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English Bible Dictionary

The Jews of the Dispersion

 

Or simply THE DISPERSION, was the general title applied to those Jews who remained settled in foreign countries after the return from the Babylonian exile, and during the period of the second temple. At the beginning of the Christian era the Dispersion was divided into three great sections, the Babylonian, the Syrian, the Egyptian. From Babylon the Jews spread throughout Persia, Media and Parthia. Large settlements of Jews were established in Cyprus, in the islands of the AEgean, and on the western coast of Asia Minor. Jewish settlements were also established at Alexandria by Alexander and Ptolemy I. The Jewish settlements in Rome, were consequent upon the occupation of Jerusalem by Pompey, B.C. 63, and you can find more about that here on st-takla.org on other commentaries and dictionary entries. The influence of the Dispersion on the rapid promulgation of Christianity can scarcely be overrated. The course of the apostolic preaching followed in a regular progress the line of Jewish settlements. The mixed assembly from which the first converts were gathered on the day of Pentecost represented each division of the Dispersion. (Acts 2:9-11)

(1) Parthians... Mesopotamia;

(2) Judea (i.e. Syria)... Pamphylia;

(3) Egypt... Greece;

(4) Romans..., and these converts naturally prepared the way for the apostles in the interval which preceded the beginning of the separate apostolic missions. St. James and St. Peter wrote to the Jews of the Dispersion. (James 1:1; 1 Peter 1:1)

 

* See also: Proselyte.

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