Only two of the original twelve tribes made their way back to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple in 522 B.C.

Monday, 9/23/13

Today’s first reading tells how in 535 B.C., Persia, under King Cyrus, conquered Babylon; and in reviewing records, he found that three generations earlier the people of Jerusalem had been forced to leave their homes, to come to Babylon as field hands.

Seeing that as a mighty injustice, Cyrus, not only freed the Jews to return to Jerusalem, but he ordered other people to assist them in rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem. Our reading tells us that the families of Judah and Benjamin prepared to make the trip home.

Now, the people of Judah and Benjamin made up only two of the twelve tribes of Israel, so it might help us to review the history of the Chosen People to find out what happened to the other ten tribes.   

David moved his capitol into Jerusalem in 1,000 B.C., and all twelve tribes accepted him as their king. In 977 B.C., David was followed by his son Solomon, and in 932 B.C. Solomon was followed by his son Rehoboam. However, Rehoboam was such an arrogant, demanding ruler, that ten tribes north of Jerusalem broke away, making a new capitol for themselves at Samaria.

For two hundred years the two kingdoms of Samaria and Judah went their separate ways. Then, in 722 B.C., the kingdom of Assyria enslaved the people of the northern ten tribes, and they disappeared from history.

For the next two hundred years, during the time of the Prophet Isaiah, then of Jeremiah, the Kingdom of Judah struggled along. Then, in 587 B.C. the Babylonians, under Nebuchadnezzar, led the people off in exile. They lived on in Babylon until King Cyrus sent them home in today’s reading.  

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