History of ancient Israel and Judah

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“Grabbe 2008, pp. 225–6…) There are indications that during the 10th and 9th centuries BCE, the southern highlands had been divided between a number of centres, none with clear primacy.”

The Iron Age kingdom of Israel (blue) and kingdom of Judah (yellow), with their neighbors (tan) (8th century BCE)

Israel and Judah were related Iron Age kingdoms of the ancient Levant. The Kingdom of Israel emerged as an important local power by the 9th century BCE before falling to the Neo-Assyrian Empire in 722 BCE. Israel’s southern neighbor, the Kingdom of Judah, emerged in the 8th century BCE(( Grabbe 2008, pp. 225–6.)) and enjoyed a period of prosperity as a client-state of first Assyria and then Babylon before a revolt against the Neo-Babylonian Empire led to its destruction in 586 BCE. Following the fall of Babylon to the Persian king Cyrus the Great in 539 BCE, some Judean exiles returned to Jerusalem, inaugurating the formative period in the development of a distinctive Judahite identity in the Persian province of Yehud. Yehud was absorbed into the subsequent Hellenistic kingdoms that followed the conquests of Alexander the Great, but in the 2nd century BCE the Judaeans revolted against the Hellenist Seleucid Empire and created the Hasmonean kingdom. This, the last nominally independent Judean kingdom, came to an end in 63 BCE with its conquest by Pompey of Rome. With the installation of client kingdoms under the Herodian Dynasty, the Kingdom of Israel was wracked by civil disturbances which culminated in the First Jewish–Roman War, the destruction of the Temple, the emergence of Rabbinic Judaism and Early Christianity.


section 1.0 Periods:

  section 2.0 Late Bronze Age Background (1600–1200 BCE)

The eastern Mediterranean seaboard – the Levant – stretches 400 miles north to south from the Taurus Mountains to the Sinai desert, and 70 to 100 miles east to west between the sea and the Arabian desert.((Miller 1986, p. 36.)) The coastal plain of the southern Levant, broad in the south and narrowing to the north, is backed in its southernmost portion by a zone of foothills, the Shephelah; like the plain this narrows as it goes northwards, ending in the promontory of Mount Carmel. East of the plain and the Shephelah is a mountainous ridge, the “hill country of Judah” in the south, the “hill country of Ephraim” north of that, then Galilee and the Lebanon mountains. To the east again lie the steep-sided valley occupied by the Jordan River, the Dead Sea, and the wadi of the Arabah, which continues down to the eastern arm of the Red Sea. Beyond the plateau is the Syrian desert, separating the Levant from Mesopotamia. To the southwest is Egypt, to the northeast Mesopotamia. The location and geographical characteristics of the narrow Levant made the area a battleground among the powerful entities that surrounded it.((Coogan 1998, pp. 4–7.))

Canaan in the Late Bronze Age was a shadow of what it had been centuries earlier: many cities were abandoned, others shrank in size, and the total settled population was probably not much more than a hundred thousand.((Finkelstein 2001, p. 78.)) Settlement was concentrated in cities along the coastal plain and along major communication routes; the central and northern hill country which would later become the biblical kingdom of Israel was only sparsely inhabited((Killebrew 2005, pp. 38–9.)) although letters from the Egyptian archives indicate that Jerusalem was already a Canaanite city-state recognising Egyptian overlordship.((Cahill in Vaughn 1992, pp. 27–33.)) Politically and culturally it was dominated by Egypt,((Kuhrt 1995, p. 317.)) each city under its own ruler, constantly at odds with its neighbours, and appealing to the Egyptians to adjudicate their differences.((Killebrew 2005, pp. 38–9..))

The Canaanite city-state system broke down at the end of the Late Bronze period,((Killebrew 2005, pp. 10–6.)) and Canaanite culture was then gradually absorbed into that of the Philistines, Phoenicians and Israelites.((Golden 2004b, pp. 61–2.)) The process was gradual, rather than swift,((McNutt 1999, p. 47.)) and a strong Egyptian presence continued into the 12th century BCE, and, while some Canaanite cities were destroyed, others continued to exist in Iron Age I.((Golden 2004a, p. 155.))

  section 3.0 Iron Age I (1200–1000 BCE)

The name Israel first appears in the stele of the Egyptian pharaoh Merneptah c. 1209 BCE, “Israel is laid waste and his seed is no more.”((Stager in Coogan 1998, p. 91.)) This “Israel” was a cultural and probably political entity of the central highlands, well enough established to be perceived by the Egyptians as a possible challenge to their hegemony, but an ethnic group rather than an organised state;((Dever 2003, p. 206.)) Archaeologist Paula McNutt says: “It is probably … during Iron Age I [that] a population began to identify itself as ‘Israelite’,” differentiating itself from its neighbours via prohibitions on intermarriage, an emphasis on family history and genealogy, and religion.”((McNutt 1999, pp. 35.))

