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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible

Israel

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ISRAEL

I. History

1. Sources. The sources of Jewish political and religious history are the OT, the so-called Apocryphal writings, the works of Josephus, the Assyrian and Egyptian inscriptions, allusions in Greek and Roman historians, and the Mishna and Talmud.

Modern criticism has demonstrated that many of these sources were composed by weaving together previously existing documents. Before using any of these sources except the inscriptions, therefore, it is necessary to state the results of critical investigation and to estimate its effect upon the historical trustworthiness of the narratives. Genesis. Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and Joshua (the Hexateuch) are the product of one long literary process. Four different documents, each the work of a school of writers, have been laid under tribute to compose it. These documents are quoted so literally that they can still be separated with practical certainty one from another. The documents are the Jahwistic (J [Note: Jahwist.] ), composed in Judah by J [Note: Jahwist.] 1 before b.c. 800, perhaps in the reign of Jehoshaphat, though fragments of older poems are quoted, and supplemented a little later by J [Note: Jahwist.] 2 ; the Elohistic (E [Note: Elohist.] ). composed in the Northern Kingdom by E [Note: Elohist.] 1 about b.c. 750 and expanded somewhat later by E [Note: Elohist.] 2 ; the Deuteronomic code (D [Note: Deuteronomist.] ), composed by D [Note: Deuteronomist.] 1 about b.c. 650, to which D [Note: Deuteronomist.] 2 prefixed a second preface about ninety years later; the Code of Holiness, compiled by P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] 1 about b.c. 500 or a little earlier, the priestly ‘Book of Origins’ written by P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] 2 about b.c 450, and various supplementary priestly notes added by various writers at later times. It should be noted that D [Note: Deuteronomist.] 2 added various notes throughout the Hexateuch.

The dates here assigned to these documents are those given by the Graf-Wellhausen school, to which the majority of scholars in all countries now belong. The Ewald-Dillmann school, represented by Strack and Kittel, still hold that P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] is older than D [Note: Deuteronomist.] . For details see Hexateuch.

Judges 1:1-36 and 2 Samuel 1:1-27 and 2Kings were also compiled by one literary process. The compiler was a follower of D [Note: Deuteronomist.] , who wrote probably about 600. The work received a supplement by a kindred writer about 560. The sources from which the editor drew were, for Judges, Samuel, and the first two chapters of Kings, the J [Note: Jahwist.] and E [Note: Elohist.] documents in Judges 5:1-31 a poem composed about b.c. 1100 is utilized. The editor interpolated his own comments and at times his own editorial framework, but the sources may still be distinguished from these and from each other. A few additions have been made by a still later hand, but these are readily separated. In 1 Kings 3:1-28 ; 1 Kings 4:1-34 ; 1 Kings 5:1-18 ; 1 Kings 6:1-38 ; 1 Kings 7:1-51 ; 1 Kings 8:1-66 ; 1 Kings 9:1-28 ; 1 Kings 10:1-29 ; 1 Kings 11:1-43 a chronicle of the reign of Solomon and an old Temple record have been drawn upon, but they are interwoven with glosses and later legendary material. In the synchronous history ( 1 Kings 12:1-33 - 2 Kings 17:1-41 ) the principal sources are the ‘Book of the Chronicle of the Kings of Israel’ and the ‘Book of the Chronicle of the Kings of Judah,’ though various other writings have been drawn upon for the narratives of Elijah and Elisha. The concluding portion ( 2 Kings 18:1-37 ; 2 Kings 19:1-37 ; 2 Kings 20:1-21 ; 2 Kings 21:1-26 ; 2 Kings 22:1-20 ; 2Ki 23:1-37 ; 2 Kings 24:1-20 ; 2 Kings 25:1-30 ) is dependent also upon the Judæan Chronicle. In all parts of Kings the Deuteronomic editor allows himself large liberties. For details see artt. on the Books of Judges, Samuel, and Kings.

Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah are all the result of a late literary movement, and came into existence about b.c. 300. They were composed under the influence of the Levitical law. The history was re-told in Chronicles, in order to furnish the faithful with an expurgated edition of the history of Israel. The chief sources of the Chronicler were the earlier canonical books which are now found in our Bibles. Where he differs from these he is of doubtful authority. See Chronicles. A memoir of Ezra and one of Nehemiah were laid under contribution in the books which respectively bear these names. Apart from these quotations, the Chronicler composed freely as his point of view guided his imagination. See Ezra and Nehemiah [Books of].

Of the remaining historical books 1 Maccabees is a first-rate historical authority, having been composed by an author contemporary with the events described. The other apocryphal works contain much legendary material.

Josephus is for the earlier history dependent almost exclusively upon the OT. Here his narrative has no independent value. For the events in which he was an actor he is a writer of the first importance. In the non-Israelitish sources Israel is mentioned only incidentally, but the information thus given is of primary importance. The Mishna and Talmud are compilations of traditions containing in some cases an historical kernel, but valuable for the light they throw upon Jewish life in the early Christian centuries.

2. Historical value of the earlier books . If the oldest source in the Pentateuch dates from the 9th cent., the question as to the value of the narratives concerning the patriarchal period is forced upon us. Can the accounts of that time be relied upon as history? The answer of most scholars of the present day is that in part they can, though in a different way from that which was formerly in vogue. Winckler, it is true, would dissolve these narratives into solar and astral myths, but the majority of scholars, while making allowance for legendary and mythical elements, are confident that important outlines of tribal history are revealed in the early books of the Bible.

The tenth chapter of Genesis contains a genealogical table in which nations are personified as men. Thus the sons of Ham were Cush (Nubia), Mizraim (Egypt), Put (East Africa?), and Canaan. The sons of Shem were Elam, Assyria, Mesopotamia, Lud (a land of unknown situation, not Lydia), and Aram (the Aramæans). If countries and peoples are here personified as men, the same may be the case elsewhere: and in Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Esau, and the twelve sons of Jacob, we may be dealing not with individuals but with tribes. The marriages of individuals may represent the alliances or union of tribes. Viewed in this way, these narratives disclose to us the formation of the Israelitish nation.

