500 - 400 BC, the Holy Land

Darius divided his empire into five satrapies, or governing units, subdivided into provinces. Little Judah was a province in the Fifth Satrapy along with Samaria, Ashdod, Ammon, Arabia and others.

Life was harsh for the Judeans. They were surrounded by hostile people who made it even harder to restore the devastated land. But the Temple was there and they were not forgotten by their more prosperous relatives in Babylon and other far-away cities in the empire. In 445, Nehemiah, a Jewish functionary of Artaxerxes I in his Persian court in Susa, was dispatched as Governor of Jerusalem. Under his guidance, walls were built (with Persian consent) for the protection of the city. It was a small, underpopulated city but the morale fo the populace improved.

During this century, the scribes and scholars who remained in Babylon faced the ncessity of fully defining their faith to keep it strong far from the Temple in the midst of a pagan people. The Pentateuch as we know it probably dates from this period.

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