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There is no sudden expansion of the population base of 30, and no credible indication of any special interest in Yehud.

The Maccabaean lecture

Although most of the Jewish people during this period, especially the wealthy families, were to be found in Babylonia, the existence they led there, under the successive rulers of the Achaemenids , the Seleucids , the Parthians , and the Sassanians , was obscure and devoid of political influence. There, with the reconstructed Temple in Jerusalem as their center, they organized themselves into a community, animated by a remarkable religious ardor and a tenacious attachment to the Torah as the focus of its identity.

As this little nucleus increased in numbers with the accession of recruits from various quarters, it awoke to a consciousness of itself, and strove once again for national independence and political enfranchisement and sovereignty. The first Jewish diaspora in Egypt arose in the last century of pharaonic rule , apparently with the settlement there, either under Ashurbanipal or during the reign of Psammeticus of a colony of Jewish mercenaries, a military class that successively served the Persian , the Ptolemaic and Roman governments down to the early decades of the second century C.

Their presence was buttressed by numerous Jewish administrators who joined them in Egypt's military and urban centres. While communities in Alexandria and Rome dated back to before the Maccabean Revolt , the population in the Jewish diaspora expanded after the Pompey's campaign in 62 BCE.

Under the Hasmonean princes, who were at first high priests and then kings, the Jewish state displayed even a certain luster and annexed several territories. Soon, however, discord within the royal family and the growing disaffection of the pious, the soul of the nation, towards rulers who no longer evinced any appreciation of the real aspirations of their subjects made the Jewish nation easy prey for the ambitions of the now increasingly autocratic and imperial Romans, the successors of the Seleucids.

In 63 BCE Pompey invaded Jerusalem, the Jewish people lost their political sovereignty and independence, and Gabinius subjected the Jewish people to tribute. By means of all kinds of contacts, and particularly thanks to the development of commerce, Hellenism infiltrated on all sides in varying degrees. The ports of the Mediterranean coast were indispensable to commerce and, from the very beginning of the Hellenistic period, underwent great development.

In the Western diaspora Greek quickly became dominant in Jewish life and little sign remains of profound contact with Hebrew or Aramaic, the latter probably being the more prevalent. The proportion of Jews in the diaspora in relation to the size of the nation as a whole increased steadily throughout the Hellenistic era and reached astonishing dimensions in the early Roman period, particularly in Alexandria.

It was not least for this reason that the Jewish people became a major political factor, especially since the Jews in the diaspora, notwithstanding strong cultural, social and religious tensions, remained firmly united with their homeland. Some settlements may have resulted from the Jewish revolts. In 6 CE the Romans annexed Judaea.

Perceptions of Jewish female bodies through Gustav Klimt and Peter Altenberg

Only the Jews in Babylonia remained outside of Roman rule. As early as the middle of the 2nd century BCE the Jewish author of the third book of the Oracula Sibyllina addressed the "chosen people," saying: "Every land is full of thee and every sea. King Agrippa I , in a letter to Caligula , enumerated among the provinces of the Jewish diaspora almost all the Hellenized and non-Hellenized countries of the Orient. This enumeration was far from complete as Italy and Cyrene were not included. The epigraphic discoveries from year to year augment the number of known Jewish communities but must be viewed with caution due to the lack of precise evidence of their numbers.

Impact of Greek Culture on Normative Judaism by David Steinberg

According to the ancient Jewish historian Josephus, the next most dense Jewish population after the Land of Israel and Babylonia was in Syria , particularly in Antioch , and Damascus , where 10, to 18, Jews were massacred during the great insurrection. The ancient Jewish philosopher Philo gives the number of Jewish inhabitants in Egypt as one million, one-eighth of the population. Alexandria was by far the most important of the Egyptian Jewish communities. The Jews in the Egyptian diaspora were on a par with their Ptolemaic counterparts and close ties existed for them with Jerusalem.

As in other Hellenistic diasporas, the Egyptian diaspora was one of choice not of imposition. To judge by the accounts of wholesale massacres in BCE, the number of Jewish residents in Cyrenaica , Cyprus , and Mesopotamia was also large. At the commencement of the reign of Caesar Augustus , there were over 7, Jews in Rome though this is only the number that is said to have escorted the envoys who came to demand the deposition of Archelaus ; compare: Bringmann: Klaus: Geschichte der Juden im Altertum, Stuttgart , S. Bringmann talks about 8, Jews who lived in the city of Rome.

The 13th-century author Bar Hebraeus gave a figure of 6,, Jews in the Roman world. Salo Wittmayer Baron considered the figure convincing. However, contemporary scholars now accept that Bar Hebraeus based his figure on a census of total Roman citizens and thus, included non-Jews.

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The figure of 6,, being recorded in Eusebius' Chronicon. John R. Bartlett rejects Baron's figures entirely, arguing that we have no clue as to the size of the Jewish demographic in the ancient world. They collected an annual temple tax from Jews both in and outside of Israel. The revolts in and suppression of diaspora communities in Egypt, Libya and Crete in — CE had a severe impact on the Jewish diaspora. It is commonly claimed that the diaspora began with Rome's twofold crushing of Jewish national aspirations.

David Aberbach, for one, has argued that much of the European Jewish diaspora, by which he means exile or voluntary migration, originated with the Jewish wars which occurred between 66 and CE.

