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The Kingdom of Israel (Hebrew: מַמְלֶכֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל, Modern Mamlekhet Yisra'el, Tiberian Mamléḵeṯ Yiśrāʼēl) was, according to the Bible, one of the successor states to the older United Monarchy (also often called the 'Kingdom of Israel'). It was thought to exist roughly from the 930s BCE until about the 720s BCE, when the kingdom was conquered by the Assyrian Empire. The major cities of the kingdom were Shechem, Tirzah, and Shomron (Samaria).

Historians often refer to ancient Israel as the Northern Kingdom or the Kingdom of Samaria to differentiate it from the Southern Kingdom of Judah.


In the Hebrew Bible, the Kingdom of Israel has been referred to as "House of Joseph";[1][2] it is also frequently referenced (particularly in poetry) as Ephraim, the tribe whose territory housed the capitol cities and the royal families. It has also been referred to as "Israel in Samaria".[3]


The territory of the Kingdom of Israel comprised the territories of the tribes of Zebulun, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, Dan, Manasseh, Ephraim, Reuben and Gad.

Its capital was Samaria.


United Monarchy

The united Kingdom of Israel 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 Palestinian territories.


An artist's depiction of a royal palace in the Kingdom of Israel.

After the death of Solomon in about 931 BCE, all the Israelite tribes except for Judah and Benjamin (called the ten northern tribes) refused to accept Rehoboam, the son and successor of Solomon, as their king.[4] The rebellion against Rehoboam arose after he refused to lighten the burden of taxation and services that his father had imposed on his subjects.[5]

Jeroboam, who was not of the Davidic line, was sent for from Egypt by the malcontents.[6] The Tribe of Ephraim and all Israel raised the old cry, "Every man to his tents, O Israel".[7] Rehoboam fled to Jerusalem,[8][9] 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 15:9[10] also says that members of the tribes of Ephraim, Manasseh and Simeon fled to Judah during the reign of Asa of Judah.

Both Eusebius and Josephus place the division in 997 BCE - lunar dates of Venus can be mistaken as 64 years earlier. (Crossing of sun over Mars as Tamuz would be 10 July 997 BCE.)

Shechem was the first capital of the Kingdom of Israel.[11] Afterwards it was Tirzah.[12] King Omri built his capital in Samaria (1 Kings 16:24), which continued as such until the destruction of the Kingdom by the Assyrians (2 Kings 17:5). During the three-year siege of Samaria by the Assyrians, Shalmaneser V died and was succeeded by Sargon II of Assyria, 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.

Today, among archaeologists, Samaria is one of the most universally accepted archaeological sites from the biblical period[13] 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.[14]

Relations between the kingdoms

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.

Destruction of the kingdom

Deportation of the Northern Kingdom by the Assyrian Empire

In c. 732 BCE, Pekah of Israel allied with Rezin, king of Aram, threatened Jerusalem, and Ahaz, king of Judah, appealed to Tiglath-Pileser III, the king of Assyria, for help. After Ahaz paid tribute to Tiglath-Pileser[15] Tiglath-Pileser sacked Damascus and Israel, annexing Aram[16] 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 15:29, the population of Aram and the annexed part of Israel was deported to Assyria.

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. The Bible relates that the population of Israel was exiled, becoming known as The Ten Lost Tribes, leaving only 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 Israelites nation in the southern Kingdom of Judah. However, other writers 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.[17] Many also fled south to Jerusalem, which appears to have expanded in size fivefold during this period, requiring a new wall to be built, and a new source of water (Siloam) to be provided by King Hezekiah.

The remainder of the northern kingdom was conquered by Sargon II, who captured the capital city Samaria in the territory of Ephraim. He took 27,290 people captive from the city of Samaria resettling some with the Israelites 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.

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". The recorded history differs from this fable: No 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 30:1-11[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.

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.



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

It is recorded in the Hebrew Bible that Jeroboam built two places of worship, one at Bethel and one at far northern Dan, to be an alternative to the Temple in Jerusalem. 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.[19] 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.[19](1 Kings 12:26-29)

Ahab allowed the cult worship of Baal to become an acceptable religion of the kingdom. His wife Jezebel was a devotee to Baal worship. (1 Kings 16:31)


  • Elijah, opponent of religious inventions under Ahab and Jezebel
  • Elisha, chosen successor of Elijah
  • Amos
  • Hosea
  • Jonah
  • Nahum

Royal Houses of Israel

The genealogy of the kings of Israel, along with the kings of Judah.

For this period, 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.

