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Fausset's Bible Dictionary


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Used in Scripture for compulsory exile. Besides minor captivities six under the judges, namely, that by Chushan-rishathaim, Eglon, the Philistines, Jabin of Canaan, Midian, Ammon (Judges 3; Judges 4; Judges 6; Judges 10), and that by Hazael of Syria (2 Kings 10:32), there were three great captivities. First in the reign of Pekah of Israel, when Tiglath Pileser, king of Assyria, carried away the people. of Gilead, Galilee, and all Naphtali (2 Kings 15:29; Isaiah 9:1). As Pul his predecessor is named with Tiglath Pileser as having carried away Reuben, Gad, and half Manasseh to Halah, Habor, Hara, and the river Gozan (1 Chronicles 5:25-26), probably Tiglath Pileser carried (740 B.C.) out what Pul had intended but was diverted from by Menahem's bribe (771 or 762 B.C., Rawlinson) (2 Kings 15:19-20).

Secondly, in the reign of Hoshea of Israel, Shalmaneser king of Assyria, after letting him remain as a tributary prince for a time, at last when Hoshea omitted to send his yearly "present," and made a league with So or Sabacho II of Egypt (of which the record still exists on clay cylindrical seals found at Koyunjik), put Hoshea in prison and besieged Samaria three years, and in the ninth year of Hoshea's reign (721 B.C.) took it, and "carried Israel away to Halah and Habor by the river Gozan, and to the cities of the Medes" (2 Kings 17:1-6). Sargon (Isaiah 20:1), according to the Assyrian monuments, completed the capture of Samaria which Shalmaneser began. In striking minute coincidence with Scripture, he was the first Assyrian monarch who conquered Media. In the monuments he expressly says that, in order to complete the subjugation of Media, he founded in it cities which he planted with colonists from other parts of his dominions.

Sennacherib (713 B.C.) carried into Assyria 200,000 from the Jewish cities he captured (2 Kings 18:13). Thirdly, Nebuchadnezzar carried away Judith under Zedekiah to Babylon, 588 B.C. (2 Kings 24; 25.) A previous deportation of Jewish captives (including Ezekiel, Ezekiel 1:1-3, and Mordecai, Esther's uncle, Esther 2:6) was tint of King Jehoiachin, his princes, men of valor, and the craftsmen, 599 B.C. From Jeremiah 52:12; Jeremiah 52:15; Jeremiah 52:28-29; Jeremiah 52:30 we learn Nebuchadnezzar in his seventh (or eighth, according to the month with which the counting of the year begins) year carried away 3,023; but in 2 Kings 24:14; 2 Kings 24:16; 2 Kings 24:10; 2 Kings 24:000, and 7,000 men of might, and 1,000 craftsmen; the 3,023 were probably of Judah, the remaining 7,000 were of the other tribes of Israel, of whom some still had been left after the Assyrian deportation; the 1,000 craftsmen were exclusive of the 10,000.

Or else the 3,023 were removed in the seventh year, the 7,000 find 1,000 craftsmen in the eighth year. In the 18th or 19th year of Nebuchadnezzar 832 of the most illustrious persons were carried away. In the 23rd year of Nebuchadnezzar, 745 persons, besides the general multitude of the poor, and the residue of the people in the city, and the deserters, were carried away by Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard. In Daniel 1:1-2, we find that in the third year of Jehoiakim Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem and carried away part of the temple vessels of Jehovah to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god Bel. (Subsequently he took all away; they were restored under Cyrus: Ezra 1:7; 2 Kings 24:13; Jeremiah 52:19.) Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, of the blood royal of Judah, were among the captives. With this first deportation in the third year of Jehoiakim (607 or 606 B.C.) the foretold (Jeremiah 25; Jeremiah 29:10) 70 years' "captivity" (i.e. subjection of Judah to Babylon) begins.

Nebuchadnezzar had intended to carry Jehoiakim to Babylon (2 Chronicles 36:6-7); but Jehoiakim died before Nebuchadnezzar's intention could be effected (Jeremiah 22:18-19; Jeremiah 36:30), and. his dead body was dragged out of the gates by the Chaldaean besiegers and left unburied. This was eight years before the deportation under Jehoiachin. In the first year of Darius (Daniel 9:2-19) the 70 years were nearly run out. Now Jehoiachin's third year was one year before Nebuchadnezzar's accession (2 Kings 23:36; 2 Kings 24:12). 2 Kings 24:67 years elapsed from that time to the taking of Babylon (Ptolemy's canon). So it would be in the 68th year of the captivity that Daniel prayed pardon for Jerusalem. Cyrus' decree, granting liberty and encouragement to the Jews to return to their own land, was one or two years after taking Babylon, 536 B.C. (Ezra 1:2).

The captivity ecclesiastically began with the destruction of the temple, 586 B.C. The restoration was 70 years afterward, in the sixth year of Darius, 515 or 516 B.C. (Ezra 6:15). The political aim of the deportation was to separate them from local associations, and from proximity to Egypt, their ally in every revolt, and so fuse them into the general population of the empire (Isaiah 36:16; Genesis 47:21). The captives were treated as colonists. Daniel (Daniel 2; 6) and his three friends and Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1) subsequently held high offices near the king. Jeremiah had recommended the Jews to settle quietly in the land of their exile. They did so, and increased in numbers and wealth. They observed the law (Esther 3:8), and distinctions of rank (Ezekiel 20:1). The synagogues for prayer and reading the law publicly began during the captivity, and afterward were set up in every city (Acts 15:21).

