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The Untold Story of the Kingdom of Judah

(D11) The Untold Story of the Last Days of the Kingdom of Israel

Prof. Oded Lipschits

The account of the history of the Kingdom of Israel in the last generation of its existence, starting from the short reign of Zechariah, the son of Jeroboam II (746 BCE) until the destruction of the Kingdom (722 BCE), is a short, dry and focused account, which tells mainly of the murders of the kings and the frequent changes of power in the kingdom. This is a biased literary description, the purpose of which is to present the rapid deterioration of the Kingdom of Israel towards the destruction as a chain of murders and dynasty changes right up to the destruction. The historiographer consciously chooses not to use the motif of the prophecy and its fulfillment in the description of this period, and it can be assumed that the rapid changes of dynasties and the destruction of the kingdom overshadowed all of this. It seems that during the last generation in the history of the Kingdom of Israel, the Deuteronomistic historiographers had only a few sources, which included only the lists of kings with the chronological information contained within them, without additional sources, such as prophetic stories, and with very little information that could be linked to the history of the Kingdom of Israel from the parallel histories of the kings of Judah. Even about the great Assyrian campaigns conducted against the kings of Israel, about which modern historians have information from the Assyrian inscriptions, the ancient historiographers had only little information, likely only what was recorded in the lists of kings.
Therefore, the description of the kings of Israel during this period was so reduced and remained technical and focused on the acts of murder and the changing of dynasties, until the description of the destruction and exile, which received a broad theological explanation. According to this explanation, the destruction came due to the sins of Jeroboam and the continuous sin of all the kings of Israel, until God’s final decision to destroy the kingdom. In this way, a historical circle is closed that begins with the division of the monarchy in the days of Jeroboam, closes with the detailed description of the days of Jeroboam II and ends with the rapid deterioration into destruction, exile and the final disappearance of the Kingdom of Israel from the stage of history.

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