Beck_HistoryOfIslrael

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Unformatted text preview: WARNING CONCERNING COPYRIGHT RESTRICTIONS: The copyright _‘ law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of ‘ photocopies or other reproduction of copyrighted material. ' ' Under. certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized'to furnish a photocopy‘or other reproduction.- One of these - specified conditions iii-\that thephotocopy or reproduction is not to be used for any purpose other than. privatestndy, scholarship, or research. If- electronic transmission of reserve material is us‘ed'for'purposes'in excess of 'what constitutes “fairnse’h that user mayibe liable for copyright infringement. THE HISTORY OF ISRAEL Part I. From the Beginnings to the Exile HARRELL F. BECK The biblical documents, our primary sources for the history of Israel, are interpretations of historical events by members ofa community of faith. In these biblical accounts history and faith are intimately re- lated. The nature of Israel’s history is grasped in the CT in terms of the nature and purposes of Israel’s God. He is a covenant God and the CT is a covenant history, the record of a God who creates, re- veals, sustains, judges, and redeems. Uninterpreted event—even without faith—is largely meaningless; faith unrelated to event is neither relevant nor per- suasive. Israel’s great leaders and teachers remind us of this intimate bond between faith and history. In the acute, crucial moments of history where they are personally involved these biblical personalities dis- cern the word of God and find the ability to pro- claim, “Thus says the LORD.” It is their faith that distinguishes these leaders, and insofar as we have their biographies, it is only to demonstrate how they received and attested their beliefin God. Faith and history, event and interpretation, these do not result in a hodgepodge of narratives and proclamations. The OT reflects Israel’s belief that God is at work in the life of his chosen people. The God who created at the beginning sustain: his people now in order that they may, in the fullness of time, be redeemtd. The freedom and joy which character- ized life in the garden called Eden will be recovered in the garden called Paradise. The domain of har- mony and prosperity memorialized in the myths of Gen. 1; 2 will be recreated in the prosperity and peace of the kingdom of God which is to be. God is the beginning and the end, Alpha and Omega. Biblical thinking, then, moves from beginning to end in terms of the old covenant and the new, the old creation and the new heaven and the new earth, the promises made to Abraham (Gen. 12:1-4) and those promises fulfilled. The essential character both of rabbinic Judaism and of Christianity is fixed in this linear view of history. Differ as they do in many essentials, each regards itself as a continuation and fulfillment of the covenant history portrayed in the OT. Interpreters of the biblical text are obliged to seek not only its original and intended meaning but also its place in this overarching biblical perspective and its subse- quent use in biblical thought and the life of the be- lieving community. I. THE PATRIARCHAL AGE The history of Israel properly begins with the saga of the patriarchs (Gen. 12—50), from whom traditionally the 12 tribes of Israel were descended. In the OT these patriarchal stories are preceded by a series of creation and origination traditions (Gen. 1—1 1), which span the period from Creation to the patriarchs, providing genealogies from Adam to Abraham. However valuable they may be in the study of biblical thought, it is evident that these early traditions are not materials that provide assistance to the scientific historian as he compiles the history of Israel. Regarding the patriarchal traditions, themselves, however, scholars differ widely in appraising their historical value. Some have held that they provide us. not with historical knowledge of the patriarchs and their times, but with opinions about them held cents. later when the stories were put together and written down. Others admit the antiquity of the traditions but see the patriarchs as personifications of tribes and the stories about them as reflecting tribal relationships rather than individual experiences, with such mixture of mythical and legendary ele~ ments that the underlying historical events cannot be distinguished. In recent years, however, there has been increas- ing reluctance to regard the difficulties as grounds for denying at least some reliable historical value in the patriarchal traditions. Even if we allow that many of the stories were tribal experiences originally -—and certainly not all were—they still have his- torical value. Archaeology has shown that some of the customs attributed to the patriarchs belong to the times and places in which the stories are set but not to the later times in which they were written down. It is fair to assume that traditions which have pre- served customs accurately have also transmitted much of the essential content of the narratives. With reasonable confidence, therefore, we may view at least Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph as historical individuals, even though we must recog- nize their family relationship as probably a con- struction of those who gathered the traditions for the purpose of fostering national unity. To be remem- bered so long, each of them must have been an out- standing leader of his day among the nomadic an- cestors of Israel, and it seems likely that each was a 1018 .47” “4‘ .z-: «Ag 1. .. .ta . ‘ . y. .171 6., a» w religious leader. We cannot dismiss the recurring references of the Mosaic and later ages to the God of Abraham, of Isaac. and of Jacob. Though there is no secure basis for determining the nature of their faith. its existence and lasting influence are evident not only from such references but also from the shrines at various places in Palestine which were ' remembered as founded by one or another of the patriarchs. In