André Lemaire

A recently published cuneiform tablet dating to 498 B.C.E., when Israelite exiles were still living in Babylonia, contains a reference to “al Yahudu,” the town of Judah, meaning Jerusalem. Author André Lemaire notes that the city referred to here is not the capital of Judah but a town in Babylonia named after it, as if it were called “New Jerusalem.” Similar examples are known of other exiled peoples naming their new homes after the places from which they had been displaced. A possible key difference, Lemaire notes, is that the Israelites survived culturally in exile, probably in part because their understanding of God changed from the worship of a national deity to be served in a specific temple to a universal God who was present everywhere, even in exile.