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Temple, The Completion of the Second

In 586 BC, Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the temple Solomon built and proceeded to deport the people of Judah to Babylon. The temple was rebuilt later, wich is recorded on the Biblical Timeline Poster with World History around 530 BC.

According to the Bible, they stayed in captivity for seventy years until the rise of King Cyrus of Persia, who conquered the Neo-Babylonian empire. Cyrus allowed the exiles to return to Jerusalem from Babylon in 538 BC, and more than 40,000 people (Ezra 2:64) chose to go back to Jerusalem under the leadership of Zerubbabel. They brought with them gold and silver articles recovered from the Babylonian temple after Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem.

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The first thing they did was to rebuild the altar and offer sacrifices to the Lord after they had settled in Jerusalem. The construction of the second temple began in 520 BC, which was two years after they arrived in Jerusalem. Cedar logs from Lebanon were imported to build the temple, and the foundation was completed soon after. But some local residents opposed the building of the second temple, and they discouraged the former exiles from continuing with the construction. The construction work will not resume until the second year of the reign of King Darius (Ezra 4).

Temple
“Building of Solomon’s temple”

The people led by Zerubbabel and Jeshua resumed the construction of the temple after the encouragement of prophets Haggai and Zechariah. But the governor of Trans-Euphrates Tattenai banded together with some people to discourage them again. He schemed by sending a letter to the new Persian king Darius asking him to confirm an earlier decree by King Cyrus, which permitted the people of Judah to rebuild their temple.

Darius discovered a memorandum by Cyrus and told Tattenai to allow the people to continue the temple construction. Tattenai was also instructed to help the Jews and pay for the full construction cost. He followed Darius’ decree and the second temple was completed in 516 BC, which was the sixth year of Darius’ reign (Ezra 6). The temple was dedicated to the Lord and sacrifices were offered there once again. Ezra the scribe arrived in Jerusalem soon after the construction of the temple was completed.

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Shishak (Shoshenq I) Against Jerusalem

Shishak (Shoshenq I) of Egypt was one of the few foreign kings named in the Bible and was known for his raid in Jerusalem during the time of Rehoboam. He can be found on the Bible Timeline around 979 BC. 2 Chronicles 12 offers a detailed account of Shishak’s raid on Jerusalem, which happened in the fifth year of Rehoboam’s reign. Shishak took with him thousands of chariots, horses, and soldiers to strike the fortified towns of Judah. These towns fell under the onslaught of Shishak’s troops, and they continued to Jerusalem for another wave of attacks. Shishak then invaded Jerusalem and looted the treasures of the Lord’s Temple. He also stole the treasures of Solomon’s royal palace including the gold shields, which were replaced by Rehoboam with bronze shields.

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Libyan Origin and Rise to Power

Shishak
Pharaoh Akhenaten

The Libyans who lived on the coast of Marmarica and Cyrenaica first appeared during the rule of the 18th Dynasty Pharaoh Akhenaten. They were included as military escorts of the king. High ranking Libyans also accompanied Egyptian nobility to temple ceremonies. Evidence of this can be seen on various stone reliefs in the Tomb of Ahmose and Meryra at Amarna.

The Meshwesh and Libu tribes raided Egyptians territories and clashes with the Egyptian troops were common at the time of the 19th and 20th Dynasties. Libyan immigrants also settled in the nome of Bubastis in the Nile Delta during periods of famine, but some of them were children of early Libyan garrison troops who grew up in Egypt. As centuries passed, the population of the immigrants increased and they successfully integrated into the Egyptian society. Their chieftains also gained enough wealth and power to marry into Egyptian noble families.

Shoshenq I was one of the first Meshwesh chieftains who rose to power, and he became the second Pharaoh of Libyan origin after his uncle Osorkon, the Elder. Marriage with some of the members of the royal family also played an important role in easing Shoshenq’s rise to power. He arranged the marriage between his son Osorkon I and Maatkare, the daughter of Psusennes II who was the last Egyptian pharaoh of the 21st Dynasty.

Rule of Egypt

The 21st Dynasty was marked by a division of power between the pharaohs ruling from Tanis in Lower Egypt and the High Priests of Amun based in Thebes in Upper Egypt. Shoshenq unified political authority under his rule and ensured that the high priests would not hold as much power as the pharaoh held. Priests were consulted for oracles, but they did not influence political decisions and foreign policies.

