International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
ISRAEL, KINGDOM OF
" I. THE FIRST PERIOD
1. The Two Kingdoms
2. The Ist Dynasty
3. The IInd Dynasty
4. Civil War
II. PERIOD OF THE SYRIAN WARS
1. The IIIrd Dynasty
3. Battle of Karkar
4. Loss of Territory
5. Reform of Religion
7. The IVth Dynasty
8. Renewed Prosperity
III. DECLINE AND FALL
1. Loss of Independence
I. The First Period.
1. The Two Kingdoms:
The circumstances leading up to the foundation of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, or the Kingdom of the Ten Tribes, have been detailed under the heading KINGDOM OF JUDAH. From a secular point of view it would be more natural to regard the latter as an offshoot from the former, rather than the converse. But not only is the kingdom of Judah of paramount importance in respect of both religion and literature, but its government also was in the hands of a single dynasty, whereas that of the Northern Kingdom changed hands no less than 8 times, during the two and a half centuries of its existence. Moreover, the Southern Kingdom lasted about twice as long as the other.
2. The Ist Dynasty:
No sooner had Jeroboam I been elected the first ruler of the newly founded state than he set about managing its affairs with the energy for which he was distinguished (1 Kings 11:28). To complete the disruption he established a sanctuary in opposition to that of Jerusalem (Hosea 8:14), with its own order of priests (2 Chronicles 11:14; 2 Chronicles 13:9), and founded two capital cities, Shechem on the West and Penuel on the East of the Jordan (1 Kings 12:25). Peace seems to have been maintained between the rival governments during the 17 years' reign of Rehoboam, but on the accession of his son Abijah war broke out (1 Kings 15:6, 7 2 Chronicles 13:3 if). Shortly afterward Jeroboam died and was succeeded by his son Nadab, who was a year later assassinated, and the Ist Dynasty came to an end, after an existence of 23 years, being limited, in fact, to a single reign.
3. The IInd Dynasty:
The turn of the tribe of Issachar came next. They had not yet given a ruler to Israel; they could claim none of the judges, but they had taken their part at the assembling of the tribes under Deborah and Barak of Naphtali. Baasha began his reign of 24 years by extirpating the house of his predecessor (1 Kings 15:29), just as the `Abbasids annihilated the Umeiyads. The capital was now Tirzah (1 Kings 14:17 Songs 6:4), a site not yet identified. His Judean contemporary was ASA (which see), who, like his father Abijah, called in the aid of the Syrians against the Northern Kingdom. Baasha was unequal to the double contest and was forced to evacuate the ground he had gained. His son Elah was assassinated after a reign of a year, as he himself had assassinated the son of the founder of the preceding dynasty, and his entire family and adherents were massacred (1 Kings 16:11).
4. Civil War:
The name of the assassin was Zimri, an officer of the charioteers, of unknown origin and tribe. But the kingship was always elective, and the army chose Omri, the commander-in-chief, who besieged and took Tirzah, Zimri setting the palace on fire by his own hand and perishing in the flames. A second pretender, Tibni, a name found in Phoenician and Assyrian, of unknown origin, sprang up. He was quickly disposed of, and security of government was reestablished.
II. Period of the Syrian Wars.
1. The IIId Dynasty:
The founder of the new dynasty was Omri. By this time the Northern Kingdom was so much a united whole that the distinctions of tribe were forgotten. We do not know to what tribe Omri and his successors belonged. With Omri the political sphere of action of Israel became wider than it had been before, and its internal affairs more settled. His civil code was in force long after his dynasty was extinct, and was adopted in the Southern Kingdom (Micah 6:16). The capital city, the site of which he chose, has remained a place of human habitation till the present day. Within the last few years, remains of his building have been recovered, showing a great advance in that art from those believed to go back to Rehoboam and Solomon. He was, however, unfortunate in his relations with Syria, having lost some towns and been forced to grant certain trading concessions to his northern neighbors (1 Kings 20:34). But he was so great a king that long after his death the Kingdom of the Ten Tribes was known to the Assyrians as "the house of Omri."
Contemporarily with this dynasty, there occurred a revival of the Phoenician power, which exerted a powerful influence upon the Israelite kings and people, and at the same time the Assyrians once more began to interfere with Syrian politics. The Northern Kingdom now began to play a part in the game of world-politics. There was peace with Judah, and alliance with Phoenicia was cemented by the marriage of Ahab, it seems after his father's death, with Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaal (1 Kings 16:31). This led to the erection of a temple in Samaria in which the Tyrian Baal was worshipped, while side by side with it the worship of Yahweh was carried on as before. It seems as if the people had fallen back from the pure monotheism of Moses and David into what is known as henotheism. Against this relapse Elijah protested with final success. Ahab was a wise and skillful soldier, without rashness, but also without decision. He defeated a Syrian coalition in two campaigns (1 Kings 20) and imposed on Ben-hadad the same conditions which the latter had imposed on Omri. With the close of the reign of Asa in Judah, war ceased between the two Israelite kingdoms and the two kings for the first time became friends and fought side by side (1 Kings 22). In the reign of Ahab we note the beginning of decay in the state in regard to personal liberty and equal justice. The tragedy of Naboth's vineyard would not have happened but for the influence of Tyrian ideas, any more than in the case of the famous windmill which stands by the palace of Sans Souci at Potsdam. A further improvement in the art of building took place in this reign. The palace of Ahab, which has recently been recovered by the excavations carded on by the Harvard University Expedition under Dr. G.A. Reisner, shows a marked advance in fineness of workmanship upon that of Omri.
3. Battle of Karkar:
The object of Ben-hadad's attack upon Ahab seems to have been to compel him to join a league founded to resist the encroachments of Assyria upon the countries bordering upon the Mediterranean. The confederates, who were led by Ben-hadad, and of whom Ahab was one, were defeated by Shalmaneser II in the battle of Karkar. The date is known from the inscriptions to have been the year 854-853. It is the first quite certain date in Hebrew history, and from it the earlier dates must be reckoned by working backward. Ahab seems to have seized the moment of Syria's weakness to exact by force the fulfillment of their agreement on the part of Ben-hadad (1 Kings 22).
4. Losses of Territory:
On the other hand, the king of Moab, Mesha, appears to have turned the same disaster to account by throwing off his allegiance to Israel, which dated from the time of David, but had apparently lapsed until it was enforced anew by Omri (MS, ll. 4, but l. 8 makes Omri's reign plus half Ahabs = 40 years). Ahab's son and successor Jehoram (omitting Ahaziah, who is chiefly notable as a devotee of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron), with the aid of Jehoshaphat and his vassal, the king of Edom, attempted to recover his rights, but in vain (2 Kings 3). It may have been in consequence of the failure of this expedition that the Syrians again besieged Samaria and reduced it to great straits (2 Kings 6:24; 2 Kings 7), but the date is uncertain. Jehoram replied with a counter-attack upon the East of the Jordan.
5. Reform of Religion:
It was no doubt owing to his connection with the king of Judah that Jehoram so far modified the worship and ritual as to remove the worst innovations which had come to prevail in the Northern Kingdom (2 Kings 3:1-3). But these half-measures did not satisfy the demands of the time, and in the revolution which followed both he and his dynasty were swept away. The dynasty had lasted, according to the Biblical account, less than half a century.
The religious reformation, or rather revolution, which swept away almost entirely both royal houses, bears a good deal of resemblance to the Wahhabi rising in Arabia at the beginning of the 18th century. It took its origin from prophetism (1 Kings 19:16), and was supported by the Rechabite Jonadab. The object of the movement headed by Jehu was nominally to revenge the prophets of Yahweh put to death by order of Jezebel, but in reality it was much wider and aimed at nothing less than rooting out the Baal-worship altogether, and enforcing a return to the primitive faith and worship. Just as the Wahhabis went back to Mohammed's doctrine, as contained in the Koran and the Tradition, and as the Rechabites preserved the simplicity of the early desert life, so Jehu went back to the state of things as they were at the foundation of the Northern Kingdom under Jeroboam I.
7. IVth Dynasty:
Jehu's reforms were carried out to the letter, and the whole dynasty of Omri, which was responsible for the innovations, was annihilated like its predecessors. The religious fervor, however, soon subsided, and Jehu's reign ended in disaster. Hazael, whose armies had been exterminated by the forces of Assyria, turned his attention to the eastern territory of Israel. In the turbulent land of Gilead, the home of Elijah, disappointed in its hopes of Jehu, he quickly established his supremacy (2 Kings 10:32). Jehu also appreciated the significance of the victories of Assyria, and was wise enough to send tribute to Shalmaneser II. This was in the year 842. Under his son and successor Jehoahaz the fortunes of Israel continued to decline, until Hazael imposed upon it the most humiliating conditions (Amos 1:3-5 2 Kings 13:1).
