Make your own free website on Tripod.com
536-350 BCE - Jews Return from Exile
The Babylonian empire falls to Cyrus the Great of Persia. Cyrus invites the Jews to return to Judah and Jerusalem in order to rebuild the city.
Of the 150,000 Jews in Babylonia, 25% return to Jerusalem in four waves of immigration to join the remnant living in the city.
Sheshbazzar of the Davidic line leads the first wave of immigration. He and his followers reestablish sacrificial worship on the site of the destroyed Temple.
More important is the second wave of immigration led by Zerubbabel the appointed governor of Judah and the high priest Joshua son of Jehozadak (Haggai 1:12). In 515 BCE, 71 years after the destruction, Zerubbabel and Joshua restore the Temple.
From the former capital of the northern tribes, Shomron (Samaria), the non-Jews try to hinder the rebuilding of the Temple and the reestablishment of an independent Jerusalem.

Nehemiah, the appointed governor of Judah (440 BCE), is mainly responsible for rebuilding the city. He organizes the defense of the inhabitants against unruly neighbors – particularly the Samaritans. Because of enemies, Jerusalem cannot pursue an independent course while the defensive walls are incomplete and the gates are open to enemies. First the wall is repaired (in 52 days) around the City of David and the Valley Gate. The upper city is not yet fortified.  The Temple is finished and purified, mixed marriages dissolved and the class of scribes (experts in Mosaic Law) is given equal status with the nobility and priesthood. The scribes reestablish Jerusalem as the undisputed spiritual center of Judah and the entire Jewish Diaspora in Egypt, Babylonia and Asia Minor.
Jews returning from Babylonia continue their practice of using a particular building as a place for prayer (Beit Tefilla), learning (Beit Midrash) and assembly (Beit Knesset). This change leads to standardized prayers and liturgy, universal education, freedom of assembly and self-government in all Jewish communities.