He appointed his own son, Prince Iuput, as a High Priest of Thebes to strengthen his own rule and reduce the power of other priests. Iuput was also the commander-in-chief of the army and governor of Upper Egypt. The loyalty of family members and supporters was rewarded with their appointment to administrative posts, as well as marriages to royal daughters.

Shoshenq had planned on building a great court in the temple of Amun at Karnak, but this remained unfinished at the time of his death. Shoshenq’s military victories were inscribed at the Bubastite Portal, which is the entrance to the Precinct of Amun-Re temple complex.

Invasion of Palestine and Death

Egypt’s influence over Palestine decreased during the division of political power of the 21st Dynasty. Shoshenq reestablished Egypt’s power over Palestine by launching a series of raids into a number of towns, including Shunem, Gibeon, Megiddo, Beth Horon, and Ajalon among others.

Shoshenq reestablished trade with Phoenicia during the time of King Abibaal of Byblos. A statue of Shoshenq I that had an inscription of Abibaal, was found in a temple in Byblos. It symbolized the goodwill between two kingdoms during their reign.

Shoshenq died shortly after his invasion of Palestine, and he was succeeded by his son Osorkon I as pharaoh.

References:
http://penn.museum/documents/publications/expedition/PDFs/29-3/Egyptians.pdf
Shaw, Ian, and John Taylor. The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2000
Ash, Paul S. David, Solomon and Egypt: A Reassessment. Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic Press, 1999. Accessed March 18, 2016
CC BY-SA 1.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=58987
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Israel, Wars with

 The Consequences of Disobedience

Israel was greatly protected by God, but through disobedience, they experience many wars and hardships. This event is recorded on the Bible Timeline Chart between 1004 BC and 904 BC. It all started with exogamy or marriage outside of the ethnic group. This was generally frowned upon and even expressly forbidden in Israel in the ancient times (Deuteronomy 7:3-4). The patriarchs such as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob practiced endogamy, marriage within the group. They even went as far as marrying their own close relatives.

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The law against intermarriage with other ethnic groups that surround Israel was laid out to prevent them from worshiping other gods and ensure Israel’s fidelity to Yahweh. Israel was not chosen because of any special attributes it might have, but simply because of God’s love (Deuteronomy 7:7-11). This covenant was made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, so the people must keep it or there will be consequences as shown in the Books of Judges and Kings.

Israel_War
“Solomon sinned by acquiring many foreign wives. Solomon’s descent into idolatry, Willem de Poorter, Rijksmuseum.”

The command to unconditionally obey the Lord was also passed by David to his son in 1 Kings 2:1-4, but Solomon was led astray because of his marriage to foreign women. It was said that he married 700 wives of royal birth (which included an Egyptian princess) and had 300 concubines. They led him to worship and build shrines to other gods in the Canaanite pantheon such as Chemosh, Ashtoreth (Astarte), and Molech (Moloch). The consequences of this particular disobedience were reaped by Solomon’s descendants firsthand.

God warned Solomon to turn away from worshiping other gods but the warning fell on deaf ears. As a result, God promised to tear the kingdom away from Solomon’s son and give a portion of it instead to one of Solomon’s own servants. God still honored his covenant with David by leaving a piece of the kingdom to Solomon’s son where his dynasty reigned over the years.

Jeroboam, King of Israel and Rehoboam, King of Judah (1 Kings 11:26 to 1 Kings 14)

Similar to Kings before him, Jeroboam was appointed ruler over Israel through a prophecy. Jeroboam worked for Solomon as a foreman on one of his building projects. However, a meeting with the prophet Ahijah would change his life forever. After tearing his new cloak, the prophet gave Jeroboam 10 pieces of the scraps which symbolized the ten tribes of Israel, thus fulfilling God’s warning to Solomon before he died. Solomon tried to kill Jeroboam after this prophecy and Jeroboam fled to Egypt afterward.

Solomon died years later and his son Rehoboam now held the throne. As the person who threatened his life was now dead, Jeroboam was compelled to come back to Israel and fulfill the prophecy. Meanwhile, Rehoboam was not doing very well as king either. Solomon’s extensive building projects required heavy labor from the people he employed and at Rehoboam’s ascension as king, they petitioned the newly-crowned ruler to lighten their load.