8. Renewed Prosperity:
Toward the end of the reign of Jehoahaz, however, the tide began to turn, under the leadership of a military genius whose name has not been recorded (2 Kings 13:5); and the improvement continued, after the death of Hazael, under his son Jehoash (Joash), who even besieged and plundered Jerusalem (2 Kings 14:8). But it was not until the long reign of Jeroboam II, son of Jehoash, that the frontiers of Israel, were, for the first time since the beginning of the kingdom, restored to their ideal limits. Even Damascus and Hamath were subdued (2 Kings 14:28). But the prosperity was superficial. Jeroboam II stood at the head of a military oligarchy, who crushed the great mass of the people under them. The tribune of the plebs at this time was Amos of Tekoa. His Cassandra-like utterances soon fulfilled themselves. The dynasty, which had been founded in blood and had lasted some 90 years, on the accesssion of Jeroboam's son Zachariah gave place to 12 years of anarchy.
Zachariah was almost immediately assassinated by Shallum, who within a month was in turn assassinated by Menahem, a soldier of the tribe of Gad, stationed in Tirzah, to avenge the death of his master. The low social condition of Israel at this time is depicted in the pages of Hos. The atrocities perpetrated by the soldiers of Menahem are mentioned by Josephus (Ant., IX, xi, 1).
III. Decline and Fall.
1. Loss of Independence:
Meantime Pul or Pulu had founded the second Assyrian empire under the name of Tiglath-pileser III. Before conquering Babylonia, he broke the Independ power of the Hittites in the West, and made himself master of the routes leading to the Phoenician seaports. As the eclipse of the Assyrian power had allowed the expansion of Israel under Jeroboam II, so its revival now crushed the independence of the nation forever. Menahem bought stability for his throne by the payment of an immense bribe of 1,000 talents of silver, or USD2,000,000, reckoning the silver talent at USD2,000. The money was raised by means of an assessment of 50 talents each upon all the men of known wealth. The payment of this tribute is mentioned on the Assyrian monuments, the date being 738.
Menahem reigned 10 years. His son Pekahiah was, soon after his accession, assassinated by one of his own captains, Pekah, son of Remaliah, who established himself, with the help of some Gileadites, as king. He formed an alliance with Rezin of Damascus against Israel, defeating Ahaz in two pitched battles, taking numerous captives, and even reaching the walls of Jerusalem. The result was disastrous to both allies. Ahaz called in the aid of the Assyrians. Tiglath-pileser put an end to the kingdom of Damascus, and deported the inhabitants of Northern and Eastern Palestine. The kingdom of Israel was reduced to the dimensions of the later province of Samaria. Pekah himself was assassinated by Hoshea, who became king under the tutelage of the Assyrian overlord. The depopulated provinces were filled with colonists from the conquered countries of the East. The year is 734 B.C.
Hoshea was never an independent king, but the mere vassal of Assyria. He was foolish enough to withhold the annual tribute, and to turn to Egypt for succor. Meanwhile, Tiglath-pileser III had been succeeded by Shalmaneser IV. This king laid siege to Samaria, but died during the siege. The city was taken by his successor Sargon, who had seized the throne, toward the end of the year 722.
The Northern Kingdom had lasted 240 years, which fall into three periods of about 80 years each, the middle period being the period of the Syrian wars. As it was fully formed when it broke off from the Southern Kingdom, its history shows no development or evolution, but is made up of undulations of prosperity and of decline. It was at its best immediately after its foundation, and again under Jeroboam II. It was strong under Baasha, Omri and Ahab, but generally weak under the other kings. Every change of dynasty meant a period of anarchy, when the country was at the mercy of every invader. The fortunes of Israel depended entirely on those of Assyria. When Assyria was weak, Israel was strong. Given the advance of Assyria, the destruction of Israel was certain. This was necessary and was clearly foreseen by Hosea (9:3, etc.). The wonder is that the little state, surrounded by such powerful neighbors, lasted as long as it did.
See, further, ISRAEL, HISTORY OF, V.
The most important works are Ewald, Geschichte des Volkes Israel (English Translation by Martineau and Glover); Wellhausen, Geschichte Israels; Derenbourg, Essai sur l'histoire. de la Palestine; and there are many more. Ewald is best known to English readers through the medium of Dean Stanley's Lectures on the History of the Jewish Church. Seefurther under CHRONOLOGY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT; ISRAEL, and articles on individual kings. Thomas Hunter Weir
JUDAH, KINGDOM OF
" I. CANAAN BEFORE THE MONARCHY
1. The Coming of the Semites
2. The Canaanites
3. The Israelite Confederacy
4. Migration into Canaan
5. The Bond of Union
6. Early Rulers
7. The Judges
8. Hereditary Kings
II. THE FIRST THREE KINGS
1. The Benjamite King
2. Rachel and Leah Tribes
3. The Disruption
III. THE DUAL MONARCHY
1. War between Two Kingdoms
2. First Reform of Religion
3. Two Kingdoms at Peace
4. Two Kingdoms Contrasted
5. Revolution in the Northern Kingdom
6. Effect on the Southern Kingdom
7. Davidic House at Lowest Ebb
8. Begins to Recover
9. Reviving Fortunes
10. Monarchy Still Elective
11. Government by Regents
12. Period of Great Prosperity
13. Rise of Priestly Caste
14. Advent of Assyria
15. Judah a Protectorate
16. Cosmopolitan Tendencies
IV. PERIOD OF DECLINE
1. Judah Independent
2. Reform of Religion
3. Egypt and Judah
4. Traffic in Horses
5. Reaction under Manasseh
6. Triumph of Reform Party
7. Babylonia and Judah
8. End of Assyrian Empire
9. After Scythian Invasion
10. Judah Again Dependent
11. Prophets Lose Influence
12. The Deportations
I. Canaan before the Monarchy.
1. The Coming of the Semites:
Some 4,000 years B.C. the land on either side of the valley of the Jordan was peopled by a race who, to whatever stock they belonged, were not Semites. It was not until about the year 2500 B.C. that the tide of Sere immigration began to flow from North Arabia into the countries watered by the Jordan and the Euphrates. One of the first waves in this human tide consisted of the Phoenicians who settled in the Northwest, on the seashore; they were closely followed by other Canaan tribes who occupied the country which long bore their name.
2. The Canaanites:
The Canaanites are known to us chiefly from the famous letters found at Tell Amarna in Egypt which describe the political state of the country during the years 1415-1360 B.C.-the years of the reigns of Amenophis III and IV. Canaan was at this time slipping out of the hands of Egypt. The native princes were in revolt: tribute was withheld; and but few Egyptian garrisons remained. Meantime a fresh tide of invasion was hurling its waves against the eastern frontiers of the land. The newcomers were, like their predecessors, Semitic Bedouin from the Syrian desert. Among them the Tell el-Amarna Lettersname the Chabiri, who are, no doubt, the people known to us as the Hebrews.
3. The Israelite Confederacy:
The Hebrews are so named by those of other nationality after one of their remoter ancestors (Genesis 10:24), or because they had come from beyond (`ebher) the Jordan or the Euphrates. Of themselves they spoke collectively as Israel. Israel was a name assumed by the eponymous hero of the nation whose real name was Jacob. Similarly the Arabian prophet belonged to the tribe called from its ancestor Koraish, whose name was Fihr. The people of Israel were a complex of some 12 or 13 tribes. These 12 tribes were divided into two main sections, one section tracing its descent from Leah, one of Jacob's wives, and the other section tracing its descent from Rachel, his other wife. The names of the tribes which claimed to be descended from Leah were Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, and, indirectly, Gad and Asher; those which claimed to be descended from Rachel were Joseph, which was divided into two clans; Ephraim and Manasseh, Benjamin, and, indirectly, Dan and Naphtali. The rivalry between these two great divisions runs all through the national history of the Hebrews, and was only brought to an end by the annihilation of one of the opposing factions (Isaiah 11:13). But not only was the Israelite nation a combination of many clans; it was united also to other tribes which could not claim descent, from Israel or Jacob. Such tribes were the Kenites and the Calebites. Toward such the pure Israelite tribes formed a sort of aristocracy, very much as, to change the parallel, the tribe of Koraish did among the Arabs. It was rarely that a commander was appointed from the allied tribes, at least in the earlier years of the national life.
4. Migration into Canaan:
We find exactly the same state of things obtaining in the history of the Arabian conquests. All through that history there runs the rivalry between the South Arabian tribes descended from Kahtan (the Hebrew Joktan, Genesis 10:25, etc.) and the northern or Ishmaelite tribes of Modar. It is often stated that the Old Testament contains two separate and irreconcilable accounts of the conquest of Canaan by the Israelites. According to the Book of Joshua, it is said the invasion was a movement of the whole people of Israel under the leadership of Joshua; according to the Book of Judges, it consisted of a series of expeditions made by individual tribes each on its own account (Judges 1:2, 10, etc.). But again, in the history of the Arabs we find precisely the same apparent discrepancy. For Persia, Syria and Egypt were conquered by the Arabs as a whole; but at the same time no tribe lost its individuality; each tribe made expeditions on its own account, and turned its arms against rival tribes even in the enemy's country. On the confines of China in the East and in Spain on the West, the arms of the Yemen's tribes were employed in the destruction of those of Modar as fiercely as ever they had been within Arabia itself.