the traditions of the patriarchs’ geographical movements we may understand the migrations not merely of their own households but probably of sizable bodies of nomads who followed their leader— ship. Thus in the tradition of Abraham’s coming to Canaan (Gen. ll:26—l2:9_) we may trace the origins of a group of Israel’s ancestors to Babylonia. This is supported to some extent by the similarities of early OT stories to Babylonian myths of Creation and the Flood—though the religious views of the Babylonian and biblical stories differ significantly. According to the tradition Abraham’s father, Terah, lived in or near Ur, a Babylonian city (see color map 2), from which he and Abraham set out for Canaan. They settled first in the NW Mesopotamian city of Haran. and there Terah died. Later Abraham and Lot. his nephew. moved on to Canaan. That the connections of Israel’s ancestors with NW Mesopotamian culture remained strong is shown by the traditions that the wives of both Isaac and Jacob came from Haran. The Joseph tradition indicates that later. in a time of drought and famine in Palestine. some of Israel’s ancestors migrated to Egypt and settled in the E Delta region. Israelite historians assumed that all their 12 tribes were descended from the sons of Jacob who went to Egypt at this time and that all later came out together, but there are various clues in the traditions to suggest that most of the tribes either re- mained in Canaan throughout the Egyptian sojourn of the Joseph tribes or else entered the land for the first time during this period. Thus it is likely that the traditions of the patriarchs associated with specific shrines in Palestine were preserved through the cens. by an unbroken succeSsion of worshipers at these places. 11. THE Exonus “Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph" (Exod. 1:8). In this sentence we pass from the era of Joseph’s leadership and his people’s prosperity in Egypt into a period of slavery under an oppressive pharaoh. The chronology of the Exodus, like that of the patriarchs. is an extremely complicated matter. Bib- lical and extrabiblical evidence, while not in full agreement, seems to suggest a 13th-cent. date for the Israelite conquest of Canaan under Joshua. This is. supported by archaeological evidence of the destruc— tion of such Palestinian towns as Bethel, Debir, and Lachish during this time. The earliest mention of Israel outside the Bible is on a stele (victory tablet) of Pharaoh Mer-ne-ptah which dates from ca. 1220. In his hymn of triumph he lists the “people of Israel” among those whom he conquered during a military campaign in Palestine. Exod. 1:] 1 states that the Israelites in Egypt “built for Pharaoh store cities, Pithom and Raamses,” sites in the E Delta (see color map 4). The fact that Egyptian kings of HISTORY OF ISRAEL—PART I the 18th dynasty ruled from Thebes in Upper Egypt while rulers ofthe l9th dynasty (from l3 l0) built their capitals in the Delta is important. This move was undertaken as a part of their plan to reconquer their Palestinian empire and to protect the Delta from attack from Asia. Taken together, these evi- dences seem to support the view that the Exodus occurred early in the l3th cent. and that Ramses II (1290-1224) was the pharaoh of the Exodus (see also Intro. to Exod.). The migration of Asiatics and bedouins acres the peninsula of Sinai and into Egypt. esp. in periods of A drought, is mentioned frequently in Egyptian sources. It would appear that the Israelites were a part of this nomadic population of the Delta. Apparently at most times relations between these nomads and the Egyptian officials were cordial. The Joseph storim, which are regarded by many as historically sub- stantial. record a time when one of these Asiatics, a Hebrew. exercised considerable authority on behalf ofa pharaoh in governing Egypt. Such resident aliens became a ready source of forced labor for pharaohs of the l9th dynasty in building their new capital and the store cities and in carrying on military campaigns in SW Asia. The story of Moses in Egypt cannot be regarded as historically accurate in every detail. Some scholars view the narratives of Moses and the Exodus as a work of faith having little historical value. Yet it cannot be denied that our knowledge of the Near Eastern world in the l3th cent. provides a suitable context for the biblical narratives in which Moses is presented. In that context events of lasting religious significance unfolded. The exodus from Egypt was the moment of Israel’s birth as a people, and Moses dominates the exodus traditions. He is unique among his people, clearly the most important figure in the history of the Jews and the most frequently mentioned OT figure in the NT. The Bible is our only source of information for his life and work. The story of Moses’ birth (Exod. 231-10) is told in folkloristic themes common in the ancient Near East and designed to foretoken his achievements. An at- tempt is made in the record (Exod. 2:1) to associate Moses with the priestly tribe of Levi. The story sug- gests a connection between Moses and the Egyptian court and implies that he was educated in court circles. According to tradition Moses sought refuge in Midian after he killed an Egyptian taskmaster and had to flee from Egypt. There he found employment and a wife in the house ofa priest of Midian whom the traditions variously name Reuel, Jethro, or Hobab (Exod. 2:18; 3:1; Num. 10:29). Some scholars hold that this man played a decisive role in the re- ligious life and thought of Moses. It was while tending his father-in—law’s flock on Mt. Horeb (or Sinai), according to the tradition (Exod. 3—4), that Moses received his commission to return to Egypt and deliver Israel into freedom, to bring a people to God. God disclosed himselfto Moses in the symbols of the burning bush, the holy ground, and the new divine name Yahweh. Though fi'ightened at the prospect of carrying out a divine commission, Moses could not refuse. He returned to Egypt, declared to Hebrew and Egyptian alike the 