Comparing the rebirth of Jerusalem after their Babylonian Captivity
by Rit Nosotro
with the rebirth of Europe after their "Dark Ages"
How did the Babylonian Exile of Judah in the sixth century B.C. (which led to spiritual revival and a rebuilt Jerusalem), demonstrate common processes with Europe rising from the "Dark Ages" after the fall of the Roman Empire? What was the influence of the Byzantine empire?
When asked to think of two periods of time in which man was under oppression, two that might come to mind are the Dark Ages and the Captivity of the Jews. Both of these time periods followed similar patterns in both the leaders who stepped forward and the ideas expressed. Yet in other ways, the trends of these Dark Ages and the Captivity of the Jews were very different. But the basic trend remains, both came about because of the quality of religious faith amongst the people of Judah and the people of Rome, and both ended with practically reversed qualities. The purpose of this paper is to further examine those qualities and the people who were influential those time periods.
First, the dark ages; the period of time from around 476 AD to 1000 AD after the Fall of Rome in which little technological marvels were done and the world hardly seemed to move forward. However, this period was far from "dark". During this period of time Christianity experienced major growth spurred on by the Byzantine empire. 1 One of Rome's last Emperors, Constantine, spread Christianity, but few of those after him did not. Soon afterwards, Rome fell. After the fall of the western Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire spread Christianity much more effectively. However, as more Europeans nations rose up and the Byzantine, they persecuted the Jews, with England and France expelling them from their countries, and in Spain and Germany most Jews chose to flee into other parts of Europe. After these events, which happened around 1000 AD, is around when "Dark Ages" came to an end and the Middle Ages began 2
The Jews, on the other hand, followed seemingly an opposite pattern. Despite the warnings of the prophet Jeremiah, King Zedekiah and his people did "evil in the eyes of the Lord" 3 . Thus the Lord delivered the Jews into the hands of the Babylonians. King Nebuchadnezzar was the self glorifying ruler who took over the Jews. Examples such as him casting Shadrach, Meschach and Abed-Nego into the fire for not bowing down to his statue of gold, at first showed he did not have respect for the Jewish God. However, when he saw the three return from the fire unharmed, as well as the works of Daniel in explaining the King's dreams, Nebuchadnezzar had a change of heart and worshiped their God (in addition to his own pantheon). Under the guiding of Ezekiel, who worked with the fellow Jew, sharing God's word and prophecies as well as Daniel, who worked with the higher up Babylonian officials, it was also clear the Jews had not given up on their God either. 4
In 539 BC, God finally answered the Jews call for deliverance. The Persian army overtook Babylon and God touched the heart of King Cyrus for his cup bearer Nehemiah. King Cyrus returned the Jews to their homeland. This he did, and the Jews returned in three waves, the first returned with in 538 BC, the second with Ezra eighty years later in 458 BC, and the last group with Nehemiah in 445. For now they had learned their lesson, and were again following God. 5
Back in Europe during the Dark Ages, strong leaders of Byzantine Empire included Constantine the Great, The Byzantine leader who built Constantinople as the center of the Christian world. These leaders led crusades against the surging Muslim religion in the Middle East, but also had to defend against Muslim crusades of their own. 6
Another influential leader of the Dark Ages was Charlemagne, the leader of the Franks. It was Charlemagne who worked to bring education and learning back out of the monasteries and into the common everyday life. He spent his time fighting"by the sword and the cross". In 800 AD, Charlemagne became the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Charlemagne always had a special place for the common folk, and it was in part his promotion of education that helped end the Dark Ages.7
Outside of their leaders and their religious ideas, the two time periods were similar in that they both dealt with the rise and fall of a great civilization. Both of them happened during a time period in which the middle was rather peaceful, but had wars and conquering of Nations at either end. Last but not least, they both benefited the nations involved in the long run, because they were able to take ideas and thinking from other nations that they would not have been able to do before hand.
In conclusion, the exile came about because the Jews broke away from God. During the exile, the Jews repented and moved towards God. After exile was when the Jews moved back with God. In the same way, before the Dark Ages the people were without God, during the Dark Ages they were with God, but when the Dark Ages ended, they were with God. Both of these can teach societies the valuable lesson that without God even a powerful kingdom is nothing, but with Him, great things can happen.
Which country did Jews NOT flee from at the end of the dark ages?
What was the name of the Persian King who took over Babylon?
Who were the three people who led the Jews back to Judah?
a. Ezra, Zerubbabel and Nehemiah
b. Shadrach, Meschach and Abed-Nego
c. Larry, Curly and Moe
d. Jeremiah, Ezikiel and Daniel
What year did Charlemagne become Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire?
A. 458 BC
B. 172 AD
C. 800 AD
D. 897 AD
up7John Dagenais: The Historical
Charlemagne-(October 15th 2004)-http://www.humnet.ucla.edu/santiago/histchrl.html
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