When I started this blog, I wanted to use it to announce what was new on LacusCurtius and Livius, occasionally adding a review of a book or a museum. What I never wanted to do, was “recycle” other people’s content. I’ve always found that a bit cheap. However, here is an interesting newspaper article that summarizes cuneiform research on the exile of the Jews in Babylonia, which is usually dated to 587/6-539 (the return may in fact have taken place three or four generations later). The article discusses exiled Jews mentioned in the Murashu Archive, who apparently lived near Nippur. This confirms a statement by Ezekiel, who calls this settlement Tel Abib.
There’s something to be added to that newspaper article. The Talmud refers to another Jewish settlement, more to the northwest, near Sippar, called Nehardea. At the moment, we can not establish whether this Jewish town, which certainly existed in Parthian times, dates back to the Exile. The Talmud was written more then a millennium after the events it describes, and contains many old legends, so we may be forgiven for being a bit skeptical.
Other Jews lived in Babylon. The article refers in passing to tablets that record Jehoiachin’s stay in that city. You can find translations online on my website: here. Other evidence for the Jewish presence in Babylon can be found in Josephus and a tablet that may mention a man named Baruch: both refer to the reconstruction of the Etemenanki during the reign of Alexander.
On two occasions, my friend Bert van der Spek, coeditor of the Babylonian Chronicles of the Hellenistic Age, told me that one of his colleagues had discovered tablets that refer to Jewish temple in Babylonia. I would like to know more about those tablets.