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Yehud, also known as Yehud Medinata or Yehud Medinta (), was the Aramaic-language name that was retained and used by the
Achaemenid Persian Empire
Achaemenid Persian Empire
for one of its administrative provinces in the region of
Canaan A 1692 map of Canaan, by Philip Lea Canaan (; Northwest Semitic Northwest Semitic, known as Syro-Palestinian in dialect geography, is a division of the Semitic languages comprising the indigenous languages of the Levant. It would have ...

Canaan
. The term was introduced by the
Babylonians Babylonia () was an ancient Ancient history is the aggregate of past eventsWordNet Search – ...
during their governance of the same region prior to the Persian conquest in 539 BCE. The territory of the Persian province functioned as a self-governing region under its local
Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunciation ) or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and nation originating from the Israelites Israelite origins and kingdom: "The first act in the long drama of Jewish history is ...

Jewish
population; it had a considerably smaller population than the
Kingdom of Judah The Kingdom of Judah ( he, יְהוּדָה, ''Yəhūdā''; akk, 𒅀𒌑𒁕𒀀𒀀 ''Ya'uda'' 'ia-ú-da-a-a'' arc, 𐤁‬𐤉‬𐤕‬𐤃𐤅‬𐤃 ''Bēyt David, Dāwīḏ'') was an Israelites, Israelite kingdom of the Southern Le ...
, the
Israelite The Israelites (; he, בני ישראל ''Bnei Yisra'el'') were a confederation of Iron Age ancient Semitic-speaking peoples, Semitic-speaking tribes of the ancient Near East, who inhabited a part of Canaan during the history of ancient Israe ...

Israelite
kingdom that had existed in the region prior to the
Jewish–Babylonian War The Jewish–Babylonian War was a protracted armed conflict between the Kingdom of Judah The Kingdom of Judah ( he, יְהוּדָה, ''Yəhūdā(h)''; akk, 𒅀𒌑𒁕𒀀𒀀 ''Ya'uda''; arc, 𐤁‬𐤉‬𐤕‬𐤃𐤅‬𐤃 ''Bē ...
and subsequent
Babylonian captivity The Babylonian captivity or Babylonian exile is the period in Jewish history during which a number of people from the ancient Kingdom of Judah were captives in Babylon, the capital of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. After the Battle of Carchemish in ...
. The area of Persian Yehud corresponded to the previous Babylonian province of Yehud, which was formed after the fall of the Kingdom of Judah to the
Neo-Babylonian Empire The Neo-Babylonian Empire, also known as the Second Babylonian Empire and historically known as the Chaldean Empire, was the last of the Mesopotamian empires to be ruled by monarchs native to Mesopotamia. Beginning with Nabopolassar's coronation as ...

Neo-Babylonian Empire
( in 597 BCE after its conquest of the
Mediterranean coast The Mediterranean Sea is a connected to the , surrounded by the and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by and and , on the south by , and on the east by the . The Sea has played a central role in the . Although the Mediterrane ...

Mediterranean coast
of the
Levant The Levant () is an term referring to a large area in the region of . In its narrowest sense, it is equivalent to the , which included present-day , , , , and most of southwest of the middle . In its widest historical sense, the Levant ...

Levant
, and again in 587 BCE after its suppression of a Judean revolt). The province was a part of the Persian
satrap Satraps () were the governors of the provinces of the ancient Medes, Median and Achaemenid Empires and in several of their successors, such as in the Sasanian Empire and the Hellenistic period, Hellenistic empires. The satrap served as viceroy to ...
y of
Eber-Nari Eber-Nari (AkkadianAkkadian or Accadian may refer to: * The Akkadian language Akkadian ( ''akkadû'', ''ak-ka-du-u2''; logogram: ''URIKI'')John Huehnergard & Christopher Woods, "Akkadian and Eblaite", ''The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the Worl ...
, and continued to exist for two centuries until its incorporation into the Hellenistic empires following the conquests of
Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc-gre, Αλέξανδρος}, ; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king (''basileus ''Basileus'' ( el, βασιλεύς) is a Greek term and title A title ...

Alexander the Great
.


Attempt at matching biblical to historical chronology

There is no complete agreement on the chronology of the and
Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia'' in the English language ** Persians, Persian people, the majority ethnic group in Iran, not to be conflated with the Iranian peoples ** Persian language, an Iranian ...

Persian
periods: the following table is used in this article, but alternative dates for many events are plausible. That is especially true of the chronological sequence of
Ezra Ezra (; he, עֶזְרָא, '; fl. 480–440 BCE), also called Ezra the Scribe (, ') and Ezra the Priest in the Book of Ezra The Book of Ezra is a book of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; : , or ), is the of scripture ...

Ezra
and
Nehemiah Nehemiah is the central figure of the Book of Nehemiah, which describes his work in rebuilding Jerusalem during the Second Temple period. He was governor of Yehud Medinata, Persian Judea under Artaxerxes I of Persia (465–424 BC). The name i ...