5. The Bond of Union:
The bond which united the Israelite tribes, as well as those of Kayin (the eponym of the Kenites) and Caleb, was that of the common worship of Yahweh. As Mohammed united all the tribes of Arabia into one whole by the doctrine of monotheism, so did Moses the Israelite tribes by giving them a common object of worship. And the sherifs or descendants of `Ali today occupy a position very like what the Levites and the descendants of Aaron must have maintained in Israel. In order to keep the Israelite nation pure, intermarriage with the inhabitants of the invaded country was forbidden, though the prohibition was not observed (Judges 3:5 f). So too, the Arab women were not permitted to marry non-Arabs during the first years of conquest.
6. Early Rulers:
It is customary to date the beginning of monarchy in Israel from Saul the son of Kish, but in point of fact many early leaders were kings in fact if not in name. Moses and Joshua may be compared with Mohammed and his caliph (properly khalifa) or "successor," Abu Bekr. Their word was law; they reigned supreme over a united nation. Moreover, the word "king" (melekh) often means, both in Hebrew and Arabic, nothing more than governor of a town, or local resident. There was more than one "king" of Midinn (Judges 8:12). Balak seems to have been only a king of Moab (Numbers 22:4).
7. The Judges:
Before the monarchy proper, the people of Israel formed, in theory, a theocracy, as did also the Arabs under the caliphs. In reality they were ruled by temporary kings called judges (shopheT, the Carthaginian sufes). Their office was not hereditary, though there were exceptions (compare Judges 9). On the other hand, the government of the Northern Kingdom of Israel was practically an elective monarchy, so rarely were there more than two of the same dynasty. The judge again was usually appointed in order to meet some special crises, and theoretically ideal state of things was one in which there was no visible head of the state-a republic without a president. These intervals, however, always ended in disaster, and the appointment of another judge. The first king also was elected to cope with a specially serious crisis. The main distinction between judge and king was that the former, less than the latter, obscured the fact of the true King, upon the recognition of whom alone the continued existence of the nation depended. The rulers then became the "elders" or sheikhs of the tribes, and as these did not act in unison, the nation lost its solidarity and became an easy prey to any invader.
8. Hereditary Kings:
During the period of the Judges a new factor entered into the disturbed politics of Canaan. This was an invader who came not from the eastern and southern deserts, but from the western sea. Driven out of Crete by invaders from the mainland, the last remnants of the race of Minos found refuge on the shores of the country which ever after took from them the name it still bears-Philistin or Palestine. At the same time the Ammonites and Midianites were pressing into the country from the East (1 Samuel 11). Caught between these two opposing forces, the tribes of Israel were threatened with destruction. It was felt that the temporary sovereignty of the judge was no longer equal to the situation. The supreme authority must be permanent. It was thus the monarchy was founded. Three motives are given by tradition as leading up to this step. The pretext alleged by the elders or sheikhs is the worthlessness and incapacity of Samuel's sons, who he intended should succeed him (1 Samuel 8). The immediate cause was the double pressure from the Philistines (1 Samuel 9:16) and the Ammonite king (1 Samuel 12:12). The real reason was that the system of government by elective kings or judges had proved a failure and had completely broken down. The times called for a hereditary monarchy.
II. The First Three Kings.
1. The Benjamite King:
The most warlike of the clans of Israel shortly before this had been that of Benjamin-one of the Rachel tribes. The national sanctuary, with the ark and the grandson of Aaron as priest, was at Bethel in their territory. Moreover, they had defeated the combined forces of the other tribes in two pitched battles. They had at last been defeated and almost exterminated, but they had recovered much of their strength and prestige (Judges 20 1 Samuel 4:12). From this tribe the first king was chosen (see SAUL). He, however, proved unequal to his task. After some years spent in war with the Philistines and in repressing supposed disloyalty at home, he was defeated and killed.
Meantime, one of the less-known clans was coming to the front. The territory of the tribe of Judah lay in the South. After its occupation (compare Judges 1:2, 3), the tribe of Judah appears to have settled down to the care of its flocks and herds. It is not mentioned in the So of Deborah. None of the judges belonged to it, unless Ibzan, who seems to have been of little account (Judges 12:8 f). Under the leadership of DAVID (which see), this tribe now came to the front, and proved in the end to be endowed with by far the greatest vitality of all the tribes. It outlived them all, and survives to this day.
2. Rachel and Leah Tribes:
The Rachel tribes, led by Benjamin and Ephraim (2 Samuel 2; 2 Samuel 3), resisted for some time the hegemony of Judah, but were obliged in the end to submit. Under David Israel became again a united whole. By making Jerusalem his capital on the borders of Judah and Benjamin, he did much to insure the continuance of this union (compare 1 Chronicles 9:3). The union, however, was only on the surface. By playing off the Rachel tribes, Benjamin and Ephraim, against the rest, Absalom was able to bring the whole structure to the ground (2 Samuel 15), the tribe to which Saul belonged being especially disloyal (2 Samuel 16:5). Nor was this the only occasion on which the smoldering enmity between the two houses burst out into flame (2 Samuel 20). As soon as the strong hand of David was removed, disaffection showed itself in several quarters (1 Kings 11:14), and especially the aspiration of the tribe of Ephraim, after independence was fomented by the prophets (1 Kings 11:26). Egypt afforded a convenient asylum for the disaffected until opportunity should ripen. They had not long to wait.
3. The Disruption:
Solomon was succeeded by Rehoboam, who found it politic to hold a coronation ceremony at Shechem as well, presumably, as at Jerusalem. The malcontents found themselves strong enough to dictate terms. These Rehoboam rejected, and the northern tribes at once threw off their allegiance to the dynasty of David. The disruption thus created in the Israelite nation was never again healed. The secession was like that of the Moors in Spain from the `Abbhsid caliphs. Henceforth "Israel," except in the Chronicler, denotes the Northern Kingdom only. In that writer, who does not recognize the kingdom of the ten tribes, it means Judah. It is usual at the present day to recognize in the Northern Kingdom the true Israelite kingdom. Certainly in point of extent of territory and in resources it was far the greater of the two. But as regards intellectual power and influence, even down to the present day, not to mention continuity of dynasty, the smaller kingdom is by far the more important. It is, therefore, treated here as the true representative of the nation. Lying, as it did, in the immediate vicinity of Jerusalem, the tribe of Benjamin could hardly do otherwise than throw in its lot with that of Judah Bethel, which became one of the religious capitals of the Northern Kingdom, although nominally within their territory, in fact belonged to Ephraim (Judges 1:22). With this union of opposing interests may be compared that of the `Alids and `Abbhsids, both belonging to the house of Mohammed and both aspirants to the caliphate, against the house of Umeiya.
III. The Dual Monarchy.
1. War between Two Kingdoms:
Rehoboam made no decisive attempt to bring back the recalcitrant tribes to their allegiance (1 Kings 12:21), though the two countries made raids, one upon the other (1 Kings 14:30). For his own security he built numerous fortresses, the remains of some of which have, it is probable, been recovered within recent years (2 Chronicles 11:5). These excited the suspicion of Shishak of Egypt, who invaded the country and reduced it to vassalage (1 Kings 14:25). Under Rehoboam's son Abijah, actual war broke out between the two kingdoms (1 Kings 15:6 as corrected in 15:7; 2 Chronicles 13). The war was continued during the long reign of his son Asa, whose opponent, Baasha, built a fort some 6 miles North of Jerusalem in order to cut off that city from communication with the North Asa confessed his weakness by appealing for help to Ben-hadad of Damascus. The end justified the means. The fort was demolished.
2. First Reform of Religion:
The reign of Asa is also remarkable for the first of those reformations of worship which recur at intervals throughout the history of the Southern Kingdom. The high places Reform of were not yet, however, considered illegitimate (1 Kings 15:14; but compare 2 Chronicles 14:5). He also, like his grandfather, was a builder of castles, and with a similar, though more fortunate, result (2 Chronicles 14:6, 9). Asa's old age and illness helped to bring to the rival kingdoms a peace which lasted beyond his own reign (1 Kings 15:23).
3. Two Kingdoms at Peace:
An effect of this peace is seen in the expanding foreign trade of the country under his successor Jehoshaphat. He rebuilt the navy as in the days of Solomon, but a storm ruined the enterprise (1 Kings 22:48 f). During this reign the two kingdoms came nearer being united than they had done since the disruption. This was no doubt largely due to the Northern Kingdom having been greatly weakened by the wars with Syria and Assyria, and having given up the idea of annexing the smaller country. Moreover, Jehoshaphat had married his son Joram (Jehoram) to Ahab's daughter Athaliah. From a religious point of view, the two states reacted upon one another. Jehoram of Israel inaugurated a reformation of worship in the Northern Kingdom, and at the same time that of Judah was brought into line with the practice of the sister kingdom (2 Kings 8:18). The peace, from a political point of view, did much to strengthen both countries, and enabled them to render mutual assistance against the common foe.
