(The Conversation) At sundown on July 31, Jews around the world will observe Tisha B’av, the most somber of Jewish holidays. It commemorates the destruction of the two temples in Jerusalem, first by the Babylonians and then, almost seven centuries later, in A.D. 70, by the Romans.
The pattern of forced migration was set by the Babylonian conquest of 587-586 B.C., when the elite of Judah were marched to Babylon and the temple destroyed. Like the story of Moses and the Exodus from Egypt, which happened several centuries earlier, the Babylonian exile dwells at the heart of Judaism. The trauma served as a crucible, forcing the Israelites to rethink their relationship to Yahweh, reassess their standing as a chosen people and rewrite their history.