Nehemiah
, with stating that Ezra came to
Jerusalem Jerusalem (; he, יְרוּשָׁלַיִם ; ar, القُدس, ', , (combining the Biblical and common usage Arabic names); grc, Ἱερουσαλήμ/Ἰεροσόλυμα, Hierousalḗm/Hierosóluma; hy, Երուսաղեմ, Erusał ...

Jerusalem
"in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the King," without specifying whether he was
Artaxerxes I Artaxerxes I (, peo, 𐎠𐎼𐎫𐎧𐏁𐏂 , "whose rule (''xšaça'' PlutarchThemistocles, 29/ref> Portrayal in the Book of Ezra and Nehemiah A King Artaxerxes ( he, אַרְתַּחְשַׁשְׂתְּא, ) is described in the Bible ...

Artaxerxes I
(465–424 BCE) or
Artaxerxes II Artaxerxes II Mnemon ( peo, :wikt:𐎠𐎼𐎫𐎧𐏁𐏂𐎠, 𐎠𐎼𐎫𐎧𐏁𐏂𐎠, transl=Artaxšaçā, lit=whose reign is through truth)R. Schmitt"ARTAXERXES" ''Encyclopædia Iranica''. 15 December 1986. Retrieved 12 March 2012. was th ...

Artaxerxes II
(404–358 BCE). The probable date for his mission is 458 BCE, but it is possible that it took place in 397 BCE.


Background

In the late-7th century BCE,
Judah Judah may refer to: Historical ethnic, political and geographic terms The name was passed on, successively, from the biblical figure of Judah, to the Israelite tribe; its territorial allotment and the Israelite kingdom emerging from it, with the ...
became a vassal-kingdom of the
Neo-Babylonian Empire The Neo-Babylonian Empire, also known as the Second Babylonian Empire and historically known as the Chaldean Empire, was the last of the Mesopotamian empires to be ruled by monarchs native to Mesopotamia. Beginning with Nabopolassar's coronation as ...

Neo-Babylonian Empire
, but there were rival factions at the court in
Jerusalem Jerusalem (; he, יְרוּשָׁלַיִם ; ar, القُدس, ', , (combining the Biblical and common usage Arabic names); grc, Ἱερουσαλήμ/Ἰεροσόλυμα, Hierousalḗm/Hierosóluma; hy, Երուսաղեմ, Erusał ...

Jerusalem
, some supporting loyalty to
Babylon ''Bābili(m)'' * sux, 𒆍𒀭𒊏𒆠 * arc, 𐡁𐡁𐡋 ''Babil'' * grc-gre, Βαβυλών ''Babylṓn'' * he, בָּבֶל ''Bavel'' * peo, 𐎲𐎠𐎲𐎡𐎽𐎢 ''Bābiru'' * elx, 𒀸𒁀𒉿𒇷 ''Babili'' *Kassite The Kassites ...

Babylon
and others urging rebellion. In the early years of the 6th century BCE, despite the strong remonstrances of the prophet
Jeremiah Jeremiah, Modern Modern may refer to: History *Modern history Human history, also known as world history, is the description of humanity's past. It is informed by archaeology Archaeology or archeology is the study of human acti ...

Jeremiah
and others, the Judahite king
Jehoiakim Jehoiakim, also sometimes spelled Jehoikim; la, Joakim was the eighteenth and antepenultimate king of Judah from 609 to 598 BC. He was the second son of king Josiah () and Zebidah, the daughter of Pedaiah of Rumah. His birth name was Eliakim.; ...
revolted against
Nebuchadnezzar II Nebuchadnezzar II (Babylonian cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age until ...
. The revolt failed, and in 597 BCE, many Judahites, including the prophet
Ezekiel Ezekiel (; he, יְחֶזְקֵאל ''Yĕḥezqēʾl'' ; in the Septuagint The Greek Old Testament, or Septuagint (, ; from the la, septuaginta, lit=seventy; often abbreviated ''70''; in Roman numerals, LXX), is the earliest extant Koine ...

Ezekiel
, were exiled to Babylon. A few years later, Judah revolted yet again. In 589, Nebuchadnezzar again besieged Jerusalem, and many Jews fled to
Moab Moab ''Mōáb''; Assyrian: 𒈬𒀪𒁀𒀀𒀀 ''Mu'aba'', 𒈠𒀪𒁀𒀀𒀀 ''Ma'ba'', 𒈠𒀪𒀊 ''Ma'ab''; Egyptian Egyptian describes something of, from, or related to Egypt. Egyptian or Egyptians may refer to: Nations and et ...
,
Ammon Ammon (Ammonite language, Ammonite: 𐤏𐤌𐤍 ''ʻAmān''; he, עַמּוֹן ''ʻAmmōn''; ar, عمّون, ʻAmmūn) was an ancient Semitic languages, Semitic-speaking nation occupying the east of the Jordan River, between the torrent ...