The traditions may, however, be classified in two ways: (1) as to origin, and (2) as to content. (For the classification as to origin see Paton, AJTh [Note: JTh American Journal of Theology.] viii. [1904], 658 ff.)

1. ( a ) Some traditions, such as those concerning kinship with non-Palestinian tribes, the deliverance from Egypt, and concerning Moses, were brought into Palestine from the desert. ( b ) Others, such as the traditions of Abraham’s connexion with various shrines, and the stories of Jacob and his sons, were developed in the land of Canaan, ( c ) Still others were learned from the Canaanites. Thus we learn from an inscription of Thothmes iii. about b.c. 1500 that Jacob-el was a place-name in Palestine. (See W. M. Müller, Asien und Europa , 162.) Israel, as will appear later, was a name of a part of the tribes before they entered Canaan. In Genesis, Jacob and Israel are identified, probably because Israel had settled in the Jacob country. The latter name must have been learned from the Canaanites. Similarly, in the inscription of Thothmes Joseph-el is a place-name. Genesis ( Genesis 48:9 ff.) tells how Joseph was divided into two tribes, Ephraim and Manasseh. Probably the latter are Israelitish, and are so called because they settled in the Joseph country. Lot or Luten (Egyp. Ruten ) is an old name of Palestine or of a part of it. In Genesis, Moab and Ammon are said to be the children of Lot, probably because they settled in the country of Luten. In most cases where a tradition has blended two elements, one of these was learned from the Canaanites. ( d ) Finally, a fourth set of traditions were derived from Babylonia. This is clearly the case with the Creation and Deluge narratives, parallels to which have been found in Babylonian and Assyrian literature. (See KIB [Note: IB Keilinschriftliche Bibliothek.] vi.)

2. Classified according to their content, we have: ( a ) narratives which embody the history and movements of tribes. ( b ) Narratives which reflect the traditions of the various shrines of Israel. The stories of Abraham at Bethel, Shechem, Hebron, and Beersheba come under this head. ( c ) Legendary and mythical survivals. Many of these have an ætiological purpose; they explain the origin of some custom or the cause of some physical phenomenon. Thus Genesis 18:1-33 ; Genesis 19:1-38 the destruction of Sodom and the other cities of the plain is a story which grew up to account for the Dead Sea, which, we now know, was produced by very different causes. Similarly Genesis 22:1-24 is a story designed to account for the fact that the Israelites sacrificed a lamb instead of the firstborn. ( d ) Other narratives are devoted to cosmogony and primeval history. This classification is worked out in detail in Peters’ Early Hebrew Story . It is clear that in writing a history of the origin of Israel we must regard the patriarchal narratives as relating largely to tribes rather than individuals, and must use them with discrimination.

3. Historical meaning of the patriarchal narratives . Parts of the account of Abraham are local traditions of shrines, but the story of Abraham’s migration is the narrative of the westward movement of a tribe or group of tribes from which the Hebrews were descended. Isaac is a shadowy figure confined mostly to the south, and possibly represents a south Palestinian clan, which was afterwards absorbed by the Israelites. Jacob-Israel (Jacob, as shown above, is of Canaanitish origin; Israel was the name of the confederated clans) represents the nation Israel itself. Israel is called an Aramæan ( Deuteronomy 26:5 ), and the account of the marriage of Jacob ( Genesis 29:1-35 ; Genesis 30:1-43 ; Genesis 31:1-55 ) shows that Israel was kindred to the Aramæans. We can now trace in the cuneiform literature the appearance and westward migration of the Aramæans, and we know that they begin to be mentioned in the Euphrates valley about b.c. 1300, and were moving westward for a little more than a century (see Paton, Syria and Palestine , 103 ff.). The Israelites were a part of this Aramæan migration.

The sons of Jacob are divided into four groups. Six Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun are said to be the sons of Leah. Leah probably means ‘wild cow’ (Delitzsch, Prolegomena , 80; W. R. Smith, Kinship 2 , 254). This apparently means that these tribes were of near kin, and possessed as a common totem the ‘wild cow’ or ‘bovine antelope.’ The tribes of Manasseh, Ephraim, and Benjamin traced their descent from Rachel. Rachel means ‘ewe,’ and these tribes, though kindred to the other six, possessed a different totem. Judah was, in the period before the conquest, a far smaller tribe than afterwards, for, as will appear later, many Palestinian clans were absorbed into Judah. Benjamin is said to have been the youngest son of Jacob, born in Palestine a long time after the others. The name Benjamin means ‘sons of the south,’ or ‘southerners’: the Benjamites are probably the ‘southerners’ of the tribe of Ephraim, and were gradually separated from that tribe after the conquest of Canaan. Four sons of Jacob Dan, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher are said to be the sons of concubines. This less honourable birth probably means that they joined the confederacy later than the other tribes. Since the tribe of Asher can be traced in the el-Amarna tablets in the region of their subsequent habitat (cf. Barton, Semitic Origins , 248 ff.), this tribe probably joined the confederacy after the conquest of Palestine. Perhaps the same is true of the other three.

4. The beginnings of Israel . The original Israel, then, probably consisted of the eight tribes Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Manasseh, and Ephraim, though perhaps the Rachel tribes did not join the confederacy until they had escaped from Egypt (see § 6). These tribes, along with the other Abrahamidæ the Edomites, Ammonites, and Moabites moved westward from the Euphrates along the eastern border of Palestine. The Ammonites, Moabites, and Edomites gained a foothold in the territories afterwards occupied by them. The Israelites appear to have been compelled to move on to the less fertile steppe to the south, between Beersheba and Egypt, roaming at times as far as Sinai. Budde ( Rel. of Isr. to the Exile , 6) regards the Khabiri, who in the el-Amarna tablets lay siege to Jerusalem, as Hebrews who made an incursion into Palestine, c [Note: circa, about.] . b.c. 1400. Though many scholars deny that they were Hebrews, perhaps they were.

