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Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [1]

God promised Abraham that he would make from him a nation, that he would give that nation the land of Canaan as a homeland, and that through it blessing would come to people worldwide ( Genesis 12:1-3;  Genesis 13:14-17;  Genesis 15:18-21;  Genesis 22:17-18). The nation became known as Israel, after Abraham’s grandson (originally named Jacob) whose twelve sons were the fathers of the twelve tribes of Israel ( Genesis 32:28;  Genesis 35:22-26;  Genesis 49:1;  Genesis 49:28;  1 Chronicles 1:34;  1 Chronicles 2:1-2; see Jacob ).

Beginnings of Israel’s national life

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [2]


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 PhÅ“nician 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 PhÅ“nician 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

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology [3]

The Name and People . Jacob, grandson of Abraham, was named Israel after he had wrestled with God ( Genesis 32:28 ). This name is a combination of the Hebrew words for "wrestle" and "God" (because sareta [you have wrestled] with God [ ‘el ] and men you will be called yisrael ). When Jacob had returned to Canaan, God commanded him to settle in Bethel; there God appeared to Jacob again and repeated that his name was no longer Jacob but Israel. This confirmation of the naming was followed by God confirming his covenant with Jacob ( Genesis 35:9-12 ), emphasizing specific elements of the covenant he had made with Abraham ( Genesis 17:1-8 ). The name, expressing the concept of wrestling, clinging firmly to God, and overcoming, and God's confirming of his covenant with Jacob, indicates that Israel is to be understood as Jacob's covenant name. The name spoke of his being bound with a bond of life and love to God. His descendants were at times referred to as Hebrews ( Genesis 39:14,17;  40:15;  41:12 ), and when they were slaves in Egypt ( Exodus 1:15;  2:13 ), and occasionally in other contexts (e.g.,  Deuteronomy 15:12;  1 Samuel 4:6;  Isaiah 36:11;  Jeremiah 34:9,14 ). Eventually they were known as Jews (first mentioned in  Jeremiah 32:12 ). The use of these references, "Hebrew" and "Jew, " indicated that among the nations, Abraham and Jacob's descendants were thus known nationally and/or ethnically. The name "Israel, " however, referred to Jacob's descendants' spiritual, covenantal, and religious heritage. The name "Israel" spoke of the ethnic or national Hebrews' and Jews' unique relationship with God. There was a time when the name was not used to refer to all of Jacob's descendants because after the division of the tribes, the northern ten tribes were known as Israel and the southern tribes as Judah. After the exile it was used again to refer to the entire community.

The Old Testament is often considered to be specifically a record of Israel's national history, of its unique religion, and of its hopes for the future. The Scriptures are also used as a source for understanding God's redemptive activities on behalf of and goals for Israel. While it is true that these are aspects of the Old Testament record, the more inclusive message is to reveal how God sovereignly chose to prepare and use Israel as his unique mediatorial agent. He unfolded his kingdom plan on behalf of all races, nations, peoples, and ethnic groups.

God's Purposes . God's purpose for electing Israel can be divided into five interrelated and correlated themes.

First, Israel was to, and did, bring the Messiah to Israel and to the nations of the world. God had assured Adam and Eve that the seed of the woman would crush Satan's head and thereby undo the disobedience, sinfulness, and corruption resulting from their deviation from God and their breaking of the covenant. Of Noah's progeny, Shem was identified as the seed-bearing progenitor ( Genesis 9:24-27 ). Then Abram/Abraham was called and told by God that through him all nations were to be blessed ( Genesis 12:3 ). It was to be through Abraham's seed ( Genesis 15:5;  17:1-8 ) that God would bring in the Messiah and the sure redemptive victory over Satan, sin, and its effects. This seed line was narrowed to Isaac, Jacob/Israel, Judah, and David. Meanwhile all of Abraham's seed was to serve as light to the peoples of the world ( Isaiah 9:2-7;  42:6;  49:6 ).

Second, inseparably related to this first and all-inclusive purpose, was Israel's divinely determined role to give, uphold, and preserve the Scriptures, both the Old and New Testaments. This written Word is the sure, infallible record of how God created the cosmos, and how he purposed to bring redemption and restoration to the cosmos and its inhabitants. Without this written word there would be no record of what God had done, promised, and carried out. Once Israel was formed as a people under Moses' mediatorial leadership, this first part of the word was written by him; and it was added to by other Israelite writers, historians, poets, sages, and prophets. Thus, Israel's divinely determined purpose was to bring the eternal living Word, Jesus Christ ( John 1:1-3 ), and the inspired, inerrant, and infallible written word to all the nations of the world—including themselves.

Third, Israel, by God's determinate counsel, was given the unique role of being a mediatorial people. God called Abraham from a "corner" of the then known world to place him in the center among the nations. There, with smaller nations as near neighbors, Syria, Ammon, Moab, Edom, Philistia, Tyre, Sidon, and larger ones beyond, the Arabians, Egyptian, Hittite, Assyrian, and Babylonian, Israel was made to be a peculiar treasure, to be a kingdom, a priestly people, and a holy nation ( Exodus 19:4-6 ). This multifaceted role was not just simply for Israel's sake. Israel was elected, empowered, qualified, and given the opportunity in centrally located Canaan to mediate between God and the nations. This mediatorial work was to be carried out through living according to the word God had given so that nations would take note of and desire to join in the blessing, wonder, and glory of life with and under his beneficient reign ( Isaiah 2:1-5;  Micah 4:1-5 ). Israel's initial purpose was not to witness verbally, but to exhibit the rich blessedness of covenantal life. The non-Israelite, drawn to Israel in this way, was expected to learn and submit to God's revealed demands. Such was the case with Rahab ( Joshua 2:9-13 ), Ruth ( Ruth 1:16-18 ), and Uriah ( 2 Samuel 11:6,11 ). They were neither Hebrew nor Jew but became true citizens of Israel, God's covenant people.

Fourth, God called, elected, and declared that Israel as a people were to be a kingdom ( Exodus 19:6 ). Moses emphatically declared they were chosen because of no merit of their own. God chose Israel to be his covenant/kingdom people because he loved them with a gracious love ( Deuteronomy 7:7 ). Israel, however, had its responsibilities placed before it. The people had to acknowledge and exhibit in the totality of their lives that God was their one and only King. No other gods were to be recognized as their sovereign ruler or as their source of life and its inclusive blessings. Israel was to know itself as a theocracy under the reign of God. As such they were called to be royal, loving, obedient, serving people.

Israel had the duty, according to God's purposes, to demonstrate to itself, its children, its non-Israelite neighbors living within Canaan's borders, and surrounding nations, how, as a redeemed, covenantal serving people, they should live as a theocratic kingdom. This could only be done by faithfully carrying out the three creation covenant mandates: the spiritual, the social, and the cultural.

The spiritual mandate called for loving fellowship with God and an adoring worship that would glorify the sovereign covenant Lord. Fellowship and worship were to be carried out in families (e.g., Passover,  Exodus 12 ) but particularly in the courts of the tabernacle and temple. The people, old and young, were to be called together, and as an assembly were to pay homage to their Lord. Means for the assembly's worship were prescribed. The tabernacle and later the temple, giving symbolic and typological expression to the the covenant promise, "I am your God, I am with you, " was to be the central place of worship ( Deuteronomy 12:1-14 ). Moses later told the people they could assemble for worship around local altars at which priests officiated ( Deuteronomy 12:15-19 ). Yahweh provided the priesthood and the prescribed sacrifices to enable the assembly to worship as a devout kingdom people. Some sacrifices were to be offered daily ( Leviticus 6:1-8 ), others at appropriate times (feasts or for specific situations); the Sabbath was to be the day of no work but to be the time of worship for the entire assembly. God repeatedly reminded his people that they were not to assemble around and worship other gods because he was a jealous Lord ( Deuteronomy 4:15-24;  13:1-18 ). Nor were the people to worship as they saw fit ( Deuteronomy 12:8 ); they were to keep the basic principles for obeying and carrying out the spiritual mandate as these were stated in the first four commandments.

God called Israel as a covenant community to live and exhibit kingdom life to the world. Israel was to obey and carry out the creation covenant social mandate. Commandments 5-7 provided basic guidelines. Within the community, family life was to be fundamental; parents were to teach, train, and discipline their children ( Deuteronomy 6:4-9;  Psalm 78:1-8 ). Children were to respond to parents with honor and dignity. Marriage with noncovenant people was strictly forbidden ( Deuteronomy 7:1-6 ). However, those who were not biological descendants of Abraham could be taken as mates if they became members of the Israelite community. Procreation was to be considered a divine ordinance for thus seed would come forth to continue covenantal service within the theocracy. Abuse of sexual potential was strictly forbidden as was adultery.

Israel as a holy nation was to exhibit the kingdom of God to the world by heeding and carrying out the creation covenant cultural mandate. Prerequisites were their activities as a worshiping assembly and their communal life expressed by their mutual love and joy in marriage, family, clan, and entire covenant community. God's purpose for Israel as a holy nation was that they be totally separated from heathen practices spiritually, socially, and culturally and be consecrated to their sovereign Lord who had commanded "Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy" ( Leviticus 19:2 ). Israel, the holy nation, was to be organized politically. Yahweh was their sovereign King. Elders and judges had to carry out administrative and judicial duties; priests had to assist particularly in regard to health laws.

