Category Archives: Israel

Chronology of Israel

Larry Brashear
Old Testament Survey I
Dr. Glenn Connor

Chronology of Israel

In compiling this history of ancient Israel, it was necessary to consider many resources, notwithstanding materials and writings acquired through the ‘Old Testament Survey I’ course of study.

The Kingdom of Israel (מַלְכוּת יִשְׂרָאֵל), according to the Bible, was the nation founded around 1050BC from the descendents of Jacob (יַעֲקֹב), son of Isaac. Isaac (יִצְחָק) was given the name Israel by God. However, when God promised Israel to Abram (Genesis 11:27) approximately 2100BC – 2000BC, God showed Abram that his descendents could not have the land promised for another four-hundred years, not until the Canaanite sin had reached its flower.

Sarah (שָׂרָה) and Abraham (אַבְרָהָם) begat Isaac (2066BC – 1886BC), heir of Abraham. Isaac was the only son born Abraham, by Sarah and the longest lived of the three patriarchs. The next eventful period in the life of Isaac was that of his father’s obedience to God, in sacrificing his son Isaac on Mount Moriah (Genesis 22). When he was forty years of age Rebekah (רִבְקָה) was chosen for his wife (Genesis 24). Jacob was the second born of the twins of Isaac, by Rebekah. During the pregnancy “the children struggled together within her” (Genesis 25:22). God told Rebekah that there were two very different nations within her, and that the elder would serve the younger.

When Abraham was one-hundred thirty-six years old (sixty at Jacob’s birth and Jacob’s age of seventy-six), Rebekah learned that Abraham was about to give his blessing to the wrong son, Esau (עֵשָׂו) (Genesis 27). Indeed Abraham did bless Jacob, and he inherited his father’s blessings. Jacob would continue to find a wife, he eventually found Rachel. Following their marriage, sometime after he served fourteen years, they begat Joseph (יוֹסֵף). Jacob desired to return to “mine own place and my country”, and did set out to go to Isaac his father in the land of Canaan (Genesis 31:18).

Isaac died at the age of one-hundred-eighty, approximately forty-four years after he had blessed Jacob and sent him to Haran to find a wife, and at the time when Joseph (יוֹסֵף) was raised from prison and made ruler of that land. Jacob and his family had been back in the Promised Land some twenty-four years at this point. At the death of Jacob, Jacob’s body was embalmed and carried with great pomp into the land of Canaan by Joseph, and buried beside his wife Leah in the Cave of Machpelah, according to his dying charge
Joseph is one of the most prominent figures in Israel history. His rise from prison to ruler of the land (1600BC), a result of his brothers having sold him into slavery. The Red Sea crossing and the Jordon crossing were virtue of Joseph.
Joseph dwelt with his family in Egypt and died at the age of one-hundred-ten years. Joseph advised his brethren before his death that God would surely visit them and deliver them from this land. (Genesis 50:23).

Generations pass before the Hebrew child Moses (מֹשֶׁה) is born, the one that God would use to deliver His people from the very land that held them in bondage. This delivery would be the prophetic answer to that which God had told Abraham almost four-hundred years earlier. The escape of the Jews from Egypt is remembered by Jews every year in the festival of Passover. The Jews were helped on their journey by God; the same God who’d promised Abraham that he would look after the Jews. God parted the Red Sea to help them escape, and helped them in many other ways.When they reached Mount Sinai, in present day Egypt, God spoke to Moses high on the mountain slopes and made a deal (called a covenant) with the Jews that renewed the one he had made with Abraham. At the same time, God gave the Jews a set of rules that they should live by. The most famous of these rules are the Ten Commandments. But there are actually 613 commandments covering every aspect of life including law, family, and personal hygiene and diet. Moses would die before entering into the Promised Land (Canaan), and Joshua would become their leader.

About 1200BC Israel was lead by a series of Judges, before their establishing a true Kingdom. During this period Israel would rebel greatly against the God that delivered them and would practice religions and worship gods other than the one true God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Samuel (שְׁמוּאֵל), the last prophet of Israel and during the period that Israel asks for a King, Samuel would be the one that God used to appoint Saul as their King.

Israel’s first God appointed King was Saul (שָׁאוּל), of the tribe of Benjamin (בִּנְיָמִין) In I Samuel 9, 10; King Saul reigned over Israel from 1050BC – 1010BC. Under the leadership of King Saul, Israel’s greatest threat was the Philistines. Israel was not large at this time; mostly the central and northern hill country, Galilee, and parts of Transjordon.

