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10/19/2022 10:05:49 PM

Oct19

Not by might, nor by power, but by God’s spirit, shall the Jewish nation prevail.

In one of the most severe events in the history of the Jewish people, in 586 BCE, the kingdom of Judea was conquered by the Babylonians. The First Temple was destroyed, the population exiled, and the end of the Jewish people appeared certain. Before being destroyed, Judea had been a vassal state to Babylonia. The question came whether to continue paying tribute or to resort to military power, with the help of God, to end the payments to Babylonia. Then again, some—namely the prophets—saw the Babylonian ascendancy as God’s punishment of the Jews for their idolatry and social injustice. The debate—to rebel or not to rebel—lasted for decades. In 588 King Zedekiah of Judea rebels against Babylonia. In 586 the walls are breached and the Babylonians appoint a local governor, Gedaliah, who is quickly assassinated by remnants of the Judean royal family. There is still a minor fast day in Judaism, mourning this political injustice.
 
In addition to the political tension between the invaders, the Jews who wished to appease Babylonia, and those who wished to fight, there is also the rift between the prophets (like Jeremiah) and the rulers who believe in temporal power. The good news for those who supported the prophetic approach is that the disaster befell the people because of their spiritual and social justice shortcomings. Presumably, repentance will lead to restoration. Not by might, nor by power, but by God’s spirit, shall the Jewish nation prevail.

Sun, February 5 2023 14 Sh'vat 5783