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Tuesday: Where are the Priests? — 11 Comments

  1. I think that there is a tendency for us to think that it was God's plan for all the exiled Jews to return to Canaan and set up an earthly Israeli nation. (That same idea still has a fair bit of traction among Christians regarding the modern Zionist movement and the modern nation of Israel.) As we all know, that did not happen and a large number of the exiled Jews remained in Babylon and Persia we they held important government positions and commercial interests. History tells us that they were treated rather well there and later went on to develop rabbinical schools. The dispersion of the Jews enabled them to survive in spite of the development of antisemitism.We know that the at the time of Christ there were significant Jewish populations in both Mesopotamia and Egypt.

    I have read a little of the development of the modern streams of Jewish culture. In particular there are two main streams, the Ashkenazim, and the Sephardim. The Ashkenazim are mainly from eastern Europe and form the basis of much of the Jewish population in the US of A. The Sephardim developed mainly in Spain and Portugal but were dispersed from there during the persecution of the Spanish inquisition. There is also a third group, the Mizrahim who are described as Oriental Jews. Clearly, they have in many senses survived both the Babylonian exile and the Roman diaspora. This dispersion of the Jews has probably significantly contributed to the survival of their scriptures, our Bible.

    While we sometimes have the view that it was God's plan for the return of Babylonian captives to Canaan, maybe he had a bigger plan for their survival.

  2. These are my opinion therefore we can agree to disagree.
    Levites did not have an inheritance in the promised land.
    They were supported by the tithe of the people.
    Guess what if the people had a famine, it affected the income of the levites in the land.
    The Levites role was to teach God's law and lead the people in worship.
    If the people did not worship the Lord, the life of the Levite became unbearable.
    Many of us even today have our favorite Sunday pastors we would love to hear.
    Many of us support the cause of other faith knowing they are not preaching the truth.
    When we were in Texas, my daughter because of lack of activities in our Adventist church started to attend the
    activities in another faith.
    Been in a large city with activities, it was a struggle for her not being active in church.
    For a Levite steady job, school for the children, better position and promotions probably was the leading cause not to return back home.
    I am not any different from them.
    I am amazed at the sacrificed life of our pioneers in carrying the gospel to the ends of the earth giving up the luxury of this life in America to come and live in India.
    It is only the sacrificed life of believers will bring the gospel work to end.
    Jesus' question still remains even today.
    Do you love me?
    Feed my lamb.

  3. Interesting thought, not all Levite's were priests, only descendants of Aaron were priests, the rest of the Levite's were there to support them.
    So even if you are in a supporting role in church you are needed for the work to be successful.

    On another track, I have heard that many of the Jews from Europe are not original descendants of Jacob but are converts to Judaism? Is this true?

    • Essentially, the Levites were supposed to the the government officials. I am not sure how well they kept to the descendency rules on this one. The Cohen (Kohen) were the priests. The word is used in the Bible for both Jewish and non-Jewish priests but only descendants of Aaron were Cohen in Judean and Isrealite kingdoms. The name Cohen survives as a surname today.

      There are a couple of hypotheses about the ancestry of Eastern European Jews. The two most popular are the Rhineland Hypothesis and the Khazarian Hypothesis. The former proposes a fairly pure descent, while the later suggests that the descent is mixed with input from Khazar converts (southern Russia) along with Mesopotanian and Greek/Roman Jews. Modern genetic studies tend to favour the latter hypothesis. I think it is fair to say that it is highly likely that any modern Jew is likely to be the product of a fairly diverse ancestry and most will not be pure descendants of Israel (Jacob).

  4. It may be difficult, but troubles get us sharper. Also, they can bring us closer to God. We completely depend on Him anyways.

  5. Spirit of The Holy One guide us today.

    Must I be carried to the sky on flowery beds of ease while others fought to win the Price?
    There is a Cross for you and one for me.

    Ezra had expected that a large number would return to Jerusalem, but the number who responded to the call was disappointingly small. Many who had acquired houses and lands had no desire to sacrifice these possessions. They loved ease and comfort and were well satisfied to remain. Their example proved a hindrance to others who otherwise might have chosen to cast in their lot with those who were advancing by faith. PK 612
    Many times we pray to become pure, Holy, righteous, to die to self but all of these and more come with a cost, an expensive one. A few days ago I was reading the postings on Narcissism and how others share theirs struggles. Those are the real struggle and more we as Christians will face as we journey in this sinful world.
    Many Christians want a life of easy and give up the minute trials come, but let us keep holding on, hardship in all its form will not last forever.

