The prosperity and extravagance of King Solomon’s rule (oddly enough, Solomon was also the alleged author of the Book of Ecclesiastes, which shuns worldly goods for divine favor!) ended with his death in the year 922 B.C., although estimates are varied on that matter, ranging from 928 to 921 B.C.
The Ten Northern Tribes refused to remain vassals of Solomon’s son Rehoboam after the latter refused to converse with them regarding their grievances against governance concentrated in the south. Splitting away from Rehoboam’s Kingdom of Judah, they formed their own state, “Israel”, with a capital in the city of Samaria (the descendants of this state became known as the Samaritans), which reverted to blatant idolatrous worship of the very golden calves which Moses had so fervently condemned five centuries earlier.
The Bible explains through this fact “Israel’s” downfall two hundred years following its formation from a massive Assyrian invasion. In 724 B.C., the Assyrians devastated the Israeli capital of Samaria and permanently deported the “Ten Lost Tribes of Israel.”
Josephine Kamm states that “the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah were much more vulnerable than they had been in the past. They were seldom at peace even with one another, and they were powerless to resist the might of the neighboring empires… It was during this period that the prophets of the Old Testament delivered their messages, thundering against kings and nobles who rejected their religion and oppressed the poor, and pleading with them to be just and merciful.”
Helen Chapin Metz believes that “the destruction of the north had a sobering effect on the south. The prophet Isaiah eloquently proclaimed that rather than power and wealth, social justice and adherence to the will of God should be the focus of the Israelites.”
Isaiah preached that a ruler must possess genuine affection for his subjects in order to remain at the throne, and that power built upon intimidation would eventually collapse, as such a foundation is an unreliable one.
Following Isaiah emerged a series of prophets whose teachings were aimed at altering the Hebrews’ way of life toward one more in accord with God. Kamm explains that “Jeremiah and Isaiah realized only too well that the kingdoms of Israel and Judah could not possibly withstand an attack from outside powers; and in the end they were proved right.”
However, either the advice of the prophets remained unheeded, or it possessed not the potency to dispel the coming tide of foreigners that would gradually drain away from the Hebrews their own sovereign state, or it committed the fallacy of advising a spiritual detachment from the world instead of the implementation of material security for the “Chosen People” on Earth.
Arkenberg, J.S., ed. “Ancient History Sourcebook: Kurash (Cyrus) the Great: The Decree of Return for the Jews, 539 BCE.” Ezra. The Hebrew Bible. “Book of Ezra 1:1-8” Available: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/539cyrus1.html. February 6, 2002.
Arkenberg, J.S., ed. “Ancient History Sourcebook: Kurash (Cyrus) the Great: The Decree of Return for the Jews, 539 BCE.” The Great, Cyrus. The Kurash Prism. Available: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/539cyrus1.html. February 6, 2002.
CenturyOne. “THE GIFTS OF THE JEWS: How a Tribe of Desert Nomads Changed the Way Everyone Thinks and Feels (Hinges of History Series Volume 2).” (A book review of Thomas Cahill’s work.) Available: http://www.centuryone.com/8249-3.html. February 6, 2002.
Helen Chapin Metz, ed. “EARLY ISRAEL.[Excerpted from Israel: A Country Study.Helen Chapin Metz, ed. Washington, DC: Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress, 1988].” Available: http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/iltoc.html. February 6, 2002.
Kamm, Josephine. The Hebrew People: A History of the Jews. New York: McGraw-Hill: 1967.
Lipman, David E. “Gates to Jewish Heritage. Bar Kochba: The Bar Kochba Revolt.”Available: http://www.jewishgates.org/personalities/bar.stm. February 6, 2002.
Silvestri, Anthony. “Dr. Silvestri’s WWW Ancient World History Resource. III. The Hebrews.” Available: http://www.drhistory.org/main.html. January 27, 2001.
Speake, Graham, ed. The Cultural Atlas of the World: The Bible.Alexandria, Va., Stonehenge Press, 1992.
West, Jim. “Ancient Israelite Marriage Customs.” Available: http://www.theology.edu/marriage.htm. February 6, 2002.