The Jewish Eye
Sefer Daniel Intro: The Galus Begins - The First Exiles Including Daniel Go To Bavel
The events in Sefer Daniel take place at the end of the era of the first Beis Hamikdash, which was built during the reign of Shlomo Hamelech. During the reign of Shlomo's son, Rechovam, the shevatim in the northern part of Eretz Yisrael seceded due to political dissent. Eretz Yisrael was now split into Yisrael, the northern kingdom, and Yehudah, which included the southern parts of Eretz Yisrael and Yerushalayim. This splitting of Yisrael weakened the nation, politically and spiritually, and led to its ultimate downfall.
Yeroveam ben Nevat, the king of the newly formed northern kingdom, feared he would lose political power as a result of his people's connection to Yerushalayim and the Beis Hamikdash. He induced Bnei Yisrael to serve avodah zara to keep them close to home, rather than lose political power. Many subsequent kings followed the path of Yeraveam; some were evil and corrupt and continued to lead the people to avodah zara. Eventually, after many warnings through His neviim, Hashem punished northern Bnei Yisrael through Ashur (Assyria), who conquered the land and sent the people into exile. The ten shevatim were lost until the end of days.
Yehudah, the southern kingdom of Yisrael, fared a little better than the northern kingdom; some of their kings over the years were actually righteous, one being Chizkiya Hamelech, who was a shining example of a righteous Jewish king. During his reign, Assyria, led by Sancheirav tried to conquer Yerushalayim, but was miraculously thwarted by Hashem.
Unfortunately, Chizkiya's son, Menashe, did not follow in the righteous ways of his father, and the sad fate of Yerushalayim and the Beis Hamikdash was mainly attributed to his evil ways. Menashe's son Ammon continued in the evil ways of his father, but Ammon's son Yoshia, was righteous. Yoshia strived to eradicate avodah zara from Eretz Yisrael and awakened Bnei Yisrael to teshuvah. However, upon his tragic death, Bnei Yisrael's spiritual decline continued. Yoshia's son, Yehoachaz ruled for three months before being deposed by Pharaoh Necho of Mitzrayim. His brother Yehoyakim, ruled in his place.
Nevuchadnetzer became the king of Bavel a few years after Yehoyakim became king. Shortly later, Nevuchadnetzer, whose aim was for Bavel to become the new world power, conquered Eretz Yisrael. Yehudah became a vassal state of Bavel, and 10,000 of the most elite Jews were taken into exile to Bavel together with the King Yechanaya. Daniel, Mordechai, Chananel, Mishael, and Azarya were among this group who were exiled eleven years before the destruction of the Bais Hamikdash. Ultimately, the exile of these 10,000 Jews, which was viewed as such a tragedy at the time, was a blessing in disguise. After the Beis Hamikdash had been destroyed, and the rest of Bnei Yisrael were exiled, Jewish life had already been established in Bavel. Bnei Yisrael was able to thrive there, and ultimately return to Eretz Yisrael and rebuild the Beis Hamikdash.
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