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The starting point for this book is the widespread belief that Palestine was completely depopulated after Nebuchadnezzar's destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC, until 583 BC, when the exiles returned from Babylonia. The author points out that this belief is based ultimately on the Bible itself, which has resulted in a biased view of that period of history. Furthermore, he argues, current terminology in scholarly readings of the Bible, such as "exile", "return" and "restoration" have hindered the understanding of what actually happened in Judah during the 6th century. Archaeological excavations have now demonstrated beyond a doubt the continued existence of a considerable Israelite material culture during the exile and post-exilic periods in the Negev, particulary in the area of Benjamin and the Judean Hills, and probably in Jerusalem. Citing from archaeological, Biblical and Babylonian sources, the book demonstrates that Judah was, in fact, an important part of the economic machinery of the Neo-Babylonian empire.The author maintains that the sharp distinction made between "before" and "after" 586 BC is to a large extent the creation of later scholars with romanticist notions - his study reveals what was in every respect a continuous culture.
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