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Kingdom of Israel

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"Commonwealth of Israel" redirects here. For the religious movement by that name, see The Twelve Tribes.

The Kingdom of Israel (Hebrew: ממלכת יִשְׂרָאֵל, Standard Mamlechet Yisraʼel Tiberian Malḵûṯ Yiśrāʼēl) (KJV Israel in Samaria[1]) is one of the successor states to the older United Monarchy (also often called the 'Kingdom of Israel'). It existed from roughly 930s BC until about 720s BC. This article follows its history until its destruction by the Assyrian Empire, and considers the fate of its population and territory following its destruction. Capital cities (in order): Shechem, Tirza, and Shomron (Samaria).

Historians often refer to ancient Israel as the Northern Kingdom to differentiate it from the Southern Kingdom of Judah. The Hebrew Scriptures sometimes referred to the separate kingdom idiomatically as the "House of Joseph"[2] in order to distinguish it principally from the "House of Judah".[3]



Origins of the United Monarchy

Main article: History of Ancient Israel and Judah

The United Monarchy was formed out of the territories of the twelve Hebrew tribes living in the area in and around modern Israel and Palestinian Territories.

United Monarchy

Main article: United Monarchy

The Kingdom of Israel was one of two successor states to the older Kingdom of Israel, which existed from around 1050 BCE to 930 BCE. The other successor state bore the name Kingdom of Judah which existed from 931 BCE to 586 BCE. Both Eusebius and Josephus place the division in 997 BC and lunar dates of Venus can be mistaken as 64 years later. (Crossing of sun over Mars as Tamuz would be 10 July 997 BCE.) However, a few biblical minimalists question whether the United Monarchy actually existed, citing a lack of supporting evidence for much of what is written in the Bible. They claim that events described in the Bible as having taken place in the 10th century BCE actually took place a century later.

Divided Monarchy

Kingdom of Israel

Soon after the death of King Solomon, the prophecy of Ahijah (1Kings 11:31-35) was fulfilled with the division of the kingdom. Rehoboam, the son and successor of Solomon, was scarcely seated on his throne when the old jealousies between Judah and the other tribes broke out anew, and Jeroboam was sent for from Egypt by the malcontents.(1Kings 12:2-3)

Rehoboam insolently refused to lighten the burdensome taxation and services that his father had imposed on his subjects,(1Kings 12:4) and the rebellion became complete. The Tribe of Ephraim and all Israel raised the old cry, "Every man to his tents, O Israel".(2Samuel 20:1) Rehoboam fled to Jerusalem (1 Kings 12:1-18; 2 Chronicles 10), and in 930 BCE to 920 BCE, Jeroboam was proclaimed king over all Israel at Shechem, with the Tribe of Judah and the Tribe of Benjamin remaining faithful to Rehoboam. War continued, with varying success, between the two kingdoms for about sixty years.

At around 850 BCE the Mesha Stele, written in Old Hebrew alphabet, records a victory of King Mesha of Moab against king Omri of Israel and his son Ahab ( cf.2 Kings 3),

An artist's depiction of a royal palace in the Kingdom of Israel.

King Omri of Israel founded the new capital of the Kingdom of Israel at Shomron (Samaria). Today, among archaeologists one of the most universally accepted archaeological sites from the biblical period[4]

The conflict between Israel and Judah was resolved when Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, allied himself with the house of Ahab through marriage. Later, Jehosophat's son and successor Jehoram of Judah married Ahab's daughter Athaliah, cementing the alliance. However, the sons of Ahab were slaughtered by Jehu following his Coup d'état around 840 BCE.

Shechem was the first capital of the kingdom of Israel (1 Kings 12:25), afterwards Tirza (14:17). Samaria was chosen as the capital (16:24), and continued as such until the destruction of the kingdom by the Assyrians (2 Kings 17:5). During the siege of Samaria (lasting for three years) by the Assyrians, Shalmaneser V died and was succeeded by Sargon II of Assyria, who himself records the capture of that city thus: "Samaria I looked at, I captured; 27,280 men who dwelt in it I carried away" into Assyria. Thus, around 720 BCE after a duration of two centuries, the kingdom of the ten tribes came to an end.

Kingdom of Judah

Main article: Kingdom of Judah

The Kingdom of Judah, or Southern Kingdom, existed as an independent state from about 930 BCE until 586 BCE when it was conquered by the Babylonian Empire.

Post Conquest Developments

Lost Tribes of Israel

Main article: Lost Tribes of Israel

The inhabitants of the Kingdom of Israel were scattered throughout the East, and are popularly known as the Lost ten tribes of Israel.