1019 INTERPRETER’S ONE-VOLUME COMMENTARY commission which he had been given, and pro- ceeded to carry it out by securing from the pharaoh the release of his pe0ple. The actual exodus from Egypt is described as preceded by a cultic celebration in which the later Israelite rites of Passover, dedication of the firstbom, and the feast of Unleavened Bread are rooted. The drama of Moses’ leadership, begun in his confronta- tion with Yahweh and then with Pharaoh, now continues. He delivers his people at the sea crossing, orders their communal life in the wilderness, ordains a priesthood and cultic rites and procedures, and mediates the revealed law at Mt. Sinai. Through it all Moses makes it clear to his people that Yahweh is the Great Protagonist in this unfolding drama. It is he who offers to enter into covenant with his people. He has saved them, nurtured them, and tested them. He alone can deliver (Exod. 14:1-4); he alone claims the exclusive allegiance of his people. He chose to deliver them from bondage and to give them the gracious gift of the law. Now he wills to be the Lord of Israel’s life and calls for her obedience. It was to this divine will and power that Moses bore match- less and memorable witness among his people. In Moses and the Exodus the foundations of Israel’s faith were laid. Subsequent generations in the biblical tradition point to this Mosaic age and the Exodus as the time of Israel’s emergence as a peo- ple and of Yahwism as her way of life. In Israel’s legal tradition Moses is the celebrated lawgiver, in her prophetic tradition the greatest of the prophets (Deut. 34: 10), and in her cultic life the great mediator. Moses was not permitted to enter the promised land but he set that dream in his people’s heart and so disciplined and consolidated them as to make that divine promise a reality. III. THE SETTLEMENT IN CANAAN The Conquest. Joshua is portrayed in the OT as the principal figure in the invasion of Canaan dur- ing the 2nd half of the 13th cent. He appears first as an Israelite general (Exod. 17:8-15), as an as- sistant to Moses (Exod. 24: 13), and as one of those sent to spy in Canaan (Num. 114:6-10) before being commissioned by Moses to be his successor (Deut. 3117-29). Joshua’s role in the invasion of Canaan centered in his leadership of the Joseph tribes and others who had come up from Egypt. They secured a foothold in the central part of the country around Shechem (see color map 5). Following further campaigns into the N and S of Canaan, he settled in a town near Shiloh, where he died (Josh. 24:29; Judg. 2:8). Apparently Joshua’s reputation grew as Israel’s literary tradition expanded. At many points his re- lationship to Yahweh parallels that of Moses as does his authority among the people (cf. Josh. 3:7; 4:14). His figure as regal leader, judge, priest, and servant of Yahweh (Josh. 24:29) is endued with honor and authority in subsequent OT and intertestamental writings. In the book which bears his name Joshua is por- trayed as the leader of a united Israel, a commander given the task of conquering Canaan (chs. l—-l2) and dividing the land among the tribes (chs. 13—24). A number of the battle accounts were brought to- gether, perhaps by a 6th-cent. Judean theologian known as the Deuteronomist, and shaped into the narrative we have in Josh. 1—12. In the process the whole account was edited to show that it was Yah- weh himself who gave the victory, that the conquest was not Israel’s triumph but Yahweh’s, the result of his intention to give his people a land. In contrast Judg. l, a fragment ofa more objective account, credits the incomplete conquest to tribal groups-— the total conquest eventually to be completed by David. This account is nearer the truth, for there is strong reason to believe that the actual appropria- tion of the territory took place over a period of sev- eral cents. While Joshua led the Joseph tribes in establishing a stronghold in the central highland, S tribes, who sensed a kinship with the Joseph tribes even though they had not gone into Egypt, pressed N. Tradition says that Transjordan was conquered by Israel dur- ing the lifetime of Moses. The Joseph tribes carried the battle from their stronghold in the hill country of Ephraim toward the coast, where later there were to be military encounters with the Greek migrants whom we know as the Philistines. The hill country remained the bastion of Israelite rule for centuries and the center of her major shrines. Certain prized territories, the great fortress cities of the plain of Esdraelon as well as its fertile lands, were not to be wrested from Canaanite hands until the reign of David. The occupation of Canaan brought both blessings and problems to Israel. Apparently the covenant proclaimed by Moses prospered in these cents. and fostered a stronger sense of kinship and unity than ever the idea of a common ancestry had. A sig- nificant number ofleaders and people in Israel af- firmed the belief that they had been called to serve one God and to become one people in covenant with him. But strife and disunity also characterized rela- tions among several of the tribes. In this incomplete conquest the Israelites also found themselves living among the highly civilized Canaanites, whose re— ligion and culture many of the Israelites found im- mensely attractive. The Age of the Judges. The settlement of Israel in Canaan did not mean that a national state had been established. Rather, between the entry into Palestine (late 13th cent.) and the unification of the people under one ruler (ca. 1033) Israel seems to have lived in tribal units which came together primarily for mutual defense in times of crisis. The leaders of these often isolated groups are known as “judges,” though it is not certain that this title was used dur- ing their own lifetimes (see Intro. to Judg.). They were men who felt themselves called by Yahweh to assume leadership of his people. In times of crisis they gathered the men of their own and neighbor- ing tribes around them and led such troops against the invading forces. Thereafter some of them, at least, continued their leadership as administrators and judges. In Judg. we have biographies of several of these judges—though surely by no means all of them. This document is uniquely important for the study or political, social, and religious conditions in the period 1020 'AWV ‘4 J. asimifimk ,. \ ._.,_...;;-:xi;»‘_.4—..vs.nude“ g“ H I. a!