The scattering of the Jews from the land of Palestine into other parts of the world and the Jews thus scattered. The term “dispersion” is also often used to describe this process.
The diaspora took place over several centuries. While its exact beginnings are difficult to date, two major events greatly contributed to it. In 722 B. C. the Assyrians captured the Northern Kingdom (Israel). Following this victory, the Assyrians resettled large numbers of the Israelites in Assyria (2 Kings 17:6). In 586 B. C. the Babylonians captured the Southern Kingdom (Judah) and followed the same policy of resettlement. Many of the residents of Judah were transported to Babylon (2 Kings 25:8-12). While some of these persons later returned to Judah, many of them remained permanently in Babylon. Later, other wars fought by the Greeks and Romans in Palestine helped scatter more of the Jewish people.
The diaspora was further encouraged by severe economic conditions which gripped Palestine. The warfare in the land disrupted the ability of the people to make a living. Also, heavy taxes were exacted from the people by the dominant foreign powers. This made life even more difficult.
Adding to this impulse to leave Palestine was the good reception the Jews generally received in other lands. As a rule, they were allowed to practice their own religion without interference.
The result of the diaspora was that by New Testament times as many Jews lived outside of Palestine as lived within the land. In almost every city which Paul visited on his missionary journeys, he found a Jewish synagogue (Acts 14:1;
Acts 17:1,Acts 17:10;
Acts 18:4). The diaspora thus helped pave the way for the spread of the gospel. See Assyria; Babylonia; Exile; Synagogue.