What you need to know:
- The Jews had to stay in Babylon because they were the slaves of Nebuchadnezzar.
- The Babylonian captivity is a symbol of how far a Christian can wander away from God.
King Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the Temple. He stole all the gold and silver cups. He killed all the warriors. Then he took the Jews to Babylon. Prophet Jeremiah had prophesied that this would happen. It happened because the people of Israel refused to listen to his prophecy and, instead, continued to worship false gods.
After being taken to Babylon, the Jews lived there for70 years. These were the years of captivity.
The Jews had to stay in Babylon because they were the slaves of Nebuchadnezzar. Some of the Jews in Babylon continued worshipping false gods. God sent Prophet Ezekiel to tell them to repent. Some were sorry for their sins and asked God to forgive them.
God had mercy on His people. He sent a Persian king named Cyrus to wage war on the Babylonians and defeat them. Cyrus went to Babylon and told the Jews: “God has sent me here. He wants you to go back to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple for Yahweh, the God of Israel.” He ordered his servants to collect all the gold and silver cups stolen by Nebuchadnezzar and give them back to the Jews. Some Jews left and walked back to Jerusalem.
In those days, Zerubbabel was the ruler of the Jews. Jeshua was the high priest. They rebuild the Temple. They started with the altar. Re-building the rest took many years. In the meantime, they offered sacrifice every day. It was a new beginning for God’s Chosen People.
The Babylonian captivity is a symbol of how far a Christian can wander away from God. This tragedy in the history of Israel reminds us of the need we have, in our own spiritual life, to begin again whenever we have turned our backs on God.
One of the saints explained this way: “In the midst of the limitations we experience in life, where sin is still present in us to some extent, we Christians perceive with a particular clearness all the wealth of being children of God. Then sorrow for sin does not degenerate into a bitter gesture of despair or pride. Sorrow and knowledge of human weakness lead us to identify ourselves again with Christ’s work of redemption. We feel more deeply our solidarity with other people.
We feel within us the sure strength of the Holy Spirit in such a way that our own failures do not drag us down. Rather they are an invitation to begin again, and to continue being faithful witnesses of Christ in all the moments of our life, in spite of our own personal weaknesses.”