“ 1.. wfiq‘:»f; 3‘3,“ c "5r 4..., a; .2 _"jmmediately following the settlement. There was little 3cohesion among the Israelite tribes except when ,they were threatened by external enemies. At such f'fimes appeals for unity were almost always sent worth in the name of Yahweh. Some scholars be- Ilieve that the Israel tribes—or more probably clusters ’j‘of them—formed an amphictyony, i.e. an association a,“ neighboring communities for the purpose of pro- tecting a common religious center, and that they bound themselves by a religious pledge which was confirmed at the amphictyonic shrine at the center of such a confederation. Several such shrines are mentioned in Judg. The leaders whom we confront in this book are presented by the Deuteronomist editor in the frame- ;ty. work of a distinctive, if somewhat artificial, philoso- phy of history, which he describes in his preface to the stories (Judg. 2:6—3:6): (0) Israel forgot the de- 32, mands of Yahweh; (b) as a consequence she was oppressed by foreign troops; (6) under such oppres- sion she repented and cried out to Yahweh for help; (4’) then Yahweh raised up a leader who judged the people, put down the oppressor, and restored peace and prosperity. On the death of the judge Israel again forgot her God and began to serve the Baals and the cycle was under way again. With one exception the enemies recorded in Judg. were invaders who came from outside the borders of Canaan. That exception was the Canaanite con- federation under Sisem, whose defeat by Deborah and Barak is celebrated in Judg. 4—5. Among the external enemies were Moab (Ehud, 3: 1 2-30), Midianite raiders from E of the Jordan (Gideon, chs. 6—8), Ammon (jephthah, ch. 1 l), and the Philistines, Greek migrants moving into the E Mediterranean, who carved out a home on the coastal plain of Pal- estine beginning ca. 1200. Israelite resistance to these invaders in the age of the judges is epitomized in the Samson stories (chs. 13-16). The age ends with Philistine dominance in W Palestine. The military and political threat that these skillful and cultured people posed against the increasingly unified tribes of Israel made a strong central government impera- tive. IV. THE. RISE. or THE MONARCHY Philistine domination of the hill country of Ephraim, the central highland of Palestine, led to the establishment of the monarchy in Israel. The cen- tral highland had been the stronghold of Israelite settlement and more- than any other region had suc- ceeded in resisting absorption into Canaanite cul- tural and religious practices. But in the time of the priest Eli the Philistine forces defeated the Israelite army in the battle of Aphek, captured the ark, which had been carried into battle from the shrine at Shiloh, and destroyed the shrine itself. Saul. The need for a-strong central military force was apparent. And with the need came the warrior in the person of Saul the Benjaminite. Saul’s rise to preeminence as Israel’s first king (ca. 1033-1011) reflects not only his prowess as a military com- mander but also his charismatic religious leadership; he was summoned to his task through the phe- nomenon of prophetic inspiration. The leader most directly involved in the anointing of Saul as king HISTORY OF ISRAEL—PART I was Samuel. Two accounts of the rise of the mon- archy are combined in the biblical record, but both . make it clear that Samuel—seer, prophet, priest, and judge—anointed Saul in the name of Yahweh to lead Israel against the Philistine forces (I Sam. 9:1- 10: 16). , Saul’s military leadership was established in his initial successes against the Ammonites, who threatened Jabesh-gilead in Transjordan (I Sam. 11:1-11; see color map 6). In due course he led a major Israelite uprising against the Philistines (I Sam. 1421-46), driving them out of the highland. Thus he established his authority over the highland and Transjordan, though his armies never secured the coastal regions or the plain of Esdraelon. For a number of years he repulsed Philistine attempts to attack the hill country from the W. Finally the Philistines undertook to approach that region from the N, and in the tragic battle of Gilboa they suc- ceeded in killing Saul and several of his sons and in reasserting their control over the territory W of the Jordan (I Sam. 3121-7). Saul’s treatment of David, his insanity, and his tragic death should not be allowed to obscure our appreciation for the purity of his political motives or his significant role in the unification of the tribes of Israel. David. Among Saul’s warriors was David the Beth- lehemite, about whom we have more biographical details than about any other OT personality. His military successes as one of Saul’s commanders aroused thejealousy of the king, and David was obliged to leave the country. He entered the service of the Philistine king of Gath and from that vantage point gained considerable popularity in the S and also gathered around himself an army of refugees from Israel (I Sam. 27). At the death of Saul his youthful son Ishbaal (called Ish-bosheth in II Sam.; see comment on 2:8-1 1) succeeded to the throne, making his head- quarters in Transjordan, where his father’s authority had also been most secure. There is no evidence that Ishbaal exercised any significant influence W of the Jordan, where the Philistines had reasserted their dominance. David established his authority in Judah, where he was soon proclaimed king (ca. 1010). War between his forces and those of Ishbaal became inevitable. Through a series of events, in- volving some intrigue, Saul’s son was murdered, and David was declared king of all Israel (ca. 1003- 971/70). The Philistines, who to