Israelites rule the Land:
After the death of Moses, Joshua led the Israelites into the land of Canaan and conquered it, which became the land of Israel. Joshua played an essential and significant role in the Israelites’ quest for the Promised Land, as mentioned in the Book of Joshua in the Hebrew Bible.
Moses, who led the Israelites out of Egypt and into the wilderness for 40 years, died before they reached the Promised Land. Joshua became the new leader of the Israelites and led them into Canaan. Under his leadership, the Israelites conquered the land promised to their ancestors.
The early Israelites:
From the Judges’ time until the united monarchy’s formation, the early Israelites combined tribal and royal elements in their country’s governance. However, many people question the accuracy of these historical accounts, but there are historical and religious indications of how the early Israelites governed their nation.
The Jacob had 12 sons, and from these 12, Israelites were organized into twelve tribes, each descended from one of the sons of Jacob (Israel). These tribes formed the basis of their religious, social, and political structure.
Particularly in the book of Genesis 35:22-26, you can find the biblical reference:
“22 While Israel lived in that land, Reuben went and lay with Bilhah, his father’s concubine. And Israel heard of it.Now, the sons of Jacob were twelve. 23 The sons of Leah: Reuben (Jacob’s firstborn), Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun. 24 The sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin. 25 The sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s servant: Dan and Naphtali. 26 The sons of Zilpah, Leah’s servant: Gad and Asher. These were the sons of Jacob who were born to him in Paddan-Aram.”
The period of the judges, from the 12th to the 11th century BC, saw local leaders, known as judges, offering leadership and judgment. These judges were charismatic figures chosen to lead in crisis, not hereditary rulers but military and spiritual leaders.
The description of the period of the judges, where local leaders provided leadership and judgment, is found in the biblical Book of Judges. The book of Judges accounts for this time in Israel’s history. The specific reference to the judges is prevalent throughout the book.
Early Israelites operated under a theocratic system, in which religious and spiritual authority was closely tied to political power. Leaders were expected to follow the guidance of God, who was considered the ultimate ruler of Israel.
Decision-making often involved gatherings of tribal assemblies where important matters were discussed and resolved. These assemblies played a role in electing leaders and making communal decisions. These gatherings were often based on tribal or communal structures. The Book of Numbers and the Book of Exodus, among others, contain references to such gatherings.
Biblical reference can be found in the Book of Numbers 1:16, it is mentioned:
“These were the ones chosen from the congregation, the leaders of their ancestral tribes, the heads of the divisions of Israel.”
Prophets and Priestly Class:
Prophets and priests held significant influence in Israelite society. Prophets conveyed messages from God, and priests conducted religious rituals and sacrifices. Only they were allowed in the tabernacle, where the ark of the covenant was placed.
The Bible contains numerous references to prophets and their messages from God. Some of the major prophets mentioned in the Bible include Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Elijah, and Elisha, in addition to the twelve Minor Prophets.
Detailed descriptions of the priestly roles, Sacrament, and regulations can be found primarily in Leviticus and Numbers (Books in the Old Testament). For example, Leviticus 8-10 mentioned the consecration of Aaron and his sons as priests.
Warfare and Defense:
During this period, the Israelites frequently fought with neighboring peoples. Military leaders emerged in times of war to lead the tribes. The Book of Jud describes the biblical reference regarding warfare and defense during the period of the Israelite judges. The Book of Judges contains accounts of military conflicts, battles, and the emergence of military leaders to lead the tribes during this period. The book describes memorable battles and events, highlighting the Israelites’ struggles and victories against their neighbors.
Judges 3:10: “The Spirit of the Lord came on him, so that he became Israel’s judge and went to war. The Lord gave Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram into the hands of Othniel, who overpowered him.”
Judges 4:4-10: This passage introduces the military leader Deborah and describes the battle against Sisera, the commander of King Jabin’s army.
Judges 6:11-14: Here, an angel appears to Gideon and calls him to lead the Israelites in battle against the Midianites.
Judges 11:32-33: This passage recounts Jephthah’s leadership and the battles against the Ammonites.
Judges 15:14-15: It describes Samson’s use of a donkey’s jawbone to fight against the Philistines.
There are numerous accounts in the Book of Judges and military leaders who played a critical role in the defense and warfare of the Israelites during this period.
Transition to Monarchy:
Before establishing a monarchy, Israel was a loose confederation of twelve tribes. Judges led the Israelites; God chose to lead in times of crisis. The book of Judges in the Bible details this period as cycles of sin, oppression, repentance, and deliverance.
During this time, the Israelites desired a king like other nations who could provide more centralized and stable leadership. In 1 Samuel Chapter 8, the people of Israel requested a king, believing it would unify the tribes and lead them in battle.
Saul’s Anointing and Reign :
When the Israelites demanded a king, God instructed the prophet Samuel to anoint Saul, who belonged to the tribe of Benjamin, as the first king of Israel. Saul was chosen primarily for his impressive physical stature and leadership qualities. He ruled as the first king of Israel around 1020 BC.