Ammon
,
Edom Edom (; Edomite Edom (; Edomite: 𐤀𐤃𐤌 ''’Edām''; he, אֱדוֹם ''ʼÉḏōm'', lit.: "red"; akk, 𒌑𒁺𒈠𒀀𒀀 ''Uduma'') was an ancient kingdom in Transjordan located between Moab to the northeast, the Arabah Th ...

Edom
and other countries to seek refuge. The city fell after an 18-month siege and Nebuchadnezzar again pillaged and destroyed Jerusalem and burned the
Temple A temple (from the Latin ) is a building reserved for spiritual rituals and activities such as prayer and sacrifice. Religions which erect temples include Christianity (whose temples are typically called church (building), churches), Hinduism (w ...
. Thus, by 586 BCE, much of Judah was devastated, the royal family, the priesthood, and the scribes, the country's elite, were in exile in Babylon, and the former kingdom suffered a steep decline of both economy and population. The former kingdom of Judah then became a Babylonian province
Yehud Yehud ( he, יְהוּד) is a city in the Central District (Israel), Central District in Israel that is part of the joint municipality of Yehud-Monosson. In 2007, Yehud's population was approximately 30,000 (including Neve Monosson – see below) ...
, with
Gedaliah Gedaliah, Gedalia, Gedallah Hirsch, E. G. and Greenstone, J. H. (1906)Gedallah Jewish Encyclopedia or Gedalya(h) ( or ; he, גְּדַלְיָּה ''Gəḏalyyā'' or ''Gəḏalyyāhū'', meaning "Jah Jah or Yah ( he, יה, ''Yah'') is a short ...
, a native Judahite, as governor (or possibly ruling as a puppet king). According to Miller and Hayes, the province included the towns of Bethel in the north,
Mizpah Mizpah or Miz'peh ("watch-tower; the look-out") may refer to: ;In geography * one of several places in ancient Judea\Palestine: **Mizpah in Benjamin, a city near Jerusalem ** Mizpah in Gilead (Genesis), the place where Laban overtook Jacob on his r ...
, Jericho in the east, Jerusalem,
Beth-Zur Beth-Zur (also Beit Tzur, Bethsura) is a biblical The Bible (from Koine Greek τὰ βιβλία, ''tà biblía'', "the books") is a collection of religious texts or scriptures sacred to Christians, Jews, Samaritans, Rastafari and others. I ...
in the west and En-Gedi in the south.James Maxwell Miller and John Haralson Hayes, ''A History of Ancient Israel and Judah'' (1986) , p.xxi, 425. The administrative centre of the province was Mizpah. On hearing of the appointment, the Jews that had taken refuge in surrounding countries returned to Judah. However, before long, Gedaliah was assassinated by a member of the former royal house, and the Babylonian garrison was killed, triggering a mass movement of refugees to Egypt. In Egypt, the refugees settled in
Migdol Migdol, or migdal, is a Hebrew word (מגדּלה מגדּל, מגדּל מגדּול) which means either a tower (from its size or height), an elevated stage (a rostrum or pulpit), or a raised bed (within a river). Physically, it can mean fo ...
,
Tahpanhes Tahpanhes (also transliterated Tahapanes or Tehaphnehes; he, תַּחְפַּנְחֵס (''Taḥpanḥēs''); known by the Ancient Greeks as the ( Pelusian) Daphnae ( grc, Δάφναι αἱ Πηλούσιαι) and Taphnas () in the Septuagint ...
,
Noph Noph or Moph was the name for the ian city of , capital of Lower Egypt, References Ancient Egypt {{Egypt-geo-stub ...
, and Pathros, and Jeremiah went with them as moral guardian. The numbers deported to Babylon or who made their way to Egypt and the remnant that remained in Yehud province and in surrounding countries are subject to academic debate. The Book of Jeremiah reports that a total of 4,600 were exiled to
Babylon ''Bābili(m)'' * sux, 𒆍𒀭𒊏𒆠 * arc, 𐡁𐡁𐡋 ''Babil'' * grc-gre, Βαβυλών ''Babylṓn'' * he, בָּבֶל ''Bavel'' * peo, 𐎲𐎠𐎲𐎡𐎽𐎢 ''Bābiru'' * elx, 𒀸𒁀𒉿𒇷 ''Babili'' *Kassite The Kassites ...
. To such numbers must be added those deported by Nebuchadnezzar in 597 BCE after the first siege to Jerusalem, when he deported the king of Judah,
Jeconiah Jeconiah ( he, יְכָנְיָה ''Yəḵonəyā'' , meaning "Yah Yah may refer to: * Jah Jah or Yah ( he, , ''Yāh'') is a short form of (YHWH), the four letters that form the , : , which the ancient used. The conventional Christian Engl ...
, and his court and other prominent citizens and craftsmen along with a sizable portion of the Jewish population of Judah, numbering about 10,000. The Book of Kings also suggests that it was 8,000.