"Judah held its ground against Assyria for yet one hundred and thirty-four years, and became the rallying-point of the dispersed of every tribe, and eventually gave its name to the whole race. Those of the people who in the last struggle escaped into the territories of Judah or other neighbouring countries naturally looked to Judah as the head and home of their race. And when Judah itself was carried off to Babylon, many of the exiled Israelites joined them from Assyria, and swelled that immense population which made Babylonia a second Judah".

After the deportation of the ten tribes, the vacated land was colonized by various eastern tribes, especially Syrians, whom the king of Assyria sent there (Ezra 4:2, 10; 2 Kings 17:24-29).

In 537 BCE, the ruler of the Persian Empire, Cyrus the Great permitted exiled populations within the newly conquered Babylonian Empire to return to their native lands, marking the end of the so-called Babylonian Captivity. Any Israelite exiles retaining their national identity or having joined with their fellow exiles from the Kingdom of Judah, and possessing the will to return to their old territories would have begun returning to the territories of the former Kingdom of Israel at this time.


Main article: Samaritans

The emergence of the Samaritan people as an ethnic group distinct from Jewish people, with a religion distinct from Judaism yet bearing much in common with it can be traced to the political changes in the area when it was occupied by the Assyrians. The removal of the old ruling structure of the Kingdom of Israel, together with the influx of a foreign population in an area already devastated by foreign conquest led to the emergence of a new identity distinct from that of the Kingdom of Judah to the south. This population has persisted as a separate ethnic entity through the restoration of an autonomous Jewish nation in the area by Cyrus the Great, and on into the present.


Religion in the Kingdom of Israel

The religious climate of the Kingdom of Israel appears to have been divided between two major trends. The first the cult of Yahweh detailed in the Hebrew Bible, and the second the cult of Baal as detailed in the so-called "Baal Cycle" discovered at Ugarit.

Notable Personalities

Prophets Active in the Kingdom of Israel

Extent of the Kingdom

The Kingdom of Israel was the nation formed from the territories of the tribes of Zebulun, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, Dan, Manasseh, Ephraim, Reuben and Gad, and was named after Israel, son of Isaac.

Its capital was Samaria. [1] [2]

Royal Houses of Israel

The genealogy of the kings of Israel, along with the kings of Judah.

For this period, most historians follow either of the older chronologies established by William F. Albright or Edwin R. Thiele, or the newer chronology of Gershon Galil, all of which are shown below. All dates are BCE