In the Late Bronze Age there were no more than about 25 villages in the highlands, but this increased to over 300 by the end of Iron Age I, while the settled population doubled from 20,000 to 40,000.((McNutt 1999, pp.46-47.)) The villages were more numerous and larger in the north, and probably shared the highlands with pastoral nomads, who left no remains.((McNutt 1999, p. 69.)) Archaeologists and historians attempting to trace the origins of these villagers have found it impossible to identify any distinctive features that could define them as specifically Israelite – collared-rim jars and four-room houses have been identified outside the highlands and thus cannot be used to distinguish Israelite sites,((Miller 1986, p. 72.)) and while the pottery of the highland villages is far more limited than that of lowland Canaanite sites, it develops typologically out of Canaanite pottery that came before.((Killebrew 2005, p. 13.)) Israel Finkelstein proposed that the oval or circular layout that distinguishes some of the earliest highland sites, and the notable absence of pig bones from hill sites, could be taken as a marker of ethnicity, but others have cautioned that these can be a “common-sense” adaptation to highland life and not necessarily revelatory of origins.((Edelman in Brett 2002, p. 46-47.)) Other Aramaean sites also demonstrate a contemporary absence of pig remains at that time, unlike earlier Canaanite and later Philistine excavations.

The Merneptah stele. While alternative translations exist, the majority of biblical archeologists translate a set of hieroglyphs as “Israel”, representing the first instance of the name Israel in the historical record.

The Canaanite god Ba’al, 14th–12th century BCE (Louvre museum, Paris)

In The Bible Unearthed, Finkelstein and Silberman summarised recent studies. They described how, up until 1967, the Israelite heartland in the highlands of western Palestine was virtually an archaeological terra incognita. Since then, the traditional territories of the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh have been covered by intensive surveys. These surveys have revealed the sudden emergence of a new culture contrasting with the Philistine and Canaanite societies existing in the Land of Israel earlier during Iron Age I.((Finkelstein and Silberman (2001) Free Press, New York, p. 107, ISBN 0-684-86912-8)) This new culture is characterised by the lack of pork remains (whereas pork formed 20% of the Philistine diet in places), an abandonment of the Philistines/Canaanite custom of having highly decorated pottery, and the practice of circumcision. The Israelite ethnic identity had been created, not from the Exodus and a subsequent conquest, but from a transformation of the existing Canaanite-Philistine cultures.((Avraham Faust [2009] How Did Israel Become a People? The Genesis of Israelite Identity. Biblical Archaeology Review 201: pp. 62-69, 92-94))

These surveys revolutionized the study of early Israel. The discovery of the remains of a dense network of highland villages — all apparently established within the span of few generations — indicated that a dramatic social transformation had taken place in the central hill country of Canaan around 1200 BCE. There was no sign of violent invasion or even the infiltration of a clearly defined ethnic group. Instead, it seemed to be a revolution in lifestyle. In the formerly sparsely populated highlands from the Judean hills in the south to the hills of Samaria in the north, far from the Canaanite cities that were in the process of collapse and disintegration, about two-hundred fifty hilltop communities suddenly sprang up. Here were the first Israelites.((Finkelstein and Silberman (2001), p. 107))

From then on, over a period of hundreds of years until after the return of the exiles from Babylon, the Canaanites were gradually absorbed by the Israelites and other tribes until after the period of Ezra (~450 BCE) whereafter there is no more biblical record of them.((Holy Bible. King James version. Ezra, Chapter 9)) Hebrew (see Hebrew language), a dialect of Canaanite, became the language of the hill country and later the valleys and plains.((Canaan.))

Modern scholars therefore see Israel arising peacefully and internally from existing people in the highlands of Canaan.((Gnuse 1997, pp.28,31))

  section 4.0 Iron Age II (1000–550 BCE)

A reconstructed Israelite house, 10th–7th century BCE. Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv.