History


Biblical version

In 539 BCE, Babylon fell to the
Persians The Persians are an Iranian ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that distinguish them from other groups such as a common set of traditions, ancestr ...
. That event is dated securely from non-biblical sources. In his first year (538 BCE),
Cyrus the Great Cyrus II of Persia (; peo, wikt:𐎤𐎢𐎽𐎢𐏁, 𐎤𐎢𐎽𐎢𐏁, translit=Kūruš), commonly known as Cyrus the Great and also called Cyrus the Elder by the Ancient Greece, Greeks, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire, the Histo ...

Cyrus the Great
decreed that the deportees in Babylon could return to Yehud and rebuild the Temple. Led by
Zerubbabel According to the biblical narrative, Zerubbabel, ''Zorobabel''; la, Zorobabel; AkkadianAkkadian or Accadian may refer to: * The Akkadian language Akkadian ( ''akkadû'', ''ak-ka-du-u2''; logogram: ''URIKI'')John Huehnergard & Christopher Wo ...

Zerubbabel
, 42,360 exiles returned to Yehud, and where he and Jeshua the priest, although they were in fear of the "people of the land", re-instituted sacrifices. According to
Book of Ezra The Book of Ezra is a book of the Hebrew Bible; which formerly included the Book of Nehemiah in a single book, commonly distinguished in scholarship as Ezra–Nehemiah. The two became separated with the first printed Mikraot Gedolot, rabbinic bi ...
, Jeshua and Zerubbabel were frustrated in their efforts to rebuild the Temple by the enmity of the "people of the land" and the opposition of the governor of "Beyond-the-River" (the
satrapy Satraps () were the governors of the provinces of the ancient Medes, Median and Achaemenid Empires and in several of their successors, such as in the Sasanian Empire and the Hellenistic period, Hellenistic empires. The satrap served as viceroy to ...
of which Yehud was a smaller unit). () However, in the second year of
Darius Darius may refer to: Persian kings ;Kings of the Achaemenid Empire * Darius I (the Great, 550 to 487 BC) * Darius II (423 to 404 BC) * Darius III (Codomannus, 380 to 330 BC) ;Crown Prince * Darius (son of Xerxes I), Crown Prince of Persia, may ha ...

Darius
(520 BCE), Darius discovered the Decree of Cyrus in the archives and directed the satrap to support the work, which he did, and the Temple was completed in the sixth year of Darius (516/515 BCE). () The Book of Ezra dates Ezra's arrival in Jerusalem to the second year of Artaxerxes. Its position in the narrative implies that he was
Artaxerxes I Artaxerxes I (, peo, 𐎠𐎼𐎫𐎧𐏁𐏂 , "whose rule (''xšaça'' PlutarchThemistocles, 29/ref> Portrayal in the Book of Ezra and Nehemiah A King Artaxerxes ( he, אַרְתַּחְשַׁשְׂתְּא, ) is described in the Bible ...
in which case the year was 458 BCE. Ezra, a scholar of the commandments of Yahweh, was commissioned by Artaxerxes to rebuild the Temple and enforce the laws of
Moses Moses he, מֹשֶׁה, ''Mōše''; also known as Moshe Rabbenu ( he, מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ "Moshe our Teacher"); syr, ܡܘܫܐ, ''Mūše''; ar, موسى '; el, Mωϋσῆς, ' () is considered the most important prophet in Judais ...

Moses
in Beyond-the-River. Ezra led a large party of exiles back to Yehud, where he found that Jews had intermarried with the "peoples of the land" and immediately banned intermarriage. () In the 20th year of Artaxerxes (almost definitely Artaxerxes I, whose twentieth year was 445/444 BCE)
Nehemiah Nehemiah is the central figure of the Book of Nehemiah, which describes his work in rebuilding Jerusalem during the Second Temple period. He was governor of Yehud Medinata, Persian Judea under Artaxerxes I of Persia (465–424 BC). The name i ...

Nehemiah
, the cup-bearer to the king and in a high official post, was informed that the wall of Jerusalem had been destroyed and was granted permission to return to Jerusalem to rebuild it. He succeeded in doing so but encountered strong resistance from the "people of the land", the officials of
Samaria Samaria, , also known as , 'Nablus Mountains' () is a historical and biblical name used for the central region of the Land of Israel, bordered by Galilee to the north and Judaea to the south. For the beginning of the Common Era, Josephus set t ...

Samaria
(the province immediately to the north of Yehud, the former kingdom of Israel) and other provinces and peoples around Jerusalem. () In chapter 8, the
Book of Nehemiah The Book of Nehemiah, in the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Hebrew scriptures, including the Torah, the Nevi'im, and the Ketuvim. These texts are almos ...
abruptly switches back to Ezra, apparently with no change in the chronology, but the year is not specified. The Book of Nehemiah says that Ezra gathered the Jews together to read and enforce the law (his original commission from Darius but put into effect only now, 14 years after his arrival). Ezra argued to the people that failure to keep the law had caused the Exile. The Jews then agreed to separate themselves from the "peoples of the land" (once again, intermarriage was banned), keep
Sabbath In Abrahamic religions The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of -originated s that claim descent from the of the ancient and the worship of the . The Abrahamic ...
and generally observe the Law. ()


