Who Grieved Over Israel?

In 930 BC, Solomon’s kingdom split apart in a civil war. Ten of the twelve tribes formed the northern kingdom and became known henceforth as Israel. Two tribes formed the southern kingdom and were known by the name of Judah. Israel stopped worshipping at Jerusalem and adopted other religions. In 722 BC, it fell to Assyria. A good question to ask is how Judah felt about the fall of the northern kingdom and its capital of Samaria. Did they rejoice or grieve over the calamity that befell their brothers to the north?

If we look back on their history, we can see that Israel had a seriously bad influence on Judah. Having turned their back on the faith of their fathers, they openly embraced the religions of the surrounding nations and enticed Judah to do the same. Ahab’s wife Jezebel, from the northern kingdom, introduced the worship of Baal into the northern kingdom, and indirectly into the southern kingdom through Queen Athaliah. This ended in 835 BC, a little over a century before Israel’s fall. People in Judah could have remembered stories of how the faith in Jehovah was nearly wiped out. It was because of Israel.

Between 45 and 50 years before the fall of Samaria, Israel humiliated Judah. The king of Israel called the king of Judah an insignificant thistle and himself a mighty cedar of Lebanon. We don’t think of Israel as being superior in force to Judah, but they were strong and confident at this time, and defeated Judah at the battle of Beth-Shemesh. Israel captured King Amaziah, broke down the wall of Jerusalem, and plundered the city.

The next kings worked together to retake land from Syria, then they were back at odds. Between 740 and 732 BC, which was 18 to 10 years before the fall, Israel and Syria openly attacked Judah. Israel killed 120,000 men of valor from Judah and took 200,000 captive. The captives were returned, but the harm done to Judah by Israel was immense.

Israel and Judah were like brothers, but they had a strained relationship because Israel was continually tempting Judah away from the covenant made in the days of Moses. All the kings of Israel who had any significance are described as evil. Sometimes they led Judah astray, and sometimes they openly fought against them. During Israel’s 209 years of existence, its influence on Judah was never positive.

Suddenly, in 722 BC, Israel was gone. The people were taken away and replaced with Assyrians. The northern kingdom actually became part of the Assyrian empire, while the southern kingdom became a vassal paying tribute to Assyria. How much did Judah grieve over its brother’s demise? Probably not much. The exile is described in 2 Kings 17:6-23 as well-deserved punishment for their sins. Second Chronicles doesn’t mention the exile at all. They didn’t even deserve an epitaph. The nations shook their heads, but no one grieved.

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