5. The Egyptian bondage . From the time of the first Egyptian dynasty ( c [Note: circa, about.] . b.c. 3000), the Egyptians had been penetrating into the Sinaitic Peninsula on account of the mines in the Wadi Maghara (cf. Breasted, Hist. of Egypt , 48). In course of time Egypt dominated the whole region, and on this account it was called Musru , Egypt being Musru or Misraim (cf. Winckler, Hibbert Jour . ii. 571 ff., and KAT [Note: Die Keilinschriften und das Alte Testament.] 3 144ff.). Because of this, Winckler holds ( KAT [Note: Die Keilinschriften und das Alte Testament.] 3 212 ff.) that there is no historical foundation for the narrative of the Egyptian oppression of the Hebrews and their exodus from that country; all this, he contends, arose from a later misunderstanding of the name Musru . But, as Budde ( Rel. of Isr. to the Exile , ch. i.) has pointed out, the firm and constant tradition of the Egyptian bondage, running as it does through all four of the Pentateuchal documents and forming the background of all Israel’s religious and prophetic consciousness, must have some historical content. We know from the Egyptian monuments that at different times Bedu from Asia entered the country on account of its fertility. The famous Hyksos kings and their people found access to the land of the Nile in this way. Probability, accordingly, strengthens the tradition that Hebrews so entered Egypt. Exodus 1:11 states that they were compelled to aid in building the cities of Pithom and Raamses. Excavations have shown that these cities were founded by Rameses ii. (b.c. 1292 1225; cf. Hogarth, Authority and Archæology , 55). It has been customary, therefore, to regard Rameses as the Pharaoh of the oppression, and Menephtah (Meren-ptah, 1225 1215) as the Pharaoh of the Exodus. This view has in recent years met with an unexpected difficulty. In 1896 a stele was discovered in Egypt on which an inscription of Menephtah, dated in his fifth year, mentions the Israelites as already in Palestine or the desert to the south of it, and as defeated there, (cf. Breasted, Anc. Records of Egypt , iii. 256 ff.). This inscription celebrates a campaign which Menephtah made into Palestine in his third year (cf. Breasted, op. cit . 272). On the surface, this inscription, which contains by far the oldest mention of Israel yet discovered in any literature, and the only mention in Egyptian, seems to favour Winckler’s view. The subject cannot, however, be dismissed in so light a manner. The persistent historical tradition which colours all Hebrew religious thought must have, one would think, some historical foundation. The main thread of it must be true, but in details, such as the reference to Pithom and Raamses, the tradition may be mistaken. Traditions attach themselves to different men, why not to different cities? Perhaps, as several scholars have suggested, another solution is more probable, that not all of the Hebrews went to Egypt. Wildeboer ( Jahvedienst en Volksreligie Israel , 15) and Budde ( op. cit . 10) hold that it was the so-called Joseph tribes, Ephraim and Manasseh, that settled for a time in Egypt, and that Moses led forth. This receives some support from the fact that the E [Note: Elohist.] document, which originated among the Ephraimites, is the first one that remembers that the name Jahweh was, until the Exodus, unknown to them (cf. Exodus 3:14 ).

Probably we shall not go far astray, if we suppose that the Leah tribes were roaming the steppe to the south of Palestine where Menephtah defeated them, while the Rachel tribes, enticed into Egypt by the opportunity to obtain an easier livelihood, became entangled in trouble there, from which Moses emancipated them, perhaps in the reign of Menephtah himself.

6. The Exodus . The J [Note: Jahwist.] , E [Note: Elohist.] , and P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] documents agree in their main picture of the Exodus, although J [Note: Jahwist.] differs from the other two in holding that the worship of Jahweh was known at an earlier time. Moses, they tell us, fled from Egypt and took refuge in Midian with Jethro, a Kenite priest (cf. Judges 1:16 ). Here, according to E [Note: Elohist.] and P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] , at Horeb or Sinai, Jahweh’s holy mount, Moses first learned to worship Jahweh, who, he believed, sent him to deliver from Egypt his oppressed brethren. After various plagues (J [Note: Jahwist.] gives them as seven; E [Note: Elohist.] , five; and P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] ; six) Moses led them out, and by Divine aid they escaped across the Red Sea. J [Note: Jahwist.] makes this escape the result of Jahweh’s control of natural means ( Exodus 14:21 ). Moses then led them to Sinai, where, according to both J [Note: Jahwist.] and E [Note: Elohist.] , they entered into a solemn covenant with Jahweh to serve Him as their God. According to E [Note: Elohist.] ( Exodus 18:12 ff.), it was Jethro, the Kenite or Midianite priest, who initiated them into the rite and mediated the covenant. After this the Rachel tribes probably allied themselves more closely to the Leah tribes, and, through the aid of Moses, gradually led them to adopt the worship of Jahweh. Religion was at this period purely an affair of ritual and material success, and since clans had escaped from Egypt through the name of Jahweh, others would more readily adopt His worship also. Perhaps it was during this period that the Rachel tribes first became a real part of the Israelite confederation.

7. The Wilderness wandering . For some time the habitat of Israel, as thus constituted, was the region between Sinai on the south and Kadesh, a spring some fifty miles south of Beersheba, on the north. At Kadesh the fountain was sacred, and at Sinai there was a sacred mountain. Moses became during this period the sheik of the united tribes. Because of his preeminence in the knowledge of Jahweh he acquired this paramount influence in all their counsels. In the traditions this period is called the Wandering in the Wilderness, and it is said to have continued forty years. The expression ‘forty years’ is, however, used by D [Note: Deuteronomist.] and his followers in a vague way for an indefinite period of time. In this case it is probably rather over than under the actual amount.

The region in which Israel now roamed was anything but fertile, and the people naturally turned their eyes to more promising pasture lands. This they did with the more confidence, because Jahweh, their new God, had just delivered a portion of them from Egypt in an extraordinary manner. Naturally they desired the most fertile land in the region, Palestine. Finding themselves for some reason unable to move directly upon it from the south (Numbers 13:1-33 ; Numbers 14:1-45 ), perhaps because the hostile Amalekites interposed, they made a circuit to the eastward. According to the traditions, their detour extended around the territories of Edom and Moab, so that they came upon the territory north of the Arnon, where an Amorlte kingdom had previously been established, over which, in the city of Heshbon, Sihon ruled. See Amorites.