The apocryphal Tobit pictures the inner life of a Naphtalite family among Shalmaneser's captives at Nineveh. Jeremiah, Ezekiel (who died after 27 years' exile at least, Ezekiel 29:17), and Daniel, and some of the Psalms (e.g. 137) give a general view of the state of the whole people in their exile. A portion of the people returned under Sheshbazzar or Zerubbabel, 535 B.C., who set up the altar and began the temple. Then, after along interruption of the building of the temple through Samaritan opposition, the work was completed in the second year of Darius, through Haggai and Zechariah (515 B.C., Ezra 5) the prophets, Jeshua the high priest, and Zerubbabel. A further portion returned under Ezra 458 B.C., and under Nehemiah 445 B.C. (Ezra 7:6-7; Nehemiah 2) In 536, besides servants, 42,360 returned; 30,000 belonging to Judah, Benjamin, and Levi, the remainder probably belonging to the Israelite tribes. Ezra 6:17 recognizes, in the sacrifices, the twelve tribes (compare 1 Chronicles 9).

Of the 24 courses of priests but four returned, so that seemingly only one sixth returned of the people, five sixths remained behind (Ezra 2:36-39, compare 1 Chronicles 24:4; 1 Chronicles 24:18). The latter who kept up their national distinctions were termed "the dispersion" (Esther 8:9; Esther 8:11; John 7:35; 1 Peter 1:1; James 1:1). The Afghans, the black Jews of Malabar, and the Nestorians, have been severally conjectured to represent the lost tribes. All we know is, some blended with the Jews, as Anna of Asher (Luke 2:36), Saul or Paul of Benjamin (Philippians 3:5); some with the Samaritans (Ezra 6:21; John 4:12); many, staying in their land of exile, founded colonies in the E. and were known as "the dispersion" (Acts 2:9-11; Acts 26:7). The prayer, the 10th of the Shemoneh Esre, is still offered by the Jews: "Sound the great trumpet for our deliverance, lift up a banner for the gathering of our exiles, and unite us all together from the four ends of the earth!" evidently alluding to Isaiah 11:12; Isaiah 27:13; Psalms 106:47.

Those who apostatized to Assyrian and Babylonian idolatry were absorbed among the pagan. The Jews' language became then much affected by Chaldaisms (Nehemiah 8:7-8), so that they could no longer understand, without interpretation, the pure Hebrew of the law. A Chaldee targum or paraphrase became necessary. An increased reverence for the law (Psalm 119 witnesses to this), and an abhorrence thenceforth of idolatry to which they once had been so prone, were among the beneficial effects of affliction on their national character. The prophets foretell the restoration, spiritually and also nationally in their own land, of Israel and Judah distinct, and hereafter to be combined (Isaiah 11:12-13), to be miraculously "gathered one by one" (Isaiah 27:12; Jeremiah 3:18; Jeremiah 16:15-16; Jeremiah 31:7-20; Ezekiel 37:16-28; Hosea 1:10-11; Hosea 3:4-5; Zechariah 9:13; Zechariah 10:6; Zechariah 10:10).

Their return under Messiah (then to be manifested) and their spiritual glory shall be the appointed instrumentality of the conversion of all nations (Isaiah 2; Isaiah 60; Micah 5:7; Zechariah 8:13). The Lord Jesus foretold the Jews' dispersion, in that very generation, under Titus and the Romans, 37 years before the event (A.D. 70), and the treading under foot of Jerusalem by all nations "until the times of the Gentiles shall be fulfilled" (Luke 21:20-24; Luke 21:32). In the siege 1,100,000 Jews perished, according to the contemporary witness Josephus; but not one Christian, for the Christians obeyed the Lord's warning by fleeing to Pella, when Cestius Gallus first advanced against Jerusalem, and then providentially, without seeming reason, withdrew (Matthew 24:15-16).

The market was glutted with Jewish slaves, and Moses' words were fulfilled: "Ye shall be sold unto your enemies ... and no man shall buy you." Again returning they revolted under Bar-Cochaba "the son of a star" (Numbers 24:17); but Adrian destroyed them, and built a pagan city, AEia, where Jerusalem had stood. "Captivity of the land" (Judges 18:30) refers to the capture of the ark. So in Psalms 14:7 "bring back the captivity" means restore from depression; Job 42:10, "the Lord turned the captivity of Job," i.e. amply indemnified him for all he lost: which passages prove the error of those who refer to the times after the Babylonian captivity any passage which mentions "the captivity," as if it were the only one in the Bible.

Christ Jesus, the antitypical David (who took captive His foes), "when He ascended on high led captivity captive," i.e. led in triumphal procession as captives for destruction those who once had led men captive, namely, Satan, death, hell, the curse, sin (Ephesians 4:8; Psalms 68:18; Colossians 2:15; 2 Peter 2:4). Revelation 20:10; Revelation 20:14, thus: "he that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity" (Revelation 13:10); Satan who "brings into captivity to the law of sin and death" (Romans 7:23) is brought into captivity (2 Corinthians 10:5; Isaiah 49:24; Hosea 13:14).

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Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Captivity'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. 1949.

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