The Exile was the catalyst for the Deuteronomists and their writing of the Hebrew Bible *
Different views prevailed as to the severity of the Babylonian Exile. For example, Esther, Mordecai and Daniel occupied high places in Babylon, but most were enslaved and struggled for existence. Daniel says that the exile lasted 70 years, but this is largely a symbolic number, since different groups went into exile at different times and for different periods of time. Remember that some had been deported to Assyria following the fall of the Northern Kingdom in 722 and most never returned (the so-called “Lost Tribes”). Others, including Daniel, were deported in 605 following the defeat of the Assyrian Empire in the Battle of Carchemish, others yet again in 597 including Ezekial and 10,000 others in 597, and finally a group of 40,000 following the fall of Jerusalem and the burning of the temple in 586. The Deuteronomists multiplied in exile because they could explain what had happened and the reasons why. The elders’ teaching centred around the Sabbath, the Synagogue and penitential prayer. The synagogue was first built during the exile, teaching the Law to children began in the exile, and it was also during the exile that the Sabbath grew in prominence.
The penitential prayer placed in Solomon’s mouth on the occasion of the dedication of the First Temple in I Kings 8, 22-53 is generally believed by scholars to have been written during the post-exilic period, and is almost certainly the work of the early Deuteronomists rather than Solomon’s actual words. It contains two explicit references to the Exile and the destruction of the Temple which was supposedly another four centuries away. The many references to captivity in verses 41-53 (particularly vv. 46-50) and the penitential tone of the prayer also suggest that this part of Solomon’s prayer is a later addition from a writer who lived during the time of the Babylonian Exile. Israel’s calling to be a “light unto the Gentiles” arose during the exile in the writing of the prophet known only as the Second Isaiah and this universalistic note is expressed in vv. 41-43.
The conclusion of this chapter of Kings also comes from the Deuteronomist. The writer describes a climax to the dedicatory ceremony in the form of the offering of a massive sacrifice. A seven day feast is held, and on the 8th day, after the joyous festival, the people go away “joyful and in good spirits” (v 66). The Levitical provisions for sin offerings and guilt offerings, typical of post-exilic penitence, have given to Old Testament sacrificial worship an appearance of grimness which it did not possess in earlier years. In reality such occasions were often festive, with much more feasting than usual.
Scholars have long postulated a “Deuteronomistic history” – a hypothesised source incorporated into the finalised texts of Deuteronomy through 2 Kings. For example, John H. Hayes refers to the history as “an exilic call to repentance and a return to the Torah of Yahweh. It was a call to the reaffirmation of faith, to a new expression of loyalty to Yahweh. Another purpose was to proclaim hope, the promise of better days, to a shaken and disturbed people”: God had pronounced and executed judgment but he had not abandoned them. Other examples may be found in:
- Deuteronomy 4:1 and 4:40 (Moses first speech giving calls to obedience); Deut 4:9-24 (warning against worshiping Canaanite gods) and Deut. 30:1-3.
- Likewise Joshua 23 (Joshua’s farewell address at the settlement of the land) and 1 Samuel 12 (Samuel’s farewell address at the establishment of the monarchy) remind and warn the people about faithfulness; and also
- 2 Samuel 7:14-15 (Nathan’s dynastic oracle and David’s prayer and the whole speech of God which warns about faithfulness and judgment).
All these texts can be read in the context of the fall of the northern and southern kingdoms and Jerusalem.
Other farewell speeches in the Deuteronomic History include:
- Moses’ second and third speeches (Deut 5:1-28:68; 29: 1-31:13);
- the theological preface of the whole book of Judges (Judges 2:11-23);
- David’s farewell address (1 Kings 2);
- the theological reflection on the fall of Samaria to Assyria in 2 Kings 17:7-23; and
- the theological reflection on the fall of Judah to Babylonia in 2 Kings 25:1-7.
Similarly, I Chronicles retells the story of David, already familiar from 2 Samuel, for a postexilic audience, emphasising David’s preparations for the building of the Temple. The story indicates the development of the law and practices before and after the Exile, the impact of the rediscovery of at least part of the law during Josiah’s reign (2 Kings 22:3ff) and the uplifting of the law as a community standard during the post-exilic period (1 Chr. 15:15, 2 Chr. 25:4, Ezra 3:2, Neh. 13:11f). It is addressed to the small postexilic community who had returned from exile .
During the Exile, the deportees also made contact with Zoroastrianism and its belief in antithetical principles such as good and evil, truth and order as the antithesis of falsehood, and chaos and disorder. There was thus an exchange of ideas, and after returning from Exile, the exiles brought back with them as part of their religion the competing components of God and Satan, life and death, light and dark, heaven and hell which were no part of Judaism before the exile.
Before the Exile, there was not considered to be an afterlife. One lived and died and that was that. The afterlife was a Babylonian belief, which now came to be incorporated into Hebrew theology, but the Hebrew Bible itself has very little to say on the subject. The notion of resurrection appears only in two late biblical sources, Daniel 12 (probably dating to 2nd century BCE) and Isaiah 25-26. Also now incorporated were aspects of apocalyptical thinking such as punishment and redemption. Down to the first century BCE, the Sadducees did not believe in life after death, so there were many different variants of Judaism.
* Unless indicated by other sources and references, this material is drawn from Dr Susanne Glover’s WEA Hebrew Bible in crisis course, Lecture 6 “Did Judah steal Israel’s history”.
 See also I Kings 9: 6-8; Tobin 106.
 “Parallel Guide 24 – The Divided Kingdom” at http://www.w4uoa.net/EFM-Kings.pdf
 Grace, Place and the Like, “The Writing and Editing of the Old Testament” in http://paulstroble.wordpress.com/page/2/
 See also the article on the Book of Chronicles by Shawn Aster, Assistant Professor of Bible at Yeshiva University, at http://www.myjewishlearning.com/texts/Bible/Writings/Chronicles.shtml, in particular, the section entitled “History with an agenda”.