“The last king of the house of David, Zedekiah, was also exiled, his sons slaughtered, the elite of the cities, the priests and the scribes, were banished to the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates. The Book of Psalms laments that “by the rivers of Babylon we sat down and wept.”
The situation in exile is, in fact, a situation of a huge crisis because all the pillars on which the identity of the people were based no longer existed. There was no longer a temple, there was no more king, there was no more country, there was no more territorial unity. So, in order to survive, it was necessary to find other means of constructing an identity. It was, in fact, those who were exiled, the scribes, the priests, who constructed that identity, taking up a certain number of earlier traditions, but opening those traditions out. That is, Zedekiah’s reform would become the symbol of the temple which was transformed into a synagogue. Little by little, Moses would replace the king and the Torah would replace the country. Through the work of writing and rewriting Judaism would be invented in a concrete form that it took in the Persian Era, notably, under Ezra, the priest.
“Biblical scholars have, therefore, suggested that the scribe, Ezra, gave the final touches to the Torah, the Pentateuch.
“What have we learned from the evidence provided by the mountains of evidence, the broken vases and the ancient inscriptions?
“The time when archaeologists took the Bible literally and when technical research ignored material evidence, is passed. I think we have to distinguish between the final form in the Bible which has become the basis, not only for Judaism, but for the three monotheistic religions and the origins in the Hebrew Bible.
“What is important is this question of origins. It's no longer about the wanderings of Abraham or David. The most significant change is the realization that there was a political will at work at the origins of the bible.
Just as there was political will at work at the origins of the bible, there is also the need for political will at the origins of economic, education, family life, health care, law and law enforcement, social, political and religious thinking. This is the 21st century, with all kinds of new stressors on the institutions of our society. What will it take to create a social construct that includes environmental concern for Earth, as well as the flourishing of all its inhabitants?