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Dis-puhr´zhuhn; Gk. diaspora, from diaspeirein, “to scatter”

Term referring to the exile or emigration of Jews from Israel to other countries. When the Northern Kingdom, Israel, was conquered by the Assyrians in 721 BCE, many Israelites were taken into exile in Mesopotamia. When the Southern Kingdom, Judah, was conquered in 597 and again in 587, many of its leaders and people were exiled to Babylon. During the Persian (539–332 BCE) and Hellenistic (332 BCE–63 CE) periods Jews moved to all major population centers in the eastern Mediterranean. (Acts 2:9-11) names the diverse origins of pilgrims to Jerusalem. In (John 7:35) people speculate whether Jesus will go among the Jews (called Greeks) of the Dispersion. In 1 Peter, the term “Dispersion” is applied to Christians who lived in some Roman provinces in Asia Minor (1Pet 1:1), although it is not clear if the scattering away from the homeland is understood there in a physical or a spiritual sense.

  • Powell, Mark Allan, ed. HarperCollins Bible Dictionary. Abridged Edition. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2009.