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Bible maps - Exile and Return

Bible overview
Maps of the exiles to Assyria and Babylon.
Israelites are Exiled to Assyria.<br/>The northern kingdom of Israel had become subject to the vast Assyrian Empire as early as 740 B.C. When King Hoshea of Israel rebelled against Assyria’s rule, King Shalmaneser of Assyria invaded and besieged the capital city of Samaria. After three years Samaria fell, and many more Israelites were exiled to places along the Habor River and to Media (2 Kings 17:1-6). Shalmaneser resettled foreign peoples in Samaria, including people from the regions of Babylon and Hamath (2 Kings 17:24). – Slide 1
Mesopotamia.<br/>The region commonly called Mesopotamia (“between the rivers” - Tigris and Euphrates) was home to some of the oldest civilizations in the world. The Assyrians exiled many Israelites to Assyrian lands (2 Kings 15:29; 17:1-6; 1 Chronicles 5:26), and the Babylonians exiled many other Israelites (primarily from the tribe of Judah) to Babylon and its surroundings (2 Kings 24:15-17; 25:8-12; 2 Chronicles 36:20). – Slide 2
Land of Exile. <br/>Over a hundred years later, after the Northern Kingdom was exiled to Assyria, the Kingdom of Judah experienced several exiles at the hands of the Babylonians (605 B.C., 597 B.C., and 586 B.C.; see Daniel 1; 2 Kings 24-25; 2 Chronicles 36; Jeremiah 39; 52), with the most devastating episode occurring in 586 B.C., when the Temple of the Lord was destroyed and Judah was no longer ruled by its own king. The Babylonians carried away only the upper echelons of society, and from these exiles the Babylonians selected the most promising for service in the royal court (e.g., Daniel and his friends). The rest of the exiles were typically allowed to live together in their own communities in Babylon, to continue to worship the Lord, and to follow their distinct social customs. – Slide 3
The Persian Empire. <br/>In 539 B.C., Cyrus the Great of Persia defeated the Babylonians, and a year later he decreed that the Judeans who had been sent into exile were allowed to return home and rebuild the Temple (2 Chronicles 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-2). Under the leadership of Zerubbabel, a small contingent of Judeans made the long journey and re-established Judea as a very small district in the much larger Persian province called 'Beyond the River'. This vast empire was the world of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Queen Esther. – Slide 4
Kingdom of Elah. <br/>Elam eventually came under the domination of the Persian Empire. The Persians ruled their vast empire from three capital cities, including the ancient city of Susa in Elam. Thus, it was in Susa that Esther became the new queen of Persia and thwarted Haman’s plans to destroy the Jews. It was also in Susa where Nehemiah served as cupbearer to King Artaxerxes of Persia before receiving permission to travel to Jerusalem to rebuild it (Nehemiah 1). – Slide 5
Lands beyond Persia. <br/>The book of Esther notes that the domain of the Persian Empire stretched from India (its eastern border) to Cush. The Persian Empire subjugated Bactria, Arachosia, and Gedrosia by about 525 B.C. Eventually the lands shown here came under the rule of the newly established Parthian Empire, which lasted throughout the time of the New Testament. Acts 2:9 notes that Jews from Parthia were present at the Temple in Jerusalem when Peter preached his famous sermon at Pentecost. – Slide 6
Return from Exile. <br/>The Persian king Cyrus the Great conquered Babylon in 539 B.C., and a year later he decreed that all exiled Jews in his kingdom could return to their homeland (Ezra 1:1-4; 2 Chronicles 36:22-23). A short time after this a group of about 50,000 Jews returned to Judea led by the newly appointed governor Zerubbabel. This first group of Jews immediately restored the altar of the Temple (Ezra 3-4), and then by 516 B.C. they finished rebuilding the Temple of the Lord (Ezra 6; Haggai 1). Several decades after this in 458 B.C., King Artaxerxes I appointed the Jewish scribe Ezra to lead another group of about 5000 Jews to Judea to restore proper Temple worship (Ezra 7-8; Nehemiah 7). – Slide 7
Judea under Persian Rule. <br/>A contingent of Jews under the leadership of Zerubbabel returned from Exile (Ezra 1:3-2:70) and established the minor Persian province of Judea within the larger province called 'Beyond the River' (referring to the Euphrates River). This small province was much smaller than the kingdom of Judah before the exile, partially due to the migration of Edomites (now called Idumeans) into the region just south of Judea, where they too formed a new province. – Slide 8
Jerusalem during the Later Old Testament <br/>In 445 B.C. the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt under the leadership of Nehemiah. The work of rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls is recorded in Nehemiah 3, and it appears that the rebuilt walls did not include the western hill that had been enclosed under Hezekiah’s leadership hundreds of years earlier. The walls surrounding that area were rebuilt during the Maccabean era. – Slide 9
Nehemiah’s Walls Are Dedicated. <br/>Nehemiah and the leading families of Judea completed all the repairs in an incredibly short span of 52 days (Nehemiah 6:15). After this, Nehemiah called for Levites throughout Judea (see map) to come to Jerusalem to dedicate the new wall. After assembling the Levites, the priests, and the musicians near the Valley Gate, Nehemiah divided them into two groups to walk along the top of the wall around much of the city. He sent the first group counter-clockwise toward the Dung Gate, and the other group in the other direction toward the Fish Gate. When the first group reached the Water Gate they came down from the wall and headed to the Temple. When the second group reached the Gate of the Guard, they came down from the wall and took their place in the Temple as well. Great sacrifices were offered, and the sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard from far away. – Slide 10
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