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Israel remains a loose confederation of tribes governed by heroic figures known as "The Judges".
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Joshua urged Israel to keep trusting God
and obey His commands, but after he died, Israel strayed from God’s commands and
"every man did what was right in his own eyes".
Because they forgot God, their enemies would severely oppress them, and then they would remember God and cry out for His help, and He would raise up a hero, ( referred by the bible as a Judge or a deliverer ) to free them of their misery.
This pattern was sadly repeated from one generation to the next by the Israelites for almost 400 years.
The main characters that God raised up to free the Hebrews from their current enemies were: Othniel, Deborah, Gideon, Jephthah, Samson, Eli, and probably the most important person in this era was Samuel.
( Also Ruth the Moabite who lived during this period, was the widow of a Hebrew husband who would not leave her mother-in-law, Naomi as she made her way back to Bethlehem. She even put her faith in the God of Israel because of Naomi.
After Ruth came to Bethlehem, she remarried and bore a son named Obed: who was the father of Jesse, who was the father of King David. )
Though God is guiding his people, Israel wants a king like the other nations around them.
God gives them a warning: A king will make them slaves and
servants and will use whatever they have for his own benefit, but the people do not take the warning
seriously and are intent on having a king.
God gives them a king and Israel becomes a kingdom like other nations around them!
Israel lives under the rule of three kings: Saul, David, and his son, Solomon.
After the death of King Solomon, Israel is divided into two kingdoms:
Israel, ( the Northern Kingdom ) and
Judah, ( the Southern Kingdom. )
God sends many great prophets ( Amos, Hosea, Micah, Isaiah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Jeremiah, Elijah, Obadiah, and Ezekiel ), to warn the kings and people of each nation not to worship idols and not to disobey God!
Because of their unfaithfulness to God, the Northern Kingdom Of Israel is destroyed and taken into captivity by Assyria and remained there for about 186 years.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: After the death of King Solomon, his son
Rehoboam refuses to lighten the burden and taxes on the twelve tribes of Israel saying,
“My father made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke: my father [also] chastised you with
whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions. ( 1Kings 12:14 )
Ten of the tribes refuse to live under Rehoboam and form the Northern Kingdom of Israel with Jeroboam the son of Solomon's servant, and they make him King. At this time the capital city of the Northern Kingdom Of Israel was Samaria.
The 2 tribes that remained with Judah under King Rehoboam were Judah and Benjamin.
Israel lasts about 210 years and went through 19 evil kings before they were destroyed by Assyria in 722 B.C. The last king ruling over Israel was Hoshea, which is found in ( 2Kings, Chapter 17. )
The captivities began somewhere between 740 B.C. - 732 B.C. and started with Pul, the king of Assyria and then Tiglathpileser, the king of Assyria.
In 722 B.C., nearly ten to twenty years after the initial deportations, Samaria was finally taken by Sargon II after a three-year siege started by Shalmaneser V.
The ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom never had a foreign edict granting permission to return and rebuild their homeland. Some refer to them as the “Lost tribes of Israel”.
But not all the people from the Hebrew tribes of the Northern Kingdom were taken away. Many people of the ten tribes made their way to Judah before, during and after the Assyrian attack, but some would have been already living among the people of Judah and Benjamin.
Some proof of this can be seen in ( 2Chronicles 35:17-19 ), In the time of Josiah, when Passover observance was restored, it was kept with “the priests and Levites, all Judah and Israel who were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem” and in the New Testament (Luke 2:36 ) says that Anna the prophetess was of the tribe of Asher.
The Assyrians were known for deporting conquered peoples to other lands, and when they conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel, they deported many of the original inhabitants of Samaria and the surrounding region and replaced them with a mixture of people from the east.
The Samaritans ended up a racially mixed society because of intermarriage between the Jews and the people from the east who had different customs and worshiped strange gods. After the return of the captives to Jerusalem and up into the time of Christ, the Samaritans were severely despised by the Jews and were considered “unclean”.
The kingdom of Judah follows in Israel's footsteps over a hundred years later and is destroyed by Assyria, with most of it's people taken into exile in Babylonia after the fall of Jerusalem! The only people not taken are the very poor who are used to take care of the vineyards and fields.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: In 586 B.C., about 136 years after Israel
was destroyed, Judah was taken into captivity and exiled to Babylonia.
