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Did The Jews Worship Idols In Babylonia?

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Chapter Summary

Did the Judean exiles worship other gods (or idols) in Babylonia? The idea that "there [in exile] one can serve other gods" is expressed in the warnings in Deut 4:28; 28:36, 64 and also in Jer 5:19 and 16:13, and many scholars take the phrase literally as indicating actual religious practice among the exiled Judeans. Gerhard von Rad refers to Deuteronomy's "gloomy picture of an Israel rejected and sunk in the heathen worship of idols". On the national level, for the entire nation of Israel or Judah, to "serve other gods" simply means to be exiled from their land, from God's territorial domain. Deuteronomic literature gives it the stronger nuance of being disloyal to God, either in a literal sense, in its polemic against impermissible forms of worship, or more figuratively, in its threat about exile, where it means the opposite of serving God.

Keywords: Babylonia; Deuteronomy; idol-worship; Israel; Judean



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