Mother of Exiles: Recalling the Destruction of a City, and with it, the Birth of a Religion

Mother of Exiles: Recalling the Destruction of a City, and with it, the Birth of a Religion July 13, 2019


By calculations noted at good old Wikipedia today, the 13the of July, marks the conclusion of the siege of Jerusalem and its sacking by Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian army. As the actual year isn’t precisely certain, it could be 597 before our common era or maybe 596, I’m not especially comfortable dating it precisely beyond saying it was the summer of one or the other year.

Jerusalem’s king was forced to watch his sons all be executed before he was blinded. Then he and those with useful skills and intellectuals were then transported to Babylon.

A momentous event for Western civilization. For world culture.

Today the majority of scholars opine that out of the rag tag band of artisans and intellectuals who were carried off to Babylon, a religion was birthed. Remembering and, more, dreaming, they wove together various stories, created a sacred text for themselves, and began something that would survive with many changes over the ages for about 2,600 years. And counting…

We call it Judaism.

I think of that mother of religions. I think of terrible deeds done in the name of religions. I think of sublime truths they convey to us. I think of the great mess.

And, of course, for us today. It’s hard, certainly hard for me, to think of the lament of all exiles. And their dreams. There is a terrible appendage to the psalm of lament that this exile inspired. And we should never forget our human capacities for ill.

And, and, in that song of longing, what good can birth.

If we are careful.



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