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A CASE OF BENIGN IMPERIAL NEGLECT AND ITS CONSEQUENCES

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image of Biblical Interpretation

Edomites were already well established in the Judean Negev before the Babylonian conquest, and archaeological evidence suggests that they profited by the disturbances of those years (597-582 bce) to infiltrate much of the province south of Jerusalem. After the collapse of the Neo-Babylonian empire, the interest of the Persians in the region was restricted to protecting the trade routes along the Mediterranean coast and the Transjordanian plateau and the approaches to Egypt. They also had no interest in sponsoring the return of deported Judaeans to the region. Once it became clear that there would be no intervention from distant Susa, the pace of Edomite colonisation quickened, a semi-deserted Jerusalem was occupied, and a sanctuary to the supreme Edomite deity Qôs (Qaus) arose on the site of the destroyed Yahweh temple. This ruled out the possibility of repatriation, and Judaism developed as a scattering of ritually segregated enclaves in different countries in line with other religions in late antiquity.

Affiliations: 1: University of Notre Dame

10.1163/156851500300046736
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2000-01-01
2016-12-11

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