I. Ancient Kingdom of Israel: A. Tribal Confederacy to United Monarchy: 1. Saul 2. David 3. Solomon B. Important dates: 922 bce: split of North (aka Israel, Ephraim, 10 tribes) and South (Judah) 722 bce: North destroyed by Assyrians… “lost” 597 bce: 1 st deportation of Judah’s elite to Babylon (Ezekiel included) 586 bce: destruction of the Jerusalem Temple, 2 nd deportation 538 bce: End of the Babylonian Exile, Persian King Cyrus (mentioned by the prophet Isaiah) allows the Jews to return home and rebuilt their temple C. The Prophets: 1. strong voice in the Hebrew Bible 2. the “ruah” of Yahweh= instruments of divine will and often voices of discontent
Isaiah and Restoration: A. The Babylonian Exile comes to an end in 538 bce, when Cyrus the Great defeats the Babylonian empire. 1. Judah interprets Cyrus’s victory as something Yahweh has done, because Yahweh is considered the architect of all events. They believe that God used foreign vehicles to laid Judah low for their transgressions and now that they had repeated, he would be merciful to them and restore them to the land of their ancestors, Judah. 2. Cyrus not only frees the Jews from Babylonian captivity, he also sends them home so that they may rebuild their temple. 3. The author of Isaiah Chapter 45 is so taken with Cyrus’ actions, believing them to be part of God’s plan, that he actually refers to Cyrus, a Persian king who openly does not worship the Hebrew God, as the “messiah” or chosen one of Yahweh.
Although the Jews were able to rebuilt their Temple, known as the 2 nd Temple, the power of the kingdom had diminished greatly. Various empires still continued to rule over them… the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, etc. Until the creation of the modern state of Israel, the remnant of Judah only self-governed for about 100 years. Since the destruction of the 1 st Temple, Jews had lived in Diaspora (dispersed) throughout the world. When the Romans destroyed the 2 nd Temple, Judaism underwent some radical changes… for all that remains of the 2 nd Temple today is the Western Wall (Wailing Wall). Faith in Diaspora: 1. move from literal ritual sacrifice to emphasis placed on sacred texts and ethical practice 2. Jews had to think about how to maintain Jewish identity while in Diaspora (language, culture, dress, and various other customs) 3. shift from temple focus to home and synagogue focus 4. shift from temple priests to rabbis (teacher of laws and practice)