Unusually favourable climatic conditions in the first two centuries of Iron Age II brought about an expansion of population, settlements and trade throughout the region.((Thompson 1992, p. 408.)) In the central highlands this resulted in unification in a kingdom with the city of Samaria as its capital,((Thompson 1992, p. 408.)) possibly by the second half of the 10th century BCE when an inscription of the Egyptian pharaoh Shoshenq I, the biblical Shishak, records a series of campaigns directed at the area.((Mazar in Finkelstein 2007, p. 163.)) Israel had clearly emerged by the middle of the 9th century BCE, when the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III names “Ahab the Israelite” among his enemies at the battle of Qarqar (853). At this time Israel was apparently engaged in a three-way contest with Damascus and Tyre for control of the Jezreel Valley and Galilee in the north, and with Moab, Ammon and Damascus in the east for control of Gilead;((Thompson 1992, p. 408.)) the Mesha stele (c. 830), left by a king of Moab, celebrates his success in throwing off the oppression of the “House of Omri” (i.e., Israel). It bears what is generally thought to be the earliest extra-biblical Semitic reference to the name Yahweh (YHWH), whose temple goods were plundered by Mesha and brought before his own god Kemosh.

French scholar André Lemaire has reconstructed a portion of line 31 of the stele as mentioning the “House of David”.((Mazar in Finkelstein 2007, p. 163.))((Biblical Archaeology Review [May/June 1994], pp. 30–37)) Other scholars disagree, saying that BYTDWD is a place name not a dynasty.((TelDan”. vridar.info. Retrieved 2016-05-26.)) The Tel Dan stele (c. 841) tells of the death of a king of Israel, probably Jehoram, at the hands of a king of Aram Damascus.((Mazar in Finkelstein 2007, p. 163…)) A century later Israel came into increasing conflict with the expanding neo-Assyrian empire, which first split its territory into several smaller units and then destroyed its capital, Samaria (722). Both the biblical and Assyrian sources speak of a massive deportation of people from Israel and their replacement with settlers from other parts of the empire – such population exchanges were an established part of Assyrian imperial policy, a means of breaking the old power structure – and the former Israel never again became an independent political entity.((Lemche 1998, p. 85.))

Judah emerged somewhat later than Israel, probably during the 9th century BCE, but the subject is one of considerable controversy.((Grabbe 2008, pp. 225–6…) There are indications that during the 10th and 9th centuries BCE, the southern highlands had been divided between a number of centres, none with clear primacy.((Lehman in Vaughn 1992, p. 149.)) During the reign of Hezekiah, between c. 715 and 686 BCE, a notable increase in the power of the Judean state can be observed.((David M. Carr, Writing on the Tablet of the Heart: Origins of Scripture and Literature, Oxford University Press, 2005, 164.)) This is reflected in archaeological sites and findings, such as the Broad Wall; a defensive city wall in Jerusalem; and the Siloam Tunnel, an aqueduct designed to provide Jerusalem with water during an impending siege by the Assyrians led by Sennacherib; and the Siloam Inscription, a lintel inscription found over the doorway of a tomb, has been ascribed to comptroller Shebna. LMLK seals on storage jar handles, excavated from strata in and around that formed by Sennacherib’s destruction, appear to have been used throughout Sennacherib’s 29-year reign, along with bullae from sealed documents, some that belonged to Hezekiah himself and others that name his servants;((LAMRYEU-HNNYEU-OBD-HZQYEU”.))

King Ahaz’s Seal is a piece of reddish-brown clay that belonged to King Ahaz of Judah, who ruled from 732 to 716 BCE. This seal contains not only the name of the king, but the name of his father, King Yehotam. In addition, Ahaz is specifically identified as “king of Judah.” The Hebrew inscription, which is set on three lines, reads as follows: “l’hz*y/hwtm*mlk*/yhdh”, which translates as “belonging to Ahaz (son of) Yehotam, King of Judah.“((First Impression. What We Learn from King Ahaz’s Seal [m1], by Robert Deutsch, Archaeological Center.))

