Author: Ron Graham
Summary of the Times of Israel (Times 5-8). You can click or press a heading to take you to the appropriate chapter in the series.
As the nation grew, the people asked for a king, not being satisfied to have God alone as their ruler. The first king was Saul from the tribe of Benjamin. The second was David from the tribe of Judah. The house of David was established as the royal family, and after David, his son Solomon reigned. Solomon built a great temple in Jerusalem. Israel as a nation stretched from Daniel to Beersheba and saw great power, but her glory was short-lived.
While Benjamin clung to Judah, the other ten tribes were rebellious. When Solomon died, they rejected Solomon's son Rehoboam as king, and made Solomon's servant Jeroboam their king instead. They rejected Jerusalem the holy city, and made their capital Samaria to the north. So there was a division into two kingdoms. The tribes of Judah and Benjamin became known collectively as Judah, while the ten surrounding tribes retained the name Israel. Each kingdom had its own succession of kings, many of whom were evil, Israel's being the worst.
When Assyria was a world power, Israel was captured and its people exiled northward to the area whence Abraham had come so long ago. Hezekiah was then the king of Judah, a good king who listened to Isaiah, God's prophet, so the kingdom of Judah was spared and only Israel, the ten tribes, were taken. But when the Babylonians came to dominate the world, Coniah was the king in Judah. He was evil, so it was Judah's turn to be conquered. The people were exiled in Babylon. Jerusalem and its temple were destroyed. Coniah became like a shattered jar as Jeremiah had prophesied, and none of Coniah's descendants could reign any more on David's throne in Judah.
But God preserved a remnant of his people, and after seventy years, when the Medes and Persians dominated the world, Cyrus king of Persia decreed that the remnant should return to Judah and rebuild the temple and the holy city Jerusalem. The rebuilding was a long and difficult business, but Jerusalem was resettled and the remnant awaited the Messiah whom the prophets said would come.