Kingdom of Israel (Samaria)
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Kingdom of Israel Samaria

Kingdom of Israel

930 BCE-c. 720 BCE
Map of Israel and Judah in the 9th century BCE, with Israel in blue and Judah in yellow.
Map of Israel and Judah in the 9th century BCE, with Israel in blue and Judah in yellow.
Common languagesHebrew
o c. 931-910 BCE
Jeroboam I (first)
o 732-c. 720 BCE
Hoshea (last)
Historical eraIron Age
930 BCE
c. 720 BCE
ISO 3166 codeIL

According to the Hebrew Bible, the Kingdom of Israel (Hebrew: ?, Modern: Mamle?et Y?sra'?l, Tiberian: Mamlé?e? Yr?'?l), was one of two successor states to the former United Kingdom of Israel and Judah. Historians often refer to the Kingdom of Israel as the "Northern Kingdom" or as the "Kingdom of Samaria" to differentiate it from the Southern Kingdom of Judah.

Some scholars (most notably Israel Finkelstein) have challenged the biblical account that the northern kingdom of Israel broke off from a united monarchy with the southern kingdom of Judah, suggesting instead that the northern Kingdom of Israel developed independently of Judah, and that it first reached the political, economic, military and architectural sophistication of a kingdom under the Omride dynasty around 884 BCE.[2]:169-195[3] However, this opinion is rejected by other scholars (most notably William G. Dever and Amihai Mazar), who believe that the biblical account on the formation of the two kingdoms is to be considered as accurate, although with embellishments and exaggerations.[4][5][6]

The Kingdom of Israel existed roughly from 930 BCE until 720 BCE, when it was conquered by the Neo-Assyrian Empire. The major cities of the kingdom were Shechem, Tirzah, Samaria (Shomron), Jaffa, Bethel and Dan.

Biblical narrative

In the Hebrew Bible, the Kingdom of Israel has been referred to as the "House of Joseph".[7][8] It is also frequently referenced (particularly in poetry) as Ephraim, the tribe whose territory housed the capital cities and the royal families. It has also been referred to as "Israel in Samaria".[9]

According to the Hebrew Bible, the territory of the Kingdom of Israel comprised the territories of the tribes of Zebulun, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, Dan, Manasseh, Ephraim, Reuben, Simeon and Gad, and cities under the supervision of the Levites. Its capital was Samaria according to the Book of Isaiah.

Biblical background

United Monarchy

The United Kingdom of Israel and Judah is said to have existed from about 1030 to about 930 BCE. It was a union of all the twelve Israelite tribes living in the area that presently approximates modern Israel and the other Levantine territories, including much of western Jordan, and western Syria.


After the death of Solomon in about 931 BCE, most of the Israelite tribes (ten Northern tribes) except for Judah and Benjamin refused to accept Rehoboam, the son and successor of Solomon, as their king.[10] The rebellion against Rehoboam arose after he refused to lighten the burden of taxation and services that his father had imposed on his subjects while constructing the temple.[11]

Jeroboam, who was not of the Davidic line, was sent forth from Egypt by the malcontents.[12] The Tribe of Ephraim and all Israel raised the old cry, "Every man to his tents, O Israel".[13] Rehoboam fled to Jerusalem,[14][15] and in 930 BCE (some date it in 920 BCE), Jeroboam was proclaimed king over all Israel at Shechem. After the revolt at Shechem at first only the tribe of Judah remained loyal to the house of David. But very soon after the tribe of Benjamin joined Judah. The northern kingdom continued to be called the Kingdom of Israel or Israel, while the southern kingdom was called the Kingdom of Judah. 2 Chronicles also says that members of the tribes of Ephraim, Manasseh and Simeon fled to Judah during the reign of Asa of Judah.[16]


Early kings and Omride dynasty

The tribute of Northern Kingdom King "Jehu of the people of the land of Omri" (Akkadian: ? ?) as depicted on the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III, 841-840 BCE.[17] This is "the only portrayal we have in ancient Near Eastern art of an Israelite or Judaean monarch".[18]
Part of the gift-bearing Jewish delegation of King Jehu, Black Obelisk, 841-840 BCE.[19]

Shechem was the first capital of the Kingdom of Israel.[20] Afterwards it was Tirzah.[21] King Omri built his capital in Samaria,[22] which continued as such until the destruction of the Kingdom by the Assyrians.[23]

Today, among archaeologists, Samaria is one of the most universally accepted archaeological sites from the biblical period[24] At around 850 BCE, the Mesha Stele, written in Old Hebrew alphabet, records a victory of King Mesha of Moab against king Omri of Israel and his son Ahab.[25]

Relations between the kingdoms of Israel and Judah

According to the Bible, for the first sixty years, the kings of Judah tried to re-establish their authority over the northern kingdom, and there was perpetual war between them. For the following eighty years, there was no open war between them, and, for the most part, they were in friendly alliance, co-operating against their common enemies, especially against Damascus.

