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Bible Dictionaries

People's Dictionary of the Bible

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Captivity. A word used to designate the subjugation of God's people. God often punished the sins of the Jews by captivities or servitudes. Deuteronomy 28:1-68. Their first captivity or bondage from which Moses delivered them was rather a permission of Providence than a punishment for sin. There were six subjugations of the 12 tribes during the period of the Judges. But the most remarkable captivities, or rather expatriations of the Hebrews, were those of Israel and Judah under their kings. Israel was first carried away in part about 740 b.c. by Tiglath-pileser. 2 Kings 15:29. The tribes east of the Jordan, with parts of Zebulun and Naphtali, 1 Chronicles 6:26; Isaiah 9:1, were the first sufferers. Twenty years later, Shalmaneser carried away the rest of Israel, the northern kingdom, 2 Kings 17:6, and located them in distant cities, many of them probably not far from the Caspian Sea; and their place was supplied by colonies from Babylon and Persia. 2 Kings 17:6-24. This is sometimes known as the Assyrian captivity. Aside from certain prophecies, Isaiah 11:12-13; Jeremiah 31:7-9; Jeremiah 31:16-20; Jeremiah 49:2; Ezekiel 37:16; Hosea 11:11; Amos 9:14; Obadiah 1:18-19, etc., which are variously interpreted to mean a past or a future return, a physical or a spiritual restoration, there is no evidence that the ten tribes as a body ever returned to Palestine. Of Judah are generally reckoned three deportations, occurring during the Babylonian or great captivity: 1. Under Jehoiakim, in his third year, b.c. 606, when Daniel and others were carried to Babylon. 2 Kings 24:1-2; Daniel 1:1. 2. In the last year of Jehoiakim, when Nebuchadnezzar carried 3023 Jews to Babylon; or rather, under Jehoiachin, when this prince also was sent to Babylon, in the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, b.c. 598. 2 Kings 24:12; 2 Chronicles 36:6-8; 2 Chronicles 36:10; Jeremiah 52:28. 3. Under Zedekiah, b.c. 588, when Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed, and all the better class of the people and their treasures were carried to Babylon. 2 Kings 25:1-30; 2 Chronicles 36:1-23. This was 132 years after the final captivity of Israel. The 70 years during which they were to remain in captivity, Jeremiah 25:11; Jeremiah 29:10, are reckoned from the date of the first captivity, b.c. 606. Besides these, several other invasions and partial captivities are alluded to in 2 Kings 15:19; 2 Kings 17:3-6; 2 Kings 18:13; 2 Kings 25:11. While in Babylonia, the Jews were treated more like colonists than slaves. They had judges and elders who governed them, and decided matters in dispute. The books of Nehemiah and Daniel describe Jews in high positions at court, and the book of Esther celebrates their numbers and power in the Persian empire. There were priests among them, Jeremiah 29:1, and they preserved their genealogical records and many of their religious rites and customs. When the 70 years were fulfilled, Cyrus, in the first year of his reign at Babylon, b.c. 536, made a proclamation permitting the people of God to return to their own country and rebuild the temple. Ezra 1:11. Nearly 50,000 accepted the invitation, though a large proportion preferred to remain. Ezra 2:2; Nehemiah 7:7. This company laid the foundation of the second temple, which was completed in the sixth year of Darius. Fifty-eight years after, Ezra led a small company of 7000 from Babylon to Judæa. He was succeeded as governor by Nehemiah, who labored faithfully and successfully to reform the people. The Jewish character and language were changed by their sojourn for so long a time among foreigners, Nehemiah 8:8; and it is noteworthy that we hear little of idols or idolatry among them after the captivity. About 40 years after the crucifixion of Christ, Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans. According to Josephus, 1,100,000 perished at the siege of Jerusalem by Titus, and nearly 100,000 captives were scattered among the provinces and slain in gladiatorial shows, doomed to toil as public slaves, or sold into private bondage. Under the emperor Hadrian, a.d. 133, a similar crushing blow fell on the Jews who had again assembled in Judæa. They are scattered over the world, suffering under the woe which unbelief brought upon their fathers and themselves. See Jews.

Bibliography Information
Rice, Edwin Wilbur, DD. Entry for 'Captivity'. People's Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​rpd/​c/captivity.html. 1893.
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