8. The trans-Jordanic conquest . The account of the conquest of the kingdom of Sihon is given by E [Note: Elohist.] with a few additions from J [Note: Jahwist.] in Numbers 21:1-35 . No details are given, but it appears that in the battles Israel was victorious. We learn from the P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] document in Numbers 32:1-42 that the conquered cities of this region were divided between the tribes of Reuben and Gad. Perhaps it was at this time that the tribe of Gad came into the confederacy. At least they appear in real history here for the first time. The genealogies represent Gad as the son of a slave-girl. This, as already noted, probably means that the tribe joined the nation at a comparatively late period. Probably the Gadites came in from the desert at this period, and in union with the Reubenites won this territory, which extended from the Arnon to a point a little north of Heshbon. It is usually supposed that the territory of Reuben lay to the south of that of Gad, extending from the Arnon to Elealeh, north of Heshbon; but in reality each took certain cities in such a way that their territory interpenetrated ( Numbers 32:34 ). Thus the Gadites had Dibon, Ataroth, and Aroer to the south, Jazer north of Heshbon, and Bethnimrah and Beth-baran in the Jordan valley; while the Reubenites had Baal-meon, Nebo, Heshbon, and Elealeh, which lay between these. Probably the country to the north was not conquered until later. It is true that D [Note: Deuteronomist.] claims that Og, the king of Bashan, was conquered at this time, but it is probable that the conquest of Bashan by a part of the tribe of Manasseh was a backward movement from the west after the conquest of Palestine was accomplished. During this period Moses died, and Joshua became the leader of the nation.

9. Crossing the Jordan . The conquests of the tribe of Gad brought the Hebrews into the Jordan valley, but the swiftly flowing river with its banks of clay formed an insuperable obstacle to these primitive folk. The traditions tell of a miraculous stoppage of the waters. The Arabic historian Nuwairi tells of a land-slide of one of the clay hills that border the Jordan, which afforded an opportunity to the Arabs to complete a military bridge. The account of this was published with translation in the PEFSt [Note: Quarterly Statement of the same.] , 1895, p. 253 ff. The J [Note: Jahwist.] writer would see in such an event, as he did in the action of the winds upon the waters of the Red Sea, the hand of Jahweh. The accounts of it in which the priests and the ark figure are of later origin. These stories explained the origin of a circle of sacred stones called Gilgal , which lay on the west of the Jordan, by the supposition that the priests had taken these stones from the bed of the river at the time of the crossing.

10. The conquest of Canaan . The first point of attack after crossing the Jordan was Jericho. In Joshua 6:1-27 J [Note: Jahwist.] ’s account and E [Note: Elohist.] ’s account of the taking of Jericho are woven together (cf. the Oxford Hexateuch , or SBOT [Note: BOT Sacred Books of Old Testament.] , ad. loc .). According to the J [Note: Jahwist.] account, the Israelites marched around the city once a day for six days. As they made no attack, the besieged were thrown off their guard, so that, when on the seventh day the Israelites made an attack at the end of their marching, they easily captured the town. As to the subsequent course of the conquest, the sources differ widely. The D [Note: Deuteronomist.] and P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] strata of the book of Joshua, which form the main portion of it, represent Joshua as gaining possession of the country in two great battles, and as dividing it up among the tribes by lot. The J [Note: Jahwist.] account of the conquest, however, which has been preserved in Judges 1:1-36 and Joshua 8:1-35 ; Joshua 9:1-27 ; Joshua 10:1-43 ; Joshua 13:1 ; Joshua 13:7 a, Joshua 13:13 ; Joshua 15:14-19 ; Joshua 15:63 ; Joshua 16:1-3 ; Joshua 16:10 ; Joshua 17:11-18 ; Joshua 19:47 , while it represents Joshua as the leader of the Rachel tribes and as winning a decisive victory near Gibeon, declares that the tribes went up to win their territory singly, and that in the end their conquest was only partial. This representation is much older than the other, and is much more in accord with the subsequent course of events and with historical probability.

According to J [Note: Jahwist.] , there seem to have been at least three lines of attack: (1) that which Joshua led up the valley from Jericho to Ai and Bethel, from which the territories afterwards occupied by Ephraim and Benjamin were secured. (2) A movement on the part of the tribe of Judah followed by the Simeonites, south-westward from Jericho into the hill-country about Bethlehem and Hebron. (3) Lastly, there was the movement of the northern tribes into the hill-country which borders the great plain of Jezreel. J [Note: Jahwist.] in Joshua 11:1 ; Joshua 11:4-9 tells us that in a great battle by the Waters of Merom (wh. see) Joshua won for the Israelites a victory over four petty kings of the north, which gave the Israelites their foothold there. In the course of these struggles a disaster befell the tribes of Simeon and Levi in an attempt to take Shechem, which practically annihilated Levi, and greatly weakened Simeon (cf. Genesis 34:1-31 ). This disaster was thought to be a Divine punishment for reprehensible conduct ( Genesis 49:5-7 ). J [Note: Jahwist.] distinctly states ( Judges 1:1-36 ) that the conquest was not complete, but that two lines of fortresses, remaining in the possession of the Canaanites, cut the Israelitish territory into three sections. One of these consisted of Dor, Megiddo. Taanach, Ibleam, and Beth-shean, and gave the Canaanites control of the great plain of Jezreel. while, holding as they did Jerusalem, Aijalon, Har-heres (Beth-shemesh), and Gezer, they cut the tribe of Judah off from their northern kinsfolk. J [Note: Jahwist.] further tells us distinctly that not all the Canaanites were driven out, but that the Canaanites and the Hebrews lived together. Later, he says, Israel made slaves of the Canaanites. This latter statement is perhaps true for those Canaanites who held out in these fortresses, but reasons will be given later for believing that by intermarriage a gradual fusion between Canaanites and Israelites took place.

Reasons have been adduced (§ 3) for believing that the tribe of Asher had been in the country from about b.c. 1400. (The conquest probably occurred about 1200.) Probably they allied themselves with the other tribes when the latter entered Canaan. At what time the tribes of Naphtali and Dan joined the Hebrew federation we have no means of knowing. J [Note: Jahwist.] tells us (Judges 1:34-35 ) that the Danites struggled for a foothold in the Shephçlah, where they obtained out an insecure footing. As they afterwards migrated from here ( Judges 17:1-13 ; Judges 18:1-31 ), and as a place in this region was called the ‘Camp of Dan’ ( Judges 13:25 ; Judges 18:12 ), probably their hold was very insecure. We learn from Judges 15:1-20 that they possessed the town of Zorah, where Samson was afterwards born.

