Background and Initial Formation
The origin of the United Kingdom of Israel arose from a confederation consisting of Israelite tribes that were ruled by religious and political Judges. According to the Hebrew Bible, the dates from 1050 BCE to 930 BCE saw the period of the United Kingdom of Israel. The two kingdoms that later separated from it were the Northern Kingdom of Israel (Samaria) and the Kingdom of Judah. During this period, the Israelites lived under the rule of what were arguably three historically, culturally, and religiously important kings. Namely, these were Saul, David, and Solomon. Saul's reign over all of Israel was for but a short two-year stint, followed by David, who reigned from 1000–961 BCE, and David's son Solomon, who reigned from 961-922 BCE. The Biblical account tells about David as the king who unified the two kingdoms.
Rise To Power And Accomplishments
David was the king of Judah while Saul was the king of Israel. Though once close companions, the younger David and the older Saul became distrustful of each other, and a civil war ensued. The outcome was the alliance of the two kingdoms to become the United Kingdom of Israel. Saul became its first ruler, but died in a battle with the Philistines. Ishbaal, Saul's heir, was assassinated, and David then became king. David began a conquest that reached the extents of the Middle East, and in the process annexed several small states along the Mediterranean Sea and in the Arabian Desert. Building projects were undertaken, and Jerusalem became the capital city. Solomon succeeded David as king, and was arguably most well remembered for his own great building project, the legendary Temple of Solomon. The death of Solomon in 926 BCE ushered in the breakup of the United Kingdom of Israel.
Challenges and Controversies
In the Kingdom of Unified Israel's historical record, controversies and challenges as to the accuracy of the events and their timelines as described in the Bible, at least in relation to what archaeologists believe as fact, are numerous. Indeed, the verification of facts from the Iron Age is difficult to ascertain more than than three millennia later. The Book of Samuel expresses two differing facts about Saul. On of him being appointed by Samuel as ruler, while the other says Saul was appointed king by the people. Another claim points to David as the first king of the two ultimately unified kingdoms, but archaeologists claim evidence suggests that Israel was more developed and wealthier than Judah, and had no evidence of David as their king in concrete archaeological findings. The Bible also bears some description of a Northern Israelite rebellion against Judah, though archaeologists maintain that Judah was an altogether separate entity, a small and rural place in the sphere of the affairs of the Levant.
Decline and Demise
The death of Solomon signaled the end of the United Kingdom of Israel. Rehoboam, the son and successor of Solomon, couldn't contain the rebellion of Jeroboam and the northern tribes, who were dissatisfied with the unfair treatment that, in their eyes, Solomon had levied against them. The revolt ended with the breakup of the two kingdoms, and the punishment to the people of the northern tribes. Jeroboam built two sanctuaries after his victory, but this was considered an abomination to God, as only one place was supposed to be designated as the true place of worship, and that was in the Hebrew Temple at Jerusalem located in Judah. According to the Biblical account, in the years to come God's curse continued to punish the succeeding kings, as they had not stopped the worship in the second of the two sanctuaries, and even turned to other, pagan beliefs in the lands.
Historical Significance and Legacy
The United kingdom of Israel left a legacy of civil war and strife among its people, with the Northern Kingdom especially eventually being led by incompetent kings who were later subjugated by foreigners, and both of the two kingdoms were eventually annexed by their conquerors. The Kingdom of Judah was conquered by the Assyrian Empire in 722 BC, and the Kingdom of Israel was conquered by the Babylonian Empire in 586 BCE. Although these accounts are accepted as historical ends of the two kingdoms, many archaeologists think that the past existence of the Two United Kingdoms have no evidence in fact. Not a single reference was ever unearthed to support such an existence, other than what is found in the "Old Testament", as Christians often refer to the Hebrew Bible.