Exile, Restoration, and the Question of Postexilic Suffering in Josephus

In: Journal for the Study of Judaism
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  • 1 Department of Religion, Baylor University, Waco, TX, USA
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The present study focuses on the representation of restoration and postexilic suffering in Josephus’s Antiquities of the Jews. This study first builds upon Feldman’s observations, arguing that Josephus interprets the rebuilding of the Jerusalem temple as the Judean restoration marking the end of exilic judgment. Second, this study examines Josephus’s interpretation of subsequent postexilic oppression and suffering at the hands of foreigners. Josephus interprets this post-restoration suffering through the theological lens of the exile, but not as a continuation or even return to a single “exile” event. Rather, for Josephus, the exile is the archetypal experience of divine judgment for disobedience. Thus subsequent disobedience in the post-restoration age could lead to a repeat of this “sin–punishment” paradigm. Josephus utilizes this repeatable paradigm to explain periods of Jewish suffering after their restoration from exile.

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