Instead of following his father’s advisers who told him to grant the request of his people, Rehoboam followed the counsel of his friends and rejected the pleas of his own people. This sowed the seeds of discord in his own house resulting in a rebellion, fulfilling God’s warning and Ahijah’s prophecy. The 10 tribes which broke away from the House of David then elected to make Jeroboam as their king.

Descent into Civil War

Rehoboam mobilized an army of 180,000 men from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin (1 Kings 12:21) but was thwarted when the prophet Shemaiah told them not to fight their own brothers. Rehoboam’s counterpart in the northern kingdom was also busy making himself gold calves to prevent the people from worshiping in Jerusalem.

Jeroboam had made Shechem the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel and had the gold calves installed in Dan at the northern end of Israel and South in Bethel. In his insecurity, he committed a list of sins that may have surpassed or equaled Solomon in his worship of other gods.

Ahijah prophesied Jeroboam’s downfall in 1 Kings 14:1-19 while Rehoboam and the people of Judah were also busy making themselves Asherah poles and sacred pillars. The Egyptian pharaoh Sheshonq I (the Biblical Shishak) raided Jerusalem during Rehoboam’s reign. There were also constant wars between the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah during both kings’ time. Jeroboam outlived two kings of Judah and the few remaining years of his reign overlapped the reign of King Asa of Judah (1 Kings 15:1 and v 9). Wars between the two kingdoms continued until the reign of Baasha of Israel and Asa of Judah.

References:
Picture By Willem de Poorterhttp://www.rijksmuseum.nl/collectie/SK-A-757, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=34249416
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Israel, The Twelve Tribes of

The name Israel first appeared in Genesis 32:28 after Jacob wrestled with God at Peniel and reiterated in Genesis 35:9 with a promise of great blessings. Jacob was given the name Israel which in Hebrew means ‘he struggles with God’ and the group of people descended from him were called Israelites. The Twelve Tribes of Israel is recorded on the Biblical Timeline Chart between 1254 BC – 1004 BC. 

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Division of Tribal Lands in Canaan

The Israelites wandered for 40 years in the Sinai desert before they were allowed by God to defeat the Canaanites who had already settled in the land. By mid-1200 BC and under the leadership of Joshua, the Israelites had conquered most of the Promised Land, and the displaced ethnic groups included the following:

Hittites
* Girgashites
* Amorites
* Canaanites
* Perizzites
* Hivites
* Jebusites (although this tribe was still in Jerusalem during the time of David [2 Samuel 5:6])

Joshua 14 gives us a detailed account of the division of lands between the tribes of Israel. With the exemption of the tribe of Levi, who received only towns for their livestock to graze in due to their duty as priests (Numbers 18:24). Joseph received his inheritance through his sons Manasseh and Ephraim, who were claimed by Jacob as his.

This geographical division of land among the Twelve Tribes of Israel existed from the period when judges ruled the land and into the reign of Israel’s kings. Some of the tribes or nations that remained in the area and bordered the land of the Israelites were the Philistines, Moabites, Ammonites, and Edomites who most of the time opposed and made war with the Israelites.

Twelve_Tribes_of_Israel
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Judges, Time of the

The Book of Judges chronicles the time between the chaotic period after the death of Joshua up to the appointment of Israel’s first king, Saul. This is listed on the Bible Timeline Poster between 1254 – 1104 BC. Israel, under Joshua’s leadership, had conquered much of Canaan. Except the territories of the Philistines, the Geshurites, and territories of the Canaanites “extending from the stream of Shihor on the border of Egypt, northward to the boundary of Ekron” (Joshua 13:3). A full text of territories yet to be conquered can be read in Joshua 13:1-6 and the division of land among the tribes follows that.

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Judges
Moses and the Ten Commandments

As the time of Joshua’s death approached, he gathered all the tribe leaders and reiterated God’s commandments to them. That they were not to deviate from the laws given through Moses, worship other gods except Yahweh, and intermarry with the remaining people in the land who may lead them astray. These were explicitly and repeatedly stated in Joshua 23:6-16 and 24:14-19. As shown in the Book of Exodus, as well as the succeeding books, the people of Israel were prone to be led astray. There were also several complaints and sporadic bursts of rebellion. Such as the instances when they worshiped the Gold Calf (Exodus 32), their complaints about the manna (Numbers 11:4), and the report of Canaan by the scouts (Numbers 13 and 14).

