930-720 BCE: Joseph, Ephraim, Kingdom of Israel

In the Hebrew Bible, the Kingdom of Israel has been referred to as the “House of Joseph”. It is also frequently referenced as Ephraim, the tribe whose territory housed the capital cities and the royal families. 

The Kingdom of Israel (930 BCE–720 BCE) became the ‘Ten Lost Tribes’; many peoples claim descendance from these Lost Tribes, the following list is just a few:

  • Ethiopians
  • Ibos of Nigeria
  • Berbers of North Africa
  • Lumba of South Africa
  • various Armenian, Afgan, and Persian groups of the Black and Caspian Sea regions
  • Chiang-Min of Tibet
  • Khazars
  • Karaites
  • Japanese
  • British-Israelists

According to the from Hebrew Bible, the territory of the Kingdom of Israel comprised the territories of the tribes of Zebulun, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, Dan, Manasseh, Ephraim, Reuben and Gad.

The Kingdom of Israel was one of two successor states to the former United Kingdom of Israel, the other kingdom being the Kingdom of Judah. The Kingdom of Israel existed roughly from 930 BCE until 720 BCE, when it was conquered by the Neo-Assyrian Empire. The major cities of the kingdom were Shechem, Tirzah, and Shomron.

In the Hebrew Bible, the Kingdom of Israel has been referred to as the “House of Joseph”. It is also frequently referenced as Ephraim, the tribe whose territory housed the capital cities and the royal families.

And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father’s house. And the name of the second called he Ephraim: For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction. And the seven years of plenteousness, that was in the land of Egypt, were ended.

They told him, “Joseph is still alive! In fact, he is ruler of all Egypt.” Jacob was stunned; he did not believe them.

And unto Joseph in the land of Egypt were born Manasseh and Ephraim, which Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On bare unto him.

And Israel said unto Joseph, Now let me die, since I have seen thy face, because thou art yet alive.

Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years: so the whole age of Jacob was an hundred forty and seven years.

And it came to pass after these things, that one told Joseph, Behold, thy father is sick: and he took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. And one told Jacob, and said, Behold, thy son Joseph cometh unto thee: and Israel strengthened himself, and sat upon the bed. And Jacob said unto Joseph, God Almighty appeared unto me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and blessed me, And said unto me, Behold, I will make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, and I will make of thee a multitude of people; and will give this land to thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession. And now thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto thee in the land of Egypt before I came unto thee into Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine. And thy issue, which thou begettest after them, shall be thine, and shall be called after the name of their brethren in their inheritance. 

And Israel beheld Joseph’s sons, and said, Who are these? And Joseph said unto his father, They are my sons, whom God hath given me in this place. And he said, Bring them, I pray thee, unto me, and I will bless them. Now the eyes of Israel were dim for age, so that he could not see. And he brought them near unto him; and he kissed them, and embraced them. And Israel said unto Joseph, I had not thought to see thy face: and, lo, God hath shewed me also thy seed. And Joseph brought them out from between his knees, and he bowed himself with his face to the earth. And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them near unto him.

And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim’s head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh’s head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the firstborn. And he blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day, The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth. And when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, it displeased him: and he held up his father’s hand, to remove it from Ephraim’s head unto Manasseh’s head. And Joseph said unto his father, Not so, my father: for this is the firstborn; put thy right hand upon his head. And his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations. And he blessed them that day, saying, In thee shall Israel bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh: and he set Ephraim before Manasseh. And Israel said unto Joseph, Behold, I die: but God shall be with you, and bring you again unto the land of your fathers.”

Solomon, also called Jedidiah, was the king of Israel who succeeded his father, King David, according to the Hebrew Bible and Quran. Solomon’s reign was from 970 to 931 BCE. He is described as the third king of the United Kingdom of Israel. According to the Talmud, Solomon is one of the 48 prophets. In the Quran, he is considered a major prophet, and Muslims generally refer to him by the Arabic variant, Sulayman, son of David.

The Hebrew Bible credits him as the builder of the First Temple in Jerusalem.

Testament of Solomon

The Testament of Solomon is ascribed to King Solomon. It was written in the Greek language, some time in the early 1st millennium CE. Solomon prayed in the temple and receives from the archangel Michael a ring with the seal of God (in the shape of a Pentalpha) on it which will enable him to command the demons.

