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But unlike earlier displacements, the Hebrews were resettled as a single group and remained free to meet, trade and own land.The Jews had much to learn from the rich, cosmopolitan culture of Mesopotamia.Here they witnessed trade, commerce and religion on an imperial scale.In Babylon the Great, walled City of Wisdom, there were numerous gods and no fewer than fifty five temples.
Here too were legends of the origin of kingship and moralistic fables.Impressed by the high culture of their hosts, the Jews adopted the lunar calendar of the Babylonians, and, like them, began their year in the spring.In the Babylonian setting the Jews met in gatherings (synagogues in Greek) for the first time.Rather like the Celts at similar stage of nation building, magistrates took on powers of governance in the period that the Jewish sacred history calls "judges." In the biblical mythology, it is Judge Samuel who appoints (anoints) both the first and the second "kings of Israel."Whatever might have been happening on a few hilltops in Judaea, on the wider canvass, Assyria - based on the cities of Assur and Nineveh - was conquering an empire.At its height this included both Egypt and the whole of Mesopotamia.