4. Two Kingdoms Contrasted:
Up to the death of Jehoram of Israel, which synchronized with that of Joram and Ahaziah of Judah, 6 kings had reigned in Judah Of these the first 4 died in their beds and were buried in their own mausoleum. During the same period of about 90 years there were in Israel 9 kings divided into 4 dynasties. The second king of the Ist Dynasty was immediately assassinated and the entire family annihilated. Precisely the same fate overtook the IId Dynasty. Then followed a civil war in which two pretenders were killed, one perishing by his own hand. The IIIrd Dynasty lasted longer than the first two and counted 4 kings. Of these one was defeated and killed in battle and another assassinated. The fate of the kings of Israel is very like that of the middle and later `Abbasid caliphs. The murder of his brothers by the Judean Jehoram, a proceeding once regular with the sultans of Turkey, must also be put down to the influence of his Israelite wife.
5. Revolution in the Northern Kingdom:
It was obvious that a crisis was impending. Edom and Libnah had thrown off their allegiance, and the Philistines had attacked and plundered Jerusalem, even the king's sons being taken prisoners, with the exception of the youngest (2 Chronicles 21:16). Moreover, the two kingdoms had become so closely united, not only by intermarriage, but also in religion and politics, that they must stand and fall together. The hurricane which swept away the northern dynasty also carried off the members of the southern royal house more nearly connected with Ahab, and the fury of the queen-mother Athaliah made the destruction complete (2 Kings 11:1).
6. Effect on the Southern Kingdom:
For 6 years the daughter of Ahab held sway in Jerusalem. The only woman who sat on the throne of David was a daughter of the hated Ahab. In her uniqueness, she thus holds a place similar to that of Shejered-Durr among the Memluk sultans of Egypt. The character of her reign is not described, but it can easily be imagined. She came to her inevitable end 6 years later.
7. Davidic House at Lowest Ebb:
Successive massacres had reduced the descendants of David until only one representative was left. Jehoram, the last king but one, had murdered all his brothers (2 Chronicles 21:4); the Arab marauders had killed his sons except the youngest (2 Chronicles 22:1; compare 21:17). The youngest, Ahaziah, after the death of his father, was, with 42 of his "brethren," executed by Jehu (2 Kings 10:14). Finally, Athaliah "destroyed all the seed royal." The entente with the Northern Kingdom had brought the Davidic dynasty to the brink of extinction.
8. Begins to Recover:
But just as `Abd er-Rahman escaped from the slaughter of the Umeiyads to found a new dynasty in Spain, so the Davidic dynasty made a fresh start under Joash. The church had saved the state, and naturally the years that followed were years in which the religious factor bulked large. The temple of Baal which Athaliah had built and supported was wrecked, the idols broken, and the priest killed. A fund was inaugurated for the repair of the national temple. The religious enthusiasm, however, quickly cooled. The priests were found to be diverting the fund for the restoration of the temple to their own uses. A precisely similar diversion of public funds occurred in connection with the Qarawiyin mosque in Fez under the Almoravids in the 12th century. The reign which had begun with so much promise ended in clouds and darkness (2 Kings 12:17 2 Chronicles 24:17 Matthew 23:35), and Joash was the first of the Judean kings to be assassinated by his own people (2 Kings 12:20 f).
9. Reviving Fortunes:
By a curious coincidence, a new king ascended the throne of Syria, of Israel and of Judah about the same time. The death of Hazael, and accession of Ben-hadad III led to a revival in the fortunes of both of the Israelite kingdoms. The act of clemency with which Amaziah commenced his reign (2 Kings 14:5, 6 Deuteronomy 24:16) presents a pleasing contrast to the moral code which had come to prevail in the sister kingdom; and the story of his hiring mercenaries from the Ephraimite kingdom (2 Chronicles 25:5-10) sheds a curious light on the relations subsisting between the two countries, and even on those times generally. It is still more curious to find him, some time after, sending, without provocation, a challenge to Jehoash; and the capture and release of Amaziah evinces some rudimentary ideas of chivalry (2 Kings 14:8). The chief event of the reign was the reconquest of Edom and taking of Petra (2 Kings 14:7).
10. Monarchy Still Elective:
The principle of the election of kings by the people was in force in Judah, although it seemed to be in abeyance since the people were content to limit their choice to the Davidic line. But it was exercised when occasion required. Joash had been chosen by the populace, and it was they who, when the public discontent culminated in the assassination of Amaziah, chose his 16-year-old son Uzziah (or Azariah) to succeed him.
11. Government by Regents:
The minority of the king involved something equivalent to a regency. As Jehoiada at first carried on the government for Joash, so Uzziah was at first under the tutelage of Zechariah (2 Chronicles 26:5), and the latter part of his reign was covered by the regency of his son Jotham. It is obvious that with the unstable dynasties of the north, such government by deputy would have been impracticable.
12. Period of Great Prosperity:
The reign of Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26) was one of the most glorious in the annals of the Judean kingdom. The Philistines and southern Arabs, who had been so powerful in the reign of Jehoram, were subdued, and other Bedouin were held in check. The frontiers were strengthened with numerous castles. Now that Edom was again annexed, the Red Sea trade was resumed. Irrigation was attended to, and the agricultural resources of the country were developed. Uzziah also established a standing army, properly equipped and trained. Artillery, in the shape of catapults and other siege engines, was manufactured. It is obvious that in this reign we have advanced far beyond the earlier and ruder times.
13. Rise of Priestly Caste:
In this and the preceding reigns, we notice also how the priests are becoming a distinct and powerful caste. Zadok and Abiathar were no more than the domestic chaplains of David. The kings might at pleasure discharge the functions of the priest. But the all-powerful position of Jehoiada seems to have given the order new life; and in the latter part of the reign of Uzziah, king and priest come into conflict, and the king comes off second-best (2 Chronicles 26:16).
14. Advent of Assyria:
Uzziah is the first king of Judah to be mentioned in the Assyrian annals. He was fighting against "Pul" in the years 742-740. The advent of the great eastern power upon the scene of Judean politics could end but in one way-as it was soon to do with Israel also. The reign of Jotham may be passed over as it coincided almost entirely with that of his father. But in the following reign we find Judah already paying tribute to Assyria in the year of the fall of Damascus and the conquest of the East-Jordan land, the year 734.
15. Judah a Protectorate:
During the regency of Jotham, the effeminacy and luxury of the Northern Kingdom had already begun to infect the Southern (Micah 1:9; Micah 6:16), and under the irresolute Ahaz the declension went on rapidly. This rapprochement in morals and customs did not prevent Israel under Pekah joining with Rezin of Syria against Judah, with no less an object than to subvert the dynasty by placing an Aramean on the throne (Isaiah 7:6). What the result might have been, had not Isaiah taken the reins out of Ahaz' hands, it is impossible to say. As it was, Judah felt the strain of the conflict for many a year. The country was invaded from other points, and many towns were lost, some of which were never recovered (2 Chronicles 28:17). In despair Ahaz placed himself and his country under the protection of Assyria (2 Kings 16:7).
16. Cosmopolitan Tendencies:
It was a part of the cosmopolitan tendencies of the time that the worship became tarnished with foreign innovations (2 Kings 16:10). The temple for the first time in its history was closed (2 Chronicles 28:24). Altars of Baal were set up in all the open spaces of Jerusalem, each representing some urban god (Jeremiah 11:13). About the closing of the temple Isaiah would not be greatly concerned. Perhaps it was his suggestion (compare Isaiah 1). The priests who were supreme in the preceding reigns had lost their influence: their place had been taken by the prophets. The introduction of Baalism, however, was no doubt due to Ahaz alone.
IV. Period of Decline.
1. Judah Independent:
The following reign-that of Hezekiah-was, perhaps as a result of the disappearance of the Northern Kingdom, a period of reformation. Isaiah is now supreme, and the history of the times will be found in his biography. It must have been with a sigh of relief that Hezekiah saw the Northern Kingdom disappear forever from the scene. The relations of the two countries had been too uniformly hostile to make that event anything but an omen for good. It was no doubt due to Isaiah that Hezekiah sought to recover the old independence of his country. Their patriotism went near to be their own undoing. Sennacherib invaded Palestine, and Hezekiah found himself shorn of everything that was outside the walls of Jerusalem. Isaiah's patriotism rose to the occasion; the invading armies melted away as by a miracle; Judah was once more free (2 Kings 18:13).
2. Reform of Religion:
A curious result of Sennacherib's invasion was the disappearance of the high places-local shrines where Levitical priests officiated in opposition to those of the temple. When the Judean territories were limited to the city, these of necessity vanished, and, when the siege was over, they were not restored. They were henceforward regarded as illegal. It is generally held by scholars that this reform occurred later under Josiah, on the discovery of the "Book of the Law" by Hilkiah in the temple (2 Kings 22:8), and that this book was Deuteronomy. The high places, however, are not mentioned in the law book of Deuteronomy. The reform was probably the work of Isaiah, and due to considerations of morals.