this point had been content to observe Israelite fighting Israelite, were now themselves faced with the strong military and political leadership of David and an increasingly unified Israelite people. David’s first military stroke, however, was not against Philistine power but against an ancient Canaanite fortress that had held out between N and S Israelite territory, viz. the Jebusite city of Jerusalem. This stronghold he captured with char- acteristic aggressiveness (II Sam. 526-8) and made it his new capital. From jerusalem David directed a series of accomplishments which led later generations to, regard his reign as the golden age of Israel’s history and the pattern for Israel’s later dreams of a messianic order. Early in his reign David reasserted Israelite con- 1021 INTERPRETER’S ONE-VOLUME COMMENTARY tml over the central highland, took the plain of Esdraelon, and established Israelite authority far to the N between the Lebanon ranges. Except for the Philistine city-states in the SW, the land W of the Jordan was united for the first time under a strong Israelite ruler. With the aid of Joab, his longtime military com— mander, David then proceeded to conquer the na- tions surrounding Israel in order that they might serve as bufl'er states for the protection of her borders. The defeat of Edom, Moab, Ammon and the Aramean tribes to the N, coupled with the de~ Cline of the Philistine power and the promulgation ofa treaty of friendship with Phoenicia, served to strengthen Israel’s security in an unusual interlude when the E Mediterranean region was free from domination by imperial powers. David’s external military consolidation was matched by skillful internal administration. He brought the ark of Yahweh to jerusalem thus pro- claiming the religion of Yahweh as the foundation of national unity and strength. He also took financial advantage of the fact that the great trade routes of the Near East ran through his territory, no doubt gaining profits for the crown by provisioning and protecting caravans. David’s skill as an organizer was reflected in the internal political organization of Israel, in the expert use ofa militia drawn from among the Israelite people primarily for use in for- eign wars, and in the establishment ofa royal body- guard made up largely of foreign soldiers. Notwithstanding these successes David's reign was not entirely peaceful. Two revolts against his rule are mentioned in the biblical record, one led by his son Absalom, who was supported by dis~ sidents from David’s own tribe ofjudah, and the other emanating from the tribe of Benjamin, of which Saul had been a member. The burdens of foreign wars and ofa permanent military establish- ment, as well as the forced labor which David re- quired of his subjects, undoubtedly aroused resent- ment. In the final years of his reign the court of David would seem to have taken on many of the characteristics commonly associated with ancimt oriental potentates. Nevertheless David’s faults should not blind us to his greatness. We have reason to share the views of David’s objective and impartial biographer—the author ofII Sam. 9—20; I Kings 1—2, a historical masterpiece of the OT—who por- trayed him as a man of heroic chivalry, a champion ofjustice, and a devout servant of Yahweh. Solomon. David’s son Solomon (971/70-931/30) acceded to the throne ofIsrael long after the last of the foreign wars of his father, yet his reign was not a time of genuine peace in Israel. He came to the throne as the result ofa palace revolution and at his death the kingdom fell into division. Born to the purple, Solomon seems to have been unmindful ofthe circumstances and problems faced by the majority of his subjects. David’s oldest surviving son, Adonijah, expected to succeed his father and was supported in his claim by joab, David’s commander, and Abiathar the priest. But Nathan the prophet and Solomon’s mother, Bathsheba, conspired in David’s last days to see that Solomon was proclaimed king by his father. As king, Solomon proved selfish, unbelievably pretentious, and inconsiderate of the personal values prized by his subjects, to say nothing of their well- being. His reputation for wisdom seems to have resulted from the resplendence of his court, his cleverness as ajudge, and a certain verbal or literary skill (cf. I King 3~4). Solomon’s reign was characterized by extensive building projects, for which he levied burdensome taxes and required forced labor both fi‘om his own people and from foreign subjects. At one time, it appears, every Israelite peasant was required to give a 3rd of each year to the crown. Disregarding tribal boundaries, he divided the kingdom into 12 admin- istrative districts, each of which was charged with the responsibility of maintaining the court fora month each year. The most famous of his projects was the building of the temple, as the royal shrine, in which the ark of Yahweh was housed (I Kings 6—8). For this building, as well as the royal palace and other shrines, he imported workmen and the best of costly materials, esp. from Phoenicia. He established chariot depots around the country as well as stables for horses, which were imported from Egypt and perhaps other lands. Solomon outfitted a fleet of vessels which sailed from Ezion-geber on the Gulf of Aqaba through the Red Sea, probably as far as India, carrying on trade and bringing great profits to the monarch (see color map 7). Modern archaeology has brought to light copper mines near Ezion-geber which were worked during this reign. Heavy tolls continued to be levied on the caravans which passed through Israel’s territory. Despite extensive sources of income, and even though Solomon carried on no costly foreign wars during his reign, the royal treasury was often de- pleted and the king could not pay his bills. At one point he ceded a part of his territory to the king of Tyre, Hiram, in order to raise funds (I Kings 9:10- 14). In such circumstances Solomon’s recourse was to increase taxes and to levy even greater demands for forced and unpaid labor against his people. Though his troops were splendidly equipped with chariots and horses, Solomon showed no interest in military activity even when it would seem to have yum... “ax-alt :-1ztu‘;.aiu-.