During Saul’s reign, Israel’s enemies were defeated in battle. As a result, he faced several challenges, including conflicts with the Philistines and struggles to maintain the favor of God. Also, during Saul’s reign, he had disputes with the prophet Samuel, which ultimately led to his downfall.
David’s Anointing and Reign:
However, when Saul lost his way, God instructed Samuel to anoint David, a shepherd and musician, as the future king of Israel. David was fearless, faithful, and famous for defeating the Goliath with a sling and a stone. This famous event is mentioned in the 1Samuel Chapter 17. David’s anointing symbolized a transition to a new, Godly dynasty.
David became king following the death of Saul. He established Jerusalem as the capital and brought the Ark of the Covenant to the city due to his military prowess. Israel’s history is often described as a “golden age” during his reign.
Christians, Jews, and Muslims all agree that God divinely inspired the book of Psalms to King David.
Historical Evidence of the Reign of the House of David:
Many people worldwide do not believe that the present land of Israel is the Promised Land of the Children of Israel (Jacob’s children). A false narrative has been spread across countries, claiming this land belongs to the Palestinians. However, no historical evidence supports the idea that Palestinian rulers governed this land from Jerusalem or the present-day West Bank.
We all agree that David desired to build a house for God, but he was not allowed. God told him that his son Solomon would build the house for Him.
Furthermore, we will find limitless historical evidence to substantiate the existence of Israel and David’s kingdom. Here, we will add only very important evidence.
The Tel Dan Stele,
The Tel Dan Stele, also known as the House of David (Written) inscription, is an ancient stone slab discovered at Tel Dan in northern Israel. It is an important archaeological find because it contains an inscription that refers to the “House of David,” providing evidence of the existence of the David dynasty in ancient Israel. The stele is written in Aramaic and dates back to the 9th century BC.
The writing commemorates the victory of a king from the Aramean kingdom of Damascus over two Israelite kings and their allies. It mentions the “House of David,” which refers to the dynasty of King David. This writing is one of the essential pieces of archaeological evidence outside the Bible that references King David and his dynasty.
David was succeeded by his son Solomon, who continued to expand and consolidate the kingdom of Israel. When God asked him what he wanted, Solomon requested wisdom. He is renowned for his wisdom and wealth; during his reign, Israel was proposers and became one of the Strongest kingdoms in the region. Even build the relationship in Africa as well with the then India. He constructed the First Temple in Jerusalem, known as the Temple Mount, during his reign.
Divided Kingdom of Israel:
After the death of King Solomon, his son Rehoboam was thrown away from the kingdom of Israel. However, the ten northern tribes of Israel rebelled against the rule of Solomon’s son, leading to the division of the kingdom into the northern Kingdom of Israel and the southern Kingdom of Judah. This division took place around 930 BC.
Historical Evidence and Kings of Divided Israel:
In the United Kingdom of Israel, the kings were King Saul, King David, and King Solomon. After that, it was divided into two kingdoms: the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah.
Kings of Sothern Kingdom of Judah:
After the division of the united monarchy of Israel, the kings of Judea, also known as the kings of Judah, ruled over the southern kingdom of Judah. Here is a list of the kings of Judah.
- Rehoboam: He was the first king of Judah after the division of the united monarchy. Rehoboam was a son of King Solomon.
- Abijah (Abijam): Abijah was the son of Rehoboam and the second king of Judah.
- Asa: Asa, another son of Rehoboam, succeeded Abijah and ruled Judah for a long and primarily peaceful period.
- Jehoshaphat: Jehoshaphat was the son of Asa and is known for his alliance with the northern kingdom of Israel.
- Jehoram (Joram): Jehoram was the son of Jehoshaphat and faced many challenges during his reign.
- Ahaziah: Ahaziah was the son of Jehoram and had a short and troubled reign.
- Athaliah: Athaliah was the only queen to rule Judah. She was the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel and seized power after the death of her son Ahaziah.
- Joash (Jehoash): Joash, the young son of Ahaziah, was hidden and raised in the temple. He became king after Athaliah’s reign was ended.
- Amaziah: Amaziah was the son of Joash and had a mixed record during his rule.
- Uzziah (Azariah): Uzziah, also known as Azariah, had a long and prosperous reign.
- Jotham: Jotham was Uzziah’s son and followed a relatively peaceful and righteous rule.
- Ahaz: Ahaz, the son of Jotham, had a challenging reign marked by conflicts with neighboring nations.
- Hezekiah: Hezekiah was one of the most notable kings of Judah, known for his religious reforms and role in withstanding the Assyrian siege of Jerusalem.
- Manasseh: Manasseh, the son of Hezekiah, initially had a very long and unrighteous reign but later repented.
- Amon: Amon succeeded Manasseh but had a short and troubled rule.
- Josiah: Josiah, one of the last kings of Judah, is credited with significant religious reforms and the rediscovery of the Book of the Law in the Temple.
- Jehoahaz: Jehoahaz was a short-reigning king and the son of Josiah.