Confederation of Tribes During the Judges’ Time

The cycle of Israel’s apostasy and deliverance continued to the time of the judges when the tribes of Israel had already settled in most of the conquered lands. These territories, however, were surrounded by hostile peoples and the tribes’ failure to purge them completely was a source of the problem. The condition set out by God through Moses and Joshua was for Israel to follow the Lord and refrain from worshiping other gods, but more often than not this condition was violated, and hostile people soon took over.

List of Judges and Hostile Tribes

Hostile Tribe/Nation Judge
Aram Naharaim Othniel (3:7-11)
Moab Ehud (3:12-30)
Philistia Shamgar (3:31)
Canaan Deborah and Barak (4:1—5:31)
Midian Gideon (6:1—8:35)
Hard times under Abimelech, Tola, and Jair (9:1—10:5)
Ammon Jephthah (10:6—12:7)
Minor judges Ibzan, Alon, and Abdon (12:8—15)
Philistia Samson (13—16)
Samuel is last of the major judges including his sons (1 Samuel 8:1-7)

 

This period of chaos also produced some of Israel’s most courageous leaders and put a spotlight on Deborah, the lone female judge. It also highlights the accomplishments of Gideon, who slew thousands of Midianites and their allies with the help of just 300 Israelite men. One of the most outstanding judges was Samson, who led Israel for 20 years and delivered them from the oppression of the Philistines. He was one of Israel’s last great judges before Samuel.

The succeeding chapters after the heroic sacrifice and victory of Samson in the temple of Dagon (or Dagan, ancient Semitic deity) was of several notable stories about the life of the Israelites. Including the idolatry in the tribe of Dan and Israel’s war with the tribe of Benjamin. The time of the judges ended with the death of Samuel and the appointment of Saul as the first king of Israel.

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Israel under Midianites

Around 1229 BC, Israel found itself under the rule of the Midianites where it is recorded on the Biblical Timeline Chart. The years following the conquest of Canaan and the death of Joshua saw Israel without a ruler. The book of Judges chronicles Israel’s cycle of worshiping other gods such as

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The book of Judges chronicles Israel’s cycle of worshiping other gods (such as Baal and Asherah) to repentance during times of oppression. This led to deliverance through the leadership of various judges until the appointment of Saul as king over a unified Israel. Various nations, such as Syria or Aram Naharaim (Judges 3:8), Moab (Judges 3:12), Ammon, Amalek, Philistia (Judges 3), and Canaan (Judges 4) took turns in conquering and oppressing the people of Israel. Each time they were delivered by God when they repented. He also appointed judges who led them to victories, such as Othniel (Judges 3:7), Ehud (Judges 3:12), Shamgar (Judges 3:31), and the prophetess Deborah (Judges 4).

Israel_Peace
“An angel announces Gideon his victory against the Midianites.”

This cycle of turning away from God and repentance continued till the time of Gideon, the son of Joash from the tribe of Manasseh. He helped deliver them from the oppression of the Midianites. The Midianites and the Israelites had a long, intertwined history as Midian was one of Abraham’s son by his third wife, Keturah. The Midianites settled in the area of the Sinai peninsula and may have also settled across the Gulf of Aqaba on the west coast of Arabia.

Moses, later, moved to Midian into voluntary exile after killing an Egyptian. He then and married Zipporah, daughter of Jethro, priest of Midian. The relationship between two groups of people teetered between alliance (such as in the case of Moses’ father-in-law Jethro and his son Hobab [Numbers 10:29]) and much of the time, hostile aggression.

In Judges 6, Israel once again turned away from God and worshiped other gods. They were handed over to the Midianites. Then they suffered from economic sabotage when Midianites and allied peoples such as the Amalekites destroyed their crops. The livestock was also taken away, reducing the Israelites to starvation.

Raiding and stealing of Israelite crops and livestock was so severe that when God sent an angel to Gideon, he was found “threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites” (Judges 6:11). This went on for seven years.