11. Period of the Judges . During this period, which extended from about 1200 to about 1020 b.c., Israel became naturalized in the land, and amalgamated with the Canaanites. The chronology of the period as given in the Book of Judges is certainly too long. The Deuteronomic editor, who is responsible for this chronology, probably reckoned forty years as the equivalent of a generation, and 1 Kings 6:1 gives us the key to his scheme. He made the time from the Exodus to the founding of the Temple twelve generations (cf. Moore, ‘Judges’ in ICC [Note: CC International Critical Commentary.] , p. xxxviii.). The so-called ‘Minor Judges’ Tola, Jair, Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon ( Judges 10:1-5 ; Judges 12:8-15 ) were not included in the editor’s chronology. The statements concerning them were added by a later hand. As three of their names appear elsewhere as clan names (cf. Genesis 46:13-14 , Numbers 26:23 ; Numbers 26:26 , Deuteronomy 3:14 ), and as another is a city ( Joshua 21:30 ), scholars are agreed that these were not real judges, but that they owe their existence to the mistake of a late writer. Similarly, Shamgar ( Judges 3:31 ) was not a real judge. His name appears where it does because some late writer mistakenly inferred that the reference to Shamgar (probably a Hittite chief) in Judges 5:6 was an allusion to an earlier judge (cf. Moore, JAOS [Note: AOS Journ. of the Amer. Oriental Society.] xix. 159 ff.). Some doubt attaches also to Othniel, who is elsewhere a younger brother of a Caleb, the Calebites, a branch of the Edomite clan of the Kenaz (cf. Judges 1:13 with Genesis 36:11 ; Genesis 36:15 ; Genesis 36:42 ), which had settled in Southern Judah. This doubt is increased by the fact that the whole of the narrative of the invasion of Cushan-rishathaim, king of Mesopotamia, is the work of the editor, R [Note: Redactor.] D [Note: Deuteronomist.] , and also by the fact that no king of Mesopotamia who could have made such an invasion is known to have existed at this time. Furthermore, had such a king invaded Israel, his power would have been felt in the north and not in Judah. If there is any historical kernel in this narrative, probably it was the Edomites who were the perpetrators of the invasion, and their name has become corrupted (cf. Paton, Syr. and Pal . 161). It is difficult, then, to see how Othniel should have been a deliverer, as he seems to have belonged to a kindred clan, but the whole matter may have been confused by oral transmission. Perhaps the narrative is a distorted reminiscence of the settlement in Southern Judah of the Edomitic clans of Caleb and Othniel.

The real judges were Ehud, Deborah, Gideon, Jephthah, Eli, and Samuel. Samson was a kind of giant-hero, but he always fought single-handed; he was no leader and organizer of men, and it is difficult to see how he can justly be called a judge. The age was a period of great tribal restlessness. Others were trying to do what the Israelites had done, and gain a foothold in Palestine. Wave after wave of attempted invasion broke over the land. Each coming from a different direction affected a different part of it, and in the part affected a patriot would arouse the Hebrews of the vicinity and expel the invader. The influence thus acquired, and the position which the wealth derived from the spoil of war gave him, made such a person the sheik of his district for the time being. Thus the judges were in reality great tribal chieftains. They owed their office to personal prowess. Because of their character their countrymen brought to them their causes to adjust, and they had no authority except public opinion whereby to enforce their decisions.

Deborah and Barak delivered Israel, not from invaders, but from a monarch whom up to that time the Hebrews had been unable to overcome. It is probable that this power was Hittite (cf. Moore, JAOS [Note: AOS Journ. of the Amer. Oriental Society.] , xix. 158 ff.). This episode, which should probably be dated about 1150, marks the conclusion of the conquest of Northern Palestine.

There were four real invasions from outside during the period of the judges: that of the Moabites, which called Ehud into prominence; that of the Midianites, which gave Gideon his opportunity; that of the Ammonites, from whom Jephthah delivered Gilead; and that of the Philistines, against whom Samson, Eli, Samuel, and Saul struggled, but who were not overcome until the reign of David. The first of these invasions affected the territories of Reuben and Gad on the east, and of Benjamin on the west, of the Jordan. It probably occurred early in the period. The second invasion affected the country of Ephraim and Manasseh, and probably occurred about the middle of the period. Gideon’s son Abimelech endeavoured to establish a petty kingdom in Shechem after Gideon had run his successful career, but the attempt at kingship was premature (cf. Judges 9:1-57 ). The Ammonite invasion affected only Gilead, while the Philistine invasion was later, more prolonged, and affected all of Central Palestine. These people came into Palestine from the outside (cf. Philistines), pushed the inhabitants of the Maritime Plain back upon the Israelites, made many attempts to conquer the hill-country, and by the end of the reign of Saul held the greater part of the Plain of Jezreel.

The struggles with these invaders gradually called into existence a national consciousness in Israel. It is clear from the song of Deborah that when that poem was written there was no sense of national unity. A dim sense of kinship held the tribes together, but this kinship brought to Deborah’s standard only those who had some tribal interest in the struggle. The Reubenites did not respond to the appeal (Judges 5:16 ), while the tribe of Judah is not mentioned at all.

At the end of the period, the kingship of Saul, who responded to a call to help Jabesh, a Gileadite city, against a second in vasion of Ammonites, is the expression of a developing national consciousness.