Current scholarship

The Babylonians removed only a portion of the population of Jerusalem; of those exiles, only a small portion returned to Jerusalem (539) after the Persian conquest of Babylon, and did so over several decades. The population of Persian-period Jerusalem and the area was smaller than once believed, only a few thousands. Much of the literature which became the Hebrew bible was compiled during the Persian period, and Persian Yehud saw considerable conflict over the construction and function of the Temple and matters of cult (i.e., how God was to be worshiped). Persia controlled Yehud using the same methods it used in other colonies, and the bible reflects this, and Yehud's status as a Persian colony is crucial to understanding the society and literature of the period. The restoration of the Davidic kingdom under Persian royal patronage was clearly the project of the exile community in the early post-Exilic period. The returnees attempted to restore in Yehud the First Temple threefold leadership template of king (Sheshbazzar and Zerubbabel), high priest (Joshua, descended from the priestly line), and prophets (Haggai, Zechariah). However, by the middle of the next century, probably around 450 BCE, the kings and prophets had disappeared and only the high priest remained, joined by the scribe-sage (
Ezra Ezra (; he, עֶזְרָא, '; fl. 480–440 BCE), also called Ezra the Scribe (, ') and Ezra the Priest in the Book of Ezra The Book of Ezra is a book of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; : , or ), is the of scripture ...

Ezra
) and the appointed aristocrat-governor (
Nehemiah Nehemiah is the central figure of the Book of Nehemiah, which describes his work in rebuilding Jerusalem during the Second Temple period. He was governor of Yehud Medinata, Persian Judea under Artaxerxes I of Persia (465–424 BC). The name i ...

Nehemiah
). This new pattern provided the leadership model for Yehud for centuries to come.


Administration and demographics

Yehud was considerably smaller than the old
kingdom of Judah The Kingdom of Judah ( he, יְהוּדָה, ''Yəhūdā''; akk, 𒅀𒌑𒁕𒀀𒀀 ''Ya'uda'' 'ia-ú-da-a-a'' arc, 𐤁‬𐤉‬𐤕‬𐤃𐤅‬𐤃 ''Bēyt David, Dāwīḏ'') was an Israelites, Israelite kingdom of the Southern Le ...
, stretching from around
Bethel Bethel (Ugaritic Ugaritic () is an extinct , classified by some as a of the and so the only known Amorite dialect preserved in writing. It is known through the discovered by French in 1929 at , including several major literary texts, n ...

Bethel
in the north to about Hebron in the south (although Hebron itself was unpopulated throughout the Persian period), and from the Jordan River and Dead Sea in the east to, but not including, the
Shephelah The Shfela, or Shephelah, lit. "lowlands" ( he, הַשְּפֵלָה, also , ''Shfelat Yehuda'', the "Judaean foothills"), is a transitional region of soft-sloping hills in south-central Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל; ar, إ ...
(the slopes between the Judean highlands and the coastal plains) in the west. After the destruction of Jerusalem the centre of gravity shifted northward to
Benjamin Benjamin () was the last-born of Jacob Jacob (; ; ar, يَعْقُوب, Yaʿqūb; gr, Ἰακώβ, Iakṓb), later given the name Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, translit=Yīsrāʾēl; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, t ...

Benjamin
; this region, once a part of the kingdom of Israel, was far more densely populated than Judah itself, and now held both the administrative capital, Mizpah, and the major religious centre of Bethel. Mizpah continued as the provincial capital for over a century. The position of Jerusalem before the administration moved back from Mizpah is not clear, but from 445 BCE onwards it was once more the main city of Yehud, with walls, a temple (the
Second Temple The Second Temple (, ), also known in its later years as Herod's Temple, was the reconstructed Jewish holy temple that stood on the Temple Mount The Temple Mount (Hebrew language, Hebrew: , ; "Mount of the House f God, i.e. the Temple in ...

Second Temple
) and other facilities needed to function as a provincial capital, including, from 420 BCE, a local mint striking silver coins. Nevertheless, Persian-era Jerusalem was tiny: about 1,500 inhabitants, even as low as 500 according to some estimates. It was the only true urban site in Yehud, the bulk of the province's population lived in small unwalled villages. This picture did not much change throughout the entire Persian period. The entire population of the province remained around 30,000. There is no sign in the archaeological record of massive inwards migration from Babylon, in contradiction to the biblical account where Zerubbabel's band of returning Israelite exiles alone numbered 42,360. The Persians seem to have experimented with ruling Yehud as a client-kingdom, but this time under the descendants of Jehoiachin, who had kept his royal status even in captivity.Herbert Niehr, "Religio-Historical Aspects of the Early Post-Exilic Period", in Bob Becking, Marjo Christina Annette Korpel (eds), ''The Crisis of Israelite Religion: Transformation of Religious Tradition in Exilic & Post-Exilic Times'' (Brill, 1999) pp.229–231
/ref> Sheshbazzar, the governor of Yehud appointed by Cyrus in 538, was of Davidic origin, as was his successor (and nephew) Zerubbabel; Zerubbabel in turn was succeeded by his second son and then by his son-in-law, all of them hereditary Davidic governors of Yehud, a state of affairs that ended only around 500 BCE. This hypothesis—that Zerubbabel and his immediate successors represented a restoration of the Davidic kingdom under Persian overlordship—cannot be verified, but it would be in keeping with the situation in some other parts of the Persian Empire, such as Phoenicia. The second and third pillars of the early period of Persian rule in Yehud, copying the pattern of the old Davidic kingdom destroyed by the Babylonians, were the institutions of High Priest and Prophet. Both are described and preserved in the
Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites ...