  6. Is there any information on the number of Jews who were exiled, or the population of Jerusalem before the exile?
    Maybe this may help us to understand the small numbers of returnees.
    We must also appreciate that after 70 years, hundreds of children were born in Babylon, and Jerusalem would have been a foreign country to them.
    The question begs to be asked, however. Were their parents careful to teach them about their true heritage, or were they left to assimilate the foreign culture-it's standards, religion, food, dress,etc.?
    If the homes neglected the training of the children and youth for the city of Jerusalem during these years, then they would have little desire to leave Babylon.

    Here is seen the exact counterpart of what people are doing to-day when asked of God to forsake modern Babylon.

    Are our children and youth getting comfortable in Babylon?
    Has 'Babylon' become more attractive than 'Jerusalem'?
    We are in danger today of repeating this sad experience!

    I am nearing my 70th year 'in exile' on this planet. I am endeavoring by God's grace not to become too comfortable!

    • One estimate is that the population of Judah was around 75,000 at the time of the Babylonian captivity and that approximately 20,000 people were taken into exile.

      The situation is a bit more complex than the casual reader is lead to believe. The captivity was not a single event but rather a series of events. Briefly the background is this. In the time leading up to the Nebuchadnezzar destruction of Jerusalem, Judah had already lost its sovereignty and was a province of either Egypt or Assyria. In Jerusalem the leaders were split on who they were aligned with (paid taxes to). Babylon, a state of Assyria became the dominant power and flexed its muscle against the ruling Assyrians and ultimately against Egypt. Jerusalem refused to pay tribute to Babylon and this resulted in the Nebuchadnezzar raid that lead to the destruction of Jerusalem. As in any war there were captives and also refugees. Many of the people of Judea fled to neighbouring countries as refugees.

      Regarding the retention of Jewish religion and culture in Babylon. For the most part the Jewish captives were treated rather well. The fact that their ruling class, (ie Daniel and his mates) were assimilated to high government positions is an indication of that. The Jewish captives were allowed to run schools and in fact the rabbinical system was largely a result of the captivity. The question must be asked were the Jews influenced by the Babylonian captivity? I think it is fair to say that they probably were to some extent. Depending on who you read, some scholars think that the influence was quite extensive. It was during this time that there was a consolidation of Jewish literature (old testament) and that has ramifications for us and our relationship to the Bible.

      I have probably raised more questions than answers. The Babylonian captivity period was a pivotal point in the history of the Jews and there is a lot of information available. Unfortunately many of us have only heard about it from series such as "Dead Men do tell Tales" which have essentially "cherry picked" the bits of history that confirm the Biblical account but have ignored the political scene at the time. There is nothing wrong with confirming the Biblical account but it is also illuminating to understand the wider picture as well.


    I received Five times 40 lashes minus one.

    3 times beaten with rods

    Once pelted with stones.

    3 times shipwrecked.

    24 hours adrift the deep sea.

    Crossed dangerous rivers,faced dangerous bandits,Jews and gentiles.

    Went to dangerous cities country sides and seas.

    Faced dangerous false believers.

    Laboured and toiled and gone without sleep.

    Gone without food and water for many days.

    I have been cold and naked.


  8. Judging from the comments emanating from the pen of inspiration,our greatest danger lies in acquiring material things of Babylon (this world).
    Serving God after experiencing Babylon needs a Moses who chose to suffer with the children than enjoy temporary Egyptian delicacies.

  9. From what I have studied and now believe, God had a specific purpose for the nation of Israel, to be in Jerusalem. They were the example that all the surrounding nations would see, and what the result would be if they, the Jews, followed Gods plan. They would have drawn the world to see God as the only true God. By staying in the country of their captivity because it was easier and more comfortable, they showed where their allegiance was. I believe it is a sad commentary that there were no Levite’s amongst those that chose to return. It would also seem that this could have been the cause of their ultimate failure as a nation. If the spiritual leaders of the Israelites were not the first to join those returning, that would have an effect on the rest of the nation and their commitment to God.


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