The conflict between Israel and Judah was resolved when Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, allied himself with the house of Ahab through marriage. Later, Jehosophat's son and successor, Jehoram of Judah, married Ahab's daughter Athaliah, cementing the alliance. However, the sons of Ahab were slaughtered by Jehu following his coup d'état around 840 BCE.

Jehu's delegation to Shalmaneser III, Black Obelisk, 841-840 BCE.

Destruction of the kingdom

In c. 732 BCE, Pekah of Israel, while allied with Rezin, king of Aram, threatened Jerusalem. Ahaz, king of Judah, appealed to Tiglath-Pileser III, the king of Assyria, for help. After Ahaz paid tribute to Tiglath-Pileser[26] Tiglath-Pileser sacked Damascus and Israel, annexing Aram[27] and territory of the tribes of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh in Gilead including the desert outposts of Jetur, Naphish and Nodab. People from these tribes including the Reubenite leader, were taken captive and resettled in the region of the Khabur River system. Tiglath-Pilesar also captured the territory of Naphtali and the city of Janoah in Ephraim and an Assyrian governor was placed over the region of Naphtali. According to 2 Kings 16:9 and 2 Kings 15:29, the population of Aram and the annexed part of Israel was deported to Assyria.[28]

Deportation of the Northern Kingdom by the Assyrian Empire

The remainder of the northern kingdom of Israel continued to exist within the reduced territory as an independent kingdom until around 720 BCE, when it was again invaded by Assyria and the rest of the population deported. During the three-year siege of Samaria in the territory of Ephraim by the Assyrians, Shalmaneser V died and was succeeded by Sargon II, who himself records the capture of that city thus: "Samaria I looked at, I captured; 27,280 men who dwelt in it I carried away" into Assyria. Thus, around 720 BCE, after two centuries, the kingdom of the ten tribes came to an end. Some of the Israelite captives were resettled in the Khabur region, and the rest in the land of the Medes, thus establishing Hebrew communities in Ecbatana and Rages. The Book of Tobit additionally records that Sargon had taken other captives from the northern kingdom to the Assyrian capital of Nineveh, in particular Tobit from the town of Thisbe in Naphtali.

The Hebrew Bible relates that the population of the Kingdom of Israel was exiled, becoming known as the Ten Lost Tribes. To the south, the Tribe of Judah, the Tribe of Simeon (that was "absorbed" into Judah), the Tribe of Benjamin and the people of the Tribe of Levi, who lived among them of the original Israelite nation, remained in the southern Kingdom of Judah. The Kingdom of Judah continued to exist as an independent state until 586 BCE, when it was conquered by the Neo-Babylonian Empire.

Samaritan version

The Samaritan version to the events claims that actually much of the population of the Northern Kingdom of Israel remained in place upon the Exile, including the Tribes of Naphtali, Menasseh, Benjamin and Levi - being the progenitors of the Samaritans. In their book The Bible Unearthed, authors Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman estimate that only a fifth of the population (about 40,000) were actually resettled out of the area during the two deportation periods under Tiglath-Pileser III and Sargon II.[2]:221 Many of the Northern Tribes also fled south to Jerusalem, which appears to have expanded in size five-fold during this period, requiring a new wall to be built, and a new source of water Siloam to be provided by King Hezekiah.

Medieval Rabbinic fable

In medieval Rabbinic fable, the concept of the ten tribes who were taken away from the House of David (who continued the rule of the southern kingdom of Judah), becomes confounded with accounts of the Assyrian deportations leading to the myth of the "Ten Lost Tribes".

Recorded history

No known non-Biblical record exists of the Assyrians having exiled people from Dan, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun or western Manasseh. Descriptions of the deportation of people from Reuben, Gad, Manasseh in Gilead, Ephraim and Naphtali indicate that only a portion of these tribes were deported and the places to which they were deported are known locations given in the accounts. The deported communities are mentioned as still existing at the time of the composition of the Books of Kings and Chronicles and did not disappear by assimilation. 2 Chronicles 30:1-18 explicitly mentions northern Israelites who had been spared by the Assyrians, in particular people of Ephraim, Manasseh, Asher, Issachar and Zebulun, and how members of the latter three returned to worship at the Temple in Jerusalem during the reign of Hezekiah.[29]