The Israelites were successfully delivered from the oppression of the Midianites through the leadership of Gideon. Other judges followed, delivering the people of Israel from their enemies after Gideon’s death. It even seemed that the Midianites were completely subdued after the time of Gideon and soon faded into obscurity.

References:
http://www.britannica.com/topic/Midianites
Picture By Wolfgang SauberOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=34868324
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Saul Loses Kingship

Saul’s dethroning is recorded on the Bible Timeline Chart around 1050 BC. However, to fully understand his story, let us start from the beginning in 1 Samuel 8. This was when the disgruntled leaders of Israel met with Samuel in Ramah to insist on him appointing a king over them. Samuel was now well into old age and his sons Joel and Abijah whom he appointed as judges were deemed unfit because of their greediness for money. He was displeased with their request for a king but acquiesced after consulting the Lord, who gave him permission to grant it. Saul, from the tribe of Benjamin, was later on anointed as king over Israel.

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Saul’s Downfall

Saul started out strong, but his rash character and poor decisions ended his promising future as Israel’s king. The first instance was during the war with the Philistines when the troops of Israel were routed after a battle. Saul was at Gilgal and his impatience drove him to sacrifice the burnt and peace offerings when Samuel himself instructed him to wait for seven days (1 Samuel 10:8). The burning of the offering was a task delegated exclusively to priests (in this case, Samuel who was descended from the tribe of Levi) because of the degree of purity and holiness they were attributed to. Making Saul’s actions a severe offense to God and Samuel (1 Samuel 13).

Saul_Dethroned
“David and Saul”

The next example of Saul’s poor decision-making was during the war with the Amalekites. Through Samuel, God directed Saul to purge all the Amalekites including, their livestock. This was because they refused to allow the Israelites passage through their territory after they were freed from Egypt. Saul, however, failed in this task by sparing the Amalekite King Agag and keeping the livestock for himself and his men. Destroying only those that are of poor quality (1 Samuel 15:1-9).

The Lord was disappointed with him when he kept the plunder and Samuel admonished Saul for his disobedience. Saul added to his sins when he said that that he kept the livestock so he could sacrifice them to the Lord. This incident pushed Samuel to find a replacement for Saul as king of the new nation.

Mental Illness and Attempts at David’s Life

It has been proposed that Saul exhibited severe mental disturbance that may have contributed to his unstable personality and failed leadership. In 1 Samuel 16:14, the spirit of the Lord departed from Saul altogether, and an evil spirit tormented him. He may also have suffered from depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. Probably, as a result, of the violence he experienced during the war with the Ammonites, Amalekites, and the Philistines. David helped soothe Saul during these episodes by playing his harp.

As Saul’s behavior became increasingly erratic, he exhibited paranoia and jealousy toward David’s success and popularity. This would later drive him to make several attempts at killing David. These repeated attempts at murder would forever mar his reputation. It can even be said that he lost the kingship over Israel long before his demise. His death along with his sons on Mount Gilboa during a battle with the Philistines was the end of his reign. After his violent death, Saul was mourned by David and memorialized in a lament (2 Samuel 1:17-27).

Aftermath and Saul’s Legacy

Further violence erupted, and the young nation descended into civil war as Judah supported David as king while the northern tribes of Israel stayed loyal to the house of Saul. Particularly his son Ish-bosheth who ruled in Israel for two years. Ish-bosheth was later murdered by Recab and Baanah, his own tribesmen and leaders of his raiding band. David ruled over a united Israel and Judah after his death (2 Samuel 2-5).

Saul’s reputation as king and as a person overall was tarnished due to his unstable character and bad decisions. But he was also a mighty warrior who gave Israel some of its most important victories against its enemies during a time of chaos. He was then used by God to pave the way for David and future kings of the nation.

References:
http://www.oxfordbiblicalstudies.com/resource/priests.xhtml
http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/hts.v68i1.906
Picture By Julius Kronberg – nationalmuseum.se, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=936125
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David Subdues All Neighboring Tribes and Leads Israel Into Great Prosperity

Israel was a fledgling country during the reign of King David with enemies that surrounded the country on all sides. This part in history is listed on the Bible Timeline Poster around 1029 BC. Throughout Saul’s reign, incursions by neighboring tribes were constant, and it was no different during David’s reign. King David himself started his military career by slaying Goliath, one of the Philistines’ well-known giant warriors. 2 Samuel 8 offers a glimpse of David’s victories at the height of his reign.