Albright Thiele Galil Kitchen Common/Biblical name Regnal Name and style Notes

The House of Saul

1051–1010 1050–1010 1050–1010 1042–1010 Saul 'שאול המלך or Sha'ul Reigned in Israel & Judah for 40 years: He killed himself during the war with the Philistines in Mount Gilboa.
1010–1008 1000–998 1010–1008 10061004 Ish-bosheth (also called Eshba'al or Ashba'al or Ishbaal) Reigned in Israel for 2 years:

The House of David

1000–962   1010–970 1010–970 David דוד בן-ישי מלך ישראל
David ben Yeshay, Melekh Yisra’el
Reigned over Judah in Hebron 7 years and then over both Israel & Judah for 33 years in Jerusalem, 40 years in total. Death: Natural causes
962922   970–931 971931 Solomon שלמה בן-דוד מלך ישראל
Shelomoh ben David, Melekh Yisra’el
Reigned over United Kingdom of Israel (& Judah) in Jerusalem for 40 years. Death: Natural Causes

The House of Jeroboam

922901 931–910 931909 931911 Jeroboam I ירבעם בן-נבט מלך ישראל
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
901–900 910–909 909908 911–910 Nadab נדב בן-ירבעם מלך ישראל
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 909886 908885 910–887 Baasha בעשא בן-אחיה מלך ישראל
Ba’asha ben Achiyah, Melekh Yisra’el
Reigned over Israel in Tirzah for 24 years. Death: Natural Causes
877876 886885 885884 887886 Elah אלה בן-בעשא מלך ישראל
’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

876 885 884 886 Zimri זמרי מלך ישראל
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

876869 885874 884873 886875 Omri עמרי מלך ישראל
’Omri, Melekh Yisra’el
Reigned over Israel in Samaria for 12 years. Death: Natural Causes
869–850 874853 873852 875853 Ahab אחאב בן-עמרי מלך ישראל
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 853852 852851 853852 Ahaziah אחזיהו בן-אחאב מלך ישראל
’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.
849842 852841 851842 852841 Joram יורם בן-אחאב מלך ישראל
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

842815 841814 842815 841814 Jehu יהוא בן-נמשי מלך ישראל
Yehu ben Nimshi, Melekh Yisra’el
Reigned over Israel in Samaria for 28 years.[20] Death: Natural Causes
815801 814798 819804 814806 Jehoahaz יהואחז בן-יהוא מלך ישראל
Yeho’ahaz ben Yehu, Melekh Yisra’el
Reigned over Israel in Samaria for 17 years. Death: Natural Causes
801786 798782 805–790 806791 Jehoash
יואש בן-יואחז מלך ישראל
Yeho’ash ben Yeho’ahaz, Melekh Yisra’el
Reigned over Israel in Samaria for 16 years. Death: Natural Causes
786746 782753 790–750 791–750 Jeroboam II ירבעם בן-יואש מלך ישראל
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.
746 753 750–749 750  Zachariah זכריה בן-ירבעם מלך ישראל
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

745 752 749 749 Shallum שלם בן-יבש מלך ישראל
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

745738 752742 749738 749739 Menahem מנחם בן-גדי מלך ישראל
Menahem ben Gadi, Melekh Yisra’el
Reigned over Israel in Samaria for 10 years. Death: Natural Causes
738737 742–740 738736 739737 Pekahiah פקחיה בן-מנחם מלך ישראל
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

737732 740–732 736732 737732 Pekah פקח בן-רמליהו מלך ישראל
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

732722 732722 732722 732722 Hoshea הושע בן-אלה מלך ישראל
Hoshe’a ben ’Elah, Melekh Yisra’el
Reigned over Israel in Samaria for 9 years.[21] 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.

See also

  • Assyrian captivity of Israel
  • History of ancient Israel and Judah
  • Ten Lost Tribes
  • Israel
  • The Bible Unearthed


  1. *Zechariah 10:6
  2. *II Samuel 2:10
  3. 1 Kings 22:51 and many subsequent passages
  4. 1 Kings 12:17-22
  5. 1 Kings 12:4, 1 Kings 12:14
  6. 1 Kings 12:2-3
  7. 2Samuel 20:1
  8. 1 Kings 12:1-18
  9. 2 Chronicles 10
  10. 2 Chronicles 15:9
  11. 1 Kings 12:25
  12. 1 Kings 14:17
  13. See Yohanan Aharoni, et al., The Macmillan Bible Atlas, Macmillan Publishing: New York, 1993, p. 94.; and Amihai Mazar, The Archaeology of the Land of the Bible: 10,000 – 586 B.C.E, New York: Doubleday, 1992, p. 404, see Pp. 406-410 for discussion of archaeological significance of Shomron (Samaria) under Omride Dynasty.
  14. 2 Kings 3
  15. 2 Kings 16:7-9
  16. Lester L. Grabbe, Ancient Israel: What Do We Know and How Do We Know It? (New York: T&T Clark, 2007): 134
  17. Finkelstein & Silberman 2001, The Bible Unearthed p. 221.
  18. 2 Chronicles 30:1-18
  19. 19.0 19.1
  20. Considered to be a contemporary of the Assyrian King Shalmaneser III (858824) 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.
  21. 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, making Judah the sole remaining Hebrew kingdom. The ten tribes were exiled to other parts of the Assyrian Empire and never heard from again in recorded history. A small group of people fled south to take refuge in Judah.

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