate to King Jehoiachin of Judah
a king of Judah who was dethroned by the King of Babylon in the 6th century BC and was taken into captivity
in these texts he is presented as receiving rations from the royal palace
also know of him from the end of the Book of Kings
was probably understood to be the heir to the Davidic throne
Sippar Texts
mention Judahite individuals in a market town
Murasha Archive
a firm whose task was the management of royal fiefs and estates
land leasing
tax collection
texts from Uruk, Nippur, Marad, and Isin
suggest that some Judean individuals lived among Babylonians not only in rural but also in an urban contexts
Al Yahudu Texts
the most exciting body of texts
translated as "Judahville" or "Jew Town" or in German "Judenstadt"
we have only 5% published so far
only the tip of the iceberg
it remains to be seen what new information we can get from these texts
scholarly work on networking e.g. by Caroline Waerzeggers
how it can be shown that there was three degrees of separation between rural Judahite and a high-ranking priestly official
Judahites were settled in regions which the palace wanted to develop
to increase the agricultural production
placed on lands on the Tigris owned by the crown
their job it to develop these lands and pay their taxes
Judahites resides in new and old villages with foreigners
they are not being settled alone, they are not separated from others
they have contact with foreigners
many of these foreigners are Phoenicians and Philistines
spoke dialects which were similar to each other
the problems of oral communication became less acute as the next generation of children were raised
involved in daily affairs
working for business firms, doing tax collection
social organization and religion
organized in clans
seem to be clan divisions, e.g. certain individuals do business with some clans but not other clans
none of the documents were issued on a Saturday or high holiday
seems to point to their keeping the Sabbath holy
this is different to the Elephantine records where they were unloading ships on Saturday
temple and sanctuaries
the Elephantine records refer to a temple to Anat-Yahu
Anat-Yahu: either the wife, sacred consort of Yahweh, or as a hypostatized aspect of Yahweh
there is no reference to a temple in the Babylonian documents
although it's probable that they have some sort of sanctuaries in each of their villages
in order to practice religious life, they needed something, since they were not part of the temples in the Babylonian cities
they continued to live separately for generations
near a million Judahites
into the Roman times
a question is why the small population at the beginning is not merging with the Babylonian population society
the Babylonian elites did not want to mix with others
they may have taken daughters of other nationalities for their own sons
but they would never give their own daughters to other nationalities
when these communities return to Judah, they continue this tradition of remaining separate