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Last King of Judea. Princely descendant of the House of David, who governed Judea in the 6th century B.C.E., Zerubbabel, grandson of Jehoiachin, ended his life a captive in Babylonia. Cyrus, the Median prince, having conquered Babylonia in 539 B.C.E., permitted Zerubbabel to lead a group of returning exiles back to Judea. With the aid of the high priest Joshua, Zerubbabel set up an altar, restored the celebration of the holidays, and began the rebuilding of the city walls and the Temple. Internal difficulties and hostile neighbors interrupted this work. About 520 B.C.E., Zerubbabel was appointed governor of Judea and, encouraged by the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, resumed the labor of reconstruction.

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