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When Israel Became "Israel" and "Judah"
by Wayne Blank
Israel Becomes "Israel" and "Judah"
"Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had come to Shechem to make him king. And when Jeroboam the son of Nebat heard of it (for he was still in Egypt, whither he had fled from King Solomon), then Jeroboam returned from Egypt. And they sent and called him; and Jeroboam and all the assembly of Israel came and said to Rehoboam, "Your father made our yoke heavy. Now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke upon us, and we will serve you."
The Division A Punishment For Solomon's Apostasy
Although the division of the Israelites was accomplished by means of the foolishness of Rehoboam, it was actually decreed by God beforehand for a purpose:
"And at that time, when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite found him on the road. Now Ahijah had clad himself with a new garment; and the two of them were alone in the open country. Then Ahijah laid hold of the new garment that was on him, and tore it into twelve pieces. And he said to Jeroboam, "Take for yourself ten pieces; for thus says The Lord, the God of Israel, 'Behold, I am about to tear the kingdom from the hand of Solomon, and will give you ten tribes, but he shall have one tribe, for the sake of My servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, because he has forsaken Me, and worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of Moab, and Milcom the god of the Ammonites, and has not walked in My ways, doing what is right in My sight and keeping My statutes and My ordinances, as David his father did. Nevertheless I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand; but I will make him ruler all the days of his life, for the sake of David My servant whom I chose, who kept My commandments and My statutes; but I will take the kingdom out of his son's hand, and will give it to you, ten tribes." (1 Kings 11:29-35 RSV)
The United Kingdom of Israel lasted through the reigns of Saul, David and Solomon. After Solomon died, the kingdom split into two, the ten tribes (Reuben, Simeon, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh) and Benjamin) of "Israel" with their capital up in Samaria, and the tribes of Benjamin and Judah forming the kingdom of "Judah" with their capital at Jerusalem.
The northern kingdom of Israel lasted a little over 200 years before it was gradually conquered by the Assyrians (see Ancient Empires - Assyria), and by 721 B.C. they had practically all been taken into exile to Assyria (2 Kings 17:1-23). The vast majority of them never returned, and have become known as the "Lost Ten Tribes of Israel."
Then, about 135 years later, in 586 B.C., the southern kingdom of Judah was conquered by the Babylonians (see Why Babylon?), and the Jews were taken into captivity to Babylon. The original Temple of God in Jerusalem was destroyed at that time (see Temples and Temple Mount Treasures). The people of the southern kingdom of Judah however did return after the Babylonians fell to the Persians (see Ancient Empires - Persia), and their descendants have become the Jewish people of today.
Fact Finder: How many royal dynasties of Israel and Judah were there?