During Saul’s reign, and as a result of his disobedience to God, Samuel would be used of God yet again to appoint another King over Israel. This time it would be David, youngest son of Jesse, a humble citizen of Bethlehem. King David would wage several successful military campaigns, annexing Philista, Edom, Moab, Ammon, and parts of ancient Syria. Too, it was David that established Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and would later move the Ark of the Covenant to Mount Moriah and intended to build a temple there. However, although he was success in many things, he was a man of war, scripture calls him a “man of blood”, and because of this God would not allow him to build the temple, a place of peace and reverence.

Solomon would succeed David as King of Israel (1030BC), his second son by Bathsheba. Solomon’s (שְׁלֹמֹה) elevation to the throne took place before the death of David, and it was during his reign that Israel gained its highest splendor. King Solomon completed the temple, and lead Israel to have a great commercial prosperity. People came from far and near “to hear the wisdom of Solomon”. His eventual idol worship and polygamy caused the visit of a prophet that would convey to Solomon that after his death the kingdom would be split. This division was prophesied in 1 Kings 11:31-35 by the prophet Ahijah, great grandson of Judah (I Chronicles 2:25) and scribe of Solomon (I Kings 4:3). Following a reign of forty years, the death of King Solomon came about 922BC; Israel was divided into a Northern Kingdom, known as Israel, and a Southern Kingdom known as Judah.

In the divided Kingdom, Rehoboam lost most of his kingdom to Jeroboam due to his pride and stubbornness (920BC). It was populated by the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and Simeon (and some of tribe of Levi). Simeon and Judea later merged together, and Simeon lost its separate identity. Jeroboam led the revolt of the northern tribes and established the Kingdom of Israel, which consisted of nine tribes: Zebulun, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, Dan, Menasseh, Ephraim, Reuben and Gad (and some of Levi), with Samaria as its capital. By 721BC Israel fell to the Assyrians; Judah fell to the Babylonians a little over a century later in 597BC.

In 722 BC, the Assyrians, under Shalmaneser, and then under Sargon, conquered Israel (the northern Kingdom), destroyed its capital Samaria, and sent many of the Israelites into exile and captivity. The ruling class of the northern kingdom (a small portion of the overall population) were deported to other lands in the Assyrian empire and new nobility was imported by the Assyrians.
About 729-687BC, the reign of King Hezekiah of Judah began. He is noted for initiating reforms that eliminated idolatry. Later, approximately 637-607BC the reign of King Josiah was accompanied by a religious reformation, while repairs were made on the Temple, the Book of the Law was discovered (probably the book of Deuteronomy). The attack of King Nabopalassar of Babylonia came in 612BC, destroying the Assyrian capitol city of Nineveh and regained Babylonia’s independence. The Assyrian empire was destroyed. Babylon, under King Nebuchadnezzar II, seized Jerusalem. The First Temple was destroyed. 586 BC. Conquest of Judah (Southern Kingdom) by Babylon. A large part of Judea’s population was exiled to Babylon.

In 550-333BC the Persian Empire ruled over Israel, by 537BC Cyrus allowed Sheshbazzar, a prince from the tribe of Judah, to bring Babylonian Jews back to Jerusalem. Jews were allowed to return with the Temple vessels that the Babylonians had taken. Then, by 520BC construction of the Second Temple began, and under the spiritual leadership of the Prophets Haggai and Zechariah, the Temple was completed. At this time the Holy Land is a subdistrict of a Persian province.

Then, about the year 444BC the reformation of Israel was led by the Jewish scribes Nehemiah and Ezra. Ezra instituted synagogue and prayer services, and canonized the Torah by reading it publicly to the Great Assembly in Jerusalem, which he set up. The Empire of Alexander the Great included Israel; the Persian Empire was defeated by Alexander. During 323BC Alexander the Great died, and in the power struggle after his death, that part of his empire, which included Israel, changed hands at least five times in just over twenty years. Babylonia and Syria were ruled by the Seleucids and Egypt by the Ptolemies. The beginning of the Pharisees (rabbinic, or modern, Jews), and other Jewish sects such as the Sadducees and Essenes in 253BC.

All the promises by God to David, would be fulfilled, and through Saul and David God would provide for an eternal King (II Samuel 7:1-17). And this, as we now know, has been fulfilled through the Messiah.