Israel, to meet the challenge of being a holy, politically organized, governed, and law-abiding nation, was called to live separately among the nations. God gave them Canaan as their land, not first of all for their own advancement and enjoyment but to enable Israel to serve as the mediatorial nation in the midst of the nations. Each tribe and clan was given an inheritance from which they were to remove all Canaanite inhabitants so that they could live without unholy pressures and truly be free to live up to God's purposes for them. Israel was promised prosperity but these material blessings were to be received as means to serve. Thus, as good stewards, they could develop and beautify their natural surroundings and with skill produce materials that would enhance the beauty of their environment. The tabernacle and temple were examples of highly developed cultural craftsmanship.

Fifth, to work out his purposes for the world under sin, God chose Israel to be his covenantal servants who were to live by faith and demonstrate it to the nations. Noah and Abraham exercised faith as did many others ( Hebrews 11 ). This faith included knowing the Lord, trusting in him, and living a life of courage and hope. This faith was inseparable from obedience to all of God's revealed will. Through obedience Israel would exhibit to its offspring and neighbors what service to God entailed. Indeed, the life of faith, obedience, and service would fulfill the purposes God had in mind and revealed to them. In this way, Israel would serve mediatorially as a messianic people and in time bring forth the Messiah himself, receive and give to the world God's inscripturated word, and show that the kingdom of God included all of life's activities and relationships.

Israel's Privileges . In the economy of God's kingdom, privileges involve responsibilities. Israel, called and enabled to carry out God's purposes, was given privileges commensurate and in correlation with the responsibilities given them. These privileges were many.

First, it was Israel's privilege to represent and mirror the Sovereign of the cosmos to the nations. Israel's privilege was to serve! Self-serving and self-aggrandizement were entirely contrary to the responsibilities and privileges given to the descendants of Jacob. The people, as an assembly, as a community, and as a nation, were never to consider themselves only as objects of God's election, love, and providential goodness; they were to consider themselves basically as subjects called for the purpose of serving. In service according to God's purposes, Israel would be honored by the privileges made available to them.

Second, it was Israel's privilege to be in a unique covenantal relationship with God. God, referring to himself as the Husband ( Jeremiah 31:33 ) and Israel as his precious possession whom he had brought to himself, implied Israel was his bride ( Exodus 19:4-6 ). This covenantal/spiritual marriage relationship was a bond of life and love God would not break. He would not divorce her though he would send her away for a time ( Isaiah 50:1 ). Israel had assured security in the love, goodness, and faithfulness of God.

Third, Israel had unique access to God. God dwelt in the midst of his people. First by Moses and then via the priests, the people could come into the presence of God. He communed with them, receiving their sacrifices, praises, and prayers. He spoke to them directly, through his written Word read to the people, and by the prophets. In this intimate relationship, Israel could know the character of their God. He was sovereign and all-powerful; he declared and showed himself to be compassionate, gracious, patient, full of love, faithful, forgiving, righteous, and just ( Exodus 34:6-7;  Numbers 14:17-18;  Psalm 103:8-13;  Jonah 4:2-3 ).

Fourth, it was Israel's privilege to have a land and cultural blessings that God had prepared for them by Canaanite endeavors. It was a land with flourishing cities, houses filled with good things, wells providing water, productive vineyards, and fruitful orchards ( Deuteronomy 6:10-12 ). This promised land was their inheritance to be possessed for service and not to be occupied for self-satisfaction and feelings of superiority. The land was never to be seen as a prize or as a possession without regard for the reasons that it was given: to be central among the nations so that the messianic light of God's kingdom would shine out to all nations. In this land, then, Israel had the privilege of carrying out its spiritual, social, and cultural mandates. It was to be a place of rest, prosperity, security, and peace; Israel thus had the privilege of portraying to all nations what the redeemed and restored cosmos would be like. By its serene, serving life Israel could portray hope for a blessed future for peoples of all nations who joined them in faith, obedience, and service to God, thus bringing glory to the cosmic King.

Fifth, within their promised land and to the nations beyond, Israel had the privilege of proclaiming, as no other could, that God reigned. This message was one of assurance for present and future times. The Sovereign God was in control and directed all the affairs of the cosmos, of the nations, and of individuals. Moses sang, "The Lord will reign forever and ever" ( Exodus 15:18 ). The psalmists sang it ( Psalm 93:1-2;  97:1;  99:1-5 ). The prophets proclaimed it to Israel ( Isaiah 52:8 ) and to the nations ( Obadiah 1:1,21 ).

Sixth, Israel was given promises concerning its continuation as a people. This privilege had the potential of breeding a false security that irrespective of circumstances, Israel as a nation could expect to endure throughout all ages. Inseparably involved, however, with this tremendous privilege was the demand that the people live by faith, obediently and in the service of God and his purposes concerning his enduring kingdom.

Israel's Response . Biblical revelation records how Israel responded to its call to believe, obey, and serve God's purposes for Jacob's descendant's and to the privileges given so that God's purposes could be fulfilled. The account is a revelation of faithfulness, obedience, and service on the part of varying numbers of the people in various ways, and unfaithfulness, disobedience, and lack of service, often on the part of most of the people. God, however, remained faithful and steadfast in working out his kingdom, covenantal, and mediatorial plan. He did so by blessing, by withholding blessings, and by executing, in a mitigated way, the curse of the covenant. Israel was never completely destroyed as a community although it suffered severely when the warnings Moses had enunciated ( Deuteronomy 28-29 ) went unheeded. God humiliated Israel by bringing famines, hardships, military defeats, foreign oppressions, and eventually exile.

The tensions between covenantal living and violations of it were starkly present among Jacob's twelve sons. Ten brothers sold Joseph into slavery and lied about his disappearance. Judah had sex with a woman he considered a prostitute ( Genesis 38 ) while Joseph refused the sexual temptations in Egypt. In spite of his humiliations he remained faithful and served his covenant Lord. Jacob referred to various other sins of his sons ( Genesis 49:4,5,17,27 ). Yet in spite of Judah's failings he was prophesied to be a forbear of the Messiah Israel was to bring into the world ( Genesis 49:8-12 ). It was Joseph, richly blessed ( Genesis 49:22-26 ), who acknowledged God's faithfulness and sovereign providential guidance ( Genesis 50:19-20 ).

Israel as a growing community in Egypt suffered as slaves; there is little evidence of conscious obedience and service to Yahweh once Joseph had died, except for the midwives who spared Moses ( Exodus 1 ). Ready to be freed as slaves under Moses' leadership and spontaneous in vows to obey and serve Yahweh as a covenant community and nation ( Exodus 19:8;  24:3,7 ), Israel's sons and daughters soon exhibited their fickleness and hankering for life in Egypt ( Exodus 32:2-8 ). Moses' intercession was heard and Israel was made to know that God was a faithful, covenant-keeping God whose jealously preserved his character and his people ( Exodus 34:5-14 ).

Once Israel had received the tabernacle, the Aaronic priesthood, and the prescriptions for sacrifices and feasts, the people had every opportunity to be a believing, obeying, worshiping, serving community and theocratic nation. But there were murmurings and rebellions ( Numbers 11:1;  12:1-2;  14:1-4;  16:1-3;  21:4-5 ); two of the twelve spies trusted in and honored God ( Numbers 13 ); ten did not. Nor did the nation as a whole. When under Moses and Joshua's leadership the Transjordan was conquered, God had Moses reveal to the people that he, the covenant Sovereign of earth and heaven, called upon and demanded the people to love, obey, worship, and serve as a devout covenant people. Joshua, divinely ordained, was an effective military leader. Israel as a nation was given the promised land, cultivated, built up, and productive.

After Joshua's death, the people repeatedly broke covenant with God. They were humiliated by military defeats and economic hardships. Ever faithful, God moved his people to acknowledge him by means of these hardships and provided leaders so that the people had freedom and prosperity again. Throughout the turbulent times of the judges, from Othniel to Samuel, God continued to work out his messianic purposes. The judges, Boaz and Ruth, and Samuel, the judge/prophet, stand out.

God's faithfulness in regard to his messianic purposes and goals was dramatically revealed in the time of David and Solomon. David, a descendant of Judah, of the seedline of Abraham and Shem, was anointed and enthroned. David, the poet and prophet, in spite of his sins, was a man after God's heart. He conquered and reigned over the entire territory God had promised to Abraham ( 2 Samuel 8:1-14 ). His reign is described as just and right ( 2 Samuel 8:15 ). The covenant was confirmed and expanded with specifics concerning covenant seed and an eternal dynasty ( 2 Samuel 7:1-28 ). His son Solomon carried out the plans David made for the temple and worship. Solomon exhibited wisdom ( 1 Kings 10:1-13 ) and the splendor of the theocratic monarchy was unsurpassed ( 1 Kings 10:14-29 ).  Psalm 72 expresses the glory of the messianic kingdom, as initially realized under David and Solomon and to be fully and finally realized under Jesus Christ.

The prophetic office served Yahweh's purposes. Moses had been a prophet par excellence; Samuel fulfilled a key role in anointing David ( 1 Samuel 16:13 ) and Nathan pronounced one of the most significant prophecies when he addressed David, assuring him that a descendant would reign, that David's throne and kingdom would last forever. In this prophecy no reference is made to the nation of Israel itself but rather to the central person, David, and to his seed. Israel would provide the context but the central thrust was on the house of David, his throne, and the kingdom God was to bring to ever fuller manifestation.

