II. Ancient and Classical Periods, 3500 B.C.E.–500 C.E. > B. Kingdoms of Western Asia and Africa, to 323 B.C.E. > 5. Syria-Palestine, c. 3500–323 B.C.E. > e. Israel and Judah
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
e. Israel and Judah
c. 1300–1020
c. 1300–1200
THE CONQUEST OF CANAAN. The biblical tradition traces the tribes of Israel back to the time of the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), who came from Mesopotamia to Canaan, living there as seminomads. Some scholars place the patriarchs in the context of the Amorite invasions in the 19th and 18th centuries, others in the Aramean migrations of the 14th to 11th centuries. Another biblical tradition details the migration of the Israelites from serfdom in the eastern Delta of Egypt under Moses and Aaron. The relationship of these two traditions to each other, and to the archaeological record, is problematic, and the history of Israel obscure, until the Conquest of Canaan sometime in the 13th century. It is unclear if the Israelite conquest was a sudden invasion or a gradual infiltration. In any case, the Israelites adopted the local Canaanite language, and to some extent, religion and customs. The first dated attestation of the People of Israel in Canaan is the Merneptah Stele (c. 1220) (See 1224–1186).  2
c. 1200–1020
THE PERIOD OF THE JUDGES. The Book of Judges records a story of conflicts between the Israelites and the surrounding Canaanites, Midianites, and Ammonites, in which the Israelite tribes joined together under a judge (shophet), primarily a military position. In the course of the 11th century, the Philistines united under the king of Gath and began an aggressive campaign of conquest against Israel. These attacks culminated around 1050, when the central shrine of the Israelites at Shiloh was destroyed and the Ark of the Covenant taken as booty. Around 1020, the last of the judges, Samuel, was anointed Saul as king of Israel in order to better resist the Philistines.  3
c. 1020–930
c. 1020–1000
THE REIGN OF KING SAUL. Saul's kingship was limited, and his main title was not melech “king” but nagid “military commander.” Saul's authority was more charismatic than institutional, and the tribal elders and the prophets (nabi'im) sometimes opposed him. Saul was successful for a time in his wars against the Philistines but was defeated and killed by them at the Battle of Gilboa (c. 1000). Saul's son Ishbaal ruled for a short period but was then assassinated, perhaps at the instigation of the next king, David.  5
c. 1000–965
THE REIGN OF KING DAVID. A minor noble from the tribe of Judah, David fought in Saul's army but quarreled with the king and withdrew with his clan into the Judean desert. There he operated as a bandit-chief and eventually became a vassal of the Philistine king of Gath. After the death of Saul, he ruled Judah from Hebron for seven years, and when Ishbaal was assassinated, David was elected king of Israel by a tribal assembly. Conquering Jerusalem from the Jebusites, David made it both a religious center, transferring the Ark of the Covenant there, and the royal residence. A royal bureaucracy was developed. The cult of Yahweh was centralized and used to support the validity of his dynasty. David conquered the northern and Transjordanian tribes, incorporating them into Israel. The Philistines and the Aramean state of Zobah to the north were defeated and made vassals. He entered into a treaty with Hiram, king of Sidon and Tyre (969–936). The earliest Hebrew writings, including some Psalms and historical annals, possibly date to the reign of David.  6
c. 965–931
THE REIGN OF KING SOLOMON. After David's death, Solomon killed his rival half-brother Adonijah and took power. With Phoenician help, Solomon built a Temple to Yahweh, as well as a magnificent palace and a citadel, in Jerusalem. Solomon reorganized the administration and expanded the royal bureaucracy and the standing army. Diplomatic marriages were made with surrounding powers, including one to the daughter of Pharaoh Siamun of Egypt. In partnership with Hiram of Tyre, Solomon organized shipping for trade in the Mediterranean and on the Red Sea; with Cilicia and Egypt, he developed a cartel in horses and chariots; and he arranged with the Queen of Sheba (Saba) for trade in frankincense and myrrh from south Arabia (See c. 1000–420). The population of Solomon's kingdom was probably between 300,000 and 500,000. On Solomon's death, his son Rehoboam took the throne, but a revolt broke out under Jeroboam I who became king of the bulk of the country. Rehoboam retained only Jerusalem and Judah.  7
THE DYNASTY OF JEROBOAM. Jeroboam I (931–910) established Israel's political capital at Shechem and fought a five-year war with Judah, which ended only with the invasion of Pharaoh Sheshonq I (Shishak) in 926 (See 945–715). The Egyptians devastated much of Israel. Jeroboam's son Nadab (910–909) was assassinated by a general, Baasha.  9
THE DYNASTY OF BAASHA. Baasha (909–886) fought both with Judah and Damascus. Ben Hadad I of Damascus defeated Israel and annexed Bashan, north of the Yarmuk River (See 900–806). Apparently in response to this, Baasha moved the capital to Tirzah, whose site is not known. Baasha's son Elah (886–885) ruled only two years before he was assassinated by one of his generals. A three-year civil war broke out in which another general, Omri, was finally successful.  10
THE DYNASTY OF OMRI. Omri (885–874) established a new capital at Samaria, which he fortified, and married his son Ahab to Jezebel, daughter of King Ittobaal of Tyre. Omri attacked and subdued Moab in the Transjordan and also fought against the Judeans, but without much success. Ahab (874–853) made peace with Judah, marrying his daughter Athaliah to Jehoram, son of Jehoshaphat. In the Battle of Qarqar in 853, Ahab, along with the kings of Damascus and Hamath, temporarily stopped the Assyrians (See 858–824). The coalition did not last, and Ahab lost his life fighting against Damascus. Jezebel attempted to suppress the worship of Yahweh, in favor of Baal, but was boldly resisted by the prophet Elijah the Tishbite. On Ahab's death he was succeeded by his two sons Ahaziah (853–852) and Jehoram (Joram, 852–841).  11
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.