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The kingdom of Israel

1 January 1970

According to Tenach, the Old Testament, the kingdom of Israel existed from 930 till 722 BC. Joshua, the successor to Moses, conquered the land of Canaan together with his people. These Canaanite tribes were surrounded by different cultures. Egypt to the south, Mesopotamia, Assyria and Asia Minor to the north. Around 2000 BC, some tribes began to enter the country. From the Aegean territory came the Philistines who settled in the southern coastal plain of Canaan. The Hebrews, under the leadership of Joshua, made for the hills, coming from Mesopotamia.n

The kingdom of Israel

nThe Hebrews consisted of twelve tribes, together also called the Sons of Israel. At the end of the second millennium BC they united under the leadership of Israel’s first king, Saul. Under the leadership of Saul’s successor, king David, Israel’s borders began to expand and Jerusalem was proclaimed as capital city. In the time of king Solomon, the first Temple was built in Jerusalem with in it the Ark of the Covenant. In 586 BC the kingdom of Judah was divided and the Temple of Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians. This event marked the beginning of the Jewish Diaspora. A small part of the Jewish population left for Egypt, while the rest went into exile into Babylon. When the Jews returned from Babylon, the second Temple was built.n

The destruction of Israel

nIn 167 BC the revolt of the Maccabees started, causing another independent Jewish state. This independent state was short-lived. In 63 BC the Roman Empire conquered Jerusalem and appointed Herod (aka Herod I and Herod the Great) as vassal king of the Jewish territory. Although the Jewish empire was prosperous and the temple was restored, many Jews opposed the Roman oppression. Three years after the seizure of Jerusalem one of these revolts developed into the Jewish War that ended in 70 AD. The city of Jerusalem, including the Temple, was completely destroyed and many Jews were killed or were sold as slaves.nnThe Jewish population continued to rise up against their rulers. The failed Bar Kokhba revolt caused the Jews being expelled from Judea and Jerusalem. After this revolt many Jews settled in Galilee. The dispersion into North Africa, Asia and Europe, also started. It would take almost two thousand years before the Jews return to present-day Israel and establish their own state.