- Jehoiakim (Eliakim): Jehoiakim was another son of Josiah and ruled during a problematic period of Babylonian domination.
- Jehoiachin (Coniah): Jehoiachin, also known as Coniah, reigned briefly before being taken into Babylonian exile.
- Zedekiah: Zedekiah was the last king of Judah and ruled during the Babylonian exile. His reign ended with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.
These kings played vital roles in the history of the Kingdom of Judah, and their reigns are documented in the books of Kings and Chronicles in the Old Testament.
Kings of Northern Kingdom of Israel:
The northern Kingdom of Israel had a different set of kings than the southern Kingdom of Judah. Here are the kings of the northern Kingdom of Israel:
- Jeroboam I: Jeroboam became the first king of the northern Kingdom of Israel after the division. He ruled for 22 years.
- Nadab: Nadab succeeded Jeroboam I but had a short and troubled reign.
- Baasha: Baasha overthrew Nadab and became king. He ruled for 24 years.
- Elah: Elah, the son of Baasha, succeeded his father but ruled for a very short time.
- Zimri: Zimri assassinated Elah and took the throne but ruled for only seven days.
- Omri: After Zimri’s brief rule, Omri became king and established a new dynasty. He was a powerful and influential king.
- Ahab: Ahab succeeded his father, Omri, and was known for his conflicts with the prophet Elijah and his marriage to Jezebel.
- Ahaziah: Ahaziah was Ahab’s son and had a brief reign.
- Jehoram (Joram): Jehoram succeeded Ahaziah and faced challenges, including wars with the Moabites.
- Jehu: Jehu led a revolt against the House of Omri and became king after a violent coup.
- Jehoahaz: Jehoahaz, the son of Jehu, had a short reign marked by conflict with the Assyrians.
- Jehoash (Joash): Jehoash, the son of Jehoahaz, had a relatively long reign and sought to repair the Temple.
- Jeroboam II: Jeroboam II, who was not directly descended from Jehu, had a prosperous reign and extended Israel’s territory.
- Zechariah: Zechariah became king but ruled for only six months.
- Shallum: Shallum assassinated Zechariah and ruled for only a month.
- Menahem: Menahem took the throne after killing Shallum and ruled for ten years.
- Pekahiah: Pekahiah, the son of Menahem, had a brief and troubled rule.
- Pekah: Pekah assassinated Pekahiah and became king. He faced the Assyrian threat.
- Hoshea: Hoshea was the last king of the northern Kingdom of Israel. His reign ended with the fall of Samaria and the Assyrian exile.
Frequent changes in leadership, instability, and conflicts marked the northern Kingdom of Israel’s history. It eventually fell to the Assyrians in 722 BC, leading to the exile of the ten northern tribes.
Historical Evidence that Proves the Existence of the Israelite Kingdoms:
Numerous pieces of historical evidence prove the Ancient Israelite’s connection to this land. There are countless archaeological findings as well as historical texts or records that demonstrate the claim of Jews over this land.
1- Archaeological Discoveries:
- Tel Megiddo: The archaeological site of Megiddo (Armageddon) in modern-day Israel has revealed numerous layers of ancient settlements, including those dating to the Israelite kingdom.
- City of David: Excavations in the area known as the City of David in Jerusalem have uncovered structures, inscriptions, and artifacts from the time of King David and Solomon, including fortifications and water systems.
- Tel Hazor: Hazor, a prominent biblical city, was extensively excavated and yielded evidence of large-scale destruction and reconstruction, aligning with biblical accounts of warfare during the Israelite period.
- Tel Dan Inscription: The Tel Dan Stele, discovered in northern Israel, contains an Aramaic inscription that mentions the “House of David,” providing external evidence for the Davidic dynasty.
2. Biblical Texts:
The Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) contains numerous historical accounts of the Israelite kingdom, including the stories of King David, King Solomon, and the various kings of Israel and Judah.
While the Bible is religious and literary, many scholars consider it a valuable historical source when used alongside archaeological findings and other external evidence.
3- Ancient Inscriptions and Documents:
Extra-biblical inscriptions, such as the Mesha Stele, the Tel Dan Stele, and the Kurkh Monolith, mention the names of Israelite kings and provide insights into regional conflicts and interactions during the period.
4. Ancient Trade and Diplomacy:
Evidence of trade relationships and diplomatic correspondences between Israel and neighboring kingdoms has been found in archaeological records and inscriptions.
5. Comparative History:
Comparative studies with the histories of neighboring civilizations and kingdoms, such as Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon, help corroborate and contextualize the historical accounts of the Israelite kingdom.
These details and pieces of evidence further clarify that this land belongs to the Israelites, the descendants of Jacob, who were given this land due to the covenant God made with Abraham. Therefore, the claim made by other nations that Israel was born 75 years ago is unfounded. Israel has a history of over 3,000 years, and no one has the right to expel Jews from their homeland.
In the next part, we will explore the invasion and destruction of the Kingdom of Israel by other invaders and conquerors.
The story continues in Part 3 – stay with us!