Royal houses

The genealogy of the kings of the United Kingdom of Israel and Judea, the Kingdom of Israel and the kings of the Kingdom of Judah. Most historians follow either of the older chronologies established by William F. Albright or Edwin R. Thiele, or the newer chronologies of Gershon Galil and Kenneth Kitchen, all of which are shown below. All dates are BC/BCE.
The Northern Kingdom had 19 kings across 9 different dynasties throughout its 208 years of existence.
Albright Thiele Galil Kitchen Common/Biblical name Regnal Name and style Notes

The House of Jeroboam

922–901 BCE 931–910 BCE 931–909 BCE 931–911 BCE Jeroboam I ?-
Yerav'am ben Nevat, Melekh Yisra'el
Led the rebellion and divided the kingdoms. Reigned in Israel (Northern Kingdom) for 22 years. Death: Natural Causes
901–900 BCE 910–909 BCE 909–908 BCE 911–910 BCE Nadab ?-
Nadav ben Yerav'am, Melekh Yisra'el
Reigned in Israel for 2 years. Death: Killed by Baasha, son of Ahijah of the house of Issachar, along with his whole family.

The House of Baasha

900–877 BCE 909–886 BCE 908–885 BCE 910–887 BCE Baasha ? ?-?
Ba'asha ben Achiyah, Melekh Yisra'el
Reigned over Israel in Tirzah for 24 years. Death: Natural Causes
877–876 BCE 886–885 BCE 885–884 BCE 887–886 BCE Elah ?-?
'Elah ben Ba'asha, Melekh Yisra'el
Reigned over Israel in Tirzah for 2 years. Death: Zimri, one of his officials, got him drunk and killed him at his house in Azra.

The House of Zimri

876 BCE 885 BCE 884 BCE 886 BCE Zimri ?
Zimri, Melekh Yisra'el
Reigned over Israel in Tirzah for 7 days. Death: He set his palace on fire when Omri and all the Israelites with him withdrew from Gibbethon and laid siege to Tirzah.

The House of Omri

876–869 BCE 885–874 BCE 884–873 BCE 886–875 BCE Omri ?
'Omri, Melekh Yisra'el
Reigned over Israel in Samaria for 12 years. Death: Natural Causes
869–850 BCE 874–853 BCE 873–852 BCE 875–853 BCE Ahab ? ?-?
Ah'av ben 'Omri, Melekh Yisra'el
Reigned over Israel in Samaria for 22 years. Death: Shot by an archer during the battle at Ramoth Gilead. He died upon his arrival at Samaria.
850–849 BCE 853–852 BCE 852–851 BCE 853–852 BCE Ahaziah ?-?
'Ahazyahu ben 'Ah'av, Melekh Yisra'el
Reigned over Israel in Samaria for 2 years. Death: He fell through the lattice of his upper room and injured himself. Elijah the prophet told him he would never leave his bed and would die on it.
849–842 BCE 852–841 BCE 851–842 BCE 852–841 BCE Joram ? ?-?
Yehoram ben 'Ah'av, Melekh Yisra'el
Reigned over Israel in Samaria for 12 years. Death: Killed by Jehu, the next king of Israel,

The House of Jehu

842–815 BCE 841–814 BCE 842–815 BCE] 841–814 BCE Jehu ? ?-?
Yehu ben Nimshi, Melekh Yisra'el
Reigned over Israel in Samaria for 28 years.[30] Death: Natural Causes
815–801 BCE 814–798 BCE 819–804 BCE 814–806 BCE Jehoahaz ?-?
Yeho'ahaz ben Yehu, Melekh Yisra'el
Reigned over Israel in Samaria for 17 years. Death: Natural Causes
801–786 BCE 798–782 BCE 805–790 BCE 806–791 BCE Jehoash
? ?-
Yeho'ash ben Yeho'ahaz, Melekh Yisra'el
Reigned over Israel in Samaria for 16 years. Death: Natural Causes
786–746 BCE 782–753 BCE 790–750 BCE 791–750 BCE Jeroboam II ?-?
Yerav'am ben Yeho'ash, Melekh Yisra'el
Reigned over Israel in Samaria for 41 years. Death: Natural Causes. The Book of Jonah or Jonah's journey to Nineveh (when he was swallowed by a whale or fish) happened at that time.
746 BCE 753 BCE 750–749 BCE 750 BCE  Zachariah ?-
Zekharyah ben Yerav'am, Melekh Yisra'el
Reigned over Israel in Samaria for 6 months. Death: Shallum son of Jabesh killed him in front of the people and succeeded as king.

The House of Shallum

745 BCE 752 BCE 749 BCE 749 BCE Shallum ?-
Shallum ben Yavesh, Melekh Yisra'el
Reigned over Israel in Samaria for 1 month. Death: Menahem son of Gadi attacked Shallum and assassinated him.

