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Below is a selection of prophecies involving the exile, preservation and re-gathering of the people of Israel during and after the time of the Babylonian Empire.
1. God will never forget the children of Israel
Between 701-681 BC
In Isaiah 49:13-17, the Lord makes it clear that even though the people of Israel are to be exiled from their land, the Lord will never forget them, and the Lord would eventually bring the exiles back to their homeland.
Isaiah lived about 2700 years ago. At about that time, the Assyrians invaded the northern part of the land of Israel and had forced many of the people into exile. More than a century later, the Babylonians conquered the southern part of the land of Israel, bringing an end to sovereignty, destroying Jerusalem and the Temple, and forcing people into exile.
Despite the hardships, verses 15 and 16 remind us that the Lord will never forget the people of Israel. In fact, it says that even if a mother could forget her child, the Lord would not forget his children, for they are "engraved" on the palms of his hands. And, verses 17 and 18 show that the descendants of Israel would return, as they did after the fall of the Babylonian Empire. -
13 Shout for joy, O heavens; rejoice, O earth; burst into song, O mountains! For the LORD comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.
14 But Zion said, "The LORD has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me."
15 "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!
16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.
17 Your sons hasten back, and those who laid you waste depart from you.
2. The people of Israel will never be completely destroyed
As early as 1400 BC
In Leviticus 26:44, the Bible said that God would never allow the people of Israel to be completely destroyed.
During ancient times, 10 of the 12 Tribes of Israel were decimated by the Assyrians. And the Babylonians later persecuted what was left of the people of Israel. But, instead of assimilating or perishing, some of the people eventually returned to their homeland and recover their way of life.
The recovery was very complete, complete enough that Jerusalem again had been restored as the center of Jewish life. And the followers of Jesus were able to begin a process in Jerusalem by which Christianity later spread throughout the world
Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them or abhor them so as to destroy them completely, breaking my covenant with them. I am the Lord their God.
3. The Jews would survive Babylonian rule and return home
Sometime between 626-586 BC
Jeremiah was one of the prophets who warned the people of Judah that they would be forced into exile by the Babylonians. In Jeremiah 32:36-37, he prophesies to the people that they will survive that their exile in Babylon and return home.
Babylon had defeated the Assyrians in a decisive battle, ending in 612 B.C., at Nineveh. And then, in 609 B.C., the Babylonians captured the last Assyrian king. The Assyrians had an empire that had included the land of Judah but now the Babylonians had seized control of the empire.
In an effort to show the people of Judah that Babylon was now their new master, they began a process of forcing key residents into exile, as early as 605 B.C. More deportations took place in later years, culminating with the wholesale destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 586 B.C.
Jews began returning to their homeland after the Babylonian Empire was toppled in 539 B.C., by a coalition of Medes and Persians.
36 "You are saying about this city, 'By the sword, famine and plague it will be handed over to the king of Babylon'; but this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says:
37 I will surely gather them from all the lands where I banish them in my furious anger and great wrath; I will bring them back to this place and let them live in safety.
4. The people of Israel would return to "their own land"
Between 593-571 BC
About 2600 years ago
Like Jeremiah, the prophet Ezekiel also lived during the time that the Babylonians ruled over the people of Judah, and he too was one of the Jews who were taken to Babylon as captives. In Ezekiel 34:13, he prophesied that God would gather the exiles from the various nations to which they had been scattered and that he would restore them to "their own land."
I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land.
5. Enemies would move into the land of Israel
As early as 1400 BC
Beginning in about 721 BC
In Leviticus 26:32-33, as well as in other prophecies of the Bible, we learn that the people of Israel would be persecuted in the nations to which they would be driven during their exile, and that the land of Israel would be in ruins.
Here, though, we also learn that enemies would reside in the land of Israel during and after the time of exile (Leviticus 26:32).
This fulfillment of this prophecy began about 2500 years ago when Jews began returning from their Babylonian exile.
As explained in the Bible's book of Nehemiah, the returning Jews were met with hostility from foreigners who were residing in and around Jerusalem. In the early chapters within the book of Nehemiah, the foreigners taunt the Jews as the Jews seek to rebuild Jerusalem, which had been destroyed earlier by the Babylonians.
Nehemiah confronts the foreigners, telling them that the Jews will be successful in rebuilding their fallen city:
I answered them by saying, "The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it" (Nehemiah 2:20, NIV translation).
Nehemiah organized an effort to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem and the project was completed in 52 days, as explained in Nehemiah 6:15-16.
Whereas Leviticus 26:32-33 speaks of the punishment through exile and destruction, other verses within the 26th chapter of Leviticus speak of forgiveness and restoration. Nehemiah played an important role in the restoration of the land and people of Israel after the fall of the Babylonian Empire.
32 I will lay waste the land, so that your enemies who live there will be appalled.
33 I will scatter you among the nations and will draw out my sword and pursue you. Your land will be laid waste, and your cities will lie in ruins.