Hebrew Bible
in the histories of Ezra-Nehemiah-Chronicles and in the books of Zechariah, Haggai and
Malachi Malachi (; ) is the traditional author of the Book of Malachi The Book of Malachi (or Malachias; , ') is the last book of the Neviim contained in the Tanakh, canonically the last of the Twelve Minor Prophets. In the Christian ordering, the grou ...

Malachi
, but by the mid-5th century BCE the prophets and Davidic kings had ended, leaving only the High Priest. The practical result was that after c.500 BCE Yehud became in practice a theocracy, ruled by a line of hereditary High Priests. The governor of Yehud would have been charged primarily with keeping order and seeing that tribute was paid. He would have been assisted by various officials and a body of scribes, but there is no evidence that a popular "assembly" existed, and he would have had little discretion over his core duties. Evidence from seals and coins suggests that most, if not all, of the governors of Persian Yehud were Jewish, a situation which conforms with the general Persian practice of governing through local leaders.


Governors of Yehud Medinata

The succession order and dates of most of the governors of the Achemenid province of Yehud cannot be recreated with any degree of certainty. Coins, jar-stamp impressions, and seals from the period are giving us the names of Elnathan, Hananiah (?), Jehoezer, Ahzai and Urio, all of them Jewish names. Some of them must have served between Zerubbabel and Nehemiah. Bagoas the Persian (Bagohi or Bagoi in
Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia'' in the English language ** Persians, Persian people, the majority ethnic group in Iran, not to be conflated with the Iranian peoples ** Persian language, an Iranian ...
) is known by this short form of several
theophoric name A theophoric name (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is ...
s that was often used for
eunuch A eunuch ( ) is a man A man is an adult male Male (♂) is the sex of an organism that produces the gamete known as sperm. A male gamete can fuse with a larger female gamete, or ovum, in the process of fertilization. A male cannot ...

eunuch
s. He is mentioned in the 5th-century Elephantine papyri, and must therefore have served after Nehemiah. *
Sheshbazzar According to the biblical narrative, Zerubbabel, ''Zorobabel''; la, Zorobabel; Akkadian: 𒆰𒆍𒀭𒊏𒆠 ''Zērubābili'' was a governor of the Achaemenid Empire The Achaemenid Empire (; peo, 𐎧𐏁𐏂, translit=Xšāça, translatio ...
(either identical with, or governor before Zerubbabel) *
Zerubbabel According to the biblical narrative, Zerubbabel, ''Zorobabel''; la, Zorobabel; AkkadianAkkadian or Accadian may refer to: * The Akkadian language Akkadian ( ''akkadû'', ''ak-ka-du-u2''; logogram: ''URIKI'')John Huehnergard & Christopher Wo ...

Zerubbabel
(second half of the sixth century BCE). Led the first wave of Jewish exiles back to Judea after the fall of Babylonian Empire to Cyrus the Great. His family, however, remained behind in
Nehardea Nehardea or Nehardeah ( arc, נהרדעא, ''nəhardəʿā'' "river of knowledge") was a city from the area called by ancient Jewish sources Talmudic Academies in Babylonia#Geographic area, Babylonia, situated at or near the junction of the Euphra ...
. * Ezra ben Seraiah (mid-fifth or early fourth century BCE, depending on whether
Artaxerxes I Artaxerxes I (, peo, 𐎠𐎼𐎫𐎧𐏁𐏂 , "whose rule (''xšaça'' PlutarchThemistocles, 29/ref> Portrayal in the Book of Ezra and Nehemiah A King Artaxerxes ( he, אַרְתַּחְשַׁשְׂתְּא, ) is described in the Bible ...

Artaxerxes I
or was king in his time), the subject of the
Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites ...

Hebrew Bible
's
Book of Ezra The Book of Ezra is a book of the Hebrew Bible; which formerly included the Book of Nehemiah in a single book, commonly distinguished in scholarship as Ezra–Nehemiah. The two became separated with the first printed Mikraot Gedolot, rabbinic bi ...
. * Nehemiah ben Hachaliah (second half of the fifth century BCE). Nehemiah is mentioned in the 5th-century Elephantine papyri.xxxx * Hezekiah (governor); Yehezqiyah or Hezekiah, identified as ''hphh'', 'ha-pechah' (the governor), by the script on a coin type dated to the late fourth century, possibly around 335 BCE, one of which was found at Beth Zur The inscription is also rendered in English as "the governor Hezekiah".