-mbr.wnwait-admiwnazfififl : I i. .. been called for —a fact which has led some com-g . men tators to charge Solomon with cowardice. When Edom revolted against Israelite dominion and the Arameans established an independent state in Da- mascus, Solomon apparently did nothing to hold them. Alliances with Tyre and Egypt involved the king’s marriage to foreign princesses; easy access was thereby provided for foreign cultural and reli- gious influences to come into Jerusalem. It was to these acts of disloyalty to Yahweh that later his- torians credited the division of the kingdom after the death of Solomon (I Kings 11). V. THE DIVIDED KINGDOM The Division. Given the popular dissension and resentment of the last years of Solomon’s reign, it is surprising that he did not have to face widespread rebellion by his subjects. If they did initiate any significant insurrection during his reign, record ofit ; has been omitted from the accounts. We have evi- 1022 My“... . .g .. - .h'. E-dence, as already noted, that the neighboring states {which David had brought under Israelite control be- -'gan to reassert their independence. In addition we 3, also have the record that the prophet Ahijah (I Kings " 11:29-40), who was critical of Solomon’s extrava- gance and his patronage of foreign gods, encour- aged Jeroboam, an officer in charge of the king’s breed labor program, to lead the 10 tribes of the N in revolt. When the matter was reported to Solo- mon, Jeroboam fled to Egypt, where he remained it until Solomon’s death (I Kings 1221-20). Ahijah’s : it prediction that only 2 tribes would remain loyal to "W'U'A v» 3.4 2. Solomon’s heirs was soon to become a reality. Rehoboam (931/30-913), the son of Solomon, was accepted in Judah as his father’s successor. Judging 1 fi-om I Kings 4:7-19 Judah had been excused from 1 many of Solomon’s demanding levies and may there- : fore have been less resentful against the royal family. When Rehoboam went to Shechem to accept the ' loyalty ofthe tribes gathered there and establish a. covenant with them, they made reform a condi- tion of their acceptance of the new monarch (I Kings 1221-20). His incredibly arrogant answer to their demands led to a revolt, and the tribes of the N pro- claimed Jeroboam king. While Rehoboam’s answer seems indefensible and a cause for anger, there is reason to conclude that division might have come whatever his response, if not immediately at least soon. A number of cir- cumstances indicate that the new monarch had in- herited a difficult situation. Longstanding differences existed betWeen Judah and the Joseph tribes. Re- form would have involved cutting back taxes and the forced-labor schemes and subsequently lowering the standard of luxury to which court and ruling class had become accustomed. Beyond these prob- lems was the serious fact that neither Rehoboam nor his advisers were well enough informed to know they should take the complaints of the N tribes seriously. Inevitably war followed as Rehoboam attempted to hold his father’s domain together. In time Sheshonk of Egypt entered the battle against Jerusalem (I Kings 14:25-28), forcing Rehoboam to capitulate and pay a heavy indemnity. The separation of N and S which followed the revolt of Jeroboam continued until the fall of the N (Samaria) to the Assyrians in 722. Save for a brief interim the S was ruled by the Davidic dynasty while the N underwent frequent changes of ruling dynasty. Among the most obvious signs of disruption was Jeroboam’s proclamation of the ancient shrines at Dan and Bethel as national centers for the worship of Yahweh. A golden bull was enshrined in each of these places—some scholars say as a symbol of Yahweh while others believe as a throne for the invisible God. The later editor of Kings was sharply critical of Jeroboam for establishing these shrines, presumably because they diverted the N worshipers from the Jerusalem temple, which he considered the only legal sanctuary. Solomon’s Temple, however, was built as a royal sanctuary and was not intended as the only legal place of worship. That view ofit did not evolve until the Deuteronomic reform in 622. Despite this political separation both N and S HISTORY OF ISRAEL—PART I seem to have envisaged a time when the 12 tribes would be unified. They shared a common religious tradition, and that tradition prospered in the N. We cannot dismiss lightly the fact that great reli- gious leaders like Elijah, Elisha, and Hosea were fi‘om the N while Amos, th0ugh a Judean, prophesied and preached in the N. Indeed the influential role of the prophets began to emerge clearly in these times of political turmoil. Actually the prophets were interested in political power only insofar as it was influential in maintain- ing or corrupting the religious purity of the people ofJahweh. They intentionally and boldly incited rebellion against a king when they felt that his policies were oppressive and the people were suffer- ing social injustice, or when under his leadership Israel’s participation in international affairs threatened Yahwism. The prophets were entirely willing to bring down kings or dynasties and to call fbr disruption in order to foster that religious purity which they believed would one day make Israel into one people, the servant of one God. From Jeroboam to Ahab. While the house of David remained a symbol of political stability in Judah, Israel was governed by a series of dynastic families, many of whom came to the throne through revolu- tion and violence. Jeroboam (93l/30~9]O/9), who ruled from Shechem, asserted the religious and politi- cal independence of the N. He was succeeded by his son Nadab (910/9-909/8), who was soon murdered and replaced by a military commander, Baasha (909/8-886/85), who moved the capital to Tir-zah (see color map 8). His son in turn suffered early assassination, and the