c930-722 In the shadow of the House of Omri
722-609 The City Chosen by YHWH
Key Dates
701 Siege of Jerusalem
622 Reforms of Josiah
586 Destruction and Exile
Map Index
Political History
Israelite history in the context of the Ancient Near East
Capital of Judah (930-586)

Main Jerusalem Timeline > Zion > Capital of Judah

Jewish tradition refers to this period (c. 950-586) as the First Temple Period, referring to the Jerusalemite royal shrine, built by King Solomon, which is said to have housed the Ark of the Covenant, connecting this golden age of the polity with the Laws of Moses. Tradition also makes the kings of Judah, who ruled from Jerusalem until the destruction of the city by the Babylonians in 586 B.C.E., the descendents of David. The existence of such a House of David was recently confirmed by the find of a victory stele from Tel Dan.

Between 930 (the approximate date of Pharaoh Sheshonq's campaign through Canaan) and 722 (the date of the destruction of Samaria by the Assyrians), Jerusalem played a subordinate role in the region, eclipsed by its more powerful northern neighbor, the Kingdom of Israel.

Judah's independence and Jerusalem's rise to prominence begin in 722 when the Northern State is destroyed by the Assyrian king Shalmaneser V (d. 722) and his general Sargon (Sargon II, 722-705). Many Israelites flee south, enhancing the Judahite state which thrives under Sargon II, and the city of Jerusalem is considerably expanded and fortified, to survive Sennacherib's siege of 701. King Hezekiah of Judah (726-697/96) and his chief prophet, Isaiah of Jerusalem, attribute the victory to YHWH. A general purging of cults and sacrificial places throughout Judah prefigures the reforms conducted by the king's great-grandson, Josiah (639/40-609), in 622. Jerusalem is now the only legitimate place of worship, and YHWH the only God to be worshiped.

The history of early Jerusalem, the capital of Judah, ends with the destruction of the city in 586 by the Neo-Babylonians under Nebuchadrezzar. Henceforth, the "House of David" appears as the symbol of a golden age, glorified in the literary imagination of Judahite historians and prophets, and of its restoration in a "messianic" future.

Image: Siloam Inscription (Source: