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Catholic Dictionary




The term used to designate all those Jews who lived outside of Palestine and constituted isolated communities among Gentiles. Most of them were originally scattered as a result of extensive deportations by Assyrian and Babylonian conquerors in the centuries before Christ. By the beginning of the Christian era there were substantial numbers of Jews in Greece, Syria, Persia, Asia Minor, and Italy. Possible 10 per cent of the population of the Roman Empire was Jewish. Most of these still considered Palestine their spiritual homeland and many made pilgrimages to Jerusalem on great feasts. some hold that the Diaspora was the fulfillment of the warning that Moses had given his followers if they were disloyal. "Yahweh will scatter you among all the peoples" (Deuteronomy 4:27; 28:64). (Etym. Greek diaspora, dispersion.)