- One of two Hebrew (Jewish) kingdoms situated in ancient Palestine and conquered by Mesopotamian kings. According to the Old Testament, Abraham, the first prophet not only of the Jews but also of the christians and the Muslims, lived sometime in the 1800s b.c. His son, Jacob, was later renamed Israel. Jacob's twelve sons became the chiefs of the twelve tribes of Israel. Many biblical scholars suggest that these and other stories about the early Hebrews, including their sojourn in Egypt, may be either mythical or only loosely based on fact. What seems more certain is that by the eleventh century b.c. the first kingdom of Israel was established in Palestine. Instrumental in its creation was a war leader named Saul and his successor, King David, who made Jerusalem the capital circa 1000 b.c. David's own successor, Solomon, supposedly erected the first great Jewish house of worship - the First Temple - in Jerusalem. Following Solomon's death in the tenth century b.c., the kingdom split into two Hebrew states - Israel in the north and Judah in the south. Judah retained Jerusalem as its capital, and Samaria became the capital of Israel. Unfortunately for the inhabitants of both of these kingdoms, the Assyrian Empire was rising to prominence in this period. In the 720s b.c. the Assyrians conquered Israel, captured Samaria, and carried away most or all of the local nobles and resettled them in Assyria. Judah managed to survive for a little more than a century before it too fell prey to Assyrian aggression.
Ancient Mesopotamia dictioary. Don Nardo Robert B. Kebric. 2015.