The prophet Isaiah who according to Isaiah 1:1 was a prophet in the 8th century BCE and according to Isaiah 11, there were Jews already exiled in Egypt in his time period.

Isaiah 11:11- And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.

12 And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.

I know of the Jewish Elephantine community which some sources say go back to the 5th century BC but there were other sources that claimed they go back as far as the 8th century BC but I couldn't find evidence of that extra biblically. I understand that there was a large population of Jews in Egypt especially by the time of Alexander The Great. However, my question is there specific extra biblical evidence of Jews in Egypt in the 8th century BCE or even in the 9th century BCE?

1 Answer 1


Isaiah 11 is discussing the messianic age and the return of the Jewish exiles in those times.

Although at the time Isaiah lived, the Judeans had not yet been exiled, Isaiah knew that a destruction was coming and the Jews would be exiled. See, e.g. Isaiah 6:11-12, 10:21-22. Indeed the exile and dispersion of the Jews is prophesized in the Torah itself in Deuteronomy 28:63-65.

Thus, Isaiah was not necessarily implying that there were already Jews exiled in Egypt during the 9th or 8th Century BCE. Rather he was prophesizing that in the future there would be Jews exiled in Egypt (and the other places listed) and they would return in the messianic age.

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    +1. In fact, Rabbi Yehuda (M'nachos 109b) is of the opinion that the Temple of Onias in Leontopolis was the fulfillment of Isaiah 19:19 (Tos. ad loc., s.v. "והעלה", note that Chonyo only brought sacrifices from non-Jews so as not to violate the prohibition against sh'chutei chutz).
    – Fred
    Dec 20, 2022 at 4:33

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