At some time during this period a part of the Danites moved to the foot of Mount Hermon, to the city which was henceforth to be called Dan (Judges 17:1-13 ; Judges 18:1-31 ). During these years the process of amalgamation between the Israelites and the tribes previously inhabiting the land went steadily forward. Perhaps it occurred in the tribe of Judah on a larger scale than elsewhere. At all events, we can trace it there more clearly. The stories of Judah’s marriages in Genesis 38:1-30 really represent the union of Shnaites and Tamarites with the tribe. The union of the Kenazites and Calebites with Judah has already been noted. The Kenites also united with them ( Judges 1:16 ), as did also the Jerahmeelites (cf. 1 Samuel 30:29 with 1 Chronicles 2:9 ). What went on in Judah occurred to some extent in all the tribes, though probably Judah excelled in this. Perhaps it was a larger admixture of foreign blood that gave Judah its sense of aloofness from the rest of Israel. Certain it is. however, that the great increase in strength which Israel experienced between the time of Deborah and the time of David cannot be accounted for on the basis of natural increase. There were elements in the religion of the Israelites which, notwithstanding the absorption of culture from the Canaanites, enabled Israel to absorb in turn the Canaanites themselves. The religious and ethical aspects of the period will be considered in connexion with the religion.

12. Reign of Saul . There are two accounts of how Saul became king. The older of these ( 1 Samuel 9:1 ; 1 Samuel 10:16 ; 1 Samuel 10:27 b, 1 Samuel 11:1 ; 1 Samuel 11:15 ) tells how Saul was led to Samuel in seeking some lost asses, how Samuel anointed him to be king, and how about a month after that the men of Jabesh-gilead, whom the Ammonites were besieging, sent out messengers earnestly imploring aid. Saul, by means of a gory symbolism consonant with the habits of his age, summoned the Israelites to follow him to war. They responded, and by means of the army thus raised he delivered the distressed city. As a result of this Saul was proclaimed king, apparently by acclamation. The later account (which consists of the parts of 1 Samuel 8:1-22 ; 1 Samuel 9:1-27 ; 1 Samuel 10:1-27 ; 1 Samuel 11:1-15 ; 1 Samuel 12:1-25 not enumerated above) presents a picture which is so unnatural that it cannot be historical. Saul gained his kingdom, then, because of his success as a military leader. Probably at first his sovereignty was acknowledged only by the Rachel tribes and Gilead.

The Philistines, upon hearing that Israel had a king, naturally endeavoured to crush him. Soon after his accession, therefore, Saul was compelled to repel an invasion, by which the Philistines had penetrated to Michmash, within ten miles of his capital. Their camp was separated from Saul’s by the deep gorge of Michmash. Owing to the daring and valour of Jonathan, a victory was gained for Israel which gave Saul for a time freedom from these enemies (cf. 1 Samuel 13:1-23 ; 1 Samuel 14:1-52 ). Saul occupied this respite in an expedition against Israel’s old-time enemies the Amalekites. Our account of this ( 1 Samuel 15:1-35 ) comes from the later (E [Note: Elohist.] ) source, and gives us, by way of explaining Saul’s later insanity, the statement that he did not destroy the accursed Amalekites with all their belongings, but presumed to take some booty from them.

Soon, however, Saul was compelled once more to take up arms against the Philistines, whom he fought with varying fortunes until they slew him in battle on Mount Gilboa. During the later years of Saul’s life fits of insanity came upon him with increasing frequency. These were interpreted by his contemporaries to mean that Jahweh had abandoned him; thus his followers were gradually estranged from him. A large part of the space devoted to his reign by the sacred writers is occupied with the relations between Saul and the youthful David. These narratives are purely personal. The only light which they throw upon the political history of the period is that they make it clear that Saul’s hold upon the tribe of Judah was not a very firm one.

How long the reign of Saul continued we have no means of knowing. The Books of Samuel contain no statement concerning it. Many scholars believe that the editor of Samuel purposely omitted it because he regarded David as the legitimate religious successor of Samuel, and viewed Saul consequently as a usurper. Saul must have ruled for some years ten or fifteen, probably and his kingdom included not only the territory from the Plain of Jezreel to Jerusalem, with a less firm hold upon Judah, but the trans-Jordanic Gileadites. The latter were so loyal to him that his son, when Judah seceded, abandoned his home in Gibeon, and made Mahanaim his capital. What attitude the tribes to the north of Jezreel took towards Saul we do not know.

13. Reign of David . Before Saul’s death David had attached the men of Judah so firmly to himself, and had exhibited such qualities of leadership, that, when Saul fell at Gilboa, David made himself king of Judah, his capital being Hebron. As Jonathan, the crown prince, had fallen in battle, Abner, Saul’s faithful general, made Ish-baal (called in Samuel Ish-bosheth ) king, removing his residence to Mahanaim. For seven and a half years civil war dragged itself along. Then Joab by treacherous murder removed Abner ( 2 Samuel 3:27 ff.), assassins disposed of the weak Ish-baal, and Israel and Judah were soon united again under one monarch, David. We are not to understand from 2 Samuel 5:1-25 that the elders of Israel all came immediately in one body to make David king. Probably they came one by one at intervals of time. There were many tribal jealousies and ambitions deterring some of them from such a course, but the times demanded a united kingdom, and as there was no one but David who gave promise of establishing such a monarchy, they ultimately yielded to the logic of events.

David soon devoted himself to the consolidation of his territory. Just at the northern edge of the tribe of Judah, commanding the highway from north to south, stood the ancient fortress of Jerusalem. It had never been in the possession of the Israelites. The Jebusites, who had held it since Israel’s entrance into Canaan, fondly believed that its position rendered it impregnable. This city David captured, and with the insight of genius made it his capital (2 Samuel 5:4 ff.). This choice was a wise one in every way. Had he continued to dwell in Hebron, both Benjamin which had in the previous reign been the royal tribe and Ephraim which never easily yielded precedence to any other clan would have regarded him as a Judæan rather than a national leader. Jerusalem was to the Israelites a new city. It not only had no associations with the tribal differences of the past, but, lying as it did on the borderland of two tribes, was neutral territory. Moreover, the natural facilities of its situation easily made it an almost impregnable fortress. David accordingly rebuilt the Jebusite stronghold and took up his residence in it, and from this time onward it became the city of David.