Religion and community

There is a general consensus among biblical scholars that ancient Judah during the 9th and 8th centuries BCE was basically henotheistic or monolatrous, with
Yahweh Yahweh was the national god of ancient Kingdom of Israel (Samaria), Israel and Kingdom of Judah, Judah. His origins reach at least to the early Iron Age, and likely to the Late Bronze Age. In the oldest biblical literature, he is a Weather ...
as a
national god A national god is a guardian divinity whose special concern is the safety and well-being of an ethnic group (''nation A nation is a community A community is a social unit (a group of living things) with commonality such as Norm (social), n ...
in the same way that surrounding nations each had their own national gods.Lester L. Grabbe, "A history of the Jews and Judaism in the Second Temple Period", vol.1 (T&T Clark International, 2004), pp.240-244
/ref> Monotheistic themes arose as early as the 8th century, in opposition to Assyrian royal propaganda, which depicted the Assyrian king as "Lord of the Four Quarters" (the world), but the Exile broke the competing fertility, ancestor and other cults and allowed it to emerge as the dominant theology of Yehud. The minor gods or "sons of Yahweh" of the old pantheon now turned into a hierarchy of
angel An angel is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena or entities that are not subject to the . This term is attributed to , such as s, s, , and . It also includes claimed abilities embodied in or provided by such ...

angel
s and
demon A demon is a supernatural being, typically associated with evil, prevalent historically in religion, occultism, literature, fiction, mythology, and folklore; as well as in Media (communication), media such as comics, video games, movies, an ...

demon
s in a process that continued to evolve throughout the time of Yehud and into the Hellenistic age. Persian
Zoroastrianism Zoroastrianism or Mazdayasna is an Iranian religions, Iranian religion and one of the world's oldest continuously-practiced organized faiths, based on the teachings of the Iranian peoples, Iranian-speaking prophet Zoroaster (also known as ''Za ...
certainly influenced Judaism. Although the exact extent of that influence continues to be debated, they shared the concept of God as Creator, as the one who guarantees justice and as the God of heaven. The experience of exile and restoration itself brought about a new world view in which Jerusalem and the House of David continued to be central ingredients, and the destruction of the Temple came to be regarded as a demonstration of Yahweh's strength.Izaak J. de Hulster, "Iconographic Exegesis and Third Isaiah", pp.136-7
/ref> Possibly the single most important development in the post-Exilic period was the promotion and eventual dominance of the idea and practice of Jewish exclusivity, the idea that the
Jews Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 ISO The International Organization for Standardization (ISO ) is an international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), ...
(meaning followers of the god of Israel and of the
law of Moses The Law of Moses ( he, תֹּורַת מֹשֶׁה ), also called the Mosaic Law, primarily refers to the Torah The Torah (; he, תּוֹרָה, "Instruction", "Teaching" or "Law") includes the first five books of the Hebrew Bible ...
) were or should be a race apart from all others. According to Levine, that was a new idea, originating with the party of the ''golah'', those who returned from the Babylonian exile.Levine, Lee I., "Jerusalem: portrait of the city in the second Temple period (538 B.C.E.-70 C.E.)" (Jewish Publication Society, 2002) p.37
/ref> In spite of the reforming ex-Babylonian ''golah'' leader, Nehemiah, refusing the request of the Yahweh-worshiping
Samaritan Samaritans (; ; he, שומרונים, translit=Shomronim; ar, السامريون, translit=as-Sāmiriyyūn) or Samaritan people are members of an ethnoreligious group originating from the Israelites of historical History of ancient Israel a ...

Samaritan
s to help rebuild the Temple, and Ezra's horror at learning that Yehudi Yahweh-worshipers were intermarrying with non-Yehudis (possibly even non Yahweh-worshipers), the relations with the Samaritans and other neighbours were, in fact, close and cordial. Comparison of Ezra-Nehemiah and Chronicles bears this out: Chronicles opens participation in Yahweh-worship to all twelve tribes and even to foreigners, but for Ezra-Nehemiah, "Israel" means the tribes of Judah and Benjamin alone as well as the holy tribe of Levi. Despite Yehud being consistently monotheistic, some pockets of polytheistic Yahwism still appeared to exist in the Persian period: the Elephantine papyri (usually dated to the 5th century BCE) shows that a small community of Jews living in the Egyptian island of
Elephantine Elephantine ( ; ; arz, جزيرة الفنتين, Gazīrat il-Fantīn; el, Ἐλεφαντίνη ''Elephantíne''; ''(Ə)iêw'') is an island on the Nile, forming part of the city of Aswan in Upper Egypt. The archaeological sites on the isl ...

