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Promises of Israel's restoration appear throughout the Latter Prophets. This chapter argues that modern interpreters have overlooked the surprising amount of attention specifically paid to the fate of the northern tribes of Israel throughout the Latter Prophets, even in books by prophets who lived long after the destruction of the northern kingdom.Whereas many have suggested a narrowing in the scope of Israel such that prophecies such as those of Second Isaiah refer to the restoration of Judah, this chapter argues that the prophets consistently take a more expansive view of Israel and that Second Temple period readers would have—and in fact did—read these prophecies as referring not only to those from Judah exiled by the Babylonians but also to the northern tribes scattered by the Assyrians in the eighth century BCE. The prophets' promises therefore remained unfulfilled so long as the northern tribes had not returned.
Too little scholarly attention has been paid to the paradox that those from the southern kingdom of Judah wrote, collected, and edited a foundational narrative not of Judah but of Israel, the ethnonym more closely associated with the northern kingdom even within the biblical narratives. This chapter argues that, rather than staking their claim to be the sole heirs to the heritage of the covenant with YHWH, the Judahite biblical editors constructed a biblical narrative that emphasizes that Judah is only one portion of a larger Israel that is presently—from the perspective of the editors and their implied audience—incomplete and awaiting reunion and restoration. By constructing an Israel of the past and rhetorically situating the reader in exile, the editors of the Primary History (Genesis–2 Kings) and 1–2 Chronicles establish a perspective of restoration eschatology in which an idealized biblical Israel (of course under the leadership of Judah) does not presently exist, having lost its status due to covenantal disobedience and disunity, but remains a social and theological aspiration.
Through analysis of the Wisdom of Ben Sira, the Psalms of Solomon, Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, baruch, 4 Ezra, 2 Baruch, and more this chapter argues that the eschatological or atemporal settings of wisdom and apocalyptic literature account for why these texts universally prefer "Israel" terminology. Moreover, these texts universally continue to show a striking concern for the fate of the northern tribes and expectations of a pan-Israelite restoration including all twelve tribes.
Contemporary discussions of Jews in the diaspora often draw a distinction between diaspora and exile, arguing that by the Hellenistic era, most Jews in the diaspora no longer viewed themselves as in exile, having exchanged the traditional biblical view of exile and return for a "diaspora theology" in which they took pride in the diaspora, viewing it in positive terms. This chapter argues that there is in fact no evidence to support such a claim. Whereas it is often claimed that the Septuagint systematically weakens the prophetic verdict on exile, a closer look at the evidence shows otherwise. The chapter concludes by arguing that while it is true that many Jews lived prosperous and happy lives in the diaspora, the fact that they remained subject to the whims of foreign rulers and the frequency with which Hellenistic Jewish texts portray the diaspora as a continuation of exile cannot be dismissed. The chapter concludes that there is simply no evidence that Jews in the Hellenistic diaspora regarded the period of exile as having ended and significant literary evidence to the contrary.
This chapter looks at a variety of early Jewish narrative texts, showing that "Israel" language is preferred in texts from the pre-exilic past or when explicitly referring to northern Israelites, while "Jew" (Ioudaios) language is avoided in these texts. The converse is true in texts set in the post-exilic past not explicitly dealing with northerners, where Ioudaios appears frequently and Israel language tends to be limited to prayer or cultic contexts. The chapter pays special attention to the book of Tobit, which tells the story of God's continued faithfulness in preserving the lineage of a faithful family from Naphtali, the first tribe to be taken into exile by Assyria. Tobit's concern for the continued existence of faithful Israelites to be included in the final restoration provides a critical witness for the continuation of pan-Israelite sentiments—and the continued distinction between Israel and Judah—well into the Second Temple period. Other books such as Judith, Jubilees, and the Letter of Aristeas further witness to the persistence of the distinction between Israel and Judah and pan-Israelite restoration eschatology.
The concept of Israel is central to the development of Judaism and Christianity, but the boundaries of Israel and Israelite identity were the source of significant conflict throughout the Second Temple period. This chapter argues that mapping the concept of Israel in the Second Temple period requires a recursive process that first examines the biblical constructions of Israel and then evaluates how later participants appropriated, performed, and developed thaose traditions. This introduction then outlines how this work aims to accomplish these tasks and concludes with a discussion of the equally difficult term Ioudaios (Jew/Judaean) and its relation to the concept of Israel.
The final chapter provides a brief summary of the conclusions that can be drawn from the study, explaining the relationships between the concepts and terms Israelite, Jew, and Hebrew as they were used in the Second Temple period. The chapter concludes that the concept of Israel was inextricably linked with the concepts of covenant and restoration eschatology established in the Torah and other biblical literature. Nevertheless, within those larger bounds, Israel was then variously understood and the boundaries of Israel variously defined as different groups laid claim to the historical and theological heritage embedded in the name Israel.
The events of Ezra-Nehemiah are frequently treated as though they represent the end of the exile. This chapter argues that this was not how Ezra-Nehemiah was understood by early Jewish readers. Instead, the chapter argues that Ezra-Nehemiah records multiple attempts to initiate Israel's restoration but presents the efforts of its protagonists as admirable failures, accomplishing only a "little reviving" in the midst of an exilic and servile condition portrayed as continuous with the Assyrian hegemony centuries earlier. The book and its protagonists see the restoration as contingent on obedience, and the returnees' unfaithfulness and lack of holiness/separation show that the restoration has not happened—and also prevent it from being initiated. The chapter argues that the authors of Daniel, 1 Enoch, and 1 and 2 Maccabees all understood the events of Ezra-Nehemiah as inadequate and hoped for the promised restoration in their own day. The chapter also suggests that the appearance of "Israel" language in this literature is strongly correlated with restoration eschatology and the hopes of the renewal of a people including but not limited to the tribes of Judah, Levi, and Benjamin.
This chapter examines Josephus' views of exile and eschatology, arguing that although he is careful in how he communicates his views in this area, Josephus continued to hold to a traditional view of exile and restoration, repeatedly indicating that Rome's dominance would be temporary and that a restored Israel will eventually rule the world. The chapter argues that Josephus' restoration eschatology informs his use of the term "Israel," as he distinguishes between the Jews under Roman rule and the whole of Israel, particularly the ten tribes, who remain beyond the Euphrates and are now a "boundless multitude" (Antiq. 11.133) simply awaiting the time when God initiates the promised restoration.
This chapter looks at the use of "Israel" terminology and its relationship to eschatology in the Dead Sea Scrolls, focusing on the sectarian scrolls. The chapter argues that the Yaḥad understand the exile as ongoing—even those in the land remain in exile, while the returns of Ezra-Nehemiah and the Second Temple are inadequate or worse. They understand Israel's restoration as contingent on a return to virtue and obedience—which they believe has begun with their own group's divinely initiated return to proper halakhic practices. The Yaḥad therefore present themselves as the vanguard of the restoration of all Israel, which includes the return of the northern tribes remaining in exile and the elimination of the disobedient among their Jewish contemporaries. They represent their separation from their contemporaries as having visibly rejoined the rest of Israel in exile, where their obedience serves as a atonement for the rest of Israel—atonement the Second Temple could not manage—thereby initiating the restoration of all Israel.