3. Egypt and Judah:
The Judeans had always had a friendly feeling toward Egypt. When the great eastern power became threatening, it was to Egypt they turned for safety. Recent excavation has shown that the influence of Egypt upon the life and manners of Palestine was very great, and that that of Assyria and Babylonia was comparatively slight, and generally confined to the North. In the reign of Hezekiah a powerful party proposed an alliance with Egypt with the view of check-mating the designs of Assyria (2 Kings 17:4 Isaiah 30:2, 3; Isaiah 31:1). Hezekiah followed Isaiah's advice in rejecting all alliances.
4. Traffic in Horses:
The commercial and other ties which bound Palestine to Egypt were much stronger than those between Palestine and the East. One of the most considerable of these was the trade in horses. This traffic had been begun by Solomon (1 Kings 10:28 f). The chief seat of the trade in Palestine was Lachish (Micah 1:13). In their nomadic state the Israelites had used camels and donkeys, and the use of the horse was looked upon with suspicion by the prophets (Deuteronomy 17:16 Zechariah 9:10). When the horse is spoken of in the Old Testament, it is as the chief weapon of the enemies of the nation (Exodus 15:1 Judges 5:22, etc.).
5. Reaction under Manasseh:
On the death of Hezekiah, the nation reverted to the culture and manners of the time of Ahaz and even went farther than he in corrupt practices. Especially at this time human sacrifice became common in Israel (Micah 6:7). The influence for good of the prophets had gone (2 Kings 21). There is a curious story in 2 Chronicles 33:11 ff that Manasseh was taken captive by the Assyrians, and, after spending some time in captivity in Babylon, reformed and was restored to his throne. His son, however, undid these reforms, and public discontent grew to such an extent that he was assassinated (2 Kings 21:19).
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1. Etymology and Definition
2. Earliest Kings
3. Biblical Signification of the Title
1. Israel's Theocracy
2. Period of Judges
3. Establishment of the Monarchy
4. Appointment of King
5. Authority of the King
6. Duties of the King
7. The Symbols of Royal Dignity
8. Maintenance and Establishment
(2) The Royal Court
9. Short Character Sketch of Israel's Kingdom
1. Etymology and Definition:
The Hebrew word for king is melekh; its denominative malakh, "to reign" "to be king." The word is apparently derived from the mlkh which denotes: (1) in the Arabic (the verb and the noun) it means "to possess," "to reign," inasmuch as the possessor is also "lord" and "ruler"; (2) in the Aramaic melekh), and Assyrian "counsel," and in the Syrian "to consult"; compare Latin, consul.
If, as has been suggested, the root idea of "king" is "counsellor" and not "ruler," then the rise of the kingly office and power would be due to intellectual superiority rather than to physical prowess. And since the first form of monarchy known was that of a "city-state," the office of king may have evolved from that of the chief "elder" or intellectual head of the clan.
2. Earliest Kings:
The first king of whom we read in the Bible was Nimrod (Genesis 10:8-10), who was supposedly the founder of the Babylonian empire. Historical research regarding the kings of Babylonia and Egypt corroborates this Biblical statement in so far as the ancestry of these kings is traced back to the earliest times of antiquity. According to Isaiah 19:11, it was the pride of the Egyptian princes that they could trace their lineage to most ancient kings. The Canaanites and Philistines had kings as early as the times of Abraham (Genesis 14:2; Genesis 20:2). Thus also the Edomites, who were related to Israel (Genesis 36:31), the Moabites, and the Midianites had kings (Numbers 22:4; Numbers 31:8) earlier than the Israelites.
In Genesis 14:18 we read of Melchizedek, who was a priest, and king of Salem. At first the extent of the dominion of kings was often very limited, as appears from 70 of them being conquered by Adonibezek (Judges 1:7), 31 by Joshua (Joshua 12:7), and 32 being subject to Ben-hadad (1 Kings 20:1).
3. Biblical Signification of the Title:
The earliest Biblical usage of this title "king," in consonance with the general oriental practice, denotes an absolute monarch who exercises unchecked control over his subjects. In this sense the title is applied to Yahweh, and to human rulers. No constitutional obligations were laid upon the ruler nor were any restrictions put upon his arbitrary authority. His good or bad conduct depended upon his own free will.
The title "king" was applied also to dependent kings. In the New Testament it is used even for the head of a province (Revelation 17:12). To distinguish him from the smaller and dependent kings, the king of Assyria bore the title "king of kings."
The notable fact that Israel attained to the degree of a kingdom rather late, as compared with the other Semitic nations, does not imply that Israel, before the establishment of the monarchy, had not arrived at the stage of constitutional government, or that the idea of a kingdom had no room in the original plan of the founder of the Hebrew nation. For a satisfactory explanation we must take cognizance of the unique place that Israel held among the Semitic peoples.
1. Israel's Theocracy:
It is universally recognized that Israel was a singular community. From the beginning of its existence as a nation it bore the character of a religious and moral community, a theocratic commonwealth, having Yahweh Himself as the Head and Ruler. The theocracy is not to be mistaken for a hierarchy, nor can it strictly be identified with any existent form of political organization. It was rather something over and above, and therefore independent of the political organization. It did not supersede the tribal organization of Israel, but it supplied the centralizing power, constituting Israel a nation. In lieu of a strong political center, the unifying bond of a common allegiance to Yahweh, i.e. the common faith in Him, the God of Israel, kept the tribes together. The consciousness that Yahweh was Israel's king was deeply rooted, was a national feeling, and the inspiration of a true patriotism (Exodus 15:18; Exodus 19:6 Judges 5). Yahweh's kingship is evinced by the laws He gave to Israel, by the fact that justice was administered in His name (Exodus 22:28), and by His leading and siding Israel in its wars (Exodus 14:14; Exodus 15:3 Numbers 21:14 1 Samuel 18:17; 1 Samuel 25:28). This decentralized system which characterized the early government of Israel politically, in spite of some great disadvantages, proved advantageous for Israel on the whole and served a great providential purpose. It safeguarded the individual liberties and rights of the Israelites. When later the monarchy was established, they enjoyed a degree of local freedom and self-control that was unknown in the rest of the Semitic world; there was home rule for every community, which admitted the untrammeled cultivation of their inherited religious and social institutions.
From the political point of view Israel, through the absence of a strong central government, was at a great disadvantage, making almost impossible its development into a world-empire. But this barrier to a policy of self-aggrandizement was a decided blessing from the viewpoint of Israel's providential mission to the world. It made possible the transmission of the pure religion entrusted to it, to later generations of men without destructive contamination from the ungodly forces with which Israel would inevitably have come into closer contact, had it not been for its self-contained character, resulting from the fashion of a state it was providentially molded into. Only as the small and insignificant nation that it was, could Israel perform its mission as "the depository and perpetuating agency of truths vital to the welfare of humanity." Thus its religion was the central authority of this nation, supplying the lack of a centralized government. Herein lay Israel's uniqueness and greatness, and also the secret of its strength as a nation, as long as the loyalty and devotion to Yahweh lasted. Under the leadership of Moses and Joshua who, though they exercised a royal authority, acted merely as representatives of Yahweh, the influence of religion of which these leaders were a personal embodiment was still so strong as to keep the tribes united for common action. But when, after the removal of these strong leaders, Israel no longer had a standing representative of Yahweh, those changes took place which eventually necessitated the establishment of the monarchy.
2. Period of Judges:
In the absence of a special representative of Yahweh, His will as Israel's King was divined by the use of the holy lot in the hand of the highest priest. But the lot would not supply the place of a strong personal leader. Besides, many of the Israelites came under the deteriorating influence of the Canaanite worship and began to adopt heathenish customs. The sense of religious unity weakened, the tribes became disunited and ceased to act in common, and as a result they were conquered by their foes. Yahweh came to their assistance by sending them leaders, who released the regions where they lived from foreign attacks. But these leaders were not the strong religious personalities that Moses and Joshua had been; besides, they had no official authority, and their rule was only temporary and local. It was now that the need of a centralized political government was felt, and the only type of permanent organization of which the age was cognizant was the kingship. The crown was offered to Gideon, but he declined it, saying: "Yahweh shall rule over you" (Judges 8:22, 23). The attempt of his son, Abimelech, to establish a kingship over Shechem and the adjacent country, after the Canaanitic fashion, was abortive.
The general political condition of this period is briefly and pertinently described by the oft-recurring statement in Judges: "In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes."
