Recipe for an Empire: From David’s Jerusalem to Ahab’s Samaria

The recipe for success of a great king: A capital devoid of the tribal affiliations, and a religious center loyal to the royal family. Season with ambitions, emotions, and intrigues.

The course will study the creation of Jerusalem by David: The establishment of a religious center, the organization of a state, and some of the intrigues of the palace. Then we will watch the missteps of David’s heirs, the splitting of the empire and the rise of a new kingdom just north of Jerusalem. The fledging new kingdom will establish itself as a great power under Omri and Ahab (and Jezebel!), who created the independent capital city of Samaria. (Did they learn something from David?)

The course will focus on the relevant biblical texts from the books of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles. Whenever appropriate, we will discuss relevant Midrashim and archeological information.

Introduction To Recipe For An Empire

Introduction In this course we will focus on biblical materials relevant to the issue of how a fragmented tribal nation became unified, powerful kingdoms.  While the event that we are studying took place about two and a half millennia ago, the ideas and concepts have remained relevant. A little background As you will realize by […]

Concentrating The Power: State And Religion – Recipe for an Empire

Concentrating the Power:  State and Religion We will begin with the point at which David, from the tribe of Judah, becomes appointed as king over all of Israel. (A certain period of chaos followed Saul’s death.  Saul was from the tribe of Benjamin, located to the north of Judah.)  As the narrator of the book […]

David And Bath Sheba – Recipe for an Empire

David and Bath Sheba 1) II Sam 11:1 What is the function of this verse? How is David conducting the current war?  Compare it with the ascent of the ark.  Has anything changed in his approach? Throughout the reading: Pay attention to the מילים מנחות milim manhot (guiding words).  Such a word will appear frequently […]

The King Is Dead, Long Live The King – Recipe for an Empire

The King is Dead – Long Live the King I Kings 1:1-6 What was the relationship between the aging David and the young beautiful Avishag?  Can you support your answer from the text? What might be Avishag’s official status?  What significance does it have? What was Adoniah’s claim to the throne? He is not the […]

In Solomon’s Kingdom – Recipe for an Empire

In Solomon’’s Kingdom Part I I Kings 4:1-5:8 – The Economy 4:2-6 lists various positions at the court.  What positions are listed? What is surprising about v.4b (=the second part of the verse)? Commentators have tried to solve the problem.  Below are 2 suggestions, which one seems preferable to you?  Why?  Could you bring an […]

The Kingdom Splits – Recipe for an Empire

The Kingdom Splits Part I I Kings 11:14-25 Check a map of the region to get an idea of the locations mentioned (Edom, Egypt, Judah/Jerusalem). We were told that Pharaoh gave his daughter to Solomon in marriage (apparently an unusual event.)  Here we are told of another connection by marriage to the Egyptian royal […]

Beth El: The Northern Kingdom’s Cultic Center – Recipe for an Empire

Beth El – The Northern Kingdom’s Cultic Center Part I I Kings 12:25 Jeroboam is quick to establish his kingdom by attempting to build a capital.  To what extent does he follow David? What is the problem with choosing a city such as Shechem (Nablus) as a capital?  Compare it with David’s choice of Jerusalem. […]

Ahia: The Role Of The Prophet – Recipe for an Empire

Ahia:– The Role of the Prophet Text: I Kings 14:1-18 Ahiah and Jeroboam – Part I The initial meeting of Ahiah and Jeroboam took place when Ahiah the Shilonite informed Jeroboam (who was one of Solomon’s officials) that he will be king over 10 tribes (I Kings 11:29-39) in effect, preparing the ground for a […]

Down South After The Split – Recipe for an Empire

Down South After the Split Part 1 Rehoboam son of Solomon I Kings 14:21-31, II Chron.  11:1-12:16 His mother: Naama the Amonite Length of reign: 17 years Ascent to the throne at age: 41 years 14:21-24 This section is dripping with sarcasm.  Note the narrator’s description of Jerusalem, and the description of the religious reality. […]

Creating Shomron – Recipe for an Empire

Creating Shomron Omri – I Kings 16:15-28 Position before becoming king:  Chief of army Length of reign: 12 years, of which 6 are in Tirtzah Reign starts in Asa’s (Judah) 31st year Chief of army -– friend or foe? Omri was the chief of the army under Ela, and possibly under his father Baasha.  Zimri, […]

Jezebel – Recipe for an Empire

Jezebel Daughter of Ethbaal king of Sidon Wife of Ahab king of Israel Killed during Jehu’s coup The Marriage (I Kings 16:31-33) What do we know about Sidon (Jezebel’s birthplace)? Wikipedia will give you some information. Why would have married a Phoenician princess?  Why would her father agree?  What might it tell us about the kingdom of […]

Jezebel: Why Do We Care? – Recipe for an Empire

What’s In A Name? And Why Do We Care About Jezebel? For Inquiring Minds… This section is intended to give you some extra information.  Enjoy it or ignore it. 1) Names, Names All Around… מדרש שם – exegesis based on a name (usually of a person or a place) which functions to highlight the important […]

Conclusion To Recipe for an Empire

Conclusion To Recipe for an Empire Bringing it all together… We have followed our history from the time of a loosely united tribal nation to 2 well structured kingdoms. We covered the time from David, the charismatic-warrior-turned-king, to Jezebel, the foreign princess who became a super-queen. We followed the creations of both Jerusalem and Shomron. […]

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