According to the Jewish Bible, Nebuchadnezzar conquered Judea, burned the temple in Jerusalem, and banished most of its people. ( II Kings 25:8) Historians date the Babylonian captivity to the years 597-586 B.C.E.
After the final subjugation of the Babylonians by the Persians in the year 539 B.C.E, the people of Judea were allowed by Cyrus, the first King of the Persian Empire to return to Judea and rebuild their Temple.
Samaritans Sources inform us of two exiles. The first exile was by the Assyrians, in the days of the Samaritan High Priest Ekbaya . These deportees, returned from Assyria, in the days of the High Priest Sharya son of Chalal son of Ekbaya. The second exile was brought about by the Chaldeans (Babylonians), 130 years after the return of the first deportees, while the Samaritan High Priest was Azarya.
A public of about 300,000 Samaritans returned from the diaspora, from both exiles, in the days of Abed-el son of Azarya. Both Samaritan and Jewish sources, tells about attempts to reunite two parts of Israel, which were refused by the head of the Jews. The Samaritan chronicles tell that the heads of the Jewish that returned met with the Samaritans in Harran( an ancient city, between Turkey and Syria):
“And in that time came the head of the Judea tribe, to the the High priest Abed – El in Harran……and they said to Abed-El and to Azzi son of Shemoun, the head of the tribe of Jospeh .’ Let us go all of us to Yevus [Jerusalem], the cIty of king David’. And The preist Abed-el rebuked him , and said, ‘why should we do this thing ? let us all go to the chosen place on Mount Gerizim, maybe God will forgive the whole people of Israel……And Zerubabel, head of the Judea tribe, became angry and there was hatred between the tribe of Jospeh and the tribe of Judea”…(The book of Chronicles by Murgan son of Asad.)
The Samaritan Chronicles reveal also a story about Abed-El who started to build a Temple on the top of Mt.Gerizim, for sacrifices and was stopped by God, who appeared to him in his dream.
The Jewish Bible tells another story, concerning the heads of the Samaritans who came to Zerubabel, The head of the Jews, who returned in the first return from the diaspora and asked to take part in the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. Zerubabel answered them:
“But Zerubbabel, and Jeshua, and the rest of the heads of fathers’ houses of Israel, said unto them: ‘Ye have nothing to do with us to build a house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the LORD, the God of Israel, as king Cyrus the king of Persia hath commanded us.'” (Ezra 4:3).
Of the Jewish Diaspora in the year of 457 B.C.E., there was included the scribe Ezra (Ha- Sofer), who has ,according to both Samaritan and Jewish Chronicles, rewrote the Torah and changed its letters from Hebrew letters into Aramaic letters ( named the Assyrian letters, in Jewish sources, because of the fact that Aram used to be called Assyria ). In fact, the Jews continued to use the ancient Hebrew script, till the 1st-century C.E.
The Samaritans also claimed that Ezra, not only change the letters of the Torah, but also inserted changes in the version itself, in order to support the belief in Jerusalem, and represent itself as a messenger of God. This can explain the wrong noting of his long dynasty till Aaron – brother of Moses. Ezra’s actions reinforced the intense dislike between the two sects of both the Samaritans who adhered to Mount Gerizim and the Jews who adopted Jerusalem as the chosen place.