IN THE CONCEPTUAL WORLD OF ANCIENT JUDAISM
Exile and restoration are interrelated concepts, which pertain to two contrastive historical phenomena, like movement and countermovement. They are not the particular experience of specific individuals or societies in singular, unparalleled historical situations. Rather, they belong in the realm of universal human experience. In the present paper I intend to explore concisely at first the social, historical and religious, in short, the existential dimensions of these concepts generally, and then to refer specifically their application to the history of the Jewish people in the early Second Temple period.
The term “exile” denotes the forced removal of individuals or groups of people from their homeland. The corresponding Greek terms ἀπoικία or μετoικία quite accurately express the resulting condition of being “away from home.” In biblical Hebrew the state of being in exile is defined byor , derived from , which originally means “to strip” or “to remove” (cf. Ezek 12:3–7). Golah describes not only the body of expatriates who had been forced to leave their homeland, but also alludes to the land that was partly denuded of its inhabitants through war and expulsion: “Your land shall be divided up with a measuring line … and Israel shall surely be deported from their land ” (Amos 7:17).
Deportation violently severs the natural bonds of the banished with their land, rips apart physical and spiritual, emotional and cultural ties, engenders a break with the tried and true, an alienatio mentis, and entails a forced transfer to the gaping void of the unknown. Together with the loss of the familiar landscape, displaced people are prone to be deprived of inherited values, such as their mother tongue and timehonored manners and customs. The individual experiences expatriation as an event of personal rather than historical significance, often throwing him or her into existential despair. A community incurs exile