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A History of the Northern Kingdom of Israel and Its Capitals From a Geographical Perspective

  • Korean Journal of Old Testament Studies
  • Abbr : KJOTS
  • 2019, 25(1), pp.214-244
  • DOI : 10.24333/jkots.2019.25.1.214
  • Publisher : Korean Society of Old Testament Studies
  • Research Area : Humanities > Christian Theology
  • Received : January 1, 2019
  • Accepted : February 3, 2019

Mi-Sook Lee 1

1장로회신학대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The schism of the united Kingdom right after Solomon’s death set Israel along a totally different historical path. Jeroboam could establish national institutions for the northern Kingdom of Israel on the model of the southern Kingdom of Judah, but to choose a new capital was the most urgent task for him. Jeroboam moved the capital from Shechem to Penuel and again to Tirzah during his reign. Omri, unlike former kings, also transferred the capital to Samaria, which did not exist until its being established by Israel. Events of this nature had been very unusual in the history of Israel. Although the transfer of capitals in the northern Kingdom is very important, few studies have been performed, and their conclusions about these transfers have not been useful. Especially regarding the transfer of the capital to Tirzah and Penuel, historians have considered these movements to be strange and unsuitable. To choose a capital reflects a national policy and vision. This study tries to explain the capitals of the northern Kingdom with a geographical approach for the purpose of understanding the reasons and background for their transfer. As a result of this study, now we can state confidently that those movements were not strange but suitable transfers that Jeroboam made to concentrate on eastern-oriented cities in order to control the Transjordan land and to integrate its tribes. Omri turned his eyes toward the coast and the sea. He chose Samaria as a base to cooperate with Phoenicia which had monopolized the coastal trade in the Mediterranean. Samaria was located inland not far from the coast and was the best place for Omri to develop his foreign policy and strategy. He accomplished prosperity and fame for the northern Kingdom of Israel after Solomon. Jeroboam and Omri founded a national base and succeeded in making the state rich and powerful. They, however, were denigrated as vicious kings because of their leading Israel to betray God and to bring the religion of Israel to a form of syncretism. Therefore, their dream and policy for a new nation reflected in the transfer of the capital was subsequently forgotten or devalued.

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