The high points, as exhibited in the covenant with David, his victories, his just and righteous reign, the wisdom of Solomon and grandeur of his throne and kingdom, were not maintained. God's purposes did not diminish; the privileges given to the royal house of David were initially expanded. But Solomon in his later years and the majority of the Davidic dynasty did not remain faithful covenant and kingdom believers and obedient servants. A major part of the theocratic nation seceded and took the name "Israel." The tribes of Judah, Simeon, and Benjamin constituted the ongoing environment in which God continued to work out his purposes. The low point came after Israel was deported into exile in 722 b.c. ( 2 Kings 17:21-23 ). A small remnant from Judah fled to Egypt ( Jeremiah 41:16-18;  44:26 ).

The prophets continued to speak God's words of both warning and promise. Judah particularly was repeatedly reminded that God's kingdom and covenant would continue; the promise of the messianic mediator was repeated before (Isaiah and Micah) and during (Ezekiel and Daniel) the exile. The descendants of Jacob, the Israelite covenant community, whether in homeland or in exile, would continue so that God's covenant promises concerning the conquering seed, as represented by the Davidic dynasty, and concerning his all-encompassing kingdom would in time be realized. Thus the nation of Israel was not the central focus; God's purposes to be realized through Israel were. Israel, as a people, would bring in the Messiah.

After the exile, the descendants of Jacob, often referred to as Jews rather than Israelites, formed a social and religious community. The efforts to be a worshiping, called-out people were diminished by legalistic scribal and priestly activities and by various fanatic attempts that failed to transform the people living in Palestine into a nation again. Thus, while Israel as a nation no longer functioned, it did as a social and religious community. In that setting the ultimate purpose for Israel's call and existence was fully realized in Jesus, even as God had purposed. Forty years, the same period of time Israel wandered in the desert, after Jesus ascended to reign over the kingdom, the Israelite community, temple, and sacrificial system were removed. The promise God made to Adam and Eve, repeated to Abraham, Judah, and David concerning the conquering, reigning Seed of the woman was fully kept. Israel, in spite of its repeated Acts of unbelief, disobedience, and rebellion, fulfilled the purposes for which God had called and prepared it.

Contemporary Issues Regarding Israel . The relationship of Israel to the Scriptures is definite. Both the Old and New Testaments were written by people who were known to be of Israelite nativity. The entire Bible is God's gift to the world via the people of Israel—whether one wishes to refer to the Bible as Hebrew (Old Testament) and Jewish (New Testament). The fact remains, the entire Bible was given by God through the believing, obeying, and serving covenant community. Moses and the historical, poetic, wisdom, and prophetic writers were covenant servants; equally so were the New Testament evangelists, historical epistolary, and apocalyptic writers. Serious differences of views pertain, however, concerning the nature of the entire Bible. Is it a record of Israel's origins, existence, and development as a nation? In other words, is the Bible a strictly human book or is it a divinely inspired book that has the message of divine creation, humanity's fall, God's redemptive and restorative program, and his enduring kingdom to and initially carried out largely by Israel? The biblical account is clear and definite: Israel was God's instrument by which the Bible was given to the entire world.

The biblical record concerning Israel's origin is clear. Scholars, working in the areas of Near Eastern archaeology and historical criticism have offered variant views. That Israel as a body of approximately two million people lived and served as slaves in Egypt is not accepted by many such scholars. That there is some evidence that a group of Semitic people lived and were enslaved in Egypt is generally accepted. But the manner and time of the dramatic exodus event are not accepted as historically or archaeologically verifiable. Likewise, the Sinai experience, the forty-year wandering in the wilderness, and the military conquest of Canaan have been seriously doubted. Alternate views are projected, such as a small group that escaped from slavery in Egypt, joining other groups, gradually infiltrated Canaan and took on many of its ways of life. The development of Israel as a nation has been seen as a gradual formation of a league of tribes of various origins. The evidence presented by archaeologists and historical critics has not bee accepted by many scholars, particularly evangelical, conservative scholars. These scholars, however, have shown that archaeological and scientific historical studies do not contradict the biblical record but illumine it.

A third debated issue in relation to Israel, and closely related to the two already mentioned, is the origin and nature of Israel's religion. Reference is made particularly to Israel's beliefs, worship patterns, and practices. The Scriptures testify to Israel's faith as revealed by God and its worship activities directed by him. With the aid of scholars who have studied Israel's social structures and psychological attitudes, students of Israel's surrounding nations and their religions have attempted to demonstrate that much of what Israel practiced religiously was adopted from those of the peoples around them. Israel did not live in isolation from its neighbors; it had various religious practices that were outwardly similar, such as portable shrines, systems of sacrifice, and religious objects such as altars. Israel's religion was unique, however, in origin and practice. God revealed himself directly to Abraham, as he had done to Adam and Noah. He especially revealed himself as a covenant Lord to them and this covenantal relationship with all its ramifications and implications was explicated in detail by God through his appointed mediatorial agents. Israel's faith and religious life and activities had their origin in revelation, not in borrowing or in religious perceptions. It must be added, however, that Israel was not always faithful to their sovereign covenant Lord. There was much vacillation in its loyalty to him and there is much evidence of disobedience as exhibited in Israel's following of their neighbors' detestable idolatrous practices.

Much discussion is involved in the issue of Israel and the land. That God promised Abraham and his progeny a land as their possession cannot be doubted. But did God unconditionally promise that it would be an eternal possession? Many evangelical Christians believe this is the case; they speak of the Palestinian covenant on the basis of their interpretation of  Deuteronomy 28 . Other equally sincere evangelical biblical students point to five important qualifying factors. First, Moses emphatically stated that obedience was a basic requirement to inherit the land and to remain blessed possessors ( Deuteronomy 4:25-31;  28:15-68 ). Second, the term translated "everlasting" is often translated correctly "for a long time, " "for ages." The term cannot mean eternal, in the sense of never-ending, for at the Lord's return at the end of time, the order of the renewed heavens and earth will be ushered in. Third, God fulfilled his promises regarding the land and its extent at the time of David and Solomon ( 2 Samuel 8:1-4;  1 Chronicles 18:1-13;  1 Kings 4:20-21;  Psalm 72:8 ). Fourth, the prophetic promise of a return to the land after the exile was fulfilled when a remnant returned ( Ezra 2 ). Fifth, the New Testament does not refer to Israel as a nation possessing the land forever; rather, it speaks of Abraham's believing covenant offspring inheriting the world ( Romans 4:13 ).

Another issue concerns the interpretation of prophecies concerning Israel. This issue is closely related to Israel's relationship to the land, the church, and the millennium ( Revelation 20 ). The following factors must be kept in mind. The prophets spoke of a future for Israel. They did not, however, always refer to Israel as a political entity, an organized nation. The concept of the remnant is dominant, particularly of Israel as a believing covenant community. Furthermore, when the prophets spoke to their contemporaries they did so in terms the people at that time understood. Hence, when prophets spoke of the wonderful future of Yahweh's covenant people, they did so in simple urban, pastoral, agricultural, and natural (nature) terms ( Isaiah 35 ). Strict literal interpretation, often controlled by certain presuppositions regarding Israel as a political, national entity, must be used very discretely if not completely avoided.

Another specific issue concerns the relationship of Israel and the New Testament church. On the basis of a too literal interpretation of Old Testament prophecies concerning Israel and maintaining the view that New Testament writers referred to a politically organized national entity rather than to the believing covenant community, a strict separation is posited between Israel as a nation and the non-Jewish New Testament covenant community of believers, the church. It is believed that God has two distinct people in mind with a distinctly separate program for each. Many biblical scholars have difficulties with this separation. Some of the points stated in preceding paragraphs should be kept in mind. Moreover, Jesus never spoke of Israel's continuation as a politically separate religiously oriented nation; rather, he spoke of God's all-encompassing kingdom. And while it is true Paul spoke of his ethnic people as "the people of Israel" ( Romans 9:3-5 ), he spoke of all true believers in Jesus Christ as Abraham's seed, heirs according to the promise made to Abraham's descendants ( Galatians 3:28 ). He also wrote of all believers, Gentiles as well as ethnic Jewish people who believed in Jesus Christ, as Israel ( Galatians 6:16 ). It is therefore believed that Paul, when speaking of his own ethnic people, many of whom did not accept Jesus as the promised Messiah, and of many Gentiles coming to faith, includes all believers, whether they be Jews or Gentiles, to constitute the "all Israel, " that is, the unified body, the covenant community of believers ( Romans 11:25-32 ).

The last issue to be referred to, although others could be included, is Israel's national existence as a millennial kingdom. This issue has many ramifications that cannot be included in this essay. Suffice it to state that John did not write that Israel as a distinct religious national entity would be a separate kingdom for a thousand years. Nor did Jesus say he would return to earth to reign over the Jewish kingdom. In addition, various scholars have pointed out in times past and present that the Israelite kingdom, first as a theocracy and then under the reign of David's dynasty as a monarchy, was a type of the eternal kingdom Jesus is perfecting and will return to the Father ( 1 Corinthians 15:24-28 ).

Gerard Van Groningen

Bibliography . F. F. Bruce, Israel and the Nation  ; L. A. DeCaro, Israel Today: Fulfillment of Prophecy?  ; A. Gileadi, ed., Israel's Apostasy and Restoration  ; W. Hendrikson, Israel in Prophecy  ; A. W. Kac, The Rebirth of the State of Israel  ; M. Karlberg, JETS 31/3 (1988): 257-69; G. E. Ladd, The Last Things  ; H. K. LaRondelle, The Israel of God in Prophecy  ; J. B. Payne, Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy  ; P. Richardson, Israel in the Apostolic Church  ; J. F. Walvoord, Israel in Prophecy  ; M. J. Wyngaarden, The Future of the Kingdom .

