This evidence includes - most remarkably - the outpost of Jewish soldiers and families at Elephantine, opposite Aswan in the far south of Egypt.
The evidence in Babylonia includes hundreds of cuneiform tablets attesting to Jewish businesses and mercantile interests. These people clearly took Jeremiah's charge (29) to heart and successfully reconstructed their lives in exile: Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile.”
Gary Rendsburg is the Blanche and Irving Laurie Professor of Jewish History at Rutgers University
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