3. Establishment of the Monarchy:
Not until the time of Samuel was a formal kingdom established over Israel. An attempt to ameliorate conditions by a union of civil and religious functions in the hands of Eli, the priest, had failed through the degeneracy of his sons. Similarly the hopes of Israel in a hereditary judgeship had been disappointed through the corruption of the sons of Samuel. The Philistines were threatening the independence and hope of Israel. Its very existence as a distinct race, and consequently the future of Yahweh's religion, imperatively demanded a king. Considering that it was the moral decline of the nation that had created the necessity for a monarchy, and moreover that the people's desire for a king originated from a purely national and not from a religious motive, the unwillingness of Samuel, at first, to comply with the demand for a king is not surprising. Even Yahweh declared: "They have not rejected thee but they have rejected me," etc. Instead of recognizing that they themselves were responsible for the failures of the past, they blamed the form of government they had, and put all their hopes upon a king. That it was not the monarchy as such that was objectionable to Yahweh and His prophet is evidenced by the fact that to the patriarchs the promise had been given: "Kings shall come out of thy loins" (Genesis 17:6; Genesis 35:11). In view of this Moses had made provision for a kingship (Deuteronomy 17:14-20). According to the Mosaic charter for the kingship, the monarchy when established must be brought into consonance with the fact that Yahweh was Israel's king. Of this fact Israel had lost sight when it requested a kingship like that of the neighboring peoples. Samuel's gloomy prognostications were perfectly justified in view of such a kingship as they desired, which would inevitably tend to selfish despotism (1 Samuel 8:11 f). therefore God directs Samuel to give them a king-since the introduction of a kingship typifying the kingship of Christ lay within the plan of His economy-not according to their desire, but in accordance with the instructions of the law concerning kings (Deuteronomy 17:14-20), in order to safeguard their liberties and prevent the forfeiture of their mission.
4. Appointment of King:
According to the Law of Moses Yahweh was to choose the king of israel, who was to be His representative. The choice of Yahweh in the case of Saul is implied by the anointing of Saul by Samuel and through the confirmation of this choice by the holy lot (1 Samuel 10:1-20). This method of choosing the king did not exclude the people altogether, since Saul was publicly presented to them, and acknowledged as king (1 Samuel 10:24). The participation of the people in the choice of their king is more pronounced in the case of David, who, having been designated as Yahweh's choice by being anointed by Samuel, was anointed again by the elders of Israel before he actually became king (2 Samuel 2:4).
The anointing itself signified the consecration to an office in theocracy. The custom of anointing kings was an old one, and by no means peculiar to Israel (Judges 9:8, 15). The hereditary kingship began with David. Usually the firstborn succeeded to the throne, but not necessarily. The king might choose as his successor from among his sons the one whom he thought best qualified.
5. Authority of the King:
The king of Israel was not a constitutional monarch in the modern sense, nor was he an autocrat in the oriental sense. He was responsible to Yahweh, who had chosen him and whose vicegerent and servant he was. Furthermore, his authority was more or less limited on the religious side by the prophets, the representatives of Yahweh, and in the political sphere by the "elders," the representatives of the people, though as king he stood above all. Rightly conceived, his kingship in relation to Yahweh, who was Israel's true king, implied that he was Yahweh's servant and His earthly substitute. In relation to his subjects his kingship demanded of him, according to the Law, "that his heart be not lifted up above his brethren" (Deuteronomy 17:20).
6. Duties of the King:
In a summary way the king was held responsible for all Israel as the Lord's people. His main duty was to defend it against its enemies, and for this reason it devolved upon him to raise and maintain a standing army; and it was expected of him that he be its leader in case of war (1 Samuel 8:20). In respect to the judiciary the king was a kind of supreme court, or court of final appeal, and as such, as in the days of Solomon, might be approached by his most humble subjects (2 Samuel 15:2 1 Kings 3:16). Legislative functions he had none and was himself under the law (1 Kings 21:4 Deuteronomy 17:19). The king was also in a way the summus episcopus in Israel. His very kingship was of an entirely religious character and implied a unity of the heavenly and earthly rule over Israel through him who as Yahweh's substitute sat "upon the throne of the kingdom of Yahweh over Israel" (1 Chronicles 17:14; 1 Chronicles 28:5; 1 Chronicles 29:23), who was "Yahweh's anointed" (1 Samuel 24:10; 1 Samuel 26:9 2 Samuel 1:14), and also bore the title of "son of Yahweh" and "the first-born," the same as Israel did (Exodus 4:22 Hosea 11:1 2 Samuel 7:14 Psalm 89:27; Psalm 2:7). Thus a place of honor was assigned to the king in the temple (2 Kings 11:4; 2 Kings 23:3 Ezekiel 46:1, 2); besides, he officiated at the national sacrifices (especially mentioned of David and Solomon). He prayed for his people and blessed them in the name of Yahweh (2 Samuel 6:18; 2 Samuel 24:25 1 Kings 3:4, 8; 1 Kings 8:14, 55, 62; 9:25). Apparently it was the king's right to appoint and dismiss the chief priests at the sanctuaries, though in his choice he was doubtless restricted to the Aaronites (1 Chronicles 16:37, 39 2 Samuel 8:17 1 Kings 2:27, 35). The priesthood was under the king's supervision to such an extent that he might concern himself about its organization and duties (1 Chronicles 15:16, 23, 24; 1 Chronicles 16:4-6), and that he was responsible for the purity of the cult and the maintenance of the order of worship. In general he was to watch over the religious life and conduct of his people, to eradicate the high places and every form of idolatry in the land (2 Kings 18:4). Ezekiel 45:22 demands of the prince that he shall provide at the Passover a bullock for a sin offering for all the people.
7. The Symbols of Royal Dignity:
The marks of royal dignity, besides the beautiful robes in which the king was attired (1 Kings 22:10), were:
(1) the diadem nezer) and the crown (aTarah, 2 Samuel 1:10 2 Kings 11:12; 2 Samuel 12:30), the headtire;
(2) the scepter (shebheT), originally a long, straight staff, the primitive sign of dominion and authority (Genesis 49:10 Numbers 24:17 Isaiah 14:5 Jeremiah 48:17 Psalm 2:9; Psalm 45:7). Saul had a spear (1 Samuel 18:10; 1 Samuel 22:6);
(3) the throne (kicce', 1 Kings 10:18-20), the symbol of majesty. Israel's kings also had a palace (1 Kings 7:1-12; 1 Kings 22:39 Jeremiah 22:14), a royal harem (2 Samuel 16:21), and a bodyguard (2 Samuel 8:18; 2 Samuel 15:18).
8. Maintenance and Establishment:
(a) According to the custom of the times presents were expected of the subjects (1 Samuel 10:27; 1 Samuel 16:20) and of foreigners (2 Samuel 8:2 1 Kings 5:1; 10:25 2 Chronicles 32:23), and these often took the form of an annual tribute.
(b) In time of war the king would lay claim to his share of the booty (2 Samuel 8:11; 2 Samuel 12:30 1 Chronicles 26:27).
(c) Various forms of taxes were in vogue, as a part of the produce of the land (1 Kings 9:11 1 Samuel 17:25), forced labor of the Canaanites (1 Kings 9:20 2 Chronicles 2:16) and also of the Israelites (1 Kings 5:13; 1 Kings 11:28; 1 Kings 12:4), the first growth of the pasture lands (Amos 7:1), toll collected from caravans (1 Kings 10:15).
(d) Subdued nations had to pay a heavy tribute (2 Kings 3:4).
(e) The royal domain often comprised extensive possessions (1 Chronicles 27:25-31).
(2) The Royal Court.
The highest office was that of the princes (1 Kings 4:2), who were the king's advisers or counselors. In 2 Kings 25:19 and Jeremiah 52:25 they are called "they that saw the king's face" (compare also 1 Kings 12:6, "stood before Solomon"). The following officers of King David are mentioned: the captain of the host (commander-in-chief), the captain of the Cherethites and the Pelethites (bodyguard), the recorder (chronicler and reminder), the scribe (secretary of state), the overseer of the forced labor, the chief ministers or priests (confidants of the king, usually selected from the royal family) (2 Samuel 8:16-18; 2 Samuel 20:23-26).
During the reign of Solomon other officers were added as follows: the overseer over the twelve men "who provided victuals for the king and his household" (1 Kings 4:5, 7), the officer over the household (1 Kings 4:6; 1 Kings 18:3) (steward, the head of the palace who had "the key" in his possession, Isaiah 22:22); the king's friend (1 Kings 4:5 1 Chronicles 27:33) is probably the same as the king's servant mentioned among the high officials in 2 Kings 22:12. It is not stated what his duties were. Minor officials are servants, cupbearer (1 Kings 10:5), keeper of the wardrobe (2 Kings 22:14; 2 Kings 10:22), eunuchs (chamberlains, not mentioned before the division of the kingdom) (1 Kings 22:9 2 Kings 8:6).
9. Short Character Sketch of Israel's Kingdom:
No higher conceptions of a good king have ever been given to the world than those which are presented in the representations of kingship in the Old Testament, both actual and ideal. Though Samuel's characterization of the kingship was borne out in the example of a great number of kings of Israel, the Divine ideal of a true king came as near to its realization in the case of one king of Israel, at least, as possibly nowhere else, namely, in the case of David. Therefore King David appears as the type of that king in whom the Divine ideal of a Yahweh-king was to find its perfect realization; toward whose reign the kingship in Israel tended. The history of the kingship in Israel after David is, indeed, characterized by that desire for political aggrandizement which had prompted the establishment of the monarchy, which was contrary to Israel's Divine mission as the peculiar people of the Yahweh-king. When Israel's kingdom terminated in the Bah exile, it became evident that the continued existence of the nation was possible even without a monarchical form of government. Though a kingdom was established again under the Maccabees, as a result of the attempt of Antiochus to extinguish Israel's religion, this kingdom was neither as perfectly national nor as truly religious in its character as the Davidic. It soon became dependent on Rome. The kingship of Herod was entirely alien to the true Israelite conception.
