I am certainly no expert in world history. My knowledge of ancient history is particularly connected and essentially limited to my acquaintance with biblical literature. I have never been a history buff. I like history buffs. I’ve just never been one, so I usually paint the past tense in broad strokes…really broad biblical strokes.
From 2000-1700 BCE, Israel was just a family. It’s hard to imagine, but go back four thousand years, and modern Judaica is nothing more than Abraham, a wife, a maid, a couple of children, a few grandchildren, and a slew of great grandchildren. They were governed by nothing more than general principles embraced by any average desert nomad. By 1300 BCE, the extended family had burgeoned. One of the grandkids had ‘made it good’ and become Prime Minister of Egypt. Joseph’s political connections, however, did not keep the Israelites from becoming slaves. After the Exodus from Egypt, the liberated nation of Israel settled in the land of Canaan. For the first time in their short history, they governed themselves. Judges ruled over each of the independent twelve tribes.
They convened only to battle common enemies. By 1020 BCE, the tribes realized a common government provided possibilities their loose union could not afford, and their first king was anointed. Beginning with Saul in 1020 BCE, the Israelites were governed by a king until 922 BCE. In 922 BCE, internal civil strife caused a breech in the nation, and for the next 300+ years, the northern and southern regions of Israel were ruled by separate kings—a divided monarchy. In 586 BCE, the Babylonians conquered Israel and hauled them to Babylon; they were once again ruled as slaves. In 539 BCE, the Persians conquered the Babylonians. They allowed the Israelites to return to their homeland, but they remained under Persian rule. In 333 BCE, the Greeks conquered the Persians. The Israelites were freed—but only if they adopted Greek culture and language. In 146 BCE, the Romans conquered the Greeks, and Israel was subservient to Rome’s military regime. That’s pretty much where the biblical political story ends…as well as my knowledge of ancient history.
Regardless of who ruled…how well they ruled…how poorly they ruled…how long they ruled…or how short they ruled…God is woven throughout the fabric of the story—loving and caring for her creation. God’s care remains the same. Our work remains the same…