Of the kingdom of the two tribes, the kingdom of Judah. Nebuchadnezzar, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 25:1), invaded Judah, and carried away some royal youths, including Daniel and his companions (B.C. 606), together with the sacred vessels of the temple (2 Chronicles 36:7; Dan. 1:2). In B.C. 598 (Jeremiah 52:28; 2 Kings 24:12), in the beginning of Jehoiachin’s reign (2 Kings 24:8), Nebuchadnezzar carried away captive 3,023 eminent Jews, including the king (2 Chronicles 36:10), with his family and officers (2 Kings 24:12), and a large number of warriors (16), with very many persons of note (14), and artisans (16), leaving behind only those who were poor and helpless. This was the first general deportation to Babylon.
In B.C. 588, after the revolt of Zedekiah, there was a second general deportation of Jews by Nebuchadnezzar (Jeremiah 52:29; 2 Kings 25:8), including 832 more of the principal men of the kingdom. He carried away also the rest of the sacred vessels (2 Chronicles 36:18). From this period, when the temple was destroyed (2 Kings 25:9), to the complete restoration, B.C. 517 (Ezra 6:15), is the period of the “seventy years.”
In B.C. 582 occurred the last and final deportation. The entire number Nebuchadnezzar carried captive was 4,600 heads of families with their wives and children and dependants (Jeremiah 52:30; 43:5-7; 2 Chronicles 36:20, etc.). Thus the exiles formed a very considerable community in Babylon.
When Cyrus granted permission to the Jews to return to their own land (Ezra 1:5; 7:13), only a comparatively small number at first availed themselves of the privilege. It cannot be questioned that many belonging to the kingdom of Israel ultimately joined the Jews under Ezra, Zerubbabel, and Nehemiah, and returned along with them to Jerusalem (Jeremiah 50:4, 5, 17-20, 33-35).
Large numbers had, however, settled in the land of Babylon, and formed numerous colonies in different parts of the kingdom. Their descendants very probably have spread far into Eastern lands and become absorbed in the general population. (See JUDAH, KINGDOM OF; CAPTIVITY.)