Solomon orderd the demon Ornias to take the ring and similarly imprint the prince of demons, Beelzebul. With Beelzebul under his command, Solomon now had all of the demons at his bidding to build the temple. Beelzebul reveals that he was formerly the highest ranking angel in Heaven.

In chapter 18, the demons of the 36 decans appear, with names that sometimes seem to be conscious distortions of the traditional names for the decans. The decan demons claim responsibility mostly for various ailments and pains, and they provide the magical formulae by which they may be banished.

For example, the thirty-third demon is Rhyx Achoneoth who causes sore throat and tonsilitis and can be driven off by writing the word Leikourgos on ivy leaves and heaping them into a pile.

Solomon’s final demon encounter involves sending a servant boy with his ring to take captive a wind demon who is harassing the land of Arabia. The boy is to hold a wine skin against the wind with the ring in front of it, and then tie up the bag when it is full. The boy succeeds in his task and returns with the wine skin. The imprisoned demon calls himself Ephippas, and it is by his power that a cornerstone, thought to be too large to lift, is raised into the entrance of the temple. Then Ephippas and another demon from the Red Sea bring a miraculous column made of something purple from out of the Red Sea. This Red Sea demon reveals himself as Abizithibod, and claims to be the demon who supported the Egyptian magicians against Moses, and who hardened the pharaoh’s heart, but had been caught with the Egyptian host when the sea returned and held down by this pillar until Ephippas came and together they could lift it.

Solomon describes how he fell in love with a Shunammite woman, and agreed to worship Remphan and Moloch in exchange for sex. Solomon agrees to sacrifice to them, but at first only sacrifices five locusts by simply crushing them in his hand. Immediately, the spirit of God departs from him, and he is made foolish and his name becomes a joke to both humans and demons. Solomon concludes his text with a warning to the readers; he tells them to not abandon their beliefs for sex like he did.

Many of the demons in Solomon’s encounters are of Greek, Egyptian, Jewish, Christian, Arabic, and other traditions. The majority of the testament consists of Solomon’s interviews with the demons. Two demons associated strongly with sexuality appear among them- Asmodeus from the Book of Tobit, and a female demon named Obyzouth, who is identical to Lilith in all but name, including the strangling of newborn children. Most of the other demons are otherwise unknown by name from other works. The demon Abezethibou is said to have hardened the pharaoh’s heart, rather than Yahweh.

Asmodeus is a king of demons mostly known from the Book of Tobit, in which he is the primary antagonist. The demon is also mentioned in some Talmudic legends; for instance, in the story of the construction of the Temple of Solomon. He was supposed by some Renaissance Christians to be the King of the Nine Hells. Asmodeus also is referred to as one of the seven princes of Hell. In Binsfeld’s classification of demons, each one of these princes represents one of the seven deadly sins (Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, and Pride). Asmodeus is the demon of lust and is therefore responsible for twisting people’s sexual desires, as seen in the book of Tobias especially. He is also said to be here on Earth after millions of years in hell. In Jewish and Islamic lore he is the king of the demons (Shedim/Jinn). It is said in Asmodeus; Or, The Devil on Two Sticks that people who fall to Asmodeus’ ways will be sentenced to an eternity in the second level of hell.

In the myth and folklore of the Near East and Europe, Abyzou is the name of a female demon. Abyzou was blamed for miscarriages and infant mortality and was said to be motivated by envy, as she herself was infertile. In the Jewish tradition, she is identified with Lilith, in Coptic Egypt with Alabasandria, and in Byzantine culture with Gylou, but in various texts surviving from the syncretic magical practice of antiquity and the early medieval era she is said to have many or virtually innumerable names. Abyzou (also spelled Abizou, Obizu, Obizuth, Obyzouth, Byzou) is pictured on amulets with fish- or serpent-like attributes. Her fullest literary depiction is the compendium of demonology known as the Testament of Solomon, dated variously by scholars from as early as the 1st century AD to as late as the 4th.

The demons, listed in order of appearance, are Ornias, Beelzeboul, Onoskelis, Asmodeus, Tephras, the 7 star sisters (a reference to the Pleiades), Envy, Rabdos, Rath, Tribolaios, Obizuth, the wingdragon, Enepsigos, Kunopaston, an unnamed “lustful spirit”, the 36 spirits of the decans, Ephippas, Abizithibod

The Hebrew Bible describes how the queen of Sheba meets Solomon. The queen is described as visiting with a number of gifts including gold, spices and precious stones. When Solomon gave her “all her desire, whatsoever she asked.”

