UCTAA churchlight

Site Search via Google

Discussion 2 to A Miscellany 53
The Jewish Diaspora

by PsiCop

To add to this discussion (or any other,) please use the Contact form.

Phil van Bergen asks for Bible study tools, citing one he's found. I can think of another good one, that being the Unbound Bible (http://unbound.biola.edu/). It has many English translations of the Bible, including the most-often-quoted ones (KJV, NIV, RSV, NASV), as well translations in many other languages, and several versions of the actual Biblical languages (Hebrew and Greek). It also offers grammatical tools for the Biblical languages so that comparisons between the oldest-known texts and modern translations may be made. (Of course, a true familiarity with Biblical languages is necessary to exploit this feature fully.)

As for the Jewish diaspora, which he mentions, there was not just one, but several, and only one of them was fully voluntary on the part of the Jews.

First was the Alexandrian diaspora. It was begun by Alexander the Great after he'd conquered Judea and Egypt; he invited Jews to live to his new city of Alexandria, and some went, setting up an enclave there. In a similar way, other Jews ventured to other Hellenic cities during the next two centuries. This diaspora was fully voluntary and resulted from the opening of commerce, travel, and communication lines in the Alexandrian "empire"; Jews were certainly not the only nationality which found itself suddenly part of a much larger world. One could say that there were also Syrian, Egyptian, Lydian, Persian, etc. diasporas.

Next was the Roman diaspora. This came in two waves. In 70 CE after a massive Jewish uprising, the Romans razed the Temple and exiled all the Jews of Jerusalem, leaving it an almost-ruined "ghost town." Some of these Jews dispersed around the Near East, and didn't only go to other parts of the Levant. Next, after another uprising, in 135 CE the Romans emptied Judea altogether, actually shipping many Jews to other parts of the Empire, leaving others to flee on their own.

Another diaspora occurred in 1492 when Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain defeated the last Muslim community in Iberia; they exiled all the Jews left in Spain. (Muslim rulers in Spain had cultivated good relations with Jews and many had gone there, through the Middle Ages, as it had become a refuge for them.) Many Spanish Jews went east, as far as the Ottoman Empire, which explicitly invited them.

And of course in the late 19th and 20th centuries, there was a multi-wave (and multi-motivated) diaspora, from eastern Europe and Russia. It was brought about by anti-Jewish pogroms, nascent Zionism, and lastly (of course) by the Third Reich and the Holocaust. This particular diaspora went in various directions; some Jews went to "safe" places such as North America, while others returned to the Levant.

Thus, the oft-mentioned idea that Jews "forsook" or abandoned Judea, is without merit. Despite the fact that in post-Alexandrian times some Jews ventured elsewhere, the Romans in 135 most definitely removed all Jews from Judea completely (in many cases, at swordpoint); their wishes were irrelevant and they were not given a vote in the matter.

Perhaps these historical facts will help Phil in his debates. This assumes, of course, that the Calvinist he's debating is even interested in facts at all.