The Philistines, ever jealous of the rising power of Israel, soon attacked David in his new capital, but he gained such a victory over them (2 Samuel 5:18 ff.) that in the future he seems to have been able to seek them out city by city and subdue them at his leisure ( 2 Samuel 8:1 ff.). Having crushed the Philistines, David turned his attention to the trans-Jordanic lands. He attacked Moab, and after his victory treated the conquered with the greatest barbarity ( 2 Samuel 8:2 ). He was, however, the child of his age. All wars were cruel, and the Assyrians could teach even David lessons in cruelty. Edom was also conquered ( 2 Samuel 8:13-14 ). Ammon needlessly provoked a war with David, and after a long slege their capital Rabbah, on the distant border of the desert, succumbed (10, 11). The petty Aramæan State of Zobah was drawn into the war, and was compelled to pay tribute ( 2 Samuel 8:3 ff.). Damascus, whose inhabitants, as kinsfolk of the people of Zobah, tried to aid the latter, was finally made a tributary State also ( 2 Samuel 8:5 ff.), so that within a few years David built up a considerable empire. This territory he did not attempt to organize in a political way, but, according to the universal Oriental custom of his time, he ruled it through tributary native princes. Toi, king of Hamath, and Hiram, king of Tyre, sent embassies to welcome David into the brotherhood of kings. Thus Israel became united, and gained a recognized position among the nations.

This success was possible because at the moment Assyria and Egypt were both weak. In the former country the period of weakness which followed the reign of the great Tiglath-pileser i. was at its height, while in the latter land the 21st dynasty, with its dual line of rulers at Thebes and Tanis, rendered the country powerless through internal dissensions.

David upon his removal to Jerusalem organized his court upon a more extensive scale than Saul had ever done, and, according to Oriental custom, increased his harem. The early Semite was often predisposed to sexual weakness, and David exhibited the frequent bent of his race. His sin with Bathsheba, and subsequent treachery to her husband Uriah, need not be re-told. David’s fondness for his son Absalom and his lax treatment of him produced more dire political consequences. Absalom led a rebellion which drove the king from Jerusalem and nearly cost him his throne. David on this occasion, like Ish-baal before him, took refuge at Mahanaim, the east Jordanic hinterland. Here David’s conduct towards the rebellious son was such that, but for the fact that the relentless Joab disregarded the express commands of his royal master and put Absalom to death after his army had been defeated, it is doubtful whether Absalom would not have triumphed in the end. A smaller revolt grew out of this, but the reduction of Abel near Dan in the north finally restored David’s authority throughout the land.

During the reign of David, though we do not know in what part of it, two misfortunes befell the country. The first of these was a famine for three successive years (2 Samuel 21:1-22 ). The means taken to win back the favour of Jahweh, which it was supposed Israel had forfeited, so that He should give rain again, is an eloquent commentary on the barbarous nature of the age and the primitive character of its religious conceptions. The other event was a plague, which followed an attempt of David to take a census (ch. 24), and which the Israelites accordingly believed Jahweh had sent to punish the king for presumptuously introducing such an innovation.

The last days of David were rendered unquiet by the attempt of his son Adonijah to seize the crown (1 Kings 1:1-53 ). Having, however, fixed the succession upon Solomon, the son of Bathsheba, David is said to have left to him as an inheritance the duty of taking vengeance upon Joab and Shimei ( 1 Kings 2:1 ff.).

To the reign of David subsequent generations looked as the golden age of Israel. Never again did the boundaries of a united Israelitish empire extend so far. These boundaries, magnified a little by fond imagination, became the ideal limits of the Promised Land. David himself, idealized by later ages, became the prototype of the Messiah. The reign of David is said to have lasted forty years. It probably extended from about b.c. 1017 to 977.

14. Reign of Solomon . Probably upon the accession of Solomon, certainly during his reign, two of the tributary States, Edom and Damascus, gained their independence ( 1 Kings 11:14-25 ). The remainder of the empire of David was held by Solomon until his death. Up to the time of Solomon the Israelites had been a simple rural people untouched by the splendour or the culture of the world outside. Simple shepherds and vinedressers, they knew nothing of the splendours of Tyre or Babylon or Egypt, and had never possessed wealth enough to enjoy such splendours had they known them. David had risen from the people, and to his death remained a simple man of his race. Solomon, born in the purple, determined to bring his kingdom into line with the great powers of the world. He accordingly consummated a marriage with the daughter of Pharaoh, probably one of the Pharaohs of the Tanite branch of the 21st dynasty. This marriage brought him into touch with the old civilization of Egypt. In order to equip his capital with public buildings suitable to the estate of such an empire, Solomon hired Phœnician architects, and constructed a palace for himself, one for the daughter of Pharaoh, and a Temple of such magnificence as the rustic Israelites had never seen. Later generations have overlaid the accounts of these, especially of the Temple, with many glosses, increasing the impression of their grandeur (cf. Temple), but there is no doubt that in the way of luxury they far surpassed anything previously known in Israel. The whole pile was approached through a hypostyle hall built on Egyptian models, called the ‘house of the forest of Lebanon,’ while into the Temple brazen work and brazen instruments were introduced, in flagrant violation of Israelitish traditions. Even a brazen altar of burnt-offering was substituted for the traditional altar of stone. Ornaments of palm trees and cherubim such as adorned the temple of Melkart at Tyre decorated not only the interior of the Temple, but the brazen instruments as well. These religious innovations were looked upon with disfavour by many of Solomon’s contemporaries (cf. 1 Kings 12:28 b), and the buildings, although the boast of a later age, were regarded with mingled feelings by those who were compelled to pay the taxes by which they were erected.

Not only in buildings but also in his whole establishment did Solomon depart from the simple ways of his father. He not only married the daughters of many of the petty Palestinian kings who were his tributaries, but filled his harem with numerous other beauties besides. Probably the statement that he had 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3 ) is the exaggeration of a later writer, but, allowing for this, his harem must have been very numerous. His method of living was of course in accord with the magnificent buildings which he had erected. To support this splendour the old system of taxation was inadequate, and a new method had to be devised. The whole country was divided into twelve districts, each of which was placed under the charge of a tax-gatherer, and compelled to furnish for the king’s house the provision for one month in each year ( 1 Kings 4:7-18 ). It is noteworthy that in this division economic conditions rather than tribal territories were followed. Not only were the tribes unequal in numbers, but the territory of certain sections was much more productive than that of others. Solomon’s tax-collectors were placed in the most fertile sections of the land. Solomon is also said to have departed from the simple ways of his father by introducing horses and chariots for his use. The ass is the animal of the simple Palestinian. The ancient Hebrew always looked askance at a horse. It was an emblem of pride and luxury. In his eyes it was the instrument of war, not of peace. The introduction of this luxury further estranged many of Solomon’s non-Judæan subjects. His wealth was increased by his commerce with South Arabia. He established a fleet of trading vessels on the Red Sea, manned with Phœnician sailors ( 1 Kings 9:26 ff.).

