When we are looking at the nation of modern Israel and reading your Bible, it can get a bit confusing about what you are looking at compared to what you are reading as to what is where. At one point, even the Kingdom of Israel was completely fractioned. So what was Israel and what was Judah and where would those be now?
After the reigns of David and Solomon, the land was divided. The Kingdom of Israel was the the northern part of Israel and the land to the south was known as the Kingdom of Judah. So when you are on tour exploring ancient Israel, where are you? Are you in the Kingdom of Israel, or the Kingdom of Judah?
The Kingdom of Israel
While the land of Israel was originally a united kingdom, the kingdom eventually split into two kingdoms, both being based in Hebrew/Jewish beliefs and culture. The Kingdom of Israel is the land to the north, including Samaria and the Galilee.
Therefore, when you are in the area of the Galilee now or the Golan, that was always known as the Kingdom of Israel, before and after the reign of King Solomon. Modern day Jaffa and Tel Aviv would also have been considered the Kingdom of Israel. At that time, the capital was Samaria. Yes, the very same as from the story of “The Good Samaritan”! After the Assyrians defeated Israel, it is believed that Jews in the area mixed with new settlers and created what would become known as Samaritans. There are still Samaritans today, in the area of Samaria and around the world.
The well known rulers of the Kingdom of Israel after the division included Jeroboam, Ahab (Jezebel), and Hoshea.
The Kingdom of Judah
The Kingdom of Judah was established around 975 BC after the reign of King Solomon, largely due to very heavy taxes. It was prophesied by Ahijah in 1 Kings 11:31-35.
The Kingdom of Judah was in existence from at least sometimes around the 9th century according to the Tel Dan Stele. This stele not only discusses Judah, but also the “House of David”.
There was a perpetual war between Israel and Judah for over sixty years. Judah went on through several royal reigns but it eventually was overtaken and destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians in the 5th century BC.
The area of Judah included Jerusalem, Hebron and Beersheba. The Temple was located within Judah at this time, NOT the Kingdom of Israel.
Well known rulers of Judah included Asa, Jehoshaphat, Uzziah, Hezekiah, Manasseh, Josiah and Zedekiah.
So, next time you are in Israel, think about the area you are in and how while it is all Israeli history, that history is very complicated and deep and you are also in the land of Judah!