Judah had been governed by 21 Kings before it was destroyed by Babylonia, who had just conquered Assyria.
Some of Judah’s Kings “did evil in the sight of the LORD”, and some of Judah’s Kings turned the people back to the LORD and obeyed his commands.
When the Northern Kingdom Of Israel was exiled, Hezekiah was then the king of Judah. He listened to and acted upon GOD’s word through the prophet Isaiah, and the kingdom of Judah was spared and only Israel’s ten tribes were taken.
Coniah was the king in Judah when Babylonians came to dominate the world. He “did evil in the sight of the LORD”, and so it was finally Judah's time to be conquered.
The people were deported to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar II. Jerusalem was destroyed, its Temple was burned and all of it’s treasures were taken to Babylon.
In the first wave of captives taken to Babylon, the prophet Daniel, who is a young boy, is taken and becomes popular with this king because of his faith in GOD and his wisdom. Again, the only people not taken are the very poor who are used to take care of the vineyards and fields.
In 537 B.C., some 49 years later, Babylon was conquered by the Persian king Cyrus the Great and that king issued a decree to ‘ allow the Jews to go back to their land ’ but many, who were settled there, considered Babylon their home. Only a small amount of the Jews return to Judah compared to what were exiled, ( Nehemiah 7 ) and among them only 74 Levites, known for their dedication to the things of God.
The first move back was led by Zerubbabel, of the house of David who found everything destroyed: no temple, torn down walls and a corrupt breed of Jews (Samaritans) living there. He laid the foundations for a new temple and 21 years later, they finished the work. The Babylonian captivity lasted exactly 70 years, from the burning of Temple in Jerusalem in 586 B.C., to the completion of the new rebuilt temple in 516 B.C.
Under the leadership of Ezra, 58 years later, more Jews returned and 12 years later, Nehemiah received permission to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and govern Judea. It took him 52 days to finish the wall, having to fight opposition from people who lived in the area.
After many years in captivity, God inspires King Cyrus of Persia, to allow the "Jews"( or
the exiles from Judah, ) and later referred to anyone of the Hebrew race that returned from exile,
to go back and rebuild the temple in Jerusalem! King Cyrus also gives the Israelites all
the gold and silver utensils taken from the house of God when they were first taken into exile.
The first group of Jewish exiles returns to Jerusalem, builds and dedicates the Temple and the worship of God is restored. Ezra, a descendant of Aaron and a scholar with a thorough knowledge of the Law which God gave Moses, leads a second group of Jews to Jerusalem. Among them are priests, Levites (only the true Levites, sons of Zadok, ministered in the temple), Temple musicians, Temple guards, and workman, and with them, all the treasure that was taken from the destroyed temple at their captivity.
After he arrives in Jerusalem and carrying out the trust committed to him, Ezra starts his great work of reform. He finds out that the people, the priest, and the Levites were marrying foreign women; worshiping their gods and doing the same disgusting things that God destroyed Jerusalem for in the first place! Ezra sets up a divorce court so that Jews would be required to send their foreign wives and children away.
Nehemiah, the cupbearer to the Persian emperor Artaxerxes, asks permission to go and rebuild the city walls of Jerusalem. He receives permission and is sent to govern Judah and under his supervision, the walls of Jerusalem are completed.
Nehemiah cooperates with Ezra in bringing about many reforms based on the reading of the law of Moses to the people by Ezra. Nehemiah leads the people in public prayer and confession of Israel's sins and has them make a covenant, solemnly sealed, to walk in the law of the Lord as given by Moses!
The book of Nehemiah closes the biblical history of the old testament and leaves the stage set
for the coming of the Mashiah (Hebrew meaning "anointed one") or Christo`s.
( Christ in the English form of the Greek Christo`s, meaning "anointed one" )
The Messiah's coming was foretold by many prophets in the Old Testament ( Jeremiah, Isaiah, Malachi, Micah and also spoken of by David in Psalms ) and is described as one who will deliver Israel from her enemies, and restore her as a nation. He would also put an end to war and rule righteously over his people and because he would establish justice and righteousness in the land, sin would be rooted out and Israel would become a holy people.
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