The Four
Exiles

If the Jewish people originated in the mid-east how did we get scattered all over the world? And why were we scattered, anyway?

In order to properly understand the meaning of exile and redemption from a Jewish perspective, one must go back to the deepest roots of history, specifically to the second verse of the creation story:
The earth was null and void and there was darkness upon the face of the deep, and the spirit of God hovered above the water. (Genesis 1:2)

With respect to this seemingly uninformative verse, the Rabbis (Genesis Rabba 2:4) have explained the words this way:

"Null" Refers to the Babylonian exile (423-371 BCE) After Nevuchadnezzar of Babylonia destroyed the First Temple, the Jews of Israel were sent to Babylonia for 70 years
"Void" Refers to the exile of Persia and Media (371-356 BCE) The Babylonian Empire was overthrown and the Jews came under the rule of the new conquerers Persia and Media
"Darkness" Refers to the Greek exile (318-138 BCE) During the period of the Second Temple much of Asia was conquered by the Surian-Greeks who ruled the Jews as well
"The face of the deep" Refers to the last exile of Rome (approx. 63 BCE to the present day) The destruction of the Second Temple and the complete subjugation of the Jewish people by Rome. This last exile will end with the coming of Mashiach, the return of all the Jews to the Land of Israel and the building of the Third Temple
"And the spirit of God" Alludes to the Messianic period at the end of days We're very close to the wind-up of all history. And you're living through it today.

Within this single and ominous verse, there is an allusion to all four exiles that the Jewish people were destined to experience throughout their long history until the Messianic time, which has still yet to occur. And without exception, all of them have come to pass as predicted, with the final exile, the "Roman Exile" (Edom) still in progress.

Very briefly, by being scattered to all the corners of this planet the Jews were performing a mission given by God. That is, to live Jewish lives and do Jewish activities (mitzvot) in all the corners of the world. This performs a spiritual "Tikkun" (rectification) on that part of the world and the things found there. You can find out more about this by reading the article linked below.

Every Jew is part of the grand scheme that involves a Tikkun to this world. Knowing that can help you understand your Jewish Future.

Deeper aspects about Exile and Redemption are found in this article by Rabbi Pinchas Winston.

Information also taken from "The Jewish Fact Finder by Yaffa Ganz, 1995, Feldheim Publishers, Jerusalem