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [4]

("soldier of" or "contender with God".)

1. The name given by the angel of Jehovah to Jacob, after by wrestling he had prevailed and won the blessing ( Genesis 32:26-28), "for thou hast contended with God and with men, and hast prevailed" ( Hosea 12:4). Sarah and Sur mean also "to be a prince". KJV combines both meanings: "as a prince hast thou power with God and with men," etc.

2. The name of the nation, including the whole 12 tribes.

3. The northern kingdom, including the majority of the whole nation, namely, ten tribes; or else all except Judah, Benjamin, Levi, Dan, and Simeon ( 1 Samuel 11:8;  2 Samuel 20:1;  1 Kings 12:16). In  1 Kings 11:13;  1 Kings 11:31-32 Jeroboam was appointed by God to have ten tribes, Solomon's seed one; but two were left for David's line when Ahijah gave ten out of the 12 pieces of his garment to Jeroboam. The numbers therefore must be understood in a symbolical rather than in a strictly arithmetical sense. Ten expresses completeness and totality in contrast with one, "the tribe of Judah only" ( 1 Kings 12:20); but "Benjamin" is included also (1 Kings 21;  2 Chronicles 11:3;  2 Chronicles 11:23). Levi was not counted in the political classification, it mainly joined Judah. Ephraim and Manasseh were counted as two.

Judah included also Simeon, which was so far S. and surrounded by Judah's territory ( Joshua 19:1-9) that it could not have well formed part of the northern kingdom. Moreover several cities of Dan were included in "Judah," namely, Ziklag, which Achish gave David, Zorea, and Ajalon ( 2 Chronicles 11:10;  2 Chronicles 28:18). These counterbalanced the loss to Judah of the northern part of Benjamin, including Bethel, Ramah, and Jericho, which fell to "Israel" ( 1 Kings 12:29;  1 Kings 15:17;  1 Kings 15:21;  1 Kings 16:34). Thus only nine tribes, and not all these, wholly remained to the northern kingdom. The sea coast was in the hands of Israel from Accho to Japho, S. of this the Philistines held the coast. It is estimated Judah's extent was somewhat less than Northumberland, Durham, and Westmoreland; Israel's as large as Yorkshire, Lancashire, and Cumberland; and Israel's population in 957 B.C. 3,500,000 ( 2 Chronicles 13:3).

The division was appointed by God as the chastisement of the house of David for the idolatries imported by Solomon's wives. The spreading of the contagion to the whole mass of the people was thus mercifully guarded against. Jeroboam's continued tenure of the throne was made dependent on his loyalty to God. Rehoboam's attempt to reduce the revolting tribes was divinely forbidden. Jeroboam recognized the general obligation of the law while, he violated its details. (See Jeroboam .) His innovation was in the place of worship (Bethel and Dan instead of Jerusalem), and in the persons by whom it was to be performed (priests taken from the masses instead of from Levi), also in the time of the feast of tabernacles (the eighth instead of the seventh month). In the symbols, the calves, he followed Aaron's pattern at Sinai, which he himself had been familiarized to in Egypt; at the same time recognizing the reality of God's deliverance of Israel out of Egypt in saying like Aaron, "Behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of Egypt," ( 1 Kings 12:28;  Exodus 32:4;  Exodus 32:8).

His own miraculous punishment (1 Kings 13), the death of his son, the overthrow of the three royal dynasties, Jeroboam's, Baasha's, and Ahab's; as foretold by the prophets (Isaiah 8, Isaiah 9, Isaiah 28; Hosea; and Amos), the permanent removal of Israel by Assyria, all attested God's abhorrence of idolatry. The wise design of God in appointing the separation between Israel and Judah appears in its effect on Judah. It became her political interest to adhere to the Mosaic law. This was the ground of confidence to Abijah in battle with Jeroboam ( 2 Chronicles 13:9-11). The Levites being cast out of office by Jeroboam left their suburbs and came to Judah. Rehoboam's chastisement for forsaking God's law, Judah also making high places, images, and groves ( 2 Kings 14:22-23;  2 Chronicles 12:1, etc.), had a salutary effect on Ass and Jehoshaphat in succession.

Excepting the period of apostasy resulting in the first instance from Jehoshaphat's unfortunate alliance with Ahab's family, a majority of Judah's kings were observers of the law, whereas there was not one king faithful to Jehovah in Israel's line of kings. Shechem, the original place of meeting of the nation under Joshua ( Joshua 24:1), was the first capital ( 1 Kings 12:25); then Tirzah, famed for its loveliness ( Song of Solomon 6:4;  1 Kings 14:17;  1 Kings 15:33;  1 Kings 16:8;  1 Kings 16:17;  1 Kings 16:23). Omri chose Samaria for its beauty, fertility, and commanding position (24); after a three years' siege it fell before the Assyrian king. Jezreel was the residence of some kings. Shiloh in Ephraim was the original seat of the sanctuary ( Judges 21:19;  Joshua 18:1) before it was removed to Jerusalem. The removal was a source of jealousy to Ephraim, to obviate which the Maschil (instruction) of Asaph (Psalm 78) was written (see  Psalms 78:60;  Psalms 78:67-69).

Jealousy and pride, which were old failings of Ephraim, the leading tribe of the N. ( Judges 8:1;  Judges 8:12), were the real moving causes of the revolt from Judah, the heavy taxation was the ostensible cause. Joshua and Caleb represented Ephraim and Judah respectively in the wilderness, and Joshua took the lead in Canaan. It galled Ephraim now to be made subordinate. Hence flowed the readiness with which they hearkened to Absalom and their jealousy of Judah at David's restoration ( 2 Samuel 19:41-43) and their revolting at the call of Sheba ( 2 Samuel 20:1). The idolatry of Solomon alienated the godly; his despotic grandeur at the cost of the people diminished his general popularity ( 1 Kings 11:14-40). The moment that God withdrew the influence that, restrained the spirit of disunion, the disruption took place. Jeroboam adopted the calf idolatry for state policy, but it eventuated in state ruin.

God made Israel's sin her punishment. Degradation of morality followed apostasy in religion and debasement of the priesthood. God's national code of laws, still in force, and the established idolatry were in perpetual conflict. The springs of national life were thereby poisoned. Eight houses occupied the throne, revolution ushering in each successively. The kingdom's duration was 254 years, from 975 to 721 B.C. Israel's doom acted in some degree as a salutary warning to Judah, so that for more than a century (133 1/2 years) subsequently its national existence survived. The prophets, extraordinarily raised up, were the only salt in Israel to counteract her desperate corruption: Ahijah, Elijah, Micaiah, Elisha, and Jonah, the earliest of the prophets who were writers of Holy Scripture. In the time of this last prophet God gave one last long season of prosperity, the long reign of Jeroboam II, if haply His goodness would lead the nation to repentance.

This day of grace being neglected, judgment only remained. Revolts of Edom, Moab, and Ammon, the assaults of Syria under Benhadad dud Hazael, and finally Assyria, executed God's wrath against the apostate people. Pul, Tiglath Pileser, Shalmaneser, Sargon, and Esarhaddon were the instruments (2 Kings 15-17;  Ezra 4:2;  Ezra 4:10;  Isaiah 20:1). Ahijah first foretold to Jeroboam at the beginning of the kingdom, "Jehovah shall root up Israel and scatter them beyond the river" ( 1 Kings 14:15;  Amos 5:27). (This Table [Omitted] Is Not Available In The Current Version Of The Product.) This kingdom was sometimes also designated "Ephraim" from its leading tribe ( Isaiah 17:3;  Hosea 4:17), as the southern kingdom "Judah" was so designated from the prominent tribe. Under Messiah in the last days Ephraim shall be joined to Judah; "the envy of Ephraim shall depart, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim" ( Isaiah 11:13;  Ezekiel 37:16-22).  Ezekiel 37:4.

After the return from Babylon the nation was called "Israel," the people "Jews," by which designation they are called in Esther. The ideal name for the twelve tribes regarded as one whole even after the division ( 1 Kings 18:30-31). The spiritual Israel, the church of the redeemed ( Romans 9:6;  Galatians 6:16). What became of the scattered people is hard to discover. Many joined Judah, as Anna of Asher is found in  Luke 2:36. The majority were "scattered abroad" with the Jews, as James addresses "the twelve tribes." The Jews in Bokhara told Jos. Wolff "when the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul, king of Assyria, and Tiglath Pileser, they were carried away ... even the Reubenites, Gadites, and half Manasseh, to Halah (now Balkh) and Habor (now Samarcand) and Hara (now Bokhara), and to the river Gozan (the Ammos, Jehron, or Oxus).

They were expelled by the Tahagatay, the people of Genghis Khan; then they settled in Sabr Awar and Nishapoor (except some who went to China), in Khorassan. Centuries afterward most returned to Bokhara, Samarcand, and Balkh. Timoor Koorekan (Tamerlane) gave them many privileges. The Jews of Bokhara said that many of Naphtali wander on the Aral mountains, and that the Kafir Secahpoosh on the Hindu Koosh or Indian Caucasus are their brethren." The Afghans style themselves the Bani Israel, "the sons of Israel," and by universal tradition among themselves claim descent from Saul, or Malik Twalut, through Afghana, son of Jeremiah, Saul's second son. When Bakht-u-nasr (Nebuchadnezzar) took Israel into captivity, the tribe of Afghana, on account of their clinging to the Jewish religion, were driven into the mountains about Herat, whence they spread into the Cabool valley along the right bank of the Indus to the borders of Scinde and Beloochistan.

