Israel’s transgression and exile And there was evening …
From when the people of Israel received the Torah, most of the time they didn’t stand up to its holy requirements and throughout the generations broke the Sinai contract. The house of Israel and the house of Judah have not kept the agreement which I contracted with their fathers. (Jeremiah 11, 10)
The repeated warnings of the prophets sent by divine compassion were not heeded. The patience of God, a thousand times sought, came to exhaustion. The contract of Sinai was broken. God was unable to restrain from judging and punishing by using the dreadful punishments proclaimed in the Sinai contact. Step by step God sent nations to exile his people (Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome) and the promised land became barren.
Israel sat for over two and a half millennium in the darkness of hostilities to its people, far from the light of God, the promised land and the blessings of Geulah. Similarly, all the chiefs of the priests and the people, transgressed very greatly, engaging in all the abominations of the heathen, and they desecrated the house of God which he sanctified in Jerusalem. The Lord God of their fathers, sent to them warnings by his messengers repeatedly because HE had compassion on his people and his place of residence. But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and scoffed at his prophets, until the wrath of God arose against his people, until there was no remedy. Therefore HE brought upon them the king of the Chaldeans, who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion upon young man or maiden, old man or hoary-headed. He gave them all into his hand. And all the vessels of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king, and of his princes; all these he brought to Babylon. And they burnt the house of God, and broke down the wall of Jerusalem, and burnt all the palaces thereof with fire, and destroyed all the goodly vessels thereof. (II Chronicles 36, 14-19)
The exile was the ultimate punishment. It included all the punishments included in the Sinai contract. Worse than that, the punishment of the exile expresses the breaking of the covenant between God and Israel. The fate of the land was inseparably linked to that of the people. The misery that struck the people also struck the land of Israel, as of Adams disobedience corrupted the nature of our world.
The land of milk and honey, become a desert. Successive conquerors neglected it. It’s occupants migrated from it especially during the Muslims reign, the country sank with its people, in the valley of the shadow of death, as stipulated in the Sinai contract. And I will bring the land into desolation; and your enemies that occupy it shall be astonished at it. And you, I will scatter among the nations, and I will draw the sword out after you, and your land will be a desolate and your cities remain ruined. Then the land will be paid of her unemployment, as long as it remains desolate, and you live in the land of your enemies, even then shall the land rest, and you will pay her unemployment. (Leviticus 26, 32-34)
One of the most dramatic losses of the exile was the loss of the divine word. The Jewish people could no longer refer to the word of God, with the ability of hearing him directly, but only as a referral of the past, or by a hope promised to return in the future, at the end of time. The light of God’s presence had been replaced by the darkness of his absence, and the emptiness of his silence!
Between the biblical period and the longer talmudical period that followed, there was no continuity, but a separation of the spirit. The motivating spirit of the Bible had disappeared from the Talmud. The leading light for the period of exile was that of men and not of God.