In the Old Testament ‘the exile’, or ‘the captivity’, refers to the period of approximately seventy years that followed Babylon’s conquest of Jerusalem and deportation of the people into captivity in Babylon (2 Kings 24:1-25:21; Jer 25:11-12; 29:10; Dan 1:1-4; Ezek 1:1-3). (For details of the successive stages of this conquest and deportation see JUDAH, TRIBE AND KINGDOM. For details of life in captivity in Babylon see DANIEL; EZEKIEL.) The exile came to an end after Persia’s conquest of Babylon in 539 BC, when the new ruler gave permission to the captive Jews to return to their homeland (2 Chron 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-4; Isa 48:20; see CHRONICLES, BOOKS OF; EZRA). In the New Testament ‘the exile’ refers to the life of Christians in the present world. Since Christians are considered to be a citizen of heaven, their present life is like that of foreigners or pilgrims in an alien country (Phil 3:20; Heb 13:14; 1 Peter 1:1,17; 2:11; see FOREIGNER).

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