The Children's Return
The people of Judah (see The Southern Kingdom) were sent by the LORD into their Babylonian exile for a specified period of seventy years. While in Babylon, they were to live a "normal" life of marriage and family, as instructed by the LORD - and not allow any false prophet to mislead them into believing that they would return sooner.
"29:4 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon; 29:5 Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them; 29:6 Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished. 29:7 And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.
Exactly as decreed by the LORD, the nation of Judah were given to return after seventy years, by which time the Babylonian empire (see Ancient Empires - Babylon), that had taken them away, had collapsed and was replaced as the "superpower" of the world by the Persians (known today as Iran). The Persian king Cyrus accommodated their return (see Ancient Empires - Persia).
"1:1 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled [see Jeremiah's Field], the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,
"They may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished"
The reason and purpose of the LORD's command "29:6 Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished" (quoted above) was that it would be the children and grandchildren of the exiles that would do the "return" seventy years later. It would be a return of the nation, not of the people that originally left - almost all of those that "returned" had never been "home" before.
They nevertheless responded to what they were given to do in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah. It was to be a new beginning based on God's pure Law (see also The Origin Of The Essenes, Sadducees And Pharisees).
"8:1 And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate [see also The Gates Of Old Jerusalem]; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded to Israel.
They were also taught at that time to regard God's Law with joy, "for the joy of the LORD is your strength."
"8:9 And Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the LORD your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law.
The event occurred in the seventh month of God's calendar (early autumn in the northern hemisphere) so they observed the Christian Feast of Tabernacles (see The True Christian Holy Days: Lesson 6) and the Christian Eighth Day (see The True Christian Holy Days: Lesson 7) at that time.
"8:13 And on the second day were gathered together the chief of the fathers of all the people, the priests, and the Levites, unto Ezra the scribe, even to understand the words of the law. 8:14 And they found written in the law which the LORD had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths in the feast of the seventh month: 8:15 And that they should publish and proclaim in all their cities, and in Jerusalem, saying, Go forth unto the mount, and fetch olive branches, and pine branches, and myrtle branches, and palm branches, and branches of thick trees, to make booths, as it is written.
Fact Finder: Was the Exodus also a matter of the children returning to a "home" that they had never been before, not only because the return was after 400 years in Egypt, but also because those who left Egypt in the Exodus never arrived?