In 880 BCE, after 400 years of being led by prophets and judges, the Jewish people beseeched the Prophet Samuel to appoint them a king so that they could be like the other nations. Samuel reluctantly agrees, eventually appointing Saul as the first king of Israel, but he warns the people of the negative ramifications that come with having a monarchy. King Saul (c. 1020 BCE) bridged the period between the loose rule of the tribes during the reign of the prophets and the setting up of a full monarchy under his successor, David. King David (c.1004-965 BCE) established Israel as a major power in the region by successful military expeditions, he united the twelve tribes into one kingdom, and crowned Jerusalem as the capital city. David was succeeded by his son, Solomon (c.965-930 BCE). King Solomon further strengthened the kingdom and built the first holy temple in Jerusalem.
In 797 BCE, when King Solomon died, the kingdom was split. Solomon’s son Rehoboam ruled in Jerusalem over the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, while the evil Jeroboam from the tribe of Ephraim ruled over the other 10 tribes. After 200 years, these ten tribes were exiled and eventually lost touch with their faith, becoming known as then Ten Lost Tribes of Israel.
The smaller kingdom of Judea was left with only a quarter of the population. Nevertheless, Judea remained connected to Jewish faith for several reasons: it was ruled by the House of David, it contained Jerusalem and the holy temple, and it had many great leaders in the prophets. Due to these circumstances, Judea was able to remain loyal to the Jewish faith and maintained this connection even after the temple was destroyed and the people were exiled.
- To see a timeline detailing the kings who ruled over the kingdoms of Israel and Judea click here: http://www.kchanson.com/CHRON/isrkings.html
- For a detailed chart of the biblical kings who ruled over Judea for four centuries, click here: http://www.jewishhistory.org/review-of-the-judean-kings/