Friday, February 5, 2016

Our Former 2 State Solution in 920 BCE

Nadene Goldfoot                                                                          
Israelites entering Egypt

In the days of Pharoahs and kings, there was an oppressed people who had been living in Egypt for 400 years as slaves after leaving their home in Canaan because of a drought.  They were freed by an Egyptian prince named Moses who had found out his birth parents had been Israelites, Amram and Jochebed of the tribe of Levi.  He led them back to Canaan and took it over under the guidance of the one and only G-d, and there they built their kingdom with kings Saul, David and Solomon (961-920 BCE), son of King David and the beautiful Bathsheba.
King Solomon and a wife
King Solomon was wise, known throughout the land for his wisdom. He is also the author of much of our Jewish thinking.   His reputation was far and wide, even reaching the ears in Africa of Queen Sheba who came and visited him.  He built the Temple to glorify G-d.  This was finished in the 11th year of Solomon's reign and ensured the central position of Jerusalem in his kingdom.  Solomon divided his land into 12 districts  for the 12 tribes of Jacob and constructed a series of fortresses, store-cities and chariot-cities such as Megiddo  and Hazor.  He then developed trade and commerce by building a harbor at Elat on the Red Sea and together with Hiram of Lebanon, sent a  great fleet of ships to the land of Opohir.

He received wealth from gifts from foreign monarchs such as Sheba.  Trade prospered with neighboring states.  They were producers of copper and iron with their large smelting furnaces in the southern areas. Of course, Solomon's royal house and court were built up with oriental magnificence and sumptuous building which housed the royal family and his harem, said to consist of 1,000 wives and concubines which he married to keep the peace between countries.

The one thing he did wrong that brought about a split in the country was demanding forced labor from his people.  This was so he could have his extensive building program, and he did this in order to save face and continue to be a strong country.  All the nations did it.  Egypt had its particular building programs going on of pryamids.  Others had gigantic temples to their gods.  Solomon's building projects were so vast that they impoverished the country, and there was no China to borrow money from.

People other than Israelites lived under his rule.  The Edomites and Arameans began to revolt.Even Israelites were malcontents.  In 933 BCE, Solomon died.  The tribe of Judah lived in the south and was the largest of the 12.  They decided to pull away from Israel and be their own state. It was Jeroboam, king of Israel (933-912 BCE)  who led the revolt against Rehoboam (933-917BCE) , King Solomon's son and successor who then became Judah's king . So Solomon's line stayed with the tribe of Judah.  Most of Benjamin joined Judah and they presumably absorbed the tribe of Simeon, which was isolated in the extreme South.  Judah had no access to the sea and had no great trade-route.  Their land was only no more than 1/3 of the area of what remained of Israel now.  Israel remained an important state, and Judah was a poor one.  However, it held Jerusalem, the center of their Jewish religion.

After they had divided, they fought each other.  It was not a peaceful divide, more like the American Civil War.  Israel existed for 210 years.  During that time they had 19 kings from 9 dynasties.  10 died from violence and 7 ruled for less than 2 years.  Before Israel was taken over by the Assyrians, they had reached their greatest power by conducting successful campaigns against neighboring states, had much luxury and at one time extended its presence as far as the gulf of Akaba.  On the other hand, Judah lasted from 933 BCE to 586 BCE, a total of 347 years.  By comparison, the USA, created in 1776, is now only 240 years old.
You can see that Judah was on the right and Israel went way over to the left, being less religious and more involved in international affairs.  Israel's strength had become sapped with being in a perpetual state of warfare with Damascus, Syria and both ultimately fell before the advancing power of Assyria.  Samaria had become Israel's capital and Sargon captured it in 721 BCE which was the end of Israel.

Seeing their chance, the Assyrians attacked in 721 BCE and led away the best of the men into captivity, never to be heard from again until lately when we find that it's most likely they were taken as far as today's Afghanistan and Pakistan and are the Pashtos, Muslims since at least 632 CE when Mohammad died and had his followers force people into their new religion.  Judah was not taken at this time.  Their last king was Hoshea (730-721 BCE)
King of Babylonia, Nebuchadnezzar (605-562 BCE) Conquered all lands from Euphrates to the Egyptian frontier, including Judah, captured Jerusalem and replaced king with his own pick-Zedekiah and exiled 8,000 of the local aristocracy to Babylon.  
Finally, the Babylonians, who had taken over the Assyrians' holdings, came along in 597 BCE and again in 586 BCE with Nebuchadnezzar at the helm and take most of the population to their capital of Babylon as captives.

Divided, neither Israel nor Judah had been strong enough to hold off the strongest of empires of the period.
Benjamin Netanyahu, twice Israel's Prime Minister

Netanyahu, today's Prime Minister of Israel, knows our history.  His decisions are so that he keeps Israel together, never to be divided again.  Israel remains a free democracy, with opinions running from the left to the right, and today the right is in the power seat because they offer the most security, and they need it badly.  The whole world has turned against Israel for wanting to be back in its native land after 2,000 years of being homeless and the objects of persecutions.  This, surprisingly, had all been foretold by our ancient prophets.  So it's something Israelis are living with, knowing they are doing their best to be a good people and to help the world that is against them.

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