Archaeology and the list of returnees in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah

Israel Finkelstein*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The list of returnees (Ezra 2, 1-67; Nehemiah 7, 6-68) forms one of the cornerstones for the study of the province of Yehud in the Persian period. Because of the lack of ancient Near Eastern sources on Yehud, discussion has focused primarily on the biblical texts and has thus, in certain cases, become trapped in circular reasoning. The only source of information that can break this deadlock is archaeology. The fi nds at the places mentioned in the list of returnees seem to show that it does not represent Persian-period realities. Important Persian-period places not mentioned in the list support this notion. The archaeology of the list seems to indicate that it was compiled in the late Hellenistic (Hasmonaean) period and represents the reality of that time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-16
Number of pages10
JournalPalestine Exploration Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2008


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