Early in his reign Solomon obtained a reputation for wisdom. ‘Wisdom’ to the early Hebrew did not mean philosophy, but practical insight into human nature and skill in the management of people (cf. 1 Kings 3:16-28 ). It was this skill that enabled him to hold his kingdom intact in spite of his many innovations. It was this skill that in the later traditions made Solomon, for the Israelite, the typical wise man. Although we cannot longer ascribe to him either the Book of Proverbs or the Book of Ecclesiastes, his reputation for wisdom was no doubt deserved.

Solomon’s reign is said to have continued forty years (1 Kings 11:42 ). If this be so. b.c. 977 937 is probably the period covered. Towards the close of Solomon’s reign the tribe of Ephraim, which in the time of the Judges could hardly bear to allow another tribe to take precedence of it, Became restless. Its leader was Jeroboam, a young Ephraimite officer to whom Solomon had entrusted the administration of the affairs of the Joseph tribes ( 1 Kings 11:28 ). His plans for rebelling involved the fortification of his native city Zeredah. which called Solomon’s attention to his plot, and he fled accordingly to Egypt, where he found refuge. In the latter country the 21st dynasty, with which Solomon had intermarried, had passed away, and the Libyan Shishak (Sheshonk), the founder of the 22nd dynasty, had ascended the throne in b.c. 945. He ruled a united Egypt, and entertained ambitions to renew Egypt’s Asiatic empire. Shishak accordingly welcomed Jeroboam and offered him asylum, but was not prepared while Solomon lived to give him an army with which to attack his master.

15. Division of the kingdom . Upon the death of Solomon, his son Rehoboam seems to have been proclaimed king in Judah without opposition, but as some doubt concerning the loyalty of the other tribes, of which Ephraim was leader, seems to have existed, Rehoboam went to Shechem to be anointed as king at their ancient shrine ( 1 Kings 12:1 ff.). Jeroboam, having been informed in his Egyptian retreat of the progress of affairs, returned to Shechem and prompted the elders of the tribes assembled there to exact from Rehoboam a promise that in case they accepted him as monarch he would relieve them of the heavy taxation which his father had imposed upon them. After considering the matter three days, Rehoboam rejected the advice of the older and wiser counsellors, and gave such an answer as one bred to the doctrine of the Divine right of kings would naturally give. The substance of his reply was: ‘My little finger shall be thicker than my father’s loins.’ As the result of this answer all the tribes except Judah and a portion of Benjamin refused to acknowledge the descendant of David, and made Jeroboam their king. Judah remained faithful to the heir of her old hero, and, because Jerusalem was on the border of Benjamin, the Judæan kings were able to retain a strip of the land of that tribe varying from time to time in width from four to eight miles. All else was lost to the Davidic dynasty.

The chief forces which produced this disruption were economic, but they were not the only forces. Religious conservatism also did its share. Solomon had in many ways contravened the religious customs of his nation. His brazen altar and brazen utensils for the Temple were not orthodox. Although he made no attempt to centralize the worship at his Temple (which was in reality his royal chapel), his disregard of sacred ritual had its effect, and Jeroboam made an appeal to religious conservatism when he said, ‘Behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.’ Since we know the history only through the work of a propagandist of a later type of religion, the attitude of Jeroboam has long been misunderstood. He was not a religious innovator, but a religious conservative.

When the kingdom was divided, the tributary States of course gained their independence, and Israel’s empire was at an end. The days of her political glory had been less than a century, and her empire passed away never to return. The nation, divided and its parts often warring with one another, could not easily become again a power of importance.

16. From Jeroboam to Ahab (937 875). After the division of the kingdom, the southern portion, consisting chiefly of the tribe of Judah, was known as the kingdom of Judah, while the northern division was known as the kingdom of Israel. Judah remained loyal to the Davidic dynasty as long as she maintained her independence, but in Israel frequent changes of dynasty occurred. Only one family furnished more than four monarchs, some only two, while several failed to transmit the throne at all. The kings during the first period were:

Israel. Judah. Jeroboam i 937 915. Rehoboam 937 920. Nadab 915 913. Abijam 920 917. Baasha 913 889. Asa 917 876. Elah 889 887. Jehoshaphat 876 . Zimri days. Omri 887 875. Few of the details of the reign of Jeroboam have come down to us. He fortified Shechem (1 Kings 12:25 ), but Tirzah (which Klostermann regards as the same as Zeredah) was also a residence ( 1 Kings 14:17 ). Jeroboam extended his royal patronage to two sanctuaries, Dan and Bethel, the one at the northern and the other at the southern extremity of his territory. Naturally there were hostile relations between him and Judah as long as Jeroboam lived. No details of this hostility have come down to us. If we had only the Biblical records before us, we should suppose that Jeroboam was aided in this war by Shishak of Egypt, for we are told how he invaded Judah ( 1 Kings 14:25 ) and compelled Rehoboam to pay a tribute which stripped the Temple of much of its golden treasure and ornamentation. It appears from the Egyptian inscriptions, however, that Shishak’s campaign was directed against both the Hebrew kingdoms alike. His army marched northward to the latitude of the Sea of Galilee, captured the towns of Megiddo, Taanach, and Shunem in the plain of Jezreel, the town of Bethshean at the junction of Jezreel with the Jordan valley, and invaded the East-Jordanic country as far as Mahanaim. Many towns in Judah were captured also. (Cf. Breasted’s Hist. of Egypt , 530.) How deep the enmity between Israel and Judah had become may be inferred from the fact that this attack of the Egyptian monarch did not dri


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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Israel'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. http://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hdb/i/israel.html. 1909.


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