King David would not content himself with being a mere vassal of the Philistines. In a series of brilliant military campaigns, he unified the Tribes of Israel, subdued nearly all Canaanite resistance, and captured from the Jebusites their city of Jerusalem (in 995 B.C.), which he transformed into his capital, a formidable base of operations for cleansing the land of the Philistines and stretching his rule as far as Damascus.
David’s reign produced numerous accomplishments on the domestic front as well. Anthony Silvestri reveals that under David “Israel became the leading state between Egypt and Mesopotamia. King David formally made the worship of Adonai the state religion. He centralized the monarchy at Jerusalem. He transformed the Ark of the Covenant to its new home in Jerusalem. David was Adonai’s adopted son, charged to shepherd and rule over God’s people.”
The Northern Hebrew tribes had at last submitted to a system of centralized authority, and through their land David commissioned the construction of roads to Tyre in order to establish major trade routes with the Phoenicians. Despite his power, David constantly remained conscious of his duties to God and, according to Chapin Metz, “believed that the ultimate authority rested not with any king but with God.” After his death in 961 B.C., a stable and territorially expanding state was inherited by his youngest son, Solomon.
Solomon was, unlike his father, a believer in worldly manifestations of divine authority. He constructed the famed First Temple of Jerusalem in the honor of God, and relocated the Ark of the Covenant into its confines. He became the author of numerous Biblical verses and undertook an effort to compile the various religious legacies of the Jewish people into a single piece of writing, which became the foundation for the Bible.
Silvestri suggests that this was a lengthy effort undertaken by numerous scholars and writers who “tried to make an intelligible whole out of the chaotic mass of legends, songs, cultic practices, prayers, sayings, proverbs, and laws that made up the traditions of the twelve tribes.”
Solomon also expanded trade relationships and alliances with many of his neighbors. However, signs of gradual decline were on the horizon. The Cultural Atlas of the Bibledescribes this: “The life of the court was sumptuous. Against this, parts of David’s empire began to split away, and Solomon even ceded to Tyre Israelite cities in the coastal plain north of Acco to pay for his building works.”
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.