THE BORING BIT
This is the boring bit, the slice of Jerusalem’s history that people skip over.
But it was not boring for the Jerusalemites who lived through it, not in the least…
When Solomon died the ten northern tribes broke away, setting up their own kingdom, Israel.
Solomon's son Rehoboam was left as king over only two tribes in the south, in Judah. But he still had Jerusalem.
The young king had a hard time. Not only was he humiliated by the loss of the rich northern provinces, he was a great deal poorer than his father had been.
He could not pay for armies as his father had, and Jerusalem was more vulnerable.
On the other hand, being poor had its compensations. For awhile nobody bothered much about the city. Sacred or not, it was not worth the effort.
But it lay in a strategic position, and when the Egyptian Pharaoh Sheshonk I (called Shishak in the Bible) led a northern raid in 922 BC, he attacked the city, captured it and sacked it.
The Temple was stripped of its treasures, including the Ark and the golden cherubim who guarded it. The gold was melted down and used again.
Incidentally, do you ever wonder where the gold in your jewelry came from?
A century and a half later things got even worse. There was a resurgence of power in Israel, and in 786 BC its king Joash invaded Judah and tore down part of the wall surrounding the city. Judah became virtually a vassal state of Israel.
HEZEKIAH FIGHTS BACK
About sixty years later Hezekiah became king of Judah.
He was a man of startling energy.
He built new fortifications and an underground tunnel in Jerusalem, bringing water from the Gihon Spring to the Pool of Siloam inside the city. This was an extraordinary engineering achievement, done by workmen with primitive tools.
In 1880 an inscription was discovered in Hezekiah's Tunnel. It had been cut into the wall, and described the meeting of the two groups of stone-cutters who were digging from opposite ends of the tunnel:
‘And this was the way in which it was cut through: While [...] (were) still [...] axe(s), each man toward his fellow, and while there were still three cubits to be cut through, [there was heard] the voice of a man calling to his fellows, for there was an overlap in the rock on the right [and on the left].
'LIKE A WOLF ON THE FOLD'
Despite the new walls and the water supply, Hezekiah could not withstand real trouble when it came. In 701BC Sennacherib of Assyria 'came down like a wolf on the fold', extracting a heavy tribute from Jerusalem.
The bribe/tribute did not work. Eight years later Jerusalem was laid waste and its king deported to Babylon - the ultimate humiliation.
Jerusalem survived, but only just.
In 597BC and again in 587BC it was attacked and taken by Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon.
The city was sacked - again.
The Temple treasure was stolen - again.
The Temple itself was totally destroyed.
A large section of the Jewish population, including all the educated and wealthy people, were deported to Babylon.
The long Exile began.
But the Jewish people survived: see REBUILDING THE CITY
Photos of Jerusalem at GALLERY PAGE
Other Online Bible Websites
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www.womeninthebible.net - all about Bible women, good and bad: Ruth, Deborah, Mary of Nazareth, Jezebel
www.bible-archaeology.info - archaeological evidence and the Bible - what can we prove?
http://www.bible-art.info/ - Bible paintings and artworks: Nativity, Resurrection, Esther, Martha and Mary
http://www.bible-topten.com/ - Top Ten heroes, bad women, ways to hell, young people, villains, murders, films
http://www.bible-architecture.info/ - more about houses, palaces, temples and fortresses
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