Babylonian Captivity or Babylonian Exile, term applied to the period between the deportation of the Jews from Palestine to Babylon by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II and their release in 538 bc by the Persian king Cyrus. Two main deportations are recorded: one in 597 bc, when Israelite nobles, warriors, and artisans were transported; and one in 586 bc when Nebuchadnezzar\'s army destroyed Jerusalem, and the major part of the remaining Israelite community was taken to Babylon. At the time of the second deportation an important group of Israelites fled to Egypt; thereafter, only the poorest peasants were allowed to remain in Palestine, and the political dissolution of independent Israel was an accomplished fact. The majority of the Jews living in Babylon did not return to Palestine at the end of the exile period, but became a part of the Diaspora, or body of Jews dispersed among nations outside Palestine.
In the history of the Roman Catholic church, the term Babylonian Captivi