Albright dates[5]Thiele dates[5]Galil dates[5]Common/Biblical name Regnal Name and style Notes 101110101050101010501010Saul'שאול המלך or Sha'ul Reigned in Israel & Judah for 40 years: He killed himself during the war with the Philistines in Mount Gilboa. 10101008100099810101008Ish-bosheth(also called Eshba'al or Ashba'al or Ishbaal) Reigned in Israel for 2 years: 1000962  1010970Davidדוד בן-ישי מלך ישראל
David ben Yeshay, Melekh Yisra’el Reigned over Israel & Judah for 33 years in Jerusalem and 7 years in Hebron, 40 years in total. Death: Natural causes 962922  970931Solomonשלמה בן-דוד מלך ישראל
Shelomoh ben David, Melekh Yisra’el Reigned over Israel & Judah in Jerusalem for 40 years. Death: Natural Causes 922901931910931909Jeroboam Iירבעם בן-נבט מלך ישראל
Yerav’am ben Nevat, Melekh Yisra’el Reigned in Israel for 22 years. Death: Natural Causes 901900910909909908Nadabנדב בן-ירבעם מלך ישראל
Nadav ben Yerav’am, Melekh Yisra’el Reigned in Israel for 2 years. Death: Killed by Bassha, son of Ahijah of the house of Issachar, along with his whole family. 900877909886908885Baashaבעשא בן-אחיה מלך ישראל
Ba’asha ben Achiyah, Melekh Yisra’el Reigned over Israel in Tizrah for 24 years. Death: Natural Causes 877876886885885884Elahאלה בן-בעשא מלך ישראל
’Elah ben Ba’asha, Melekh Yisra’el Reigned over Israel in Tizrah for 2 years. Death: Zimri, one of his officials, got him drunk and killed him at his house in Azra. 876885884Zimriזמרי מלך ישראל
Zimri, Melekh Yisra’el Reigned over Israel in Tizrah for 7 days. Death: He set his palace on fire when Omri and all the Israelites with him withdrew from Gibbethon and laid siege to Tizrah. 876869885874884873Omriעמרי מלך ישראל
’Omri, Melekh Yisra’el Reigned over Israel in Samaria for 12 years. Death: Natural Causes 869850874853873852Ahabאחאב בן-עמרי מלך ישראל
Ah’av ben ’Omri, Melekh Yisra’el Reigned over Israel in Samaria for 22 years. Death: Shot by an archer during the battle at Ramoth Gilead. He died upon his arrival on Samaria. 850849853852852851Ahaziahאחזיהו בן-אחאב מלך ישראל
’Ahazyahu ben 'Ah’av, Melekh Yisra’el Reigned over Israel in Samaria for 2 years. Death: He fell through the lattice of his upper room and injured himself. Elijah the prophet told him he would never leave his bed and would die on it. 849842852841851842Joramיורם בן-אחאב מלך ישראל
Yehoram ben ’Ah’av, Melekh Yisra’el Reigned over Israel in Samaria for 11 years. Death: Killed by Jehu, the next king of Israel, 842815841814842815Jehuיהוא בן-נמשי מלך ישראל
Yehu ben Nimshi, Melekh Yisra’el Reigned over Israel in Samaria for 28 years. [6]Death: Natural Causes 815801814798819804Jehoahazיהואחז בן-יהוא מלך ישראל
Yeho’ahaz ben Yehu, Melekh Yisra’el Reigned over Israel in Samaria for 17 years. Death: Natural Causes 801786798782805790Jehoash
(Joash) יואש בן-יואחז מלך ישראל
Yeho’ash ben Yeho’ahaz, Melekh Yisra’el Reigned over Israel in Samaria for 16 years. Death: Natural Causes 786746782753790750Jeroboam IIירבעם בן-יואש מלך ישראל
Yerav’am ben Yeho’ash, Melekh Yisra’el Reigned over Israel in Samaria for 41 years. Death: Natural Causes 746753750749 Zachariahזכריה בן-ירבעם מלך ישראל
Zekharyah ben Yerav’am, Melekh Yisra’el Reigned over Israel in Samaria for 6 months. Death: Shallum son of Jabesh killed him in front of the people and succeeded as king. 745752749Shallumשלם בן-יבש מלך ישראל
Shallum ben Yavesh, Melekh Yisra’el Reigned over Israel in Samaria for 1 month. Death: Menahem son of Gadi attacked Shallum and assassinated him. 745738752742749738Menahemמנחם בן-גדי מלך ישראל
Menahem ben Gadi, Melekh Yisra’el Reigned over Israel in Samaria for 10 years. Death: Natural Causes 738737742740738736Pekahiahפקחיה בן-מנחם מלך ישראל
Pekahyah ben Menahem, Melekh Yisra’el Reigned over Israel in Samaria for 2 years. Death: Pekah son of Remaliah, one of the chief officers, took 50 men with him and assassinated the king in his palace at Samaria. 737732740732736732Pekahפקח בן-רמליהו מלך ישראל
Pekah ben Remalyahu, Melekh Yisra’el Reigned over Israel in Samaria for 20 years. Death: Hoshea son of Elah conspired against him and assassinated him. 732722732722732722Hosheaהושע בן-אלה מלך ישראל
Hoshe’a ben ’Elah, Melekh Yisra’el Reigned over Israel in Samaria for 9 years. [7]Death: King Shalmanser attacked and captured Samaria. He charged Hoshea of treason and he put him in prison, then, he deported the Israelites to Assyria.


  1. ^ 1 Kings 22:51 and many subsequent passages
  2. ^ *Zechariah 10:6
  3. ^ *II Samuel 2:10
  4. ^ See Yohanan Aharoni, et al, The Macmillan Bible Atlas, Macmillan Publishing: New York, 1993, p. 94.; and Amihai Mazar, The Archaeology of the Land of the Bible: 10,000 – 586 B.C.E, New York: Doubleday, 1992, p. 404, see Pp. 406-410 for discussion of archaeological significance of Shomron (Samaria) under Omride Dynasty.
  5. ^ a b c All dates are BCE.
  6. ^ Considered to be a contemporary of the Assyrian King Shalmaneser III (858824) to whom he paid tribute. This is based on an inscription on The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III showing "Yaua" son of Omri paying tribute, dated to 841 BCE.
  7. ^ Paid tribute to the Assyrian King Shalmaneser V (727722 BCE) but rebelled in 725 BCE. Shalmaneser besieged the capital, Samaria, but died shortly before the fall of the city. His brother Sargon II (722705 BCE) completed the siege with success in 722, making Judah the sole remaining Hebrew kingdom. The ten tribes were exiled to other parts of the Assyrian Empire and never heard from again in recorded history. A small group of people fled south to take refuge in Judah.

See also

External links

v • d • eMajor articles in Jewish history

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Timeline · Early history · The 12 Tribes of Israel · Schisms · Israel · Judah · Ten Lost Tribes · Babylonian exile · Hasmoneans and Greece · Sanhedrin · Jewish-Roman wars · Pharisees · Diaspora · Middle Ages · Under Muslim rule · Enlightenment/Haskalah · Israel

Categories: 800s BC | Ancient Israel and Judah | Former monarchies of Asia | Former theocraciesHidden category: Articles needing additional references from May 2007

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