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The Fall and Rise of Jerusalem

The destruction of the First Temple in Jerusalem and the Babylonian Exile were a great catastrophe in the history of the Jewish Nation. What really happened during that dark, fateful age, and how did new opportunities arise from the ashes?


Course at a Glance


About the Course

The fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the First Temple, the conquest of Judah by the armies of Babylon and the resulting Exile are remembered to this day as a momentous crisis – both national and religious – in the history of the Jewish People. Even today, more than 25 centuries after their occurrence, the impact of these events can be discerned in Judaism – as a faith, an identity and a world outlook. This course tells the riveting story of the century between the demise and rise of Judah, from the unique and comprehensive perspective of modern research.

In this course we will review the dramatic events in Judah during the sixth century BCE, and construct a broad and balanced picture of this turbulent period. To do this, it will rely upon the combined efforts of several academic disciplines: History, drawing upon ancient Babylonian and Egyptian sources, as well as extensive knowledge accumulated through the ages; Archaeology, which unravels secrets preserved within the earth for countless generations; and Biblical Studies, examining and analyzing the textual accounts of the events in the Old Testament.  

Bringing all these angles together, the course will provide you with a new, fresh outlook on an age-old trauma: it will present the destruction of the First Temple as the most decisive turning point in the history of Judah, the Jewish people and Judaism during the first millennium BCE; it will explain how the terrible calamity gave rise to great historical opportunities, which transformed the leadership, society and daily lives of the Judeans, reshaped their national and theological perceptions, and forever altered the essence of Judaism; and it will portray the Babylonian conquest and rule over Jerusalem and Judah - one of the darkest times in the history of the Jewish nation – as a bridge to the renewal and prosperity of the Second Temple period. 

Course Syllabus

Week One
Introduction and the Turmoil of the Seventh Century BCE

Week Two

Judah under Babylonian rule  

Week Three
The days of the destruction of Jerusalem

Week Four
Gedaliah son of Ahikam

Week Five
Archaeology of the sixth century BCE

Recommended Background

Curiosity and passion for Biblical literature, archaeology and history.

Suggested Readings

Although the lectures are designed to be self-contained, we recommend (but do not require) to refer to the book The Fall and Rise of Jerusalem (2005).

Course Format

This course will span over 5 weeks.
In each week students will be required to watch that week's online video lectures. Also students will have to submit quizzes and a final exam.


What can I earn for completing this class?

You can earn a Verified Certificate by verifying your work with a risk-free, no obligation Signature Track trial. Payment for Signature Track can be made anytime until the week before the course ends — so you’ll be more certain that you’ll earn your Verified Certificate. If you choose not to verify your work, you can still participate in the complete course. While your final score will be noted on your course records page, this course will not offer a Statement of Accomplishment.

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