Babylonian Jewry

Robert Vining rvining at
Sat Nov 20 14:08:10 EST 1999

                                                BABYLONIAN JEWRY

When the  Persians conquered Babylonia and allowed the exiles to return
home, not many did.(1)It was a minority of Jews who returned from the
Babylonian exile under the benevolent rule of the Persian monarch,

Babylonian Jewry was the largest single Jewish settlement in the world.
For a period of nearly 1,000 years it was powerful, independent and
influential-its scholars, producing over time the massive, revered
Babylonian Talmud.  Josephus reports that they were  an immense
multitude, and not to be estimated by numbers.(3)

Yet, inexplicably, we lose track of Babylonian Jewry, almost immediately
and completely, excepts for scraps of information. For almost 1,000
years the Jews of Babylon were isolated from the mainstream of Jewish
history, at least, history for which we have substantial documentation.

Was there no history written?  Or, was there history written that may
have been suppressed?

If, instead of their talmudic efforts,  the Babylonian scholars had
been  inclined to write history, how might their version of events
compare  to that rendering of history that became canonical?


(1) "What is a Jew", Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman,  xvii

(2) "The World of the Talmud", Isaiah M. Gafni, in, "Christianity and
Rabbinic Judaism", 261

(3)"Antiquities", 11.133

(4)Gafni, 262

Robert Vining, Owen Sound, Ontario    rvining at

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