Subsequently, they fell into idolatry, and then Mohamedanism. But they have a tradition that the Kyber hills were inhabited until recently by Jews. Similarly, the Santhals on the W. frontier of lower Bengal derive themselves from the Horites who were driven out of mount Seir by the Edomites. Their traditions point to the Punjab, the land of the five rivers, as the home of their race. They say their fathers worshipped God alone before entering the Himalayan region; but when in danger of perishing on those snowy heights they followed the direction whence the sun rose daily, and were guided safe; so they hold a feast every five years to the sun god, and also worship devils. They alone of the Hindu races have negro features, and the lightheartedness and also the improvidence of the race of Ham. God will yet restore Israel; He alone can discriminate them among the Gentiles.

"Ye shall be gathered one by one, O ye children of Israel ... In that day the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish ... and the outcasts ... and shall worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerusalem" ( Isaiah 27:13).  Jeremiah 3:14-18; "I will take you one of a city and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion." The rabbis ordain that when one builds a new house he should leave part unfinished "in memory of the desolation" ( Zeker Lachorchan ); and when a marriage takes place the bridegroom ends the ceremony by trampling the glass to pieces out of which he has drunk. Yet still they look for the restoration promised in  Deuteronomy 30:1-6;  Isaiah 11:10-16. David Levi infers from Isaiah:

(1) God's coming vengeance on Israel's foes;

(2) especially on Edom, i.e. Rome;

(3) Israel's restoration;

(4) that of the ten tribes;

(5) like the deliverance from Egypt (but exceeding it in the greatness of God's interposition:  Jeremiah 23:5-8);

(6) not to be prevented by the Jewish sinners who shall be cut off;

(7) not until after a long time;

(8) the shekinah and spirit of prophecy will return ( Ezekiel 11:23;  Ezekiel 43:2);

(9) the apostatized from the nation will be restored to it;

(10) a king of David's line and name will reign ( Ezekiel 34:23-24);

(11) they will never go into captivity again (see for the permanence and full bliss of their restoration  Isaiah 35:12;  Isaiah 54:7-11);

(12) the nations will generally acknowledge one God and desire to know His law ( Isaiah 2:3;  Isaiah 60:3;  Isaiah 66:23;  Zechariah 8:21-23;  Zechariah 14:16-19);

(13) peace will prevail ( Isaiah 2:4;  Zechariah 9:10);

(14) a resurrection of those prominent for piety or wickedness ( Daniel 12:2).

See Isaiah 11;  Isaiah 9:8-10;  Isaiah 42:13-16;  Isaiah 61:1-8, where "the desolations of many generations" cannot be merely the 70 years' captivity. After abiding many days without king, priest, sacrifice, altar, ephod, and teraphim, Israel shall seek the Lord their God and David their king ( Hosea 3:4-5). The blessing to all nations through Israel will fulfill the original promises to Adam ( Genesis 3:15) and Abraham ( Genesis 22:18;  Romans 11:25-26, etc.). Providential preparations for their restoration are already patent: the waning of Turkish power; the Holy Land unoccupied in a great measure and open to their return; their mercantile character, to the exclusion of agriculture, causing their not taking root in any other land, and connecting them with such mercantile peoples as the English and Americans, who may help in their recovering their own land ( Isaiah 60:9;  Isaiah 66:19-20); their avoidance of intermarriage with Christians.

The Israelites when converted will be the best gospel preachers to the world ( Zechariah 8:13;  Zechariah 8:23;  Micah 5:7), for they are dispersed everywhere, familiar with the language and manners of all lands, and holding constant correspondence with one another (compare the type,  Acts 2:11); and as during their alienation they have been unimpeachable, because hostile, witnesses of the divine origin of the Messianic prophecies to which Christianity appeals, so when converted from hostility they would be resistless preachers of those truths which they had rejected ( Romans 11:15).

Our age is that of the 42 months during which the court without the temple is given unto the Gentiles, and they tread under foot the holy city ( Revelation 11:2-3), and God scatters the power of the holy people ( Daniel 12:7;  Luke 21:24). At its close Israel's times begin. The 1,260 years may date from A.D. 754, when Pepin granted temporal dominion to the popes; this would bring its close to 2014 . The event alone will clear all ( Daniel 7:25;  Daniel 8:14;  Daniel 12:11-12;  Revelation 12:6;  Revelation 12:14;  Leviticus 26:14, etc.). (Graves, Pentateuch, closing lecture).

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [5]

Israel was the nation to which God’s promises had been given. Generally the idea of privilege is associated with the use of the word, just as ‘Israel’ was originally the name of special privilege given by God to Jacob, the great ancestor of the race ( Genesis 32:28;  Genesis 35:10). It differs from both ‘Hebrew’ and ‘Jew,’ the former standing, at least in NT times, for Jews of purely national sympathies who spoke the Hebrew or Aramaic dialect ( Acts 6:1); the latter, a term originally applied to all who belonged to the province of Judah, and, after the Babylonian captivity, to all of the ancient race wherever located. ‘Israel,’ on the other hand, is pre-eminently the people of privilege, the people who had been chosen by God and received His covenant. Thus frequently a Jewish orator addressed the people as ‘men of Israel’ ( Acts 2:22;  Acts 3:12;  Acts 4:8;  Acts 4:10;  Acts 5:35;  Acts 13:16 etc.).

In the Acts of the Apostles we find the word used historically with reference to the ancestors of the Jews of apostolic times and also applied to these Jews themselves. The past history of Israel as God’s chosen people is referred to in the speeches contained in the Book of Acts, e.g. by St. Stephen ( Acts 7:23;  Acts 7:37;  Acts 7:42), and by St. Paul ( Acts 13:17;  Acts 28:20). It is usually assumed or suggested in the Acts that the Jews of the time, to whom the gospel was being preached, are the Israel of the day, the people for whom God had a special favour and who might expect special blessings ( Acts 5:31;  Acts 13:23).

But the refusal of the message of the apostles by many of those who by birth were Jews led to a change in the use of the term, which gives us what we may call the metaphorical or spiritual significance of the word. The Apostle Paul’s contention with the legalistic Jews of his day led him to draw a distinction between the actual historical Israel and the true Israel of God. He speaks on the one hand of ‘Israel after the flesh’ ( 1 Corinthians 10:18), or of those who belong to the ‘stock of Israel’ ( Philippians 3:5), and on the other hand of a ‘commonwealth of Israel’ ( Ephesians 2:12), from which many, even Jews by birth, are aliens, and into which the Ephesians have been admitted (v. 13), and also of the ‘Israel of God’ ( Galatians 6:18). By this ‘commonwealth of Israel’ or ‘Israel of God’ the Apostle means a true spiritual Israel, practically equivalent to ‘all the faithful.’ It might be defined as ‘the whole number of the elect who have been, are, or shall be gathered into one under Christ,’ or, in other words, the Holy Catholic Church.

This true Israel does not by any means coincide with the nation or the stock of Abraham. ‘They are not all Israel which are of Israel’ ( Romans 9:6), i.e. by racial descent. Branches may be broken off from the olive tree of God’s privileged people and wild olive branches may be grafted into the tree ( Romans 11:17-21). Sometimes it is difficult to determine the exact application of the term in different passages in the Pauline Epistles. Thus the sentence, ‘All Israel shall be saved’ ( Romans 11:26), refers not to the true or spiritual Israel in the sense of an elect people, as has been held by various commentators, e.g. Augustine, Theodoret, Luther, Calvin, and others, nor to an elect remnant, as is held by Bengel and Olshansen. The Apostle is speaking of the actual nation of Israel as a whole, and contrasting it with the fullness of the Gentiles. It is his belief that, when the fullness of the Gentiles is come in, Israel as a nation will also turn to God by confessing Christ. The phrase ‘all Israel’ does not necessarily apply to every member of the race, nor does the passage teach anything as to the fate of the individuals who at the Apostle’s day or since then have composed the nation (cf. Meyer, Kommentar , p. 520; Denney in Expositor’s Greek Testament , ‘Rom.,’ p. 683; H. Olshausen, Rom. , p. 373; Calvin, Rom. , p. 330).

Just as the ancient historical Israel was the recipient of special privileges and stood in a particular relation to God, so the spiritual Israel of apostolic times is the bearer of special privileges and stands to God in a unique relationship. Ancient Israel had ‘the oracles of God’ ( Romans 3:2). They had the sign of circumcision. To them, St. Paul declares, pertained ‘the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the Law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came’ ( Romans 9:4-5). The great essential features of these privileges are transferred to the spiritual Israel, the believing Church which has been grafted into the true olive tree. They have the adoption, they are sons of God ( Romans 8:15-17). They have the glory both present and future ( Romans 8:18). They are partakers of the new covenant which has been ratified by the death of Jesus Christ ( 1 Corinthians 11:25).

The analogy between the first and the second covenant is fully worked out by the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews, who dwells upon the ritual and ceremonial aspect of ancient Israel’s relationship to God, and shows the higher fulfilment of that relationship under the new covenant, where there is direct personal access to God. Here the human priesthood of the sons of Aaron and the sacrifices of bulls and goats are superseded by a Divine Mediator who offered Himself a sacrifice once for all ( Hebrews 7:27;  Hebrews 10:10). The Mediator of the new covenant has entered not into an earthly temple but into heaven itself, there to make continual intercession for His people ( Hebrews 7:25). The writer further emphasizes the superiority of the new covenant relationship of the spiritual Israel as being a fulfilment of the prophecy of  Jeremiah 31:31-34, which presupposes that the old covenant had proved ineffective ( Hebrews 8:7). The Law is no longer to be written on tables of stone, but in the mind and the heart ( Hebrews 8:10).

