(Greek: scattering) The Jewish communities living outside the Holy Land of Judea, Samaria and Galilee.
God of Israel was so called because from the time of Abraham to the time of Solomon the Hebrew Gen 14:13 people remained together in the Land of Israel. God kept them together to protect them against the pagans who were then most of the world’s population.
God had sealed his eternal election of Abraham and his descendants with the covenant between the pieces, in which Abram had symbolically willed to suffer Israel’s being torn in two if it broke the covenant. After Solomon’s time Israel broke the covenant more and more deeply. God tore Israel into a northern kingdom of Israel and a southern kingdom of Judah.
The northern kingdom of Israel had ten tribes of Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Issachar, Zebulun, Ephraim, Manasseh, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher. Because Jacob-Israel adopted Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, as his own and blessed them, Joseph’s territory was doubled. They became separate tribes with separate territories. Gen 46:20. However, Levi, the tribe of priests, was not given land but only cities to dwell in. The ten tribes were taken to Assyria 2 Kings 18:11–12 where they dispersed into its population.
The southern kingdom of Judah, mostly the tribe of Judah but also Benjamin, most of the Levites, and some members of all the other tribes, held out about two centuries longer, but finally, in 586 BC, on the Ninth of Av, on Nebuchadnezzar’s orders, Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, with the army of the Chaldeans, “burned the house of the Lord, and the king’s house and all the houses of Jerusalem; every great house he burned down” 2 Kings 25:9. When Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem, he brought most of the Judeans to Babylon, where he allowed them to live as a community.
After Cyrus the Great of Persia offered to let the Judeans return to Judea and rebuild the Temple, most of them preferred to remain in Babylon. A remnant returned to Jerusalem to work on the Temple reconstruction. So there were two groups of Jews: one in the Holy Land—Jerusalem and the surrounding area of Judea—and another in the diaspora, the dispersion or scattering. The diaspora remained mainly in and near Babylon, but substantial Jewish communities also formed elsewhere.
Then, after Alexander the Great conquered most of the then-known world, spreading his Greek language and culture to his conquered lands, there remained in Alexandria, Egypt, a large number of Jews who had settled there. So by 300 BC the Jewish diaspora was mainly in Alexandria and Babylon.
After the Romans destroyed the Second Temple in AD 70 and the Second Jewish Revolt in AD 132-135 removed their last vestiges of independence, the Jews once again regarded themselves as exiles.
Today the Jewish population today is divided between its homeland Israel and a diaspora which is now centered in the United States.