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Ancient Jewish History II: Period of the Judges

Jacob was the third patriarch, who received a different name in the similar fashion to his grandfather. He became known as Israel, and is recognized as the patriarch of the tribes of Israel, which continued through his sons. When famine struck Canaan, he moved the Hebrews to Egypt, but later returned. In this article, you will learn about the Period of the Judges and a united monarchy.

The land of Egypt is prominent in the history of the Hebrew faith, as Jacob’s son Joseph is sold to Egypt, and it is also the place where Moses was born (around 1300 B.C.). There is still some debate about some of these events, as there is no archeological evidence to support these claims.

Period of the Judges

Around 1399, another significant time period begins. It is called the Period of the Judges and involves the 40 years that the Hebrews spent in the wilderness. This event is told in the Book of Exodus. During this time, Moses dies before reaching Canaan. At the end of their journey, the 12 tribes of Hebrews finally reach their ‘promised land’ but encounter recurring conflict with neighboring regions. They must prepare for battle and need leaders to guide them through this struggle. The leaders were called judges and they were in charge of handling traditional judicial matters as well as the welfare of the people. The first judge is named Joshua.

In regards to this time period, there is archaeological evidence of Israel available to historians. The information comes from the Merneptah Stele, which is currently dated to 1209 B.C.

United Monarchy

From 1025 to 928 B.C, the Hebrews saw a period of time that marked the united monarchy, which involved the judge Samuel reluctantly anointing Saul as the first king of Israel. Following Saul leading the way towards defeating the Ammonites, the 12 tribes saw him as their king. He ruled from Gibeah, which he made his capital. When Saul was king, the Philistines attack. This was around the same time that a young shepherd named David volunteered to go against one of the fiercest of the Philistines , thus the origin of the David and Goliath tale. It only took one stone from a slingshot to defeat Goliath, and David earns a reputation that rivals the king himself.

The Bible goes on to speak of the change of power. David is expected to become king of Israel. However, when Saul dies, it is one of his sons that is appointed ruler. There is a difference of opinion. At Hebron, the tribe of Judah declares David king. Saul’s son is assassinated, which is when David replaces him as king of the reunited monarchy. A fortified capital is constructed at Jerusalem.

When David dies, his son Solomon (who he had with Bathsheba) becomes king. He is known for his wisdom and over the years, he expands Israel and is responsible for jumpstarting the building of the First Temple.