In the Book of Revelation ancient Israel is referred to historically in connexion with Balaam, ‘who taught Balak to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel’ ( Revelation 2:14). On the other hand, the symbolic or metaphorical use of the term applied to the spiritual Israel is found in connexion with the sealing of the servants of God which takes place according to the tribes of the children of Israel ( Revelation 7:4), and also in the description of the New Jerusalem, where the names of the twelve tribes are engraven on the twelve gates ( Revelation 21:12). The author of the Apocalypse, following the usage of St. Paul and the example of St. Peter ( Revelation 1:1) and St. James ( James 1:1), applies the passage  Revelation 7:1-8, regarding the sealing of the tribes taken from a Jewish source, to the true spiritual Israel, who are to be kept secure in the day of the world’s overthrow. It is the same class which is referred to in  Revelation 7:9-17 who appear in heaven clothed in white robes and with palms in their hands (cf. J. Moffatt in Expositor’s Greek Testament , ‘Revelation,’ 1910, p. 395f.).

For the history and religion of Israel in apostolic times see articles Pharisees, Herod.

Literature.-Josephus, Ant., Bellum Judaicum (Josephus)  ; H. Ewald, Gesch. des Volkes Israel , Göttingen, 1864-66; E. Schürer, GJV [Note: JV Geschichte des jüdischen Volkes (Schürer).]4, Leipzig, 1901-11; C. von Weizsäcker, Apostolic Age , Eng. translation, 1894-95. The following Commentaries on the relevant passages may be cited: on Romans  : Calvin (1844), Olshausen (1866), Meyer (1872), Denney ( Expositor’s Greek Testament , 1900), Sanday-Headlam ( International Critical Commentary , 1902); on Hebrews  : A. B. Davidson (1882), Westcott (1889). See also the articles ‘Israel, History of,’ in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) , ‘Israel, Israelite’ in Dict. of Christ and the Gospels , ‘Israel’ in Encyclopaedia Biblica , and ‘Hebrew Religion’ in Encyclopaedia Britannica .

W. F. Boyd.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [6]

Name given to Jacob after 'a man' had wrestled with him, to whom he clung when he was by him crippled. It signifies 'a prince of God:' and it was said, "as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed." It thus indicated the way of blessing with regard to the nation in which God's government in the earth was to be established. The twelve sons of Jacob became the heads of the twelve tribes, and they and their descendants were called the children of Israel, or simply Israel. At the division of the kingdom, the ten tribes were called 'Israel,' and the two tribes 'Judah,' though this distinction is not at all times rigidly adhered to: thus the princes and kings of Judah are called princes of Israel, and kings of Israel.  2 Chronicles 12:5,6;  2 Chronicles 21:2;  2 Chronicles 28:19 . So those who returned from exile, though they were in the main of the two tribes, are called people of Israel, or Israel. In the prophets also, though the ten tribes are not called Judah, the two tribes are at times called Israel. The ten tribes in the prophets are often spoken of as EPHRAIM, which was the chief of the ten. Though Israel was reckoned as ten tribes, it is most probable that the portion of Simeon, being situated on the extreme south, was united to Judah, as well as the territory of Dan in the S.W., though the people of Simeon may have scattered themselves among the other tribes, and those of Dan have gone north and joined their tribe there.

THE Kingdom Of Israel commenced when Jeroboam was made king, to whom it was promised that his house should be established if he followed the Lord. He, on the contrary, to prevent the people going to Jerusalem, immediately set up the golden calves at Dan and at Bethel. The kingdom was given up to idolatry, and a series of judgements followed. Baasha murdered Jeroboam's son and successor; and his own son and successor was slain by Zimri; Zimri was killed by Omri, and after a civil war of four years with Tibni, Omri became king and reigned with his successors forty-five years, ending with Jehoram the son of Ahab. He and the survivors of the house of Ahab were slain by Jehu directly or indirectly, and Jehu began the 5th dynasty, B.C. 884. He and his successors reigned, with varying judgements upon them, for a hundred and twelve years. Zachariah was the last, being the fourth successor of Jehu, as God had said,  2 Kings 15:12 : he reigned only six months and was murdered by Shallum. During another fifty years the kingdom was spared: but there was no repentance. About B.C. 740 the two and a half tribes east of the Jordan were carried into captivity, and Israel became tributary to Assyria. Hoshea murdered Pekah, and after nine years of anarchy succeeded to the throne. He revolted against Assyria, trusting to Egypt; but Samaria was taken, and Israel carried into captivity. Thus ended the kingdom of Israel, B.C. 721. From about B.C. 784 to 725 Hosea was God's prophet in Israel. He solemnly pleaded with them, protesting against their evil ways, and was ever ready to help them to turn to God, though his efforts were, alas, in vain.  2 Kings 17:13-18;  Hosea 13:16;  Hosea 14:1-9 .

Israel when carried away were placed in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan (in the neighbourhood of the river Khabour, an affluent of the river Euphrates), and in the cities of the Medes. As far as is known they never returned, though doubtless individuals found their way back in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, and in the four hundred years that followed before the Lord appeared. Jews from those districts were present on the day of Pentecost; but as a body they are still commonly regarded as 'the Lost Tribes.' God knows where to find them when His set time of blessing arrives. The twelve tribes surely exist, and remnants of them will again come into the land.  Ezekiel 48:1-29;  Matthew 19:28;  Acts 26:7;  James 1:1;  Revelation 7:5-8 .

The ten tribes will be dealt with differently from the two, who were in the land when the Lord was presented to them, and who rejected Him, and demanded His crucifixion. The ten tribes will, by a mighty hand and with fury poured out, be brought into the wilderness, and there God will plead with them, cause them to pass under the rod, and bring them into the bond of the covenant; but the rebels will be purged out.  Ezekiel 20:31-38 . The question as to the wounds in the hands of the Lord, which He received in the house of His 'friends' is connected with Judah, who will be judged when in the land, and only one third of them after being refined, will be owned as God's people.  Zechariah 13:6-9 . When God thus purges and restores a remnant of all the tribes, and brings them into full blessing in the land, the name of ISRAEL will embrace them all as it did at the first, and God will be their God for evermore.  Ezekiel 37:1-28 .

Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [7]

 Genesis 32:28 (c) In that this is a new name given to Jacob, it is a type of the new relationship of the believer when he trusts Christ and becomes a Christian. Israel has been used as a type of the church because they were under the Blood of the Passover Lamb, they had a High Priest, they were separate from the nations, and they confessed that they were pilgrims looking for a city with foundations.

Some types which represent Israel in various aspects:

Adulterers,  Hosea 7:4 (a)

Bride,  Isaiah 62:5 (a)

Brood,  Luke 13:34 (b)

Cake not turned,  Hosea 7:8 (a)

Caldron,  Ezekiel 11:3 (a)

Calves of the stall,  Malachi 4:2 (a)

Cedar Trees,  Numbers 24:6 (b)

Chickens,  Matthew 23:37 (a)

Dust,  Genesis 13:16 (a)

Fig Tree,  Matthew 24:32 (b)

Great Lion,  Numbers 23:24 (b)

Heifer (backsliding).  Hosea 4:16 (a)

Jonah,  Jonah 1:17 (c)

Lign aloes,  Numbers 24:6 (a)

Olive tree,  Romans 11:17 (b)

Sand,  Genesis 22:17 (a)

Seething pot,  Jeremiah 1:13 (a)

Sheep of His hand,  Psalm 95:7 (a)

Sheep of His pasture,  Psalm 100:3 (a)

Silly dove,  Hosea 7:11 (a).

Spring of water,  Isaiah 58:11 (a)

Stars,  Genesis 22:17 (a)

Trees,  Psalm 104:16 (b)

Unicorn,  Numbers 24:8 (a)

Vine,  Ezekiel 15:6 (a)

Virgin,  2 Kings 19:21 (b)

Watered garden,  Isaiah 58:11 (a)

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [8]

-Or more properly, as it is rendered, Ishrael, the name given to Jacob by the Lord himself, on his wrestling with God in prayer and prevailing. (See  Genesis 32:21-28) from Sharah, to subdue or govern; and El, God. The whole people of God are frequently in Scripture called by this name. ( Exodus 3:6-7. So again,  Exodus 6:6-7) But what endears this name yet infinitely more is, that the Lord Jesus himself, as the glorious Head of his church and people, including both Jew and Gentile, calls himself by this name; and JEHOVAH doth the same by Christ. (See  Isaiah 49:1-6 and  Isaiah 44:1-5) And hence the whole church of the Lord Jesus are called Israelites. ( Romans 9:4) and the Lord Jesus, when speaking of his sheep under one view, saith, that they shall be brought into "one fold under one shepherd." ( John 10:16)

Smith's Bible Dictionary [9]

Is'rael. (The Prince That Prevails With God).

1. The name given,  Genesis 32:28, to Jacob after his wrestling with the angel,  Hosea 12:4, at Peniel. Gesenius interprets Israel as "Soldier Of God".

