The captivities of Judah are generally reckoned four: the first, in the year of the world 3398, under King Jehoiakim, when Daniel and others were carried to Babylon; the second, in the year of the world 3401, and in the seventh year of the reign of Jehoiakim, when Nebuchadnezzar carried three thousand and twenty-three Jews to Babylon; the third, in the year of the world 3406, and in the fourth of Jehoiachin, when this prince, with part of people, was sent to Babylon; and the fourth in the year 3416, under Zedekiah, from which period begins the captivity of seventy years, foretold by the Prophet Jeremiah. Dr. Hales computes that the first of these captivities, which he thinks formed the commencement, of the Babylonish captivity, took place in the year before Christ 605. The Jews were removed to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar, who, designing to render that city the capital of the east, transplanted thither very great numbers of people, subdued by him in different countries. In Babylon the Jews had judges and elders, who governed them, and who decided matters in dispute juridically, according to their laws. Of this we see a proof in the story of Susanna, who was condemned by elders of her own nation. Cyrus, in the year of the world 3457, and in the first year of his reign at Babylon, permitted the Jews to return to their own country, Ezra 1:1
. However, they did not obtain leave to rebuild the temple; and the completion of those prophecies which foretold the termination of their captivity after seventy years, was not till the year of the world 3486. In that year, Darius Hystaspes, by an edict, allowed them to rebuild the temple. In the year of the world 3537, Artaxerxes Longimanus sent Nehemiah to Jerusalem. The Jews assert that only the refuse of their nation returned from the captivity, and that the principal of them continued in and near Babylon, where they had been settled, and where they became very numerous. It may, however, be doubted whether the refuse of Judah was really carried to Babylon. It appears from incidental observations in Scripture that some remained; and Major Rennell has offered several reasons for believing that only certain classes of the Jews were deported to Babylon, as well as into Assyria. Nebuchadnezzar carried away only the principal inhabitants, the warriors, and artisans of every kind; and he left the husbandmen, the labourers, and in general, the poorer classes, that constitute the great body of the people.