It remains to be said only that the final attempt of Israel in its revolt against the Roman Empire, to establish the old monarchy, resulted in its downfall as a nation, because it would not learn the lesson that the future of a nation does not depend upon political greatness, but upon the fulfillment of its Divine mission.
J.P. McCurdy, History, Prophecy and the Monuments; Riehm, Handwiirterbuch des bibl. Alterrums; Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible (five volumes); Kinzler, Bibl. Altes Testament.
S. D. Press
KINGDOM OF GOD (OF HEAVEN), THE
(he basileia ton ouranon; he basileia tou theou):
I. MEANING AND ORIGIN OF THE TERM
1. Place in the Gospels
2. "Kingdom of Heaven" and "Kingdom of God"
3. Relation to the Old Testament (Daniel, etc.)
II. ITS USE BY JESUS-CONTRAST WITH JEWISH CONCEPTIONS
1. Current Jewish Opinions
2. Relation of Jesus to Same
3. Growing Divergence and Contrast
4. Prophetic Character of the "Temptation"
5. Modern "Futuristic" Hypothesis (J. Weiss, Schweitzer)
6. Weakness of This View
7. Positive Conceptions of Jesus
III. THE IDEA IN HISTORY
1. Apostolic and Post-apostolic Age
2. Early Christian Centuries
3. Reformation Period
4. Later Ideas
IV. PLACE IN THEOLOGY
1. Danger of Exaggeration
2. Elements of Living Power in Idea
The "kingdom of God" is one of the most remarkable ideas and phrases of all time, having begun to be used very near the beginnings of history and continuing in force down to the present day.
I. Meaning and Origin of the Term
1. Place in the Gospels:
Its use by Jesus is by far its most interesting aspect; for, in the Synoptists, at least, it is His watchword, or a comprehensive term for the whole of His teaching. Of this the ordinary reader of Scripture may hardly be aware, but it becomes evident and significant to the student. Thus, in Matthew 4:23, the commencement of the ministry is described in these words, "And Jesus went about in all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of disease and all manner of sickness among the people"; and, somewhat later, in Luke 8:1, the expansion of His activity is described in the following terms, "And it came to pass soon afterwards, that he went about through cities and villages, preaching and bringing the good tidings of the kingdom of God, and with him the twelve." When the Twelve are sent forth by themselves, the purpose of their mission is, in Luke 9:2, given in these words, "And he sent them forth to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick." In Matthew 13:11, the parables, which formed so large and prominent a portion of His teaching, are denominated collectively "the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven"; and it will be remembered how many of these commence with the phrase, "The kingdom of heaven is like."
2. "Kingdom of Heaven" and "Kingdom of God":
In these quotations, and in others which might easily be adduced, it will be observed that the phrases "the kingdom," "the kingdom of God," "the kingdom of heaven" are used interchangeably. The last of the three, "the kingdom of heaven," is confined to the First Gospel, which does not, however, always make use of it; and it is not certain what may have been the reason for the substitution. The simplest explanation would be that heaven is a name for God, as, in the parable of the Prodigal Son, the penitent says, "I have sinned against heaven," and we ourselves might say, "Heaven forbid!" It is not, however, improbable that the true meaning has to be learned from two petitions of the Lord's Prayer, the one of which is epexegetic of the other, "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven." Here the disciples are instructed to pray that the kingdom of God may come, but this is equivalent to the petition that the will of God may be done on earth; Jesus is, however, aware of a region in the universe where the will of God is at present being perfectly and universally done, and, for reasons not difficult to surmise, He elevates thither the minds and hearts of those who pray. The kingdom of heaven would thus be so entitled because it is already realized there, and is, through prayer and effort, to be transferred thence to this earth.
3. Relation to the Old Testament (Daniel, etc.):
Although, however, the phrase held this master position in the teaching of Jesus, it was not of His invention. It was employed before Him by John the Baptist, of whom we read, in Matthew 3:1, "And in those days cometh John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Indeed, the phrase is far older; for, on glancing toward the Old Testament, we come at once, in Daniel 2:44, to a passage where the young prophet, explaining to the monarch the image of gold, silver, iron and clay, which, in his dream, he had seen shattered by "a stone cut out without hands," interprets it as a succession of world-kingdoms, destined to be destroyed by "a kingdom of God," which shall last forever; and, in his famous vision of the "son of man" in 7:14, it is said, "There was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed."
These passages in Daniel form undoubtedly the proximate source of the phrase; yet the idea which it represents mounts far higher. From the first the Jewish state was governed by laws believed to be derived directly from heaven; and, when the people demanded a king, that they might be like other nations, they were reproached for desiring any king but God Himself. With this sublime conception the actual monarchy was only a compromise, the reigning monarch passing for Yahweh's representative on earth. In David, the man after God's own heart, the compromise was not unsatisfactory; in Solomon it was still tolerable; but in the majority of the kings of both Judah and Israel it was a dismal and disastrous failure. No wonder that the pious sighed and prayed that Yahweh might take to Himself His great power and reign, or that the prophets predicted the coming of a ruler who would be far nearer to God than the actual kings and of whose reign there would be no end. Even when the political kingdom perished and the people were carried away into Babylon, the intelligent and truly religious among them did not cease to cherish the old hope, and the very aspect of the worldpowers then and subsequently menacing them only widened their conceptions of what that kingdom must be which could overcome them all. The return from Babylon seemed a miraculous confirmation of their faith, and it looked as if the day long prayed for were about to dawn. Alas, it proved a day of small things. The era of the Maccabees was only a transitory gleam; in the person of Herod the Great a usurper occupied the throne; and the eagles of the Romans were hovering on the horizon. Still Messianic hopes flourished, and Messianic language filled the mouths of the people.
II. Its Use by Jesus-Contrast with Jewish Conceptions.
1. Current Jewish Opinions:
Schurer, in his History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ (II, 11, 126;), has drawn up a kind of Messianic creed, in no fewer than eleven articles, which he believes was extensively diffused at this period. The Sadducees, indeed, had no participation in these dreams, as they would have called them, being absorbed in money-making and courtiership; but the Pharisees cherished them, and the Zealots received their name from the ardor with which they embraced them. The true custodians, however, of these conceptions were the Prosdechomenoi, as they have been called, from what is said of them in the New Testament, that they "waited for the kingdom of God." To this class belonged such men as Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea (Luke 23:51), but it is in the beginning of the Gospel of Luke that we are introduced to its most numerous representatives, in the groups surrounding the infant Baptist and the infant Saviour (Luke 2:25, 38); and the truest and amplest expression of their sentiments must be sought in the inspired hymns which rose from them on this occasion. The center of their aspirations, as there depicted, is a kingdom of God-not, however, of worldly splendor and force, but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit; beginning in humility, and passing to exaltation only through the dark valley of contrition.
2. Relation of Jesus to Same:
Such was the circle in which both the Baptist and Jesus were reared and it was out of this atmosphere that the conception of the kingdom of God came into their minds. It has frequently been said that, in making use of this term, Jesus accommodated Himself to the opinions and language of His fellow-countrymen; and there is truth in this, because, in order to secure a footing on the solid earth of history, He had to connect His own activity with the world in which He found Himself. Yet the idea was native to His home and His race, and therefore to Himself; and it is not improbable that He may at first have been unaware of the wide difference between His own thoughts on the subject and those of His contemporaries.
3. Growing Divergence and Contrast:
When, however, He began, in the course of His ministry, to speak of the kingdom of God, it soon became manifest that by Him and by His contemporaries it was used in different senses; and this contrast went on increasing until there was a great gulf fixed between Him and them. The difference cannot better be expressed than by saying, as is done by B. Weiss, that He and they laid the accent on different halves of the phrase, they emphasizing "the kingdom" and He "of God." They were thinking of the expulsion of the Romans, of a Jewish king and court, and of a world-wide dominion going forth from Mt. Zion; He was thinking of righteousness, holiness and peace, of the doing of the will of God on earth as it is done in heaven. So earthly and fantastic were the expectations of the Jewish multitude that He had to escape from their hands when they tried to take Him by force and make Him a king. The authorities never acknowledged the pretensions of One who seemed to them a religious dreamer, and, as they clung to their own conceptions, they grew more and more bitter against One who was turning the most cherished hopes of a nation into ridicule, besides threatening to bring down on them the heavy hand of the Roman. And at last they settled the controversy between Him and them by nailing Him to a tree.