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Philistia

The Philistines were mentioned in the Bible as early as Genesis 10, in the Table of Nations under Ham (Genesis 10:14). The relationship between earlier patriarchs and the Philistines was civil. It was only when Israel emerged as a nation after the Exodus from Egypt that the relationship between the two turned hostile. The Philistines emerged as their archenemies after the Israelites settled in Canaan.

These ancient people lived on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean in cities that include Gaza, Gath, Ashkelon, Ashdod, and Ekron. Raids, as well as full-blown wars with the Philistines, were common from the time of the judge Shamgar (Judges 3:31) to Samson to David. After many years of war with the Philistines, they were finally subdued by David and he took control of Gath and its surrounding villages (1 Chronicles 18:1).

David_Brings_Peace
“Matteo Rosselli, The triumphant David.”

Moab, Ammon, and Amalek

The Moabites and Ammonites lived respectively east of the Dead Sea and Jordan River; while the Amalekites settled north of Kadesh Barnea in the Negev Desert. In Deuteronomy 2:9 and 2:19, the Israelites were instructed not to harass or provoke the Moabites and Ammonites owing to their descent from Lot. The Amalekites (who were Esau’s descendants) were Israel’s enemies as early as the days of wandering in the Sinai desert (Exodus 17:8).

These three surrounding tribes, however, were used by God to turn the Israelites around each time they did evil at the time of the judges. They were still raiding Israelite towns during the time of David. After he had been proclaimed king, David subdued the Ammonites. This was following the humiliation his delegates suffered while offering sympathy to the king of Ammon from his father’s death. Hanun, king of Ammon, further provoked David by assembling a coalition of Arameans and Ammonites to attack Israel. David’s commanders of the army, Joab and his brother Abishai defeated this alliance.

The last details about David’s war with the Moabites are in 2 Samuel 8:2 and 1 Chronicles 18:2. Where he dealt with the Moabites violently after their defeat and they became his subjects. The Amalekites, however, continued to be Israel’s enemy. It culminated when the Amalekites raided Negev and Ziklag. They held captive all the women and children and carried them off. Two of David’s wives were among the captives. David and his men later pursued them and recovered the women and children (1 Samuel 30).

The Amalekites gradually disappeared from the Biblical narrative after David’s time, while the Moabites and Ammonites made intermittent incursions and waged war against Israel.

Aram

There were three Aramean kingdoms mentioned during Saul and David’s reign: Damascus, Beth Rehob, and Zobah. Arameans antagonized David in the alliance with each other and once in alliance with the Ammonites (2 Samuel 10:8). All these kingdoms were defeated by David (2 Samuel 8).

Edom

Edomites and Israelites were related through their ancestors Esau and Jacob, but the Edomites refused Israel passage through their territory on the way to the Promised Land. Furthermore, there was enmity between them during the reign of Saul. David defeated the Edomites in the Valley of Salt and made them his subjects (2 Samuel 8:12-13).

Israel’s Golden Age

David’s victories against neighboring tribes are listed in 2 Samuel 8. It could be said that this was the golden age of the fledgling nation. The tribes that were subdued became subjects who paid tribute to David and plundered goods were dedicated to the Lord. David’s influence reached north when the king of Hamath sent his own son Joram to congratulate him and give gifts. Solomon reaped the benefits of his father’s military victories when he consolidated power and ruled from the Euphrates to the land of the Philistines after David’s death (2 Chronicles 9:26).

References:
http://www.historyfiles.co.uk/KingListsMiddEast/SyriaAramaeans.htm
http://www.ancient.eu/israel/
Picture By Matteo Rossellihttp://pintura.aut.org/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6633706
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Saul wars against the Ammonites, Moabites, Syria, Idumea, and Philistines

Israel’s journey from Egypt to the Promised Land in Canaan was long and full of battles against her neighbors. These conflicts are listed on the Bible Timeline Chart around 1079 BC. All throughout the books of Exodus, Numbers, Joshua, and Judges, Israel was surrounded by hostile peoples. Which included the Amalekites, Edomites, Amorites, Canaanites, Arameans, Moabites, Ammonites, Midianites, and Philistines. Israel’s long-standing archenemies in the region, however, were her immediate neighbors: the Ammonites, Moabites, and Philistines.