Elephantine
, while being devout supporters of Yaweh, also venerated the Egyptian goddess
Anat Anat (, ), Anatu, classically Anath (; ar, عناة he, עֲנָת ''ʿĂnāth''; CanaaniteCanaanite may refer to: *Canaan and Canaanite people, Semitic-speaking region and civilization in the Ancient Near East *Canaanite languages *Canaanit ...
and even had their own temple in the island. Such community had probably been founded before the Babylonian Exile and had, therefore, remained immune to religious reforms in the mainland. While it appears that the Elephantine community had some contact with the Second Temple (as evidenced by the fact that they had written a letter to the High Priest
Johanan Yohanan, Yochanan and Johanan are various transliterations to the Latin alphabet of the Hebrew male given name ('), a shortened form of ('), meaning "YHWH :wikt:חנן, is gracious". The name is ancient, recorded as the name of Johanan (High Prie ...
of Jerusalem), the exact relationship between the two is currently unclear. Following the expulsion of the Persians from Egypt by Pharaoh Amyrtaeus (404 BCE), the Jewish temple in Elephantine was abandoned.


Literature and language

Scholars believe that in the Persian period the Torah assumed its final form, the history of ancient Israel and Judah contained in the books from Book of Joshua, Joshua to Books of Kings, Kings was revised and completed and the older prophetic books were redacted. New writing included the interpretation of older works, such as the Book of Chronicles, and genuinely original work including Ben Sira, Book of Tobit, Tobit, Book of Judith, Judith, Book of Enoch, 1 Enoch and, much later, Book of Maccabees, Maccabees. The literature from Ben Sira onwards is increasingly permeated with references to the
Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites ...

Hebrew Bible
in the present form, suggesting the slow development of the idea of a body of "scripture" in the sense of authoritative writings. One of the more important cultural shifts in the Persian period was the rise of Aramaic as the predominant language of Yehud and the Jewish diaspora. Originally spoken by the Aramaeans, it was adopted by the Persians and became the ''lingua franca'' of the empire, and already in the time of
Ezra Ezra (; he, עֶזְרָא, '; fl. 480–440 BCE), also called Ezra the Scribe (, ') and Ezra the Priest in the Book of Ezra The Book of Ezra is a book of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; : , or ), is the of scripture ...

Ezra
, it was necessary to have the Torah readings translated into Aramaic for them to be understood by Jews.Levine, Lee I., "Jerusalem: portrait of the city in the second Temple period (538 B.C.E.-70 C.E.)" (Jewish Publication Society, 2002) pp.36-7
/ref>


See also

* History of the Jews and Judaism in the Land of Israel * Intertestamental period * Jew (word) * Judaea (Roman province) * Nebuchadnezzar Chronicle or Jerusalem Chronicle, one of the Babylonian Chronicles containing details about Nebuchadnezzar's Siege of Jerusalem (597 BCE) * Return to Zion * Second Temple period * Yehud coinage * Zion


References


Notes


External links


Maps


Yehud Medinata
map
CET – Center For Educational technology

Yehud Medinata
Border map, CET – Center For Educational technology


Books


Becking, Bob, and Korpel, Marjo Christina Annette (eds), "The Crisis of Israelite Religion: Transformation of Religious Tradition in Exilic & Post-Exilic Times" (Brill, 1999)Bedford, Peter Ross, "Temple restoration in early Achaemenid Judah" (Brill, 2001)Berquist, Jon L., "Approaching Yehud: new approaches to the study of the Persian period" (Society of Biblical Literature, 2007)Blenkinsopp, Joseph, "Judaism, the first phase: the place of Ezra and Nehemiah in the origins of Judaism" (Eerdmans, 2009)Grabbe, Lester L., "A history of the Jews and Judaism in the Second Temple Period", vol.1 (T&T Clark International, 2004)Levine, Lee I., "Jerusalem: portrait of the city in the second Temple period (538 B.C.E.-70 C.E.)" (Jewish Publication Society, 2002)Lipschitz, Oded, "The Fall and Rise of Jerusalem" (Eisenbrauns, 2005)Lipschitz, Oded, and Oeming, Manfred (eds), "Judah and the Judeans in the Persian period" (Eisenbrauns, 2006)Lipschitz, Oded, and Oeming, Manfred (eds), "Judah and the Judeans in the fourth century B.C.E." (Eisenbrauns, 2006)Middlemas, Jill Anne, "The troubles of templeless Judah" (Oxford University Press, 2005)Stackert, Jeffrey, "Rewriting the Torah: literary revision in Deuteronomy and the holiness code" (Mohr Siebeck, 2007)Nodet, Étienne, "A search for the origins of Judaism: from Joshua to the Mishnah" (Sheffield Academic Press, 1999, original edition Editions du Cerf, 1997)Vanderkam, James, "An introduction to early Judaism" (Eerdmans, 2001)
{{Achaemenid Provinces Achaemenid satrapies Autonomous administrative divisions Ancient Israel and Judah Ancient Jewish Persian history Return to Zion States and territories established in the 6th century BC States and territories disestablished in the 4th century BC 539 BC Political entities in the Land of Israel Jewish Persian and Iranian history 6th-century BCE Judaism 5th-century BCE Judaism 4th-century BCE Judaism