Step 6 - Kingdom
Israel has conquered most of Canaan and has settled the tribes into their allotted territories. The United Kingdom has an expanded area, the divided kingdom has a reduced area. As of 722BC the Northern Kingdom and portions of the Southern kingdom are conquered and in 586BC the land is completely conquered by the Babylonians.
- United Kingdom : Israel is united under one king
- Divided Kingdom : A civil war splits Israel in two
- Northern Kingdom : An unrighteous kingdom called Israel
- Southern Kingdom : An inconsistent kingdom called Judah
The Book Of Judges ends by saying :
Judges 21: 24 At that time the Israelites left that place and went home to their tribes and clans, each to his own inheritance. 25 In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.
Through the time of Judges the Hebrew people, the descendants of Abraham, are living in the land of Canaan (promised land). Each tribal group, based on the 12 sons of Israel, have a tribal territory which their family rules. However there is no uniting leader – other than the judges whom God raises up from time to time. There is no single ruler, no consistent leadership across the tribes and each tribe does as it sees best.
- The last and greatest judge (and prophet) appoints his sons to follow him.
- They don’t follow his ways ‘perverting justice and taking bribes’. (1 Sam 8 ).
- As a result the Israelites go to Samuel and ask that he anoints a king ‘like the lands around them’. The Israelites aren’t just rejecting Samuel but also God’s leadership.
- Samuel prays to God and God tells Samuel to anoint a King
- Samuel anoints Saul- a tall strong and handsome man to be King.
- He unites the tribes and begins leading.
- Ultimately he was a flawed, unrighteous man and is rejected by God as king.
God gets Samuel to anoint David, the youngest child of a family – a keeper of sheep – to be king. This anointing happens while Saul is still king. Saul tries to kill David, who escapes and refuses to act dishonourably against Saul. Eventually Saul dies and David is made King.
- The kingdom flourishes, they conquer their enemies and the kingdom is enriched. It is a time of much war against their enemies.
- Jerusalem is made the capital city
- The tabernacle is bought back to Jerusalem and Jerusalem becomes the centre of worship
- David too is a flawed man – but his heart is faithful to God (righteous) and he is accepted by God and flourishes.
- God promises him his descendants will rule forever
Solomon David’s son, is made king.
- The kingdom expands from ‘the river of Egypt’ in one direction, and to the Euphrates in the other – in fulfilment of God’s promises.
- There is less war
- The temple is built in Jerusalem and the Tabernacle installed in it
- God’s fame and the fame of Israel reach across the known world
- Solomon starts as righteous but drifts – returning to idol worship or at least allowing it to be practised in Israel
As a result of Solomon’s drifting away from God a civil war erupts after his death.
This is in line with God’s judgement on Solomon for following idols and not following His commands:
So the Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned from the Lord God of Israel … Therefore the Lord said to Solomon, “Because you have done this, and have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to your servant. Nevertheless, I will not do it in your days, for the sake of your father David; I will tear it out of the hand of your son.”
- When Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, came to the throne the Northern tribes revolted, set up a rival Kingdom and Israel split into two halves.(approx 932/921 BC)
- The Northern Kingdom is called Israel and consists of 10 tribes.
- The Southeren Kingdom is called Judah and consists of two tribes (Judah / Benjamin)
- This split is never resolved and continues for about 260 years
The Northern – Unrighteous Kingdom
Jeroboam, a superintendent of works (civil servant), leads a rebellion when Rehoboam (David’s grandson / Solomons son) comes to the throne. This in part is because of:
- Issues starting when David was king and during Solomons reign
- Jealousy between the northern states and the southern state (Judah) over where the temple was
- Bad leadership on Rehoboams part – refusing to act civilly towards his northern subjects.
This split is never resolved.
The Northern Kingdom had 19 kings across 9 different dynasties throughout its approximately 208 years of existence.
Every king of Israel is unrighteous and so God raises up Assyria to conquer the northern kingdom (786 BC ).
The unrighteous kingdom is never restored.
- Rehoboam, like his father Solomon, was also an unrighteous man and worshipped idols. Judah struggles against its enemies and its fortunes were variable.
- The Southern Kingdom does better than the Northern Kingdom, lasting 400 years before being conquered by the Babylonians in 586 BC.
- This is because of its 20 kings, eight were righteous – prolonging its existence and keeping the favour of God.
- The Babylonians captured it and took all the leaders, musicians, artisans, promising children and educated people to Babylonia.
Dates are approximate except the two exiles which are accurate to within about a year. This is because of the way time was recorded and events dated in older manuscripts.