6. The apocalyptic influence
The Book of Tobit emerged around 200 BC, containing the following prophesy: "But God will again have mercy on them, and God will bring them back into the land of Israel; and they will rebuild the temple of God, but not like the first one until the period when the times of fulfillment shall come. After this they all will return from their exile and will rebuild Jerusalem in splendor; and in it the tem- ple of God will be rebuilt, just as the prophets of Israel have said concerning it" (Tob 14:5 NRS). This passage addresses an issue that has featured repeatedly in prophetic pre- dictions since 722 BC when the Assyrians conquered the northern kingdom and forced the population to relocate in other countries: The return of the descendants of these refugees to Israel. The return of the displaced residents of the northern kingdom – whose loca- tion was not known even then and who were probably totally integrated into their new environment – was an unrealistic wish that only God could have granted since only He would have been able to find these refugees. Both this plea to God and the deliverance from the recurring acts of fate demanded intervention by a higher power. One of the outcomes of this wish, which could only be granted by a miracle, was the Apocalypse (Greek: αποκάλυψις, "unveiling", "revelation"). The influence of the Apocalypse on the region can be seen as the reversal of the trend towards rationalization as outlined in the...
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