land was thrown into some years of civil conflict. During these years not only was Rehoboam of Judah unwilling to accept the division of the king- dom, but his son Abijam (913-911/10) and his grand- son Asa (911/10-870/69) also fought against the ruling house of Israel. It was not until Jehoshaphat (870/69-848) came to the Judean throne that that country’s efforts were directed toward strengthening the Judean economy and reconquering the trade routes through Edom. The winner of the civil war in Israel, Omri (880- 874/ 73), was an able ruler. He attracted international attention, and his dynasty is mentioned in ancient Assyrian records. He recaptured Israel’s military strongholds and built Samaria as his capital. Under Omri Moab was again brought under Israel’s submission and an alliance was drawn up with the Phoenician king of Tyre. This alliance was con— firmed by the marriage which was arranged between Omri’s son, Ahab, and Jezebel, the princess of Tyre. Jezebel was a worshiper of the Tyrian god Baal. When Ahab became king (874/73-853) his willing— ness to support the temple and priests and prophets of Baal was the occasion for Elijah’s protest (1 Kings 17—19; 21). The career of Elijah during the reign of Ahab heralds the beginning of a long-lived pro- phetic protest against the worship’ of gods other than Yahweh in Israel, and against social injustice by monarch and nobility. During his reign Ahab engaged in war with the Syrians, whose leader, Ben-hadad, set siege against Samaria ca. 857. The following spring at Aphek E of the Sea of Galilee Ahab defeated the Syrians, 1023 INTERPRETER’S ONE-VOLUME COMMENTARY thus reasserting Israelite authority over certain N border areas and securing trade rights in Damascus. During this time the Assyrian Empire began to emerge in the W under a strong new leader, Shal- maneser III. From its center in N Mesopotamia this militant and often cruel people pushed W, theaten- ing the independence of the small kingdoms of the E Mediterranean world. This threat led Ahab and Ben-hadad to join forces against their common enemy. These kings, together with other local rulers, met and turned back the Assyrians at Qarqar on the Orontes (see color map 9) in 853, as described in Assyrian records. Hardly had the victory been won when Israel and Syria took up arms against mch other, and Ahab was killed in battle at Ramoth- gilead. The Revolt ofjelm. Ahab’s son and successor Ahaziah (853-852) died from a fall and was suc- ceeded by a 2nd son of Ahab, Jehoram, or Joram (852-841). Joram was soon confronted with a revolt by his vassal Mesha of Moab, as described on the famous Moabite Stone erected by 'Mesha (see com- ment on II Kings 3:4-27). Later Joram renewed the attack on the Syrians—now under Hazael, who had usurped the throne of Ben-hadad—and suc- ceeded in taking Ramoth-gilead; but while recover- ing from a wound he was slain in a revolt by one of his generals, Jehu. Jehu’s insurrection was sponsored and supported by Elisha and a religious sect known as the Rechab- ites as a protest against the Baal worship of Ahab’s household. It was a bloody uprising in which Jehu’s followers murdered Jezebel, 70 of Ahab’s sons, many Baal worshipers, and a number of princes of the house of David who were making a royal visit to Israel. At the very beginning of his reign (841-814/13) Jehu was threatened with a new invasion of the W by Shalmaneser III and had to pay tribute to that As- syrian monarch, as pictured on Shalmaneser’s Black Obelisk (see 111., p. 1061). In addition Jehu had little success in defending his territory against Hazael of Damascus and lost all of Transjordan to the Syrians. Under his son Jehoahaz (814/13-798) the situation grew worse and Israel was reduced to military im- potence. As Assyrian power began to increase again Damascus was obliged to think of her self-defense and her attention was turned to the E. Under these circumstances Jehoahaz’ son Jehoash (Joash, 798- 782/81) was able to regain some of Israel’s lost ter- ritory. The revolution of Jehu in Israel was paralleled by a countermovement in Judah. Athaliah, a daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, had become queen of Judah through her marriage to Jehoram (Joram, 848-841). Their son Ahaziah, who succeeded Jehoram, was killed within a few months in the revolt of Jehu. In reaction Athaliah murdered other claimants to the throne and ruled Judah for 6 years (841-835). The Jerusalem priests finally brought her 7-year-old grandson, Jehoash (Joash, 835-796), out of hiding, proclaimed him king, and killed the queen on grounds that she was an idol worshiper. The son ofJehoash ofJudah, Amaziah (796-767), stirred up a quarrel with Jehoash of Israel that re- sulted in war between the 2 kingdoms. Judah was defeated in battle and Jerusalem was despoiled. For a time, Judah fell to the status of a vassal State under Israel. The Fall quamaria. The first half of the 8th cent. was a time of general peace in the Near East. Egypt had fallen into decline. Assyria was not yet ready to undertake the building of a new empire—though strong enough to hold the attention of Damascus and turn it away from Israel. In such circumstances Jeroboam II (782/81-753) was able to reestablish international trade in Israel and wealth began to pour into that country. It was during the last years ofJeroboam’s prosperous reign that Amos came from the S to announce the imminent downfall of Israel. His proclamation was based on the convic- tion that greed and social injustice were about to bring God’s judgment on Israel. He deplored the concentration of wealth in the hands of monarch, nobility, and upper classes and lamented the poverty and injustice which prevailed among the masses. In 745, under the strong rule of Tiglath-pileser III, the Assyrians began their move W in search of empire. Out of theconfusion following the death of Jeroboam II, Menahem (752-742/41) gained political control in Israel. When the Assyrian forces moved S along the Mediterranean, he temporarily saved his country from invasion