The Babylonian Captivity is often misunderstood. When it is referred to in Revelation 13:10 it has sometimes been translated inappropriately as slavery or enslavement instead of as captivity. The correct, literal translation is: “if someone is to go into captivity, he is taken into captivity..” This is taken from Jeremiah 15:2,
And it will be, if they say to you, Where will we go? Then you will tell them, Thus says the LORD*, Such as are for death, to death and such as are for the sword, to the sword and such as are for famine, to the famine, and such as are for captivity, to the captivity.” The words for captivity in both Hebrew and Greek refer to prisoners of war.
Prisoners of war could be treated harshly or in this case very gently. Here the whole population was subject to deportation to Babylon, but at least some of the laborers were left in Israel. What the others were taken to is described in Jeremiah 29:4.
“Thus says the LORD* of Hosts, the God of Israel, to all who were carried away captive, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon, 5. Build houses and live in them and plant gardens and eat the fruit from them. 6. Take wives and beget sons and daughters and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands so they can bear sons and daughters so you can be increased there, and not be diminished. 7. And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive and pray to the LORD* for it, for you will have peace in its peace.”
We know the people from Israel were comfortable in Babylon because so many of the hundreds of thousands who were taken to Babylon chose to remain there and did not return to Israel when Cyrus issued a decree allowing the people to return, after seventy years of captivity. Nehemiah 7 lists those who returned, with this summary:
“Nehemiah 7:66. The whole congregation together was forty-two thousand three hundred sixty, 67. besides their male servants and their maid servants, of whom there were seven thousand three hundred thirty-seven: and they had two hundred forty-five singing men and singing women. 68. Their camels, four hundred thirty-five: donkeys, six thousand seven hundred twenty.”
Although there were hundreds of thousands in Babylon, only 42,360 returned, bringing 7,337 servants with them, indicating a very comfortable life-style in their adopted land, as prophesied by Jeremiah.