A History of the Kingdom of Israel

February 23, 2021
A History of the Kingdom of Israel

The framework of this history of the Kingdom of Israel is basedon information provided by epigraphic sources. They show that thereligion and the ethnic identity of Israel connect traditions ofsemi-nomadic tribes of the Cisjordanian highland with conceptionsand practices of pastoralists living in Transjordan, Midian, Negeb,and Sinai. They are known as Shasu in Egyptian texts, which providethe earliest written sources. The book is divided in six chapters.The first one deals with the proto-history of Israel in the secondmillennium B.C., starting with the mention of the Joseph-El andSimeon tribes in the Egyptian Execration texts of the 19th-18thcenturies B.C. Jacob-El, Reuben, and Israel appear somewhat later,as well as the Shasu of the Yahwe-El area in Northern Sinai. Thefigure of Moses is related to this region and dates presumably fromthe second half of the 12th century B.C., when starts the period ofthe Judges. Graeco-Aegean Philistines settled in Canaan in the late12th century were a serious menace to the confederation ofIsraelite tribes whose elders decided ca. 980 B.C. to adopt a royalgovernment system. The first king was Saul, followed by his sonIshbaal. The unsettled period of David's and Solomon's reigns (ca.960-927 B.C.) still belongs to the transition period from tribalconfederacy to monarchy, continued by wars between Israel and Judahand by internal troubles. This is examined in chapter II. ChapterIII deals with the dynasty of Omri, which ruled from ca. 882 to 749B.C., a period documented also by Moabite, Neo-Assyrian, andAramaic inscriptions which show that Jehu belonged to an Omrideside-branch and that Jehoram and Ahaziah were killed by Aramaeansat the battle of Ramoth Gilead (841 B.C.), not by Jehu or his men.The rule of the Omrides was followed by a restless period and byAssyrian invasions ending with the annexation of the country to theAssyrian Empire and deportations of some of its elite, as presentedin chapter IV. Since monotheism goes to the hearth of Israeliteself-understanding, chapter V examines the religion of Israel,characterized by the cult of El, whose identity was specified bythe full name Yahwe-El. A certain continuity of the Israelitepolitical entity appears in the Persian period with Samariangovernors, often members of the Sanballat lineage, as proposed inchapter VI.