4. Prophetic Character of the "Temptation":
At one time Jesus had felt the glamor of the popular Messianic ideas, and at all times He must have been under temptation to accommodate His own ideas to the prejudices of those on whose favor His success seemed to be dependent. The struggle of His mind and will with such solicitations is embodied in what is called the Temptation in the Wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). There He was tempted to accept the dominion of the world at the price of compromise with evil; to be a bread-king, giving panem et circenes; and to curry favor with the multitude by some display, like springing from the pinnacle of the temple. The incidents of this scene look like representative samples of a long experience; but they are placed before the commencement of His public activity in order to show that He had already overcome them; and throughout His ministry He may be said to have been continually declaring, as He did in so many words at its close, that His kingdom was not of this world.
5. Modern "Futuristic" Hypothesis (J. Weiss, Schweitzer):
It is very strange that, in spite of this, He should be believed, even by Christian scholars, to have held a purely futuristic and apocalyptic view of the kingdom Himself. He was all the time expecting, it is said, that the heavens would open and the kingdom descend from heaven to earth, a pure and perfect work of God. This is exactly what was expected by the Jewish multitude, as is stated in Luke 19:11; and it is precisely what the authorities believed Him to be anticipating. The controversy between Him and them was as to whether Yahweh would intervene on His behalf or not; and, when no intervention took place, they believed they were justified in condemning Him. The premises being conceded, it is difficult to deny the force of their argument. If Jesus was all the time looking out for an appearance from heaven which never arrived, what better was He than a dreamer of the ghetto?
6. Weakness of This View:
It was by Johannes Weiss that this hypothesis was started in recent times; and it has been worked out by Schweitzer as the final issue of modern speculation on the life of Christ (see his The Quest of the Historical Jesus). But in opposition to it can be quoted not a few sayings of Jesus which indicate that, in His view, the kingdom of God had already begun and was making progress during His earthly ministry, and that it was destined to make progress not by catastrophic and apocalyptic interference with the course of Providence, but, as the grain grows-first the blade, then the ear, after that the full grain in the ear (Mark 4:26-29). Of such sayings the most remarkable is Luke 17:20, "And being asked by the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God cometh, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo, here! or, There! for lo, the kingdom of God is within you." "Observation," in this quotation, is an astronomical term, denoting exactly such a manifestation in the physical heavens as Jesus is assumed to have been looking for; so that He denies in so many words the expectation attributed to Him by those representatives of modern scholarship.
7. Positive Conceptions of Jesus:
In the nature of the case the kingdom must have been growing from stage to stage during His earthly ministry. He Himself was there, embodying the kingdom in His person; and the circle gathered around Him partook of the blessings of the kingdom. This circle might have grown large enough to be coextensive with the country; and, therefore, Jesus retained the consciousness of being the Messiah, and offered Himself in this character to His fellow-countrymen by the triumphal entry into Jerusalem. But the citizens of the kingdom had to enter it one by one, not in a body, as the Jews were expecting. Strait was the gate; it was the narrow gate of repentance. Jesus began by repeating the initial word of the teaching of His forerunner; and He had too much reason to continue repeating it, as the hypocrisy and worldliness of Pharisees and Sadducees called for denunciation from His lips. To the frailties of the publicans and sinners, on the contrary, He showed a strange mildness; but this was because He knew the way of bringing such sinners to His feet to confess their sins themselves. To the penitent He granted pardon, claiming that the Son of man had power on earth to forgive sins. Then followed the exposition of righteousness, of which the Sermon on the Mount is a perfect specimen. Yet it commences with another watchword-that of blessedness, the ingredients of which are set forth in all their comprehensiveness. In the same way, in other passages, He promises "rest" "peace" and the like; and again and again, where He might be expected to employ the term "kingdom of God," He substitutes "life" or "eternal life." Such were the blessings He had come into the world to bestow; and the most comprehensive designation for them all was "the kingdom of God."
It is true, there was always imperfection attaching to the kingdom as realized in His lifetime, because He Himself was not yet made perfect. Steadily, from the commencement of the last stage of His career, He began to speak of His own dying and rising again. To those nearest Him such language was at the time a total mystery; but the day came when His apostles were able to speak of His death and ascension as the crown and glory of His whole career. When His life seemed to be plunging over the precipice, its course was so diverted by the providence of God that, by dying, He became the Redeemer of mankind and, by missing the throne of the Jews, attained to that of the universe, becoming King of kings and Lord of lords.
III. The Idea in History.
1. Apostolic and Post-apostolic Age:
After the death of Jesus, there soon ensued the destruction of the Jewish state; and then Christianity went forth among the nations, where to have spoken of it as a kingdom of God would have unnecessarily provoked hostility and called forth the accusation of treason against the powers that be. Hence, it made use of other names and let "the kingdom of God" drop. This had commenced even in Holy Scripture, where, in the later books, there is a growing infrequency in the use of the term. This may be alleged as proof that Jesus was being forgotten; but it may only prove that Christianity was then too much alive to be trammeled with words and phrases, even those of the Master, being able at every stage to find new language to express its new experience.
2. Early Christian Centuries:
In the early Christian centuries, "the kingdom of God" was used to designate heaven itself, in which from the first the development of the kingdom was to issue; this, in fact, being not infrequently the meaning of the phrase even in the mouth of Jesus. The Alexandrian thinkers brought back the phrase to designate the rule of God in the conscience of men. Augustine's great work bears a title, De Civitate Dei, which is a translation of our phrase; and to him the kingdom of God was the church, while the world outside of the church was the kingdom of Satan. From the time of Charlemagne there were in the world, side by side, two powers, that of the emperor and that of the pope; and the history of the Middle Ages is the account of the conflict of these two for predominance, each pretending to struggle in the name of God. The approaching termination of this conflict may be seen in Wycliffe's great work De Dominio Divino, this title also being a translation of our phrase.
3. Reformation Period:
During the struggles of the Reformation the battles of the faith were fought out under other watchwords; and it was rather amongsuch sectaries as the Baptists, that names like Fifth Monarchy and Rule of the Saints betrayed recollection of the evangelic phraseology; but how near, then and subsequently, the expression of men's thoughts about authority in church and state came to the language of the Gospels could easily be demonstrated, for example, from the Confessions and Books of Discipline of the Scottish church.
4. Later Ideas:
The very phrase, "the kingdom of God," reappeared at the close of the Reformation period among the Pietists of Germany, who, as their multiplying benevolent and missionary activities overflowed the narrow boundaries of the church, as it was then understood, spoke of themselves as working for the kingdom of God, and found this more to their taste than working for the church. The vague and humanitarian aspirations of Rationalism sometimes assumed to themselves the same title; but it was by Ritschl and his followers that the phrase was brought back into the very heart of theology. In the system of Ritschl there are two poles-the love of God and the kingdom of God. The love of God enfolds within itself God's purpose for the world, to be realized in time; and this progressive realization is the kingdom of God. It fulfils itself especially in the faithful discharge of the duties of everyone's daily vocation and in the recognition that in the course of Providence all things are working together for good to them that love God.
IV. Place in Theology.
1. Danger of Exageration:
There are those to whom it appears self-evident that what was the leading phrase in the teaching of Jesus must always be the master-word in theology; while others think this to be a return from the spirit to the letter. Even Jesus, it may be claimed, had this phrase imposed upon Him quite as much as He chose it for Himself; and to impose it now on theology would be to entangle the movements of Christian thought with the cerements of the dead.
2. Elements of Living Power in Idea:
This is an interesting controversy, on both sides of which much might be said. But in the phrase "the kingdom of God" there are elements of living power which can never pass away.
(1) It expresses the social Power inside of Christianity. A kingdom implies multitude and variety, and, though religion begins with the individual, it must aim at brotherhood, organization and expansion.
(2) It expresses loyalty. However much kings and kingdoms may fail to touch the imagination in an age of the world when many countries have become or are becoming republican, the strength to conquer and to endure will always have to be derived from contact with personalities. God is the king of the kingdom of God, and the Son of God is His vicegerent; and without the love of God the Father and the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ no progress can be made with the Christianization of the world.
(3) It keeps alive the truth, suggested by Jesus in the Lord's Prayer, that the doing of the will of God on earth is the one thing needful. This is the true end of all authority in both church and state, and behind all efforts thus directed there is at work the potency of heaven.
(4) It reminds all generations of men that their true home and destiny is heaven. In not a few of our Lord's own sayings, as has been remarked, our phrase is obviously only a name for heaven; and, while His aim was that the kingdom should be established on earth, He always promised to those aiding in its establishment in this world that their efforts would be rewarded in the world to come. The constant recognition of a spiritual and eternal world is one of the unfailing marks of genuine Christianity.
Seethe works on New Testament Theology by Weiss, Beyschlag, Holtzmann, Feine, Schlatter, Weinel, Stevens, Sheldon; and on the Teaching of Jesus by Wendt, Dalman, Bruce; Candlish, The Kingdom of God; Robertson, Regnum Dei; Stalker, The Ethic of Jesus.
KINGDOM OF ISRAEL
See ISRAEL, KINGDOM OF.
KINGDOM OF JUDAH
See JUDAH, KINGDOM OF.