SOAS Research Online

After the revolt, the Jewish religious and cultural center shifted to the Babylonian Jewish community and its scholars. For the generations that followed, the destruction of the Second Temple event came to represent a fundamental insight about the Jews who had become a dispossessed and persecuted people for much of their history.

Preserving what’s left of a once-thriving Jewish community in India

Erich S. Gruen maintains for example that focusing on the destruction of the Temple misses the point that already before this, the diaspora was well established. Compulsory dislocation of people cannot explain more than a fraction of the eventual diaspora. Roman rule, which began in 63 BCE, continued until a revolt from 66—70 CE, a Jewish uprising to fight for independence, was eventually crushed after four years, culminating in the capture of Jerusalem and the burning and destruction of the Temple, the centre of the national and religious life of the Jews throughout the world.

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In Josephus' own words, he had informed "the remotest Arabians" about the destruction. Exactly when Roman Anti-Judaism began is a question of scholarly debate, however historian Hayim Hillel Ben-Sasson has proposed that the "Crisis under Caligula" 37—41 was the "first open break between Rome and the Jews". Jerusalem had been left in ruins from the time of Vespasian. Sixty years later, Hadrian, who had been instrumental in the expulsion from Palestine of Marcius Turbo after his bloody repression of Jews in the diaspora in CE.

These political measures were, according to Menachem Mor, devoid of any intention to eliminate Judaism, [59] indeed, the pagan reframing of Jerusalem may have been a strategic move designed to challenge, rather, the growing threat, pretensions and influence of converts to Christianity, for whom Jerusalem was likewise a crucial symbol of their faith. There was a further shift of the center of religious authority from Yavne , as rabbis regrouped in Usha in the western Galilee, where the Mishnah was composed. This ban struck a blow at Jewish national identity within Palestine, while the Romans however continued to allow Jews in the diaspora their distinct national and religious identity throughout the Empire.

These slaves and their children were eventually manumitted and joined local free communities. During the Middle Ages , due to increasing geographical dispersion and re-settlement, Jews divided into distinct regional groups which today are generally addressed according to two primary geographical groupings: the Ashkenazi of Northern and Eastern Europe, and the Sephardic Jews of Iberia Spain and Portugal , North Africa and the Middle East.

By there were about , Jews in the Polish—Lithuanian Commonwealth. The worldwide Jewish population comprising the Middle East and the rest of Europe was estimated at 1. The Samaritans consider themselves to be the remaining population of the Northern Kingdom of Israel who were not expelled during the ten tribes exile , and who joined with the incoming Assyrian populations to form the Samaritan community.

Some biblical scholars also consider that parts of the Judean population had stayed to live in their homes during the exilic period and later joined the returning Israelites from Babylon and formed the Jews of the classic and Hasmonean era. This status continued into the following Hellenistic period , when Yehud became a disputed province of Ptolemaic Egypt and Seleucid Syria.

In the early part of the 2nd century BCE, a revolt against the Seleucids led to the establishment of an independent Jewish kingdom under the Hasmonean dynasty. The Hasmoneans adopted a deliberate policy of imitating and reconstituting the Davidic kingdom, and as part of this forcibly converted to Judaism their neighbours in the Land of Israel.

The conversions included Nabateans Zabadeans and Itureans , the peoples of the former Philistine cities, the Moabites , Ammonites and Edomites. Attempts were also made to incorporate the Samaritans , following takeover of Samaria. The success of mass-conversions is however questionable, as most groups retained their tribal separations and mostly turned Hellenistic or Christian, with Edomites perhaps being the only exception to merge into the Jewish society under Herodian dynasty and in the following period of Jewish-Roman Wars.

The Babylonian Jewish community, though maintaining permanent ties with the Hasmonean and later Herodian kingdoms, evolved into a separate Jewish community, which during the Talmudic period assembled its own practices, the Babylonian Talmud , slightly differing from the Jerusalem Talmud. The Babylonian Jewry is considered to be the predecessor of most Mizrahi Jewish communities. Ashkenazi Jews is a general category of Jewish populations who immigrated to what is now Germany and northeastern France during the Middle Ages and until modern times used to adhere to the Yiddish culture and the Ashkenazi prayer style.

There is evidence that groups of Jews had immigrated to Germania during the Roman Era ; they were probably merchants who followed the Roman Legions during their conquests.


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To a larger degree, modern Ashkenazi Jews are the descendants of Jews who migrated into northern France and lower Germany around — CE, later migrating into Eastern Europe, as well as local Europeans who intermixed with Jews. Many Ashkenazi Jews are also descended from Sephardi Jews exiled from Spain, first during Islamic persecutions 11thth centuries and later during Christian reconquests 13thth centuries and the Spanish Inquisition 15thth centuries. In this sense, the modern term "Ashkenazi" refers to a subset of Jewish religious practices, adopted over time, rather than to a strict ethno-geographic division, which became erased over time.

David Goldstein, a Duke University geneticist and director of the Duke Center for Human Genome Variation, has said that the work of the Technion and Ramban team served only to confirm that genetic drift played a major role in shaping Ashkenazi mitochondrial DNA mtDNA , which is inherited in a matrilineal manner. Goldstein argues that the Technion and Ramban mtDNA studies fail to actually establish a statistically significant link between modern Jews and historic Middle Eastern populations. This differs from the patrilineal case, where Goldstein said there is no doubt of a Middle Eastern origin.


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