Turning Points in Jewish History

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Turning Point in Jewish History
Diaspora will not be the death of a religion. The concept may seem to make sense to us, but the realization of this is what turned desperation of a displaced people into a lasting religion. The Babylonian exile of the Jews had such monumental and lasting effects, it has become proverbial. There have been many events in Jewish History that can be seen as specific turning points. Arguably, the most pivotal turning point may have been within the years of about 632 B.C.E. - about 332 B.C.E. During this period, the seeds of what would become known as the Jewish diaspora were sown; the Messianic dream made the most important contribution to a group of people yearning for familiarities and finally culminating with the Hellenization of the entire Middle East ushered in by Alexander the Great. In the latter half of the 6th century, tensions rose and the Babylonian powers drew strength from the lands it conquered and left in its wake. “The westward expansion of Babylonia at the expense of Egypt set in motion the developments that ended in the destruction of the kingdom of Judah” (Scheindlin 1998:20). As we read in lessons 2 and 3, in 609 B.C.E, when the Babylonian general (who then became the king), Nebuchadnezzar, defeated the Egyptian forces in Syria, they set their sights on Judah. This is where the two cultures converged in an attempt to defend themselves against the mighty Babylonians, whom by this time already had control of Mesopotamia. In 597, the deportations from Judah to Babylonia began. This is when the shift from the need to worship in a temple to worship within the home also began. The reason for this shift in practices of the Jewish people developed due to the separation of the people from their traditional house of God. In their efforts of crippling the over 400 year old Judean monarchy, the Babylonians not only figuratively wounded this small nation but literally had as well. In 587, the Judean puppet king,...
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