After the destruction of Samaria (B.C. 720) by Shalmaneser and Sargon (q.v.), there was a general deportation of the Israelites into Mesopotamia and Media (2Ki 17:6; 18:9; 1Ch 5:26). (See Israel, Kingdom of.)
(2.) Of the kingdom of the two tribes, the kingdom of Judah. Nebuchadnezzar, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim (Jer 25:1), invaded Judah, and carried away some royal youths, including Daniel and his companions (B.C. 606), together with the sacred vessels of the temple (2Ch 36:7; Da 1:2). In B.C. 598 (Jer 52:28; 2Ki 24:12), in the beginning of Jehoiachin's reign (2Ki 24:8), Nebuchadnezzar carried away captive 3,023 eminent Jews, including the king (2Ch 36:10), with his family and officers (2Ki 24:12), and a large number of warriors (16), with very many persons of note (14), and artisans (16), leaving behind only those who were poor and helpless. This was the first general deportation to Babylon.
In B.C. 588, after the revolt of Zedekiah (q.v.), there was a second general deportation of Jews by Nebuchadnezzar (Jer 52:29; 2Ki 25:8), including 832 more of the principal men of the kingdom. He carried away also the rest of the sacred vessels (2Ch 36:18). From this period, when the temple was destroyed (2Ki 25:9), to the complete restoration, B.C. 517 (Ezr 6:15), is the period of the "seventy years."
In B.C. 582 occurred the last and final deportation. The entire number Nebuchadnezzar carried captive was 4,600 heads of families with their wives and children and dependants (Jer 52:30; 43:5-7; 2Ch 36:20, etc.). Thus the exiles formed a very considerable community in Babylon.
When Cyrus granted permission to the Jews to return to their own land (Ezr 1:5; 7:13), only a comparatively small number at first availed themselves of the privilege. It cannot be questioned that many belonging to the kingdom of Israel ultimately joined the Jews under Ezra, Zerubbabel, and Nehemiah, and returned along with them to Jerusalem (Jer 50:4-5,17-20,33-35).
Large numbers had, however, settled in the land of Babylon, and formed numerous colonies in different parts of the kingdom. Their descendants very probably have spread far into Eastern lands and become absorbed in the general population. (See Judah, Kingdom of; Captivity.)