Elephantine | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 134, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 0040-7518
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1163



In the fifth century bce a group of Judaeans lived as mercenaries in the Persian army on and around the island of Elephantine, as guardians of the southern border of the Persian empire and to shield the Persian trade interests. Documents show that these Judaeans had their own form of Yahwism. For almost 100 years they lived in peaceful coexistence with the Persian administration, the local Egyptian population, and with a dozen other ethnic groups settled on the island. From around 425 this was disrupted by local discords and the destruction by the priests of Khnum of vital elements of the Persian administration as well as the temple of Yahô. This contribution argues that the increasing urge of Egypt to abandon the Persian yoke and the influx of an extra group of Judeans – with a different form of Yahwism – around 420 created increasing tension between the different groups leading to the breakup of the peaceful cohabitation.


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