The emptiness of Judah in the exilic and early Persian period
Makuwa, Phaswane Simon
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The Old Testament verbal expression of ‘the exile of Judah’ during the Babylonian exile has led to the perception that the land of Judah was emptied of all Judeans. This biblical expression is not necessarily contradictory to historical facts, but theologically and quality-orientated in nature. The exile of the elite from Jerusalem to Babylon, the execution of some of them and the flight of others to Egypt and other neighbouring states disrupted Jerusalem and rendered the city dysfunctional in every national sphere. The royal and religious services, which were based in Jerusalem, the capital city, were discontinued. The emptiness of Judah was signalled by the emptiness as regards the royal and religious authority wrought on Jerusalem by Babylon. Without their royalty, cult, trade, military and judiciary, Judah was indeed emptied and exiled. However, not all Judeans were exiled, for a remnant remained. There is almost no significant record of revelations by God in Judah during the exile, especially after compatriots that opted to flee to Egypt had forcefully taken Jeremiah with them. In addition to its land being emptied during the exile, Judah lost some of its land. The Judean identity in Judah disintegrated due to the influx of foreigners into the land and their subsequent influence on the remaining Judeans. Those that remained in Judah were unable to establish an exclusive Judean community and identity effectively; in any case, not before the Babylonian exiles returned early in the time of the Persian Empire. The paucity of information about the lifestyle in Judah during the exile attests to the veracity and rectitude of the theological concepts of the exile of Judah from 605 to 539 BCE.
- Theology