In the 7th century Jerusalem grew to contain a population many times greater than earlier and achieved clear dominance over its neighbours.((Thompson 1992, pp. 410–1.)) This occurred at the same time that Israel was being destroyed by Assyria, and was probably the result of a cooperative arrangement with the Assyrians to establish Judah as an Assyrian vassal controlling the valuable olive industry.((Thompson 1992, pp. 410–1….)) Judah prospered as an Assyrian vassal state (despite a disastrous rebellion against Sennacherib), but in the last half of the 7th century BCE Assyria suddenly collapsed, and the ensuing competition between the Egyptian and Neo-Babylonian empires for control of the land led to the destruction of Judah in a series of campaigns between 597 and 582.((Thompson 1992, pp. 410–1…..))

  section 5.0 Babylonian period

Reconstruction of the Ishtar Gate of Babylon

Babylonian Judah suffered a steep decline in both economy and population((Grabbe 2004, p. 28)) and lost the Negev, the Shephelah, and part of the Judean hill country, including Hebron, to encroachments from Edom and other neighbours.((Lemaire in Blenkinsopp 2003, p. 291.)) Jerusalem, while probably not totally abandoned, was much smaller than previously, and the town of Mizpah in Benjamin in the relatively unscathed northern section of the kingdom became the capital of the new Babylonian province of Yehud Medinata.((Davies 2009.)) (This was standard Babylonian practice: when the Philistine city of Ashkalon was conquered in 604, the political, religious and economic elite [but not the bulk of the population] was banished and the administrative centre shifted to a new location).((Lipschits 2005, p. 48.)) There is also a strong probability that for most or all of the period the temple at Bethel in Benjamin replaced that at Jerusalem, boosting the prestige of Bethel’s priests (the Aaronites) against those of Jerusalem (the Zadokites), now in exile in Babylon.((Blenkinsopp in Blenkinsopp 2003, pp. 103–5.))

The Babylonian conquest entailed not just the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple, but the liquidation of the entire infrastructure which had sustained Judah for centuries.((Blenkinsopp 2009, p. 228.)) The most significant casualty was the state ideology of “Zion theology,”((Middlemas 2005, pp. 1–2.)) the idea that the god of Israel had chosen Jerusalem for his dwelling-place and that the Davidic dynasty would reign there forever.((Miller 1986, p. 203.)) The fall of the city and the end of Davidic kingship forced the leaders of the exile community – kings, priests, scribes and prophets – to reformulate the concepts of community, faith and politics.((Middlemas 2005, p. 2.)) The exile community in Babylon thus became the source of significant portions of the Hebrew Bible: Isaiah 40–55; Ezekiel; the final version of Jeremiah; the work of the hypothesized priestly source in the Pentateuch; and the final form of the history of Israel from Deuteronomy to 2 Kings.((Middlemas 2005, p. 10.)) Theologically, the Babylonian exiles were responsible for the doctrines of individual responsibility and universalism (the concept that one god controls the entire world) and for the increased emphasis on purity and holiness.((Middlemas 2005, p. 10…)) Most significantly, the trauma of the exile experience led to the development of a strong sense of Hebrew identity distinct from other peoples,((Middlemas 2005, p. 17.)) with increased emphasis on symbols such as circumcision and Sabbath-observance to sustain that distinction.((Bedford 2001, p. 48.))

The concentration of the biblical literature on the experience of the exiles in Babylon disguises the fact that the great majority of the population remained in Judah; for them, life after the fall of Jerusalem probably went on much as it had before.((Barstad 2008, p. 109.)) It may even have improved, as they were rewarded with the land and property of the deportees, much to the anger of the community of exiles remaining in Babylon.((Albertz 2003a, p. 92.)) The assassination around 582 of the Babylonian governor by a disaffected member of the former royal House of David provoked a Babylonian crackdown, possibly reflected in the Book of Lamentations, but the situation seems to have soon stabilised again.((Albertz 2003a, pp. 95–6.)) Nevertheless, those unwalled cities and towns that remained were subject to slave raids by the Phoenicians and intervention in their internal affairs by Samaritans, Arabs, and Ammonites.((Albertz 2003a, p. 96.))

  section 6.0 Persian period

Main article: Yehud Medinata

When Babylon fell to the Persian Cyrus the Great in 539 BCE, Judah (or Yehud medinata, the “province of Yehud”) became an administrative division within the Persian empire. Cyrus was succeeded as king by Cambyses, who added Egypt to the empire, incidentally transforming Yehud and the Philistine plain into an important frontier zone. His death in 522 was followed by a period of turmoil until Darius the Greatseized the throne in about 521. Darius introduced a reform of the administrative arrangements of the empire including the collection, codification and administration of local law codes, and it is reasonable to suppose that this policy lay behind the redaction of the Jewish Torah.((Blenkinsopp 1988, p. 64.)) After 404 the Persians lost control of Egypt, which became Persia’s main rival outside Europe, causing the Persian authorities to tighten their administrative control over Yehud and the rest of the Levant.((Lipschits in Lipschits 2006, pp. 86–9.)) Egypt was eventually reconquered, but soon afterward Persia fell to Alexander the Great, ushering in the Hellenistic period in the Levant.