The House of Menahem (also known as the House of Gadi)

745–738 BCE 752–742 BCE 749–738 BCE 749–739 BCE Menahem ? ?-
Menachem ben Gadi, Melekh Yisra'el
Reigned over Israel in Samaria for 10 years. Death: Natural Causes
738–737 BCE 742–740 BCE 738–736 BCE 739–737 BCE Pekahiah ?-?
Pekahyah ben Menahem, Melekh Yisra'el
Reigned over Israel in Samaria for 2 years. Death: Pekah son of Remaliah, one of the chief officers, took 50 men with him and assassinated the king in his palace at Samaria.

The House of Pekah

737–732 BCE 740–732 BCE 736–732 BCE 737–732 BCE Pekah ?-
Pekah ben Remalyahu, Melekh Yisra'el
Reigned over Israel in Samaria for 20 years. Death: Hoshea son of Elah conspired against him and assassinated him.

The House of Hoshea

732–722 BCE 732–722 BCE 732–722 BCE 732–722 BCE Hoshea ? ?-
Hoshe'a ben 'Elah, Melekh Yisra'el
Reigned over Israel in Samaria for 9 years.[31] Death: King Shalmanser attacked and captured Samaria. He charged Hoshea of treason and he put him in prison, then, he deported the Israelites to Assyria.


The religious climate of the Kingdom of Israel appears to have followed two major trends. The first, that of worship of Yahweh, and the second that of worship of Baal as detailed in the Hebrew Bible[32] and in the Baal cycle discovered at Ugarit.

According to the Hebrew Bible Jeroboam built two places of worship, one at Bethel and one at far northern Dan, as alternatives to the Temple in Jerusalem.[33][34] He did not want the people of his kingdom to have religious ties to Jerusalem, the capital city of the rival Kingdom of Judah. He erected golden bulls at the entrance to the Temples to represent the national god.[35] The Hebrew Bible, written from the perspective of scribes in Jerusalem, referred to these acts as the way of Jeroboam or the errors of Jeroboam.[35][36]

The Bible states that Ahab allowed the cult worship of Baal to become an acceptable religion of the kingdom. His wife Jezebel was a devotee to Baal worship.[32]

List of proposed Assyrian references to Kingdom of Israel (Samaria)

The table below lists all the historical references to the Kingdom of Israel (Samaria) in Assyrian records.[37] King Omri's name takes the Assyrian shape of "Humri", his kingdom or dynasty that of Bit Humri or alike - the "House of Humri/Omri".

Assyrian King Inscription Year Transliteration Translation
Shalmaneser III Kurkh Monoliths 853 BCE KUR sir-'i-la-a-a "Israel"
Shalmaneser III Black Obelisk, Calah Fragment, Kurba'il Stone, Ashur Stone 841 BCE mar Hu-um-ri-i "of Omri"
Adad-nirari III Tell al-Rimah Stela 803 BCE KUR Sa-me-ri-na-a-a "land of Samaria"
Adad-nirari III Nimrud Slab 803 BCE KUR <Bit>-Hu-um-ri-i "the 'land of [the House of] Omri"
Tiglath-Pileser III Layard 45b+ III R 9,1 740 BCE [KUR sa-me-ri-i-na-a-a] ["land of Samaria"]
Tiglath-Pileser III Iran Stela 739-738 BCE KUR sa-m[e]-ri-i-na-a-[a] "land of Samaria"
Tiglath-Pileser III Layard 50a + 50b + 67a 738-737 BCE URU sa-me-ri-na-a-a "city of Samaria"
Tiglath-Pileser III Layard 66 732-731 BCE URU Sa-me-ri-na "city of Samaria"
Tiglath-Pileser III III R 10,2 731 BCE KUR E Hu-um-ri-a "land of the House of Omri"
Tiglath-Pileser III ND 4301 + 4305 730 BCE KUR E Hu-um-ri-a "land of the House of Omri"
Shalmaneser V Babylonian Chronicle ABC1 725 BCE URU Sa-ma/ba-ra-'-in "city of Samaria"
Sargon II Nimrud Prism, Great Summary Inscription 720 BCE URU Sa-me-ri-na "city of Samaria"
Sargon II Palace Door, Small Summary Inscription, Cylinder Inscription, Bull Inscription 720 BCE KUR Bit-Hu-um-ri-a "land of Omri"

