Neither Tobit nor 3 Maccabees consider life abroad to be sinful, although some Jews may have still clung to the biblical premise that the initial cause of Jewish dispersion was transgression of God's commandments. Attempts to cultivate a sense of identity shared between the Jews of Judaea and their brethren abroad certainly appear during the days of the Second Temple. Yet the founding of an independent Jewish state under the Hasmoneans was not accompanied by outright calls for "aliya". Ironically, such calls would emerge much later, following two disastrous uprisings against Rome culminating in 70 and 135 CE respectively.
The Book of Esther is not the only literary reflection on the life and challenges that Jews confronted in the diaspora of the Second Temple Period. Following a general introduction, this series will discuss two less familiar ancient books of that period: Tobit and 3 Maccabees. These works provide insights into Jewish life outside the Land of Israel in this period, but from widely diverse vantage points.