by paying tribute to the Assyrian emperor. Menahem was succeeded by his son Pekahiah (742/41-740/39), who was slain by Pekah (740/39-732/31). The new king of Israel joined with Rezin of Syria in an attempt to stop Assyrian encroachment on their territories. The 2 tried unsuccessfully to force Ahaz of Judah to join them, but the whole resistance effort failed and Ahaz subsequently appealed to the Assyrian emperor for protection. Tiglath-pileser captured Damascus in 732 and established sovereignty over Galilee and Transjordan. The Assyrians supported Hoshea (732/31-723/22) in his bid for the Israelite throne. After killing Pekah he became the last king of Israel, as a puppet of Tiglath—pileser III and then of Shalmaneser V. When he joined a plot with Egypt against Assyria, the new Assyrian ruler retaliated with vigor and besieged Samaria for 3 years. Scholars differ on whether the city actually fell to Shalmaneser in 723/22, as implied in II Kings 17:3-6 (see comment), or to his successor, Sargon II, in 721, as claimed by Sargon in a later inscription. At any rate Sargon followed up the capture by scattering a large part of the population of Israel—the “10 lost tribes”— among other provinces of Assyria and in their place settled Assyrians and others from his empire. The Decline ofJudah. The prosperous reign of Jeroboam II in the north was paralleled by the long rule of Amaziah’s son Azariah, or Uzziah, in the S (792/91-740/39; see “Chronology,” pp. 1271-82). His successors were Jotham (740/39-732/31) and Ahaz (732/31-716/15). Apparently Ahaz assumed the actual rule of Judah in 735, while his father was still living, and as already noted was confronted with the demand of Pekah and Rezin that Judah join Israel and Syria in resisting Assyria. Ahaz refused and un- happily sought the protection of the Assyrian mon- arch. later, after the fall of Israel, Ahaz was obliged to pay annual tribute to the Assyrian ruler, though officially the Judean kingdom retained its inde- pendence. 1024 1. i: “1 .3, a} "v? r. ;. gang-g. . . inn-L. , hydykinzadfidnakr '.- .‘ '-va"‘ch‘- n .;.. 7 1 I t :‘ fi 1) 32 with the ministry of Isaiah. Hezekiahjoined other Eulers in a widespread Near Eastern revolt against fmcceeded Sargon as Assyrian emperor in 705, be- jgan to stamp out the rebellion. His forces marched '- across Judah, captured 46 of her cities, and set siege Jerusalem itself in 701. Apparently a plague _.among the Assyrian troops forced their withdrawal land Jerusalem was spared, though much of the Judean wealth had already been taken. . Assyrian imperial power reigned triumphant for I the next 75 years. Under Esarhaddon (680-669) and fAshurbanipal (668-ca. 626) Assyrian influence dom- inated the political and the religious life of the I‘VJudeans. Manasseh (687/86-643/42) and his son It; even in the temple of Yahweh in Jerusalem. The Fall ofjerumlem. From‘about 630 Assyrian power declined rapidly. Scythians and Medes moved against her from the N and the E, and the Baby- 2” lonians from the S. In 612 the Babylonians captured Nineveh, the Assyrian capital. In Judah, Josiah (641/40-609), Amon’s son and successor, undertook a series of reforms, beginning in 622, in an attempt to bring Judah back to the worship of Yahweh and to reassert Judean political independence (cf. II Kings 22-23). Josiah destroyed Assyrian idols and pagan shrines throughout Judah and declared the temple at Jerusalem the only legiti- mate center for offering sacrifices to Yahweh, the God of Israel. The fall of Assyria seemed to Pharaoh Neco of Egypt to be an opportunity to reassert Egyptian control over SW Asia; undoubtedly he was also trou- bled over the rapid rise of Babylonian power. In 609 when Neco marched N toward Syria he was con- fronted at Megiddo by Josiah, who was killed there in the ensuing battle. One of Josiah’s sons, Jehoiakim Amon (643/42-641/40), rulers of Judah, were obliged . . to promote the worship of the gods of the Assyrians - HISTORY OF ISRAEL—PART I (609-598/97), was put on the throne at Jerusalem by Neco; another, Jehoahaz, whom the Judeans had crowned, was carried captive into Egypt. Predictably Babylonian and Egyptian forces joined battle at Carchemish on the upper Euphrates (see color map 9) in 605. Nebuchadrezzar defeated Neco, and Babylon became mistress of the Near East. Shortly thereafter Jehoiakim of Judah, confident that Egypt would support him, led a revolt against Nebu- chadrezzar. The Babylonian king marched against Jerusalem, and Jehoiakim died, perhaps slain by his own men. Nebuchadrezzar’s forces captured Jehoia— chin, son of Jehoiakim. He and a number of other Judean princes, numerous priests, military officers, and artisans, and significant elements of the upper classes of Judean society were carried off to Babylon. Zedekiah (597-586). a 3rd son ofJosiah, was made puppet king in Jerusalem. In due course Zedekiah also rebelled against Babylonian authority. Nebuchadrezzar retaliated with fury. The major fortresses of Judah were captured and burned. For 30 months (588-586) the Babylonians besieged Jerusalem, and the city suffered tragically (cf. the descriptions in Lam.). When the Babylonians finally broke into the city they leveled the walls and palaces and razed the temple to the ground. Zedekiah’s sons were slain in front of him, and he himself was blinded and carried to Babylon in chains. The greater part of the population of Jerusalem was taken into exile with him. Thus the kingdom of David came to a tragic end. For Further Study. H. H. Rowley, From Joseph to Joshua, 1950. B. Pritchard, ed., Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the OT, rev. ed., 1955. G. E. Wright and F. V. Filson, The Westminster Historical Alla: to the Bible, rev. ed., 1956. W. F. Albright, From the Stem Age to Christianity, 2nd ed., 1957. John Bright, A Histogr ofIsrael, 1959. Martin Noth, The History of Israel, 2nd ed., 1960. H. G. May, ed., Oijrd Bible Atlas, 1962. G. E. Wright, Biblical Archaeology, rev. ed., 1963. 1025 ...
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