Sheba is typically identified as Saba, a nation once spanning the Red Sea on the coasts of what are now Eritrea, Somalia, Ethiopia and Yemen, in Arabia Felix. Arabia Felix was the Latin name previously used by geographers to describe the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula. 

The biblical kingdom of Sheba was an ancient Semitic civilization of Saba in Southern Arabia, between 1200 BCE until 275 CE, with its capital in Marib. Sabaeans are mentioned in the biblical books of Job, Joel, Ezekiel, and Isaiah, and in ayat 2:62, 5:69, and 22:17 of the Quran.

In c. 732 BCE, Pekah of Israel, while allied with Rezin, king of Aram, threatened Jerusalem. Ahaz, king of Judah, appealed to Tiglath-Pileser III, the king of Assyria, for help. After Ahaz paid tribute to Tiglath-Pileser, he sacked Damascus and Israel, annexing Aram and territory of the tribes of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh in Gilead including the desert outposts of Jetur, Naphish and Nodab. People from these tribes including the Reubenite leader, were taken captive and resettled in the region of the Khabur River system. Tiglath-Pilesar also captured the territory of Naphtali and the city of Janoah in Ephraim and an Assyrian governor was placed over the region of Naphtali. According to 2 Kings 16:9 and 15:29, the population of Aram and the annexed part of Israel was deported to Assyria.

Israel continued to exist within the reduced territory as an independent kingdom until around 720 BCE, when it was again invaded by Assyria and the rest of the population deported.

Sargon took 27,290 people captive resettling some in the Khabur region and the rest in the land of the Medes thus establishing Hebrew communities in Ecbatana and Rages. The Book of Tobit additionally records that Sargon had taken other captives from the northern kingdom to the Assyrian capital of Nineveh, in particular Tobit from the town of Thisbe in Naphtali.

After Solomon died, his son Rehoboam became king, and Jeroboam returned from Egypt (1 Kings 12:1–2). But Rehoboam was a vain and foolish man. Jeroboam, a “mighty man of valor,” warned Rehoboam not to make the same mistake his father had made by taxing them heavily to finance a luxurious lifestyle (verses 3–4). Rehoboam defied the advice to lighten the yoke of oppression: “My father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions!” (1 Kings 12:14).

The people responded to Rehoboam’s harshness by rebelling against the new king and making Jeroboam king over Israel (1 Kings 12:16–20). Only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin followed Rehoboam, son of Solomon. The other ten tribes sided with Jeroboam. King Rehoboam gathered 180,000 warriors in an attempt to take back the ten tribes, but God prevented it, saying, “This is my doing” (1 Kings 12:24). So King Rehoboam returned to the capital of Jerusalem. Jeroboam reigned from Samaria.

Once established in the northern kingdom, King Jeroboam feared that, if the people traveled to the temple in Jerusalem to worship, they would return to Rehoboam. So he set up centers of worship in Bethel and Dan, building golden calves and telling the people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt” (1 Kings 12:28). Jeroboam made shrines on the high places, installed priests who were not of the tribe of Levi, appointed a festival, and sacrificed at the altars (1 Kings 12:31–33). In spite of God’s offer to establish his dynasty in Israel, Jeroboam chose idolatry, and the prophet Ahijah told Jeroboam that his family would not endure (1 Kings 14).

As Jeroboam was turning people away from God in the northern kingdom, Rehoboam was turning people away from God in the southern kingdom. Rehoboam reigned in Jerusalem for seventeen years, but “he did evil because he had not set his heart on seeking the Lord” (2 Chronicles 12:14). After Rehoboam there were good kings and bad kings over Judah. Every other generation or so, a great king stepped forward and turned the people back to the true God. That never happened among the kings of the northern kingdom. They all followed the mold of Jeroboam. Jeroboam reigned over the ten tribes of Israel for twenty-two years and was succeeded by his son Nadab. But then Nadab was murdered after two years on the throne, and the assassin killed all of Jeroboam’s family, fulfilling Ahijah’s prophecy (1 Kings 15:25–30).

The schism that occurred during the days of Rehoboam and Jeroboam was the end of a united Israel. This division continued during their reigns: “There was continual warfare between Rehoboam and Jeroboam” (2 Chronicles 12:15).

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