2. It became the national name of the twelve tribes collectively. They are so called in  Exodus 3:16 and afterward.

3. It is used in a narrower sense, excluding Judah, in  1 Samuel 11:8;  2 Samuel 20:1;  1 Kings 12:16. Thenceforth, it was assumed and accepted as the name of the northern kingdom.

4. After the Babylonian captivity, the returned exiles resumed the name Israel as the designation of their nation. The name Israel is also used to denote lay-men, as distinguished from priests, Levites and other ministers.  Ezra 6:16;  Ezra 9:1;  Ezra 10:25;  Nehemiah 11:3; etc.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [10]

 Genesis 32:28Jacob  Joshua 3:17 7:25 Judges 8:27 Jeremiah 3:21 Exodus 16:31 40:38

This name Israel is sometimes used emphatically for the true Israel ( Psalm 73:1 :  Isaiah 45:17;  49:3;  John 1:47;  Romans 9:6;  11:26 ).

After the death of Saul the ten tribes arrogated to themselves this name, as if they were the whole nation ( 2 Samuel 2:9,10,17,28;  3:10,17;  19:40-43 ), and the kings of the ten tribes were called "kings of Israel," while the kings of the two tribes were called "kings of Judah."

After the Exile the name Israel was assumed as designating the entire nation.

People's Dictionary of the Bible [11]

Israel ( Ĭz'Ra-El ), The Prince That Prevails With God. 1. The name given to Jacob after his wrestling with the angel at Peniel.  Genesis 32:28;  Hosea 12:4. It became the national name of the twelve tribes collectively. They are so called in  Exodus 3:16 and afterward. It is used in a narrower sense, excluding Judah, in  1 Samuel 11:8;  2 Samuel 20:1;  1 Kings 12:16. Thenceforth it was assumed and accepted as the name of the northern kingdom. After the Babylonian captivity, the returned exiles resumed the name Israel as the designation of their nation. The name Israel is also used to denote laymen, as distinguished from priests, Levites, and other ministers.  Ezra 6:16;  Ezra 9:1;  Ezra 10:25;  Nehemiah 11:3, etc. See Jews.

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [12]

a prince of God, or prevailing, or wrestling with God. This is the name which the angel gave Jacob, after having wrestled with him all night at Mahanaim, or Peniel,  Genesis 32:1-2;  Genesis 32:28-30;  Hosea 12:4 . By the name of Israel is sometimes understood the person of Jacob, sometimes the whole people of Israel, the whole race of Jacob; sometimes the kingdom of Israel, or ten tribes, distinct from the kingdom of Judah; and finally, the spiritual Israel, the true church of God.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [13]

Who prevails with God, a name given to Jacob, after having wrestled with the Angel-Jehovah at Penuel.  Genesis 32:1,2,28,30   Hosea 12:3 . See  1 Corinthians 10:18; sometimes all true believers, his spiritual seed,  Romans 9:6; and sometimes the kingdom of Israel, or the ten tribes, as distinct from the kingdom of Judah.

Holman Bible Dictionary [14]

 1 Kings 12:1

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [15]

Is´rael is the sacred and divinely bestowed name of the patriarch Jacob, and is explained to mean, 'A prince with God.' Although, as applied to Jacob personally, it is an honorable or poetical appellation, it is the common prose name of his descendants; while, on the contrary, the title Jacob is given to them only in poetry.

The separation of the Hebrew nation into two parts, of which one was to embrace ten of the tribes, and be distinctively named Israel, had its origin in the early power and ambition of the tribe of Ephraim. The rivalry of Ephraim and Judah began almost from the first conquest of the land; nor is it insignificant, that as Caleb belonged to the tribe of Judah, so did Joshua to that of Ephraim. From the very beginning Judah learned to act by itself; but the central position of Ephraim, with its fruitful and ample soil, and the long-continued authority of Joshua, must have taught most of the tribes west of the Jordan to look up to Ephraim as their head; and a still more important superiority was conferred on the same tribe by the fixed dwelling of the ark at Shiloh for so many generations (Joshua 18, etc.). Judah could boast of Hebron, Machpelah, Bethlehem, names of traditional sanctity; yet so could Ephraim point to Shechem, the ancient abode of Jacob; and while Judah, being on the frontier, was more exposed to the attack of the powerful Philistines, Ephraim had to fear only those Canaanites from within who were not subdued or conciliated. The haughty behavior of the Ephraimites towards Gideon, a man of Manasseh , sufficiently indicates the pretensions they made. Still fiercer language towards Jephthah the Gileadite was retorted by less gentleness than Gideon had shown; and a bloody civil war was the result, in which their pride met with a severe punishment. This may in part explain their quiet submission, not only to the priestly rule of Eli and his sons, who had their center of authority at Shiloh, but to Samuel, whose administration issued from three towns of Benjamin. Of course his prophetical character and personal excellence eminently contributed to this result; and it may seem that Ephraim, as well as all Israel besides, became habituated to the predominance of Benjamin, so that no serious resistance was made to the supremacy of Saul. At his death a new schism took place through their jealousy of Judah; yet in a few years' time, by the splendor of David's victories, and afterwards by Solomon's peaceful power, a permanent national union might seem to have been effected. But the laws of inheritance in Israel, excellent as they were for preventing permanent alienation of landed property, and the degradation of the Hebrew poor into prædial slaves, necessarily impeded the perfect fusion of the tribes, by discouraging intermarriage, and hindering the union of distant estates in the same hands. Hence, when the sway of Solomon began to be felt as a tyranny, the old jealousies of the tribes revived, and Jeroboam, an Ephraimite , being suspected of treason, fled to Shishak, king of Egypt. The death of Solomon was followed by a defection often of the tribes, which established the separation of Israel from Judah (B.C. 975).

This was the most important event which had befallen the Hebrew nation since their conquest of Canaan. The chief territory and population were now with Jeroboam, but the religious sanction, the legitimate descent, lay with the rival monarch. From the political danger of allowing the ten tribes to go up to the sanctuary of Jerusalem, the princes of Israel, as it were in self-defense, set up a sanctuary of their own; and the intimacy of Jeroboam with the king of Egypt may have determined his preference for the form of idolatry (the calves) which he established at Dan and Bethel. In whatever else his successors differed, they one and all agreed in upholding this worship, which, once established, appeared essential to their national unity. Nevertheless it is generally understood to have been a worship of Jehovah, though under unlawful and degrading forms. Worse by far was the worship of Baal, which came in under one monarch only, Ahab, and was destroyed after his son was slain, by Jehu. A secondary result of the revolution was the ejection of the tribe of Levi from their lands and cities in Israel; at least, such as remained were spiritually degraded by the compliances required, and could no longer offer any resistance to the kingly power by aid of their sacred character. When the priestly tribe had thus lost independence, it lost also the power to assist the crown. The succession of Jeroboam's family was hallowed by no religious blessing; and when his son was murdered, no Jehoiada was found to rally his supporters and ultimately avenge his cause. The example of successful usurpation was so often followed by the captains of the armies, that the kings in Israel present to us an irregular series of dynasties, with several short and tumultuous reigns. This was one cause of disorder and weakness to Israel, and hindered it from swallowing up Judah: another was found in the relations of Israel towards foreign powers, which will presently be dwelt upon.

With regard to chronology, the following scheme agrees with Winer in its total range, but has minor changes by a single unit in some of the kings:—


















Zimri, Omri,















Queen Athaliah













Jeroboam II






Shallum, Menahem

















Samaria captured

Jeroboam originally fixed on Shechem as the center of his monarchy, and fortified it; moved perhaps not only by its natural suitability, but by the remembrances of Jacob which clove to it, and by the auspicious fact that here first Israel had decided for him against Rehoboam. But the natural delightfulness of Tirzah led him, perhaps late in his reign, to erect a palace there . After the murder of Jeroboam's son, Baasha seems to have intended to fix his capital at Ramah, as a convenient place for annoying the king of Judah, whom he looked on as his only dangerous enemy; but when forced to renounce this plan , he acquiesced in Tirzah, which continued to be the chief city of Israel, until Omri, who, since the palace at Tirzah had been burned during the civil war , built Samaria, with the ambition not uncommon in the founder of a new dynasty . Samaria continued to the end of the monarchy to be the center of administration; and its strength appears to have justified Omri's choice. For details, see Samaria; also Tirzah and Shechem.

