International Fellowship of Christians and Jews
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History of IsraelDivided Kingdom

King Saul, King David, and King Solomon were the first three kings of Israel. King Saul was anointed by the prophet Samuel (I Samuel 10). After his death, King David became king (2 Samuel 2), beginning the "Davidic dynasty," which lasted for three centuries. King Solomon was the last to rule over a united kingdom. God warned him that because of his sins, the kingdom would be torn in two after his death (I Kings 11.)

Indeed, after Solomon's death, his son Rehoboam ruled over the southern kingdom, consisting of two tribes, Judah and Benjamin. His kingdom was called "Judah." The kingdom in the north, with the other ten tribes, was called "Israel."

The next few centuries saw two kings ruling simultaneously, one in the north and one in the south. In the north, Israel's first king was Jeroboam, in 928 BCE; the last king was Hosea, in 722 BCE. The Assyrians began their conquest of Israel in 722, leading to an exile of the Israelites of the northern kingdom a few years later. These Israelites became known as the "lost tribes," never returning to Israel en masse.

In the south, the autonomy lasted a little longer; the final king of Judah was Zedekiah, whose reign ended in 587, with the destruction of the Temple and the fall of Jerusalem. The destruction of the first Temple and the subsequent Babylonian exile of the Jewish people brought an end to the era of the kings—the last time the entire Jewish people would be united under one ruler, in one land.