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Israel and Judah
Map of the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah
(Enlarge) (PDF for Print) (Freely Distributed)

Map of the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah

Israel and Judah during the period of the Kings in the ancient Biblical world. 

After David and Solomon, the fame and fortunes of Israel went downhill. The nation rebelled against God and his laws. God might have destroyed Israel had He not promised to Abraham a redeemer and He still planned to use the house of David for this.

When Solomon died a civil war broke out as Solomon's sons and generals fought for the throne. Rehoboam had his fathers blessing to be the new king, but Jeroboam had more military influence. In the end, Rehoboam took the southern half of the country and called it "Judah". Jeroboam took the northern half and kept the name Israel. Each claimed to be God's chosen king.

The Northern Kingdom of Israel

The Northern Kingdom consisted of 10 of the tribes (excluding Judah and Benjamin). It lasted for about 210 years until it was destroyed by Assyria in 722 BC. Its capital was Samaria. Every king of Israel was evil. In the northern kingdom there were 9 dynasties (family lines of kings) and 19 kings in all. An average of 11 years to a reign. 8 of these kings met death by violence.

The epitaph written over every one of its kings was:

I King 15:34 "and he did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin by which he had made Israel to sin."

It was king Ahab who introduced Baal worship to them.

I King 16:30-33 "Now Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD, more than all who were before him. And it came to pass, as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took as wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians; and he went and served Baal and worshiped him. Then he set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. And Ahab made a wooden image. Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him."

Israel was carried away captive to Assyria in 722 BC and disappeared from history.

The Southern Kingdom of Judah

The Southern Kingdom consisted of 2 tribes (Judah and Benjamin). The kingdom extended in the north as far as Bethel, while in the south it ended in the dry area known as the Negev. Its eastern and western boundaries were the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Jerusalem was its capital and it lasted from about 922-586 B.C., Judah had somewhat of a better record. Only 8 of Judah's kings served God. These were: Asa, Jehoshaphat, Joash, Amaziah, Uzziah, Jotham, Hezekiah, and Josiah. The rest of the 20 kings were wicked. In the southern kingdom there was only one dynasty, that of king David, except usurper Athaliah from the northern kingdom, who by marriage, broke into David's line, and interrupted the succession for 6 years, 20 kings in all. An average of about 16 years to a reign.

After Josiah there was no hope for Judah, the last 3 kings were all evil. The Babylonians swept down upon Jerusalem in 597 BC and captured it. A second attack led to Jerusalem's second defeat in 586 BC. Captives from both campaigns were taken to Babylonia to mark the captivity of the Southern Kingdom.

The Kingdom of Israel in Smith's Bible Dictionary

III. History. --The kingdom of Israel lasted 254 years, from B.C. 975 to B.C. 721. The detailed history of the kingdom will be found under the names of its nineteen kings. See chart of the kings of Judah and Israel, at the end of the work. A summary view may be taken in four periods: (a) B.C. 975-929. Jeroboam had not sufficient force of character in himself to make a lasting impression on his people. A king, but not a founder of a dynasty, he aimed at nothing beyond securing his present elevation. Baasha, in the midst of the army at Gibbethon, slew the son and successor of Jeroboam; Zimri, a captain of chariots, slew the son and successor of Baasha; Omri, the captain of the host, was chosen to punish Zimri; and after a civil war of four years he prevailed over Tibni, the choice of half the people. (b) B.C. 929-884. For forty-five years Israel wag governed by the house of Omri. The princes of his house cultivated an alliance with the king of Judah which was cemented by the marriage of Jehoram and Athaliah. The adoption of Baal-worship led to a reaction in the nation, to the moral triumph of the prophets in the person of Elijah, and to extinction of the house of Ahab in obedience to the bidding of Elisha. (c) B.C. 884-772. Unparalleled triumphs, but deeper humiliation, awaited the kingdom of Israel under the dynasty of Jehu. Hazael, the ablest king of Damascus, reduced Jehoahaz to the condition of a vassal, and triumphed for a time over both the disunited Hebrew kingdoms. Almost the first sign of the restoration of their strength was a war between them; and Jehoash, the grandson of Jehu, entered Jerusalem as the conqueror of Amaziah. Jehoash also turned the tide of war against the Syrians; and Jeroboam II., the most powerful of all the kings of of Israel, captured Damascus, and recovered the whole ancient frontier from Hamath to the Dead Sea. This short-lived greatness expired with the last king of Jehu's line. (d) B.C. 772-721. Military violence, it would seem, broke off the hereditary succession after the obscure and probably convulsed reign of Zachariah. An unsuccessful usurper, Shallum, is followed by the cruel Menahem, who, being unable to make head against the first attack of Assyria under Pul, became the agent of that monarch for the oppressive taxation of his subjects. Yet his power at home was sufficient to insure for his son and successor Pekahiah a ten-years reign, cut short by a bold usurper, Pekah. Abandoning the northern and transjordanic regions to the encroaching power of Assyria under Tiglath-pileser, he was very near subjugating Judah, with the help of Damascus, now the coequal ally of Israel. But Assyria interposing summarily put an end to the independence of Damascus, and perhaps was the indirect cause of the assassination of the baffled Pekah. The irresolute Hoshea, the next and last usurper, became tributary to his invaders Shalmaneser, betrayed the Assyrian to the rival monarchy of Egypt, and was punished by the loss of his liberty, and by the capture, after a three-years siege, of his strong capital, Samaria. Some gleanings of the ten tribes yet remained in the land after so many years of religious decline, moral debasement, national degradation, anarchy, bloodshed and deportation. Even these were gathered up by the conqueror and carried to Assyria, never again, as a distinct people, to occupy their portion of that goodly and pleasant land which their forefathers won under Joshua from the heathen. (Schaff Bib. Dic.) adds to this summary that "after the destruction of the kingdom of Israel, B.C. 721, the name 'Israel' began to be applied to the whole surviving people. No doubt many of the kingdom of Israel joined the later kingdom of the Jews after the captivity, and became part of that kingdom.--ED.)  Full Article