Yehud’s population over the entire period was probably never more than about 30,000 and that of Jerusalem no more than about 1,500, most of them connected in some way to the Temple.((Grabbe 2004, pp. 29–30.)) According to the biblical history, one of the first acts of Cyrus, the Persian conqueror of Babylon, was to commission Jewish exiles to return to Jerusalem and rebuild their Temple, a task which they are said to have completed c. 515.((Nodet 1999, p. 25.)) Yet it was probably not until the middle of the next century, at the earliest, that Jerusalem again became the capital of Judah.((Davies in Amit 2006, p. 141.)) The Persians may have experimented initially with ruling Yehud as a Davidic client-kingdom under descendants of Jehoiachin,((Niehr in Becking 1999, p. 231.)) but by the mid–5th century BCE, Yehud had become, in practice, a theocracy, ruled by hereditary high priests,((Wylen 1996, p. 25.)) with a Persian-appointed governor, frequently Jewish, charged with keeping order and seeing that taxes (tribute) were collected and paid.((Grabbe 2004, pp. 154–5.)) According to the biblical history, Ezra and Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem in the middle of the 5th century BCE, the former empowered by the Persian king to enforce the Torah, the latter holding the status of governor with a royal commission to restore Jerusalem’s walls.((Soggin 1998, p. 311.)) The biblical history mentions tension between the returnees and those who had remained in Yehud, the returnees rebuffing the attempt of the “peoples of the land” to participate in the rebuilding of the Temple; this attitude was based partly on the exclusivism that the exiles had developed while in Babylon and, probably, also partly on disputes over property.((Miller 1986, p. 458.)) During the 5th century BCE, Ezra and Nehemiah attempted to re-integrate these rival factions into a united and ritually pure society, inspired by the prophecies of Ezekiel and his followers.((Blenkinsopp 2009, p. 229.))

The Persian era, and especially the period between 538 and 400 BCE, laid the foundations for the unified Judaic religion and the beginning of a scriptural canon.((Albertz 1994, pp. 437–8.)) Other important landmarks in this period include the replacement of Hebrew as the everyday language of Judah by Aramaic (although Hebrew continued to be used for religious and literary purposes)((Kottsieper in Lipschits 2006, pp. 109–10.)) and Darius’s reform of the empire’s bureaucracy, which may have led to extensive revisions and reorganizations of the Jewish Torah.((Blenkinsopp 1988, p. 64…)) The Israel of the Persian period consisted of descendants of the inhabitants of the old kingdom of Judah, returnees from the Babylonian exile community, Mesopotamians who had joined them or had been exiled themselves to Samaria at a far earlier period, Samaritans, and others.((Becking in Albertz 2003b, p. 19…))

  section 7.0 Hellenistic period

The Hasmonean kingdom at its largest extent

Main articles: Hasmonean, Herodian Dynasty, Iudaea Province and Samaria

On the death of Alexander the Great (322 BCE), Alexander’s generals divided the empire among themselves. Ptolemy I, the ruler of Egypt, seized Yehud Medinata, but his successors lost it in 198 to the Seleucids of Syria. At first, relations between Seleucids and Jews were cordial, but the attempt of Antiochus IV Epiphanes (174–163) to impose Hellenic cults on Judea sparked a national rebellion that ended in the expulsion of the Seleucids and the establishment of an independent Jewish kingdom under the Hasmonean dynasty. Some modern commentators see this period also as a civil war between orthodox and hellenized Jews.((Weigel David Hanukkah as Jewish civil war http://www.slate.com/articles/life/faithbased/2005/12/the_maccabees_and_the_hellenists.html Slate Magazine. www.slate.com. Retrieved 2012/08/15.)) ((The Revolt of the Maccabees. www.simpletoremember.com. Retrieved 2012-08-15.)) 

Hasmonean kings attempted to revive the Judah described in the Bible: a Jewish monarchy ruled from Jerusalem and including all territories once ruled by David and Solomon. In order to carry out this project, the Hasmoneans forcibly converted one-time Moabites, Edomites, and Ammonites to Judaism, as well as the lost kingdom of Israel.((Davies 1992, pp. 149–50.)) Some scholars argue that the Hasmonean dynasty institutionalized the final Jewish biblical canon.((Philip R. Davies in The Canon Debate, page 50: With many other scholars, I conclude that the fixing of a canonical list was almost certainly the achievement of the Hasmonean dynasty.))

