Issues pertaining to the Judean exiles in pre-Hellenistic Babylonia
Prof. Ran Zadok (University of Tel-Aviv)
I discuss here two main issues:
1. The reconstruction of a reliable statistical sample of the Judean exiles in Babylonia between 597 and 331 BCE;
2. Plausible scenarios and loci of Judeo-Iranian encounters.
The problem of reconstructing a reliable and fairly comprehensive prosopographical sample of the Judeans in pre-Hellenistic Babylonia was tackled by me in a monograph on this subject from 2002, where I was able to isolate 161 individuals who can be considered Judeans with various degrees of plausibility. Fortunately, their number now is about as double thanks to the new material from Yahudu and other settlements which were linked to this Judean colony. Moreover, the additional material is much more statistically compact. This material is subjected to a thorough socio-economic analysis in a recent monograph of Alstola (2020). However, the aim of reaching a reliable and comprehensive statistical pool of the Judean exiles is not tackled by him. In order to reach a reliable statistical pool, it is imperative to compare the enlarged and updated material from Babylonia to that from Judah, the country of origin of the exiles before the deportations, viz. the long 6th century (700-586) BCE.
2. Regarding the scenarios and loci of presumed encounters between Judeans and Iranians, in the first place Persians, which took place during the Achaemenid period (538-331 BCE), the material is much more limited and entirely indirect. The basic assumption is such encounters were limited to the elites of both ethnic groups and the main locus must have been Babylon, which served as one of the Achaemenid capital and was the destination of high-ranking Judean exiles as is proven by the earlierdocumentation about Jehoiachin and his entourage.