Biblical Geography and History

By Charles Foster Kent | Go to book overview
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XVIII
THE NORTHERN KINGDOM

The Varied Elements in the North. The northern kingdom was rich in resources but lacked unity. Within its limited territory were found almost every kind of climate, flora, and fauna. Its population was as varied as its physical contour. In the east-Jordan land the shepherd and the Bedouin still held sway. Its valleys in the west-Jordan were the home of the agriculturist. The cities on its western borders and beside the great highways were already beginning to engage in commerce. Around the Sea of Galilee were thriving fishing villages. Every type of civilization, therefore, the nomadic, the agricultural, and the commercial, was to be found within its bounds. In view of its mixed population, its varied interests, and its exposed situation, the only force that could hold together Northern Israel was a strongly centralized military régime. When a dynasty became weak, a stronger man mounted the throne. Hence Northern Israel's history is a series of bloody rebellions in which assassins, rising from the ranks of the army, seized the throne and founded short-lived dynasties.

Capitals of Northern Israel. Jeroboam, who was called to the throne of Northern Israel after the division, came from the ranks of the common people. His home was in the small, as yet unidentified town of Zeredah in Mount Ephraim. At first he established his capital at Shechem, but this city was incapable of defence and so the centre of authority was transferred across the Jordan to Penuel near Succoth. The occasion of this transfer was probably the invasion of Palestine by

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