History of ancient Israel and Judah
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
The history of ancient Israel and Judah refers to the histories of the Iron Age kingdoms of Israel (Samaria) and Judah. The time period covered in this article is from the first mention of the name Israel in the archaeological record (c.1200 BCE) to the end of a notionally independent Herodian Judean kingdom around the time of Christ.
The two kingdoms arose on the easternmost coast of the Mediterranean, the westernmost part of the Fertile Crescent, between the ancient empires of Egypt to the south, Assyria, Babylonia, and later Persia to the north and east, and Greece and later Rome across the sea to the west. The area involved is relatively small, perhaps only 100 miles north to south and 40 or 50 miles east to west.
Israel and Judah emerged from the indigenous Canaanite culture of the Late bronze age, and were based on villages that formed and grew in the southern Levant highlands (i.e. today's definition for the region between the coastal plain and the Jordan Valley) between c.1200-1000 BCE, a period during which the biblical united monarchy was formed and eventually split to these two kingdoms. The northern kingdom, Israel, became an important local power in the 9th and 8th centuries BCE before falling to the Assyrians; the southern kingdom, Judah, fell to the Babylonians early in the 6th century; Judean exiles returned from Babylon to found the Second Temple early in the following Persian period.
By the 2nd century BCE, Judah, now the province of Yehud (formerly Yehud Medinata under Persian rule), revolted against Hellenistic Greek overlords and re-created a Judean kingdom, based on the biblical model; this kingdom eventually became part of the Roman Empire as the Iudaea Province before being dissolved due to major rebellions in the 1st century CE and 2nd century CE, after which the name Judah/Judea ceased to be used for any political entity.