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According to the Old Testament, the Ammonites and Moabites were descended from Lot through his two daughters (Genesis 19:30-38). The Ammonites settled east of the Jordan River while the Moabites settled east of the Dead Sea. The Philistines were the Israelites’ adversaries during the years of the Judges and well into King David’s reign. The origin of the Philistines is still up for debate, but it was hypothesized that they were one of the Aegean peoples who settled on the Mediterranean coast around the same time as the arrival of the Israelites in the area.

Saul_at_War
“According to the Old Testament, the Ammonites and Moabites were descended from Lot through his two daughters (Genesis 19:30-38).”

Against the Ammonites

Saul went to war against the Ammonites, Moabites, and Philistines during the early years of his reign and was victorious against them. His first victory was against the Ammonite King Nahash. This was before Saul was even crowned the King of Israel (1 Samuel 11). The Israelites who lived in Jabesh-Gilead near the territory of the Ammonites sent a peace treaty to King Nahash, which he agreed to honor but laid out a condition that the right eye of each citizen will be gouged out in exchange. Saul rescued the people of Jabesh-Gilead after he mobilized thousands of men from Israel and Judah and launched a surprise attack against the Ammonites. The people of Israel held a ceremony in Gilgal that proclaimed him king after his victory against the Ammonites.

Against the Philistines

His next battle was against the Philistines, who lived on the west coast of the Mediterranean (1 Samuel 13). Due to the number of Philistine warriors and advanced weaponry that they used during the battle (1 Samuel 13:5, 1 Samuel 13:19), Saul, his son Jonathan, and their men were routed and dispersed. The Israelites were victorious against the Philistines later on with the help of Jonathan’s daring plan (1 Samuel 14:1-15) and the Philistine warriors’ confusion that resulted in them killing each other instead (1 Samuel 14:20).

Further Victories

Israel’s army led by King Saul was victorious later on against their hostile neighbors as summarized in 1 Samuel 14:47. He won battles against Moab, Ammon, the kingdom of Zobah (Aram-Zobah, in Syria, Edom (Idumea), and Philistia during this period.

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Abraham Gave Tithes to Melchizedek, and Was Blessed By Him

Genesis 14:18 offers a succinct introduction as to who Melchizedek was. He was the “King of Salem… [and] priest of God Most High”. He blessed Abraham (called Abram at this time) after receiving a tenth of all the goods he recovered from the war between allied kings in the area. This event is listed on the Bible Timeline Poster around 2004 BC.

Melchizedek’s name was not mentioned again till much later. Starting in Psalms 110:4 and several chapters of Hebrews where it is evident that he was known and even revered generations later. In Hebrews 6:20, Jesus was likened to Melchizedek and has become “our eternal High Priest”.

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Background

Abraham and his nephew Lot had stayed together since leaving Ur of the Chaldeans. Temporarily settling in Haran, and moving again to Canaan after Abram received a message from God. They settled amidst Bethel and Ai. The flocks owned by both men increased to the point that the land could not support both of them. Disputes broke out between their herdsmen, and they decided to separate. With Lot moving to the fertile Jordan valley to a place near Sodom (Genesis 13:12) while Abraham settled in Hebron.

Abraham_Blessed
“Meeting of Abraham and Melchizedek”

Lot’s proximity to Sodom did not work out for his benefit as war broke out between allied kings of the area. The kings of Shinar, Ellasar, Elam, and Goiim went up against the kings of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Bela (Genesis 14). The Kings of Sodom and Gomorrah were defeated and fled. Leaving the people and their properties vulnerable to captivity and plunder which King Kedorloamer and his allies did after their victory. Lot was one of the captives; this news reached Abraham, who promptly gathered his men and went in pursuit of the kings with their captives. He defeated Kedorloamer and his allies north of Damascus. Then freed the captives and returned all the possessions they recovered to the king of Sodom.

Melchizedek was introduced in the following passage as he brought out bread and wine, blessed Abraham, and received the tenth of everything they had recovered.