There is reason to believe that Jeroboam carried back with him, into Israel the good will, if not the substantial assistance, of Shishak; and this will account for his escaping the storm from Egypt which swept over Rehoboam in his fifth year. During that first period Israel was far from quiet within. Although the ten tribes collectively had decided in favor of Jeroboam, great numbers of individuals remained attached to the family of David and to the worship at Jerusalem, and in the first three years of Rehoboam migrated into Judah . Perhaps it was not until this process commenced, that Jeroboam was worked up to the desperate measure of erecting rival sanctuaries with visible idols : a measure which met the usual ill-success of profane state-craft, and aggravated the evil which he feared. It set him at war with the whole order of priests and Levites, whose expulsion or subjugation, we may be certain, was not effected without convulsing his whole kingdom, and so occupying him as to free Rehoboam from any real danger, although no peace was made. The king of Judah improved the time by immense efforts in fortifying his territory and, although Shishak soon after carried off the most valuable spoil, no great or definite impression could be made by Jeroboam. Israel having so far taken the place of heathen nations, and being already perhaps even in alliance with Egypt, at an early period—we know not how soon—sought and obtained the friendship of the kings of Damascus. A sense of the great advantage derivable from such a union seems to have led Ahab afterwards to behave with mildness and conciliation towards Benhadad, at a time when it could have been least expected . From that transaction we learn that Benhadad I had made in Damascus 'streets for Omri,' and Omri for Benhadad in Samaria. This, no doubt, implied that 'a quarter' was assigned for Syrian merchants in Samaria, which was probably fortified like the 'camp of the Tyrians' in Memphis, or the English factory at Calcutta; and in it, of course, Syrian worship would be tolerated. Against such intercourse the prophets, as might be expected, entered their protest but it was in many ways too profitable to be renounced. In the reign of Baasha, Asa king of Judah, sensible of the dangerous advantage gained by his rival through the friendship of the Syrians, determined to buy them off at any price [see also under JUDAH]; and by sacrificing 'the treasures of the house of the Lord and the treasures of the king's house' , induced Benhadad I to break his league with Baasha and to ravage all the northern district of Israel. This drew off the Israelitish monarch, and enabled Asa to destroy the fortifications of Ramah, which would have stopped the course of his trade , perhaps that with the sea-coast and with Tyre. Such was the beginning of the war between Israel and Syria, on which the safety of Judah at that time depended. Cordial union was not again restored between the two northern states until the days of Rezin king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah, when Damascus must have already felt the rising power of Nineveh. The renewed alliance instantly proved so disastrous to Judah, which was reduced to the most extreme straits (;; ), as may seem to justify at least the policy of Asa's proceeding. Although it was impossible for a prophet to approve of it , we may only so much the more infer that Judah was already brought into most pressing difficulties, and that the general course of the war, in spite of occasional reverses, was decidedly and increasingly favorable to Israel.

The wars of Syria and Israel were carried on chiefly under three reigns, those of Benhadad II, Hazael, and Benhadad III, the two first monarchs being generally prosperous, especially Hazael, the last being as decidedly unsuccessful. Although these results may have depended in part on personal qualities, there is high probability that the feebleness displayed by the Syrians against Jehoash and his son Jeroboam was occasioned by the pressure of the advancing empire of Nineveh.

Asa adhered, through the whole of his long reign, to the policy of encouraging hostility between the two northern kingdoms; and the first Benhadad had such a career of success that his son found himself in a condition to hope for an entire conquest of Israel. His formidable invasions wrought an entire change in the mind of Jehoshaphat , who saw that if Israel was swallowed up by Syria, there would be no safety for Judah. We may conjecture that this consideration determined him to unite the two royal families; for no common cause would have induced so religious a king to select for his son's wife Athaliah the daughter of Jezebel. The age of Ahaziah, who was sprung from this marriage, forces us to place it as early as B.C. 912, which is the third year of Jehoshaphat and sixth of Ahab. Late in his reign Jehoshaphat threw himself most cordially into the defense of Ahab, and by so doing probably saved Israel from a foreign yoke. Another mark of the low state into which both kingdoms were falling, is, that after Ahab's death the Moabites refused their usual tribute to Israel, and (as far as can be made out from the ambiguous words of ), the united force of the two kingdoms failed of doing more than irritate them. Soon after, in the reign of Jehoram son of Jehoshaphat, the Edomites followed the example, and established their independence. This event possibly engaged the whole force of Judah, and hindered it from succoring Samaria during the cruel siege which it sustained from Benhadad II, in the reign of Jehoram son of Ahab. The declining years and health of the king of Syria gave a short respite to Israel; but, in B.C. 885, Hazael, by defeating the united Hebrew armies, commenced the career of conquest and harassing invasion by which he 'made Israel like the dust by threshing.' Even under Jehu he subdued the trans-Jordanic tribes . Afterwards, since he took the town of Gath and prepared to attack Jerusalem—an attack which Jehoash king of Judah averted only by strictly following Asa's precedent—it is manifest that all the passes and chief forts of the country west of the Jordan must have been in his hand. Indeed, as he is said 'to have left to Jehoahaz only fifty horsemen, ten chariots, and ten thousand footmen,' it would seem that Israel was strictly a conquered province, in which Hazael dictated (as the English to the native rajahs of India) what military force should be kept up. From this thralldom Israel was delivered by some unexplained agency. We are told merely that 'Jehovah gave to Israel a saviour, so that they went out from under the hand of the Syrians; and the children of Israel dwelt in their tents as beforetime,' . It is allowable to conjecture that the (apparently unknown) deliverer was the Assyrian monarchy, which, assaulting Hazael towards the end of the reign of Jehoahaz, entirely drew away the Syrian armies. That it was some urgent, powerful, and continued pressure, considering the great strength which the empire of Damascus had attained, seems clear from the sudden weakness of Syria through the reigns of Jehoash and Jeroboam II, the former of whom thrice defeated Benhadad III and 'recovered the cities of Israel;' the latter not only regained the full territory of the ten tribes, but made himself master (for a time at least) of Damascus and Hamath. How entirely the friendship of Israel and Judah had been caused and cemented by their common fear of Syria, is proved by the fact that no sooner is the power of Damascus broken than new war breaks out between the two kingdoms, which ended in the plunder of Jerusalem by Jehoash, who also broke down its walls and carried off hostages; after which there is no more alliance between Judah and Israel. The empire of Damascus seems to have been entirely dissolved under the son of Hazael, and no mention is made of its kings for eighty years or more. When Pekah, son of Remaliah, reigned in Samaria, Rezin, as king of Damascus, made a last but ineffectual effort for its independence.

The same Assyrian power which had doubtless so seriously shaken, and perhaps temporarily overturned, the kingdom of Damascus, was soon to be felt by Israel. Menahem was invaded by Pul (the first sovereign of Nineveh whose name we know), and was made tributary. His successor, Tiglath-pileser, in the reign of Pekah, son of Remaliah, carried captive the eastern and northern tribes of Israel (i.e. perhaps all their chief men as hostages?), and soon after slew Rezin, the ally of Pekah, and subdued Damascus. The following emperor, Shalmanezer, besieged and captured Samaria, and terminated the kingdom of Israel, B.C. 721.

This branch of the Hebrew monarchy suffered far greater and more rapid reverses than the other. From the accession of Jeroboam to the middle of Baasha's reign it probably increased in power, it then waned with the growth of the Damascene Empire; it struggled hard against it under Ahab and Jehoram, but sank lower and lower; it was dismembered under Jehu, and made subject under Jehoahaz. From B.C. 940 to B.C. 850is, as nearly as can be ascertained, the period of depression; and from B.C. 914 to B.C. 830 that of friendship or alliance with Judah. But after (about) B.C. 850 Syria began to decline, and Israel soon shot out rapidly; so that Joash and his son Jeroboam appear, of all Hebrew monarchs, to come next to David and Solomon. How long this burst of prosperity lasted does not distinctly appear; but it would seem that entire dominion over the ten tribes was held until Pekah received the first blow from the Assyrian conqueror.

Besides that which was a source of weakness to Israel from the beginning, viz., the schism of the crown with the whole ecclesiastical body, other causes may be discerned which made the ten tribes less powerful, in comparison with the two, than might have been expected. The marriage of Ahab to Jezebel brought with it no political advantages at all commensurate with the direct moral mischief, to say nothing of the spiritual evil; and the reaction against the worship of Baal was a most ruinous atonement for the sin. To suppress the monstrous iniquity, Jehu not only put to death Ahab's wife, grandson, and seventy sons, but murdered first the king of Judah himself, and next forty-two youthful and innocent princes of his house; while, strange to tell, the daughter of Jezebel gained by his deed the throne of Judah, and perpetrated a new massacre. The horror of such crimes must have fallen heavily on Jehu, and have caused a widespread disaffection among his own subjects. Add to this, that the Phoenicians must have deeply resented his proceedings; so that we get a very sufficient clue to the prostration of Israel under the foot of Hazael during the reign of Jehu and his son.

Another and more abiding cause of political debility in the ten tribes was found in the imperfect consolidation of the inhabitants into a single nation. Since those who lived east of the Jordan retained, to a great extent at least, their pastoral habits, their union with the rest could never have been very firm; and when a king was neither strong independently of them, nor had good hereditary pretensions, they were not likely to contribute much to his power. After their conquest of the Hagarenes and the depression of the Moabites and Ammonites by David, they had free room to spread eastward; and many of their chief men may have become wealthy in flocks and herds (like Machir the son of Ammiel, of Lodebar, and Barzillai the Gileadite, ), over whom the authority of the Israelitish crown would naturally be precarious; while west of the Jordan the agrarian law of Moses made it difficult or impossible for a landed nobility to form itself, which could be formidable to the royal authority. That the Arab spirit of freedom was rooted in the eastern tribes, may perhaps be inferred from the case of the Rechabites, who would neither live in houses nor plant vines; undoubtedly like some of the Nabatheans, lest, by becoming settled and agricultural, they should be enslaved. Yet the need of imposing this law on his descendants would not have been felt by Jonadab, had not an opposite tendency been rising—that of agricultural settlement.

Although the priests and Levites nearly disappeared out of Israel, prophets were perhaps even more numerous and active there than in Judah; and Ahijah, whose prediction first endangered Jeroboam , lived in honor at Shiloh to his dying day . Obadiah alone saved one hundred prophets of Jehovah from the rage of Jezebel . Possibly their extra-social character freed them from the restraint imposed on priests and Levites; and while they felt less bound to the formal rites of the Law, the kings of Israel were also less jealous of them.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [16]

Copyright StatementThese files are public domain. Bibliography InformationMcClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Israel'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.