Return to Zion (538-332)
5th Century BCE
Cyrus' edict allows Judean exiles to return to Jerusalem, under leadership of Zerubabel.
42360 returnees from exile face difficulties with Samaritans (who were not exiled) and confront hard economic conditions.
After a period of suspension of building, the Second Temple is dedicated.
Judah's numbers grow as more exiles return from Babylon.
Jewish society degenerates: intermarriage; forsaking of Temple service; priest favor the rich; interpret Torah partially; people dispirited.
Prophet Malachi condemns breakdown of family morals.
Administration of communal and judicial affairs conducted by tribunal of "Elders."
During 50 years of exile, synagogues established in Babylon, prayer forms developed.
Beginnings of the canonization of the Bible; some books lost.
Remaining Jews in Babylon were voluntary exiles.
Persia:- Influence of Jews remained strong in the Persian court. Jews lease and own Babylonian land, and engage in agriculture, tax collection, and other occupations. They appoint their own judges.
Probable period of the Purim story in Book off Esther. Xerxes is associated with King Ahasverus in the Biblical account.
Foundation of the Second Temple was laid. (537)
Returnees joined by 7,337 slaves and 2000 singers
Prophets Haggai and Zechariah interpret upheavals in Persia as sign of G-D's return to historical stage. Presses returning Jews to press on with rebuilding of temple under Zerubabel (of the Davidic line).
Book of Job written in this period.
Aramaic papyruses and ostraca found in Elephantine reflect legend and political activities of 5th century Jewish colony. Show high degree of assimilation and practices not in accordance with later, Rabbinical laws.
Jeremiah calls on exiles to pray for welfare of their new country. (Jeremiah 29:7) Some Jews give children Hebrew names.
The scribes take the place of the prophets as Israel's spiritual leaders. Stress belief and daily conduct over temple ritual.
Egypt falls to Persia.
Darius I exerts control of Persian Empire. [a]
Agreement between Rome and Carthage. Establishment of Republic in Rome.
Cleisthenes establishes Athenian democracy.
Development of Bhuddism in India.
Iron technology in Persia.
Confucius stresses interpersonal ethics in China.
Athens builds extensive army. (490)
Persian wars: Repelled by Greece (490): suppresses Egyptian revolt. (486)
Period of Greek philosophers (490-347): Pericles, Sophocles, Socrates, & Plato.
Persian emperor Xerxes puts down revolt in Babylonia (482); destroys capital, a "wonder of the world."
Herodatus- history of Greek- Persian wars: 2 centuries of M. Eastern life and lore.