In 63 BCE the Roman general Pompey conquered Jerusalem and made the Jewish kingdom a client state of Rome. In 40–39 BCE, Herod the Great was appointed King of the Jews by the Roman Senate, and in 6 CE the last ethnarch of Judea was deposed by the emperor Augustus, his territories combined with Idumea and Samaria and annexed as Iudaea Province under direct Roman administration.((Ben-Sasson 1976, p. 246.)) The name Judea (Iudaea) ceased to be used by Greco-Romans after the revolt of Simon Bar Kochba in 135 CE; the area was henceforth called Syria Palaestina (Greek: Παλαιστίνη, Palaistinē; Latin: Palaestina).

section 8.0 Religion 

  section 8.1 Iron Age Yahwism

The religion of the Israelites of Iron Age I, like the Canaanite faith from which it evolved and other ancient Near Eastern religions, was based on a cult of ancestors and worship of family gods (the “gods of the fathers”).((Tubbs, Jonathan [2006]”The Canaanites” [BBC Books])) ((Van der Toorn 1996, p.4.)) With the emergence of the monarchy at the beginning of Iron Age II the kings promoted their family god, Yahweh, as the god of the kingdom, but beyond the royal court, religion continued to be both polytheistic and family-centered.((Van der Toorn 1996, p. 181–2.)) The major deities were not numerous – El, Asherah, and Yahweh, with Baal as a fourth god, and perhaps Shamash (the sun) in the early period.((Smith 2002, p. 57.)) At an early stage El and Yahweh became fused and Asherah did not continue as a separate state cult,((Smith 2002, p. 57…)) although she continued to be popular at a community level until Persian times.((Dever (2005), p.))

Yahweh, the national god of both Israel and Judah, seems to have originated in Edom and Midian in southern Canaan and may have been brought to Israel by the Kenites and Midianites at an early stage.((Van der Toorn 1999, p. 911–3.)) There is a general consensus among scholars that the first formative event in the emergence of the distinctive religion described in the Bible was triggered by the destruction of Israel by Assyria in c. 722 BCE. Refugees from the northern kingdom fled to Judah, bringing with them laws and a prophetic tradition of Yahweh. This religion was subsequently adopted by the landowners of Judah, who in 640 BCE placed on the throne the eight-year-old Josiah. Judah at this time was a vassal state of Assyria, but Assyrian power collapsed in the 630s, and around 622 Josiah and his supporters launched a bid for independence expressed as loyalty to “Yahweh alone”. Judah’s independence was expressed in the law-code in the Book of Deuteronomy, written as a treaty between Judah and Yahweh to replace the vassal-treaty with Assyria.((Dunn and Rogerson, pp.153–154))

  section 8.2 The Babylonian exile and Second Temple Judaism

Main article: Second Temple Judaism

According to the Deuteronomists, as scholars call these Judean nationalists, the treaty with Yahweh would enable Israel’s god to preserve both the city and the king in return for the people’s worship and obedience. The destruction of Jerusalem, its Temple, and the Davidic dynasty by Babylon in 587/586 BCE was deeply traumatic and led to revisions of the national mythos during the Babylonian exile. This revision was expressed in the Deuteronomistic history, the books of Joshua. Judges, Samuel and Kings, which interpreted the Babylonian destruction as divinely-ordained punishment for the failure of Israel’s kings to worship Yahweh to the exclusion of all other deities.((Dunn and Rogerson, pp.153–154..))

The Second Temple period (520 BCE – 70 CE) differed in significant ways from what had gone before.((Avery Peck, p.58)) Strict monotheism emerged among the priests of the Temple establishment during the seventh and sixth centuries BCE, as did beliefs regarding angels and demons.((Grabbe [2004], pp. 243-244)) At this time, circumcision, dietary laws, and Sabbath-observance gained more significance as symbols of Jewish identity, and the institution of the synagogue became increasingly important. According to the documentary hypothesis, most of the Torah was written during this time.((Avery Peck, p.59))

  section 9.0 See also wikipedia

section 10.0 References

  section 10.2 Bibliography

  section 11.0 Further reading

  section 12.0 appendix A (Related links)

The Bible and history

Israel articles

source: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=History_of_ancient_Israel_and_Judah&oldid=722548301

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