See also


  1. ^
    • Rollston, Chris A. (2010). Writing and Literacy in the World of Ancient Israel: Epigraphic Evidence from the Iron Age. Society of Biblical Literature. pp. 52-54. ISBN 978-1589831070.
    • Compston, Herbert F. B. (1919). The Inscription on the Stele of Mé?a?.
  2. ^ a b Finkelstein, Israel; Silberman, Neil Asher (2002) The Bible Unearthed : Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts, Simon & Schuster, ISBN 0-684-86912-8
  3. ^ Kuhrt, Amiele (1995). The Ancient Near East. Routledge. p. 438. ISBN 978-0-41516-762-8.
  4. ^ Dever, William G. (10 May 2001). What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It?: What Archeology Can Tell Us About the Reality of Ancient Israel. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. ISBN 978-0-8028-2126-3.
  5. ^ Garfinkel, Yosef; Ganor, Saar (7 June 2018). In the Footsteps of King David: Revelations from an Ancient Biblical City. Thames and Hudson Limited. ISBN 978-0-500-77420-5.
  6. ^ Mazar, Amihai. "Archaeology and the Biblical Narrative: The Case of the United Monarchy". Archaeological and Biblical Perspectives.
  7. ^ *Zechariah 10:6
  8. ^ *II Samuel 2:10
  9. ^ 1 Kings 22:51 and many subsequent passages
  10. ^ 1 Kings 12:17-22
  11. ^ 1 Kings 12:4, 1 Kings 12:14
  12. ^ 1 Kings 12:2-3
  13. ^ 2Samuel 20:1
  14. ^ 1 Kings 12:1-18
  15. ^ 2 Chronicles 10
  16. ^ 2 Chronicles 15:9
  17. ^ Kuan, Jeffrey Kah-Jin (2016). Neo-Assyrian Historical Inscriptions and Syria-Palestine: Israelite/Judean-Tyrian-Damascene Political and Commercial Relations in the Ninth-Eighth Centuries BCE. Wipf and Stock Publishers. pp. 64-66. ISBN 978-1-4982-8143-0.
  18. ^ Cohen, Ada; Kangas, Steven E. (2010). Assyrian Reliefs from the Palace of Ashurnasirpal II: A Cultural Biography. UPNE. p. 127. ISBN 978-1-58465-817-7.
  19. ^ Delitzsch, Friedrich; McCormack, Joseph; Carruth, William Herbert; Robinson, Lydia Gillingham (1906). Babel and Bible;. Chicago, The Open court publishing company. p. 78.
  20. ^ 1 Kings 12:25
  21. ^ 1 Kings 14:17
  22. ^ 1 Kings 16:24
  23. ^ 2 Kings 17:5
  24. ^ See Yohanan Aharoni, et al. (1993) The Macmillan Bible Atlas, p. 94, Macmillan Publishing: New York; and Amihai Mazar (1992) The Archaeology of the Land of the Bible: 10,000 - 586 B.C.E, p. 404, New York: Doubleday, see pp. 406-410 for discussion of archaeological significance of Shomron (Samaria) under Omride Dynasty.
  25. ^ 2 Kings 3
  26. ^ 2 Kings 16:7-9
  27. ^ Lester L. Grabbe (2007). Ancient Israel: What Do We Know and How Do We Know It?. New York: T&T Clark. p. 134. ISBN 978-05-67-11012-1.
  28. ^ 2 Kings 16:9 and 15:29
  29. ^ 2 Chronicles 30:1-18
  30. ^ Considered to be a contemporary of the Assyrian King Shalmaneser III (858–824 BC) to whom he paid tribute. This is based on an inscription on The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III showing "Yaua" son of Omri paying tribute, dated to 841 BCE.
  31. ^ Paid tribute to the Assyrian King Shalmaneser V (727–722 BCE) but rebelled in 725 BCE. Shalmaneser besieged the capital, Samaria, but died shortly before the fall of the city. His brother Sargon II (722–705 BCE) completed the siege with success in 722. Some of the population of the Northern Kingdom was exiled to other parts of the Assyrian Empire and new population groups were resettled in the new Assyrian province of Samaria. A small group of people fled south to take refuge in Judah.
  32. ^ a b 1 Kings 16:31
  33. ^ Jonathan S. Greer (2015) "The Sanctuaries at Dan and Bethel"
  34. ^ 1 Kings 12:29
  35. ^ a b "Israelite Temple", Tel Dan Excavations
  36. ^ 1 Kings 12:26-29
  37. ^ Kelle, Brad (2002), "What's in a Name? Neo-Assyrian Designations for the Northern Kingdom and Their Implications for Israelite History and Biblical Interpretation", Journal of Biblical Literature, 121 (4): 639-666, doi:10.2307/3268575, JSTOR 3268575

External links

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