Joel is the second of the twelve prophets in the Book of the Twelve. The Book of the Twelve Prophets was originally on one parchment roll because of the brevity of the text, and together formed one Book of the 24 Books of Hebrew Scripture. These twelve prophets were sometimes named the minor prophets, not because they are of lesser importance, but because their writings are brief.
All together the 16 prophets are called the Latter Prophets, as they began writing after the Division of the United Kingdom of Israel. The Book of Joel is apocalyptic in nature, referring to the "Day of the Lord. Chapter 2 speaks of God's mercy , and the end reveals a future time of Divine intervention. Chapter 3 relates the Day of Judgement and the salvation of God's children. Judahtown would have been much like a modern Chinatown, or perhaps like a Jewish neighborhood in 19 th century New York. Babylonians lived there, and they were usually in charge, but the place was filled with Jewish expats.
They could own property, they could build up wealth, and, if they did well enough, they could even be made royal officials. They were allowed to keep their culture, as well. They almost treated their new captives like honored guests.
If anything, the Jews were treated better than most. Most of the nations that Babylon conquered were so badly crushed that they left no signs of life for years. The only people who seemed to continue to live in their homelands and trade with their neighbors were the Jews in the northern Judah state of Benjamin. For whatever reason, they alone seem to be have been allowed to stay in their homeland after the Babylonian invasion.
King Jehoiachin, the king of Judah, was given a seat of honor in Babylon and provided with monthly stipend of grain and oil.
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Detail of a terracotta cylinder of Nebuchadnezzar II, recording the building and reconstruction works at Babylon. From Babylon, Iraq, housed in the British Museum.
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Some of Jews living as expats got rich. Archaeologists have found tablets listing land contracts, purchases, and other dry little administrative details that hint at some incredible stories.
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Within a few years of being conquered, some of the Jews living in Babylon had already earned enough to buy massive tracts of lands or to be counted among the elite. Some rose so high that they were counted among the most powerful people in Babylon.
There are records of Jews in Babylon who worked as royal merchants, courtiers , and even officials in direct service to the king. Most were poor; typically, they were farmers who struggled to feed their families through heavy taxes from the state. In Babylon, though, they had opportunity. About sixty years after the Babylonian exile began, the Jews were freed. The Persian Empire defeated Babylon and allowed the Jews to return to the home country. About 40, people took the offer and went home — but another 80, stayed behind in Babylon.
So many people decided to stay that the Jews living in Babylon became one of the largest diasporic communities on the planet. And that community lived on for thousands of years. Even in , when the state of Israel was founded, there were still Jews living in the Middle-East, descended from Babylonian communities like Al-Yahudu.
Perhaps, after sixty years in captivity, it was just too hard to go back. After sixty years by the rivers of Babylon, they forgot Jerusalem.
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February 3, Biblical Archaeology Society. April 15, Price, J. Randall, and H. Wayne House. Zondervan Handbook of Biblical Archaeology. Wayne House, Stern, Ephraim. My writing has appeared on the front pages of Yahoo, The Read More. Well written. Super interesting period of history. If they would have behaved, the king of Babylon would have left them in better shape. The second is that Cyrus of Persia had been given a personal letter from God though a prophet written over a hundred years earlier, before the captivity of Jerusalem, to free the Jews and allow them to return.
If you're not a Bible reader, it's worth you're time to start. Ancient Origins has been quoted by:. By bringing together top experts and authors, this archaeology website explores lost civilizations, examines sacred writings, tours ancient places, investigates ancient discoveries and questions mysterious happenings. Our open community is dedicated to digging into the origins of our species on planet earth, and question wherever the discoveries might take us.
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