DIASPORA: HOMELAND RELATIONS IN EZRA-NEHEMIAH

in Vetus Testamentum
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Abstract

Ezra-Nehemiah is widely recognized as stressing the separation of Judeans repatriated from Babylonian exile from those they found living in and around Judah at their return. A related theme has received little attention, namely, the on-going relationship between the repatriates and their parent community in the Babylonian-Elamite diaspora. The present article highlights features of this relationship, noting that as a colony of the Babylonian exiles, the community of repatriates remained dependent on the diaspora for leadership and for instruction in religious culture and practice. It is suggested that in tandem with the emphasis on separatism, this view of diaspora-homeland relations reflects a concern current in the mid- to late-fourth century Judah to articulate a Judean identity that reinforced the connection of the Babylonian diaspora to the homeland. In its view of diaspora-homeland relations, Ezra-Nehemiah displays certain features in common with other late-Persian and Hellenistic biblical texts such as Esther and Daniel i-vi.

Vetus Testamentum

A Quarterly Published by the International Organization for the Study of the Old Testament

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