The Babylonian captivity or Babylonian exile is the period in Jewish history during which a number of Judahites of the ancient Kingdom of Judah were captives in Babylonia. After the Battle of Carchemish in 605 BCE, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, besieged Jerusalem, resulting in tribute being paid by King Jehoiakim.
Jehoiakim refused to pay tribute in Nebuchadnezzar's fourth year, which
led to another siege in Nebuchadnezzar's seventh year, culminating with
the death of Jehoiakim and the exile of King Jeconiah, his court and many others; Jeconiah's successor Zedekiah
and others were exiled in Nebuchadnezzar's eighteenth year; a later
deportation occurred in Nebuchadnezzar's twenty-third year. The dates,
numbers of deportations, and numbers of deportees given in the biblical
accounts vary. These deportations are dated to 597 BCE for the first, with others dated at 587/586 BCE, and 582/581 BCE respectively.
After the fall of Babylon to the Persian king Cyrus the Great in 539 BCE, exiled Judeans were permitted to return to Judah. According to the biblical book of Ezra, construction of the second temple in Jerusalem
began around 516 BCE. All these events are considered significant in
Jewish history and culture, and had a far-reaching impact on the
development of Judaism.
Archaeological studies have revealed that not all of the population of Judah was deported, and that, although Jerusalem was utterly destroyed, other parts of Judah continued to be inhabited during the period of the exile.
The return of the exiles was a gradual process rather than a single
event, and many of the deportees or their descendants did not return.