The Kingdom of Judah in Smith's Bible Dictionary

Judah, Kingdom of
Extent. --When the disruption of Solomon's kingdom took place at Shechem, B.C. 975, only the tribe of Judah followed David, but almost immediately afterward the larger part of Benjamin joined Judah. A part, if no all, of the territory of Simeon, 1Sa 27:6; 1Ki 19:3 comp. Josh 19:1
and of Dan, 2Ch 11:10 comp. Josh 19:41,42
was recognized as belonging to Judah; and in the reigns of Abijah and Asa the southern kingdom was enlarged by some additions taken out of the territory of Ephraim. 2Ch 13:19; 15:8; 17:2 It is estimated that the territory of Judah contained about 3450 square miles.
Advantages. --The kingdom of Judah possessed many advantages which secured for it a longer continuance than that of Israel. A frontier less exposed to powerful enemies, a soil less fertile, a population hardier and more united, a fixed and venerated centre of administration and religion, a hereditary aristocracy in the sacerdotal caste, an army always subordinate, a succession of kings which no revolution interrupted; so that Judah survived her more populous and more powerful sister kingdom by 135 years, and lasted from B.C. 975 to B.C. 536.
History --The first three kings of Judah seem to have cherished the hope of re-establishing their authority over the ten tribes; for sixty years there was war between them and the kings of Israel. The victory achieved by the daring Abijah brought to Judah a temporary accession of territory. Asa appears to have enlarged it still further. Hanani's remonstrance, 2Ch 16:7 prepares us for the reversal by Jehoshaphat of the policy which Asa pursued toward Israel and Damascus. A close alliance sprang up with strange rapidity between Judah and Israel. Jehoshaphat, active and prosperous, commanded the respect of his neighbors; but under Amaziah Jerusalem was entered and plundered by the Israelites. Under Uzziah and Jotham, Judah long enjoyed prosperity, till Ahaz became the tributary and vassal of Tiglath-pileser. Already in the fatal grasp of Assyria, Judah was yet spared for a checkered existence of almost another century and a half after the termination of the kingdom of Israel. The consummation of the ruin came upon its people in the destruction of the temple by the hand of Nebuzaradan, B.C. 536. There were 19 kings, all from the family of David. (Population. --We have a gage as to the number of the people at different periods in the number of soldiers. If we estimate the population at four times the fighting men, we will have the following table:

        King ... Date ... Soldiers ... Population
        David ...B.C. 1056-1015 ... 500,000 ... 2,000,000
        Rehoboam ...975-957 ... 180,000 ... 720,000
        Abijah ...957-955 ... 400,000 ... 1,600,000
        Asa ...955-914 ... 500,000 ... 2,000,000
        Jehoshaphat ...914-889 ... 1,160,000 ... 4,640,000
        Amaziah ...839-810 ... 300,000 ... 1,200,000 
Full Article

The Bible Mentions why God punished Israel:

II Kings 17:7-23 "For so it was that the children of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and they had feared other gods, and had walked in the statutes of the nations whom the LORD had cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made.

Also the children of Israel secretly did against the LORD their God things that were not right, and they built for themselves high places in all their cities, from watchtower to fortified city. They set up for themselves sacred pillars and wooden images on every high hill and under every green tree. There they burned incense on all the high places, like the nations whom the LORD had carried away before them; and they did wicked things to provoke the LORD to anger, for they served idols, of which the LORD had said to them, "You shall not do this thing."

Yet the LORD testified against Israel and against Judah, by all of His prophets, every seer, saying, "Turn from your evil ways, and keep My commandments and My statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by My servants the prophets." Nevertheless they would not hear, but stiffened their necks, like the necks of their fathers, who did not believe in the LORD their God. And they rejected His statutes and His covenant that He had made with their fathers, and His testimonies which He had testified against them; they followed idols, became idolaters, and went after the nations who were all around them, concerning whom the LORD had charged them that they should not do like them.

So they left all the commandments of the LORD their God, made for themselves a molded image and two calves, made a wooden image and worshiped all the host of heaven, and served Baal. And they caused their sons and daughters to pass through the fire, practiced witchcraft and soothsaying, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke Him to anger.

Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them from His sight; there was none left but the tribe of Judah alone. . And the LORD rejected all the descendants of Israel, afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of plunderers, until He had cast them from His sight. For He tore Israel from the house of David, and they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king. Then Jeroboam drove Israel from following the LORD, and made them commit a great sin. For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they did not depart from them, until the LORD removed Israel out of His sight, as He had said by all His servants the prophets. So Israel was carried away from their own land to Assyria, as it is to this day.
"
 

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