History of ancient Israel and Judah

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Israel and Judah were related Iron Age kingdoms of the ancient Levant. The first mention of the name Israel in the archaeological record is in an Egyptian record of c. 1207 BCE, and the last nominally independent Judean kingdom came to an end in 63 BCE, with its conquest by Pompey.

The kingdom of Israel became an important local power in the 9th and 8th centuries BCE before falling to the Assyrians in 722 BCE; its southern neighbor, the kingdom of Judah, enjoyed a period of prosperity as a client-state of the greater empires of the region before a revolt against Babylon led to its destruction by Babylon in 586 BCE. Judean exiles returned to Jerusalem early in the following Persian period, inaugurating the formative period in the development of a distinctive Judahite identity in the Persian province of Yehud. Yehud was absorbed into the subsequent Hellenistic kingdoms that followed the conquests of Alexander the Great, but in the 2nd century BCE the Judaeans revolted against the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire and created an independent Hasmonean kingdom. This was conquered by Pompey in the 1st century BCE.

Contents

Periods and chronology

  • Late Bronze Age: 1550–1200
  • Iron Age: 1200–586
  • Babylonian: 586–539
  • Persian: 539–332
  • Hellenistic: 332–53[1]

Sources

The sources for the history of ancient Israel and Judah can be broadly divided into the biblical narrative (essentially the Hebrew Bible, but also Deuterocanonical and non-biblical works for the later period) and the archaeological record. The latter can again be divided between epigraphy (written inscriptions, both from Israel and other lands including Mesopotamia and Egypt) and the material record (everything else).

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