Where are the Kingdoms of Judah and Israel Today?

'The children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together." Jeremiah 50:4

“In those days and in that time, the children of Israel shall come, they and the

children of Judah together.” Jeremiah 50:4

After you read the Old Testament, it’s very clear the nation of Israel has had a historically difficult time. It’s probably one of the most hotly contested pieces of land on earth. Though the Jewish people had periods of oneness, most of the time, the nation was divided into two kingdoms—Judah and Israel.

These two kingdoms didn’t divide just land; it also divided hearts and, eventually, culture. And, evidence of the division continues to this day.

Before you study any Bible maps or atlases, it’s important to understand how the nation we call Israel was split, how it affected Jesus’ ministry, and what God’s plans are for His people. Knowing this simple geography helps us to understand the Bible better and make it come alive.

Two Kingdoms and Kings

The nation of Israel began with the patriarch Jacob, son of Isaac, and twin to Esau. God changed his name to Israel, which means “one who struggles with God” in Genesis 32:28 after Jacob wrestled with an angel. Jacob eventually had twelve sons who later became the twelve tribes of Israel, most predominantly Judah and Benjamin.

For hundreds of years, Israel was a unified nation under King Saul, Israel’s first king. After his death, however, certain Israelites followed David while others preferred Saul’s son, Ishbosheth.

The people’s divided ideologies split the country in two. Eventually, David became the king of Judah, also known as Judea. It became the southern kingdom containing Jerusalem as its capital and the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin.

Ishbosheth remained king of Israel, although now a smaller version of itself. This half of the country became the northern kingdom containing its capital Samaria and the other ten tribes. Ishbosheth reigned for seven years until David conquered him and reunited the nation (2 Samuel 5:5).

Israel reunited and prospered for many years under David and his son, Solomon. But after Solomon’s death in 930 BC, his son, Rehoboam, threatened to raise taxes on the northern tribes despite the northerner’s efforts to keep the peace. And so, the country split again.

So, Rehoboam became king of Judah with the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and one of Solomon’s servants named Jeroboam was chosen by God to lead Israel and the other ten tribes (2 Kings 11 and 12).The ten tribes of Israel that would eventually split into two kingdoms, ten to the north and two to the south.

The Jewish-Roman Wars

Both nations fought each other in the coming years, and sometimes they fought as allies. But, eventually, both kingdoms came to an end. The Assyrian Empire conquered the northern kingdom in 722 BC, and the southern kingdom was taken captive by the Babylonian Empire in 587 BC.

Seventy years later, the Israelites were liberated from the Babylonians and sent back home. However, evidence of cultural and tribal differences between the northern and southern kingdoms persisted. But bigger troubles lay ahead.

In 63 BC, the Israelites were conquered again, this time by the Romans.

As the Roman army invaded Israel, ten of the original twelve tribes scattered and became the first diaspora. The scattering essentially dissolved the northern kingdom and left only Judah, the southern kingdom, to be conquered.

Several years later (66-73 AD), the First Jewish-Roman War (also known as the Great Revolt) broke out. Roman general Titus destroyed Jerusalem and laid siege to the Masada fortress, causing its last defenders to commit suicide rather than be taken captive. The crushing defeat scattered the Israelites again. Others were sold into slavery.

In 115-117 AD, the Second Jewish-Roman War (also called the Kitos War) broke out. The Romans slaughtered the Israelites in huge numbers, which caused even more of the Jewish people to scatter.

The Bar-Kokha Revolt

A fourth diaspora occurred after the Third Jewish-Roman War in 132-136 AD. The revolt  (commonly called the Bar Kokhba Revolt) began after the Roman emperor Hadrian decided to build a new city called Aelia Capitonlina on top of the ruins of Jerusalem and dedicate a new temple to the god Jupiter on the Jews’ holiest site, the Temple Mount.

The Jewish people were successful in repelling the Romans this time, and they again enjoyed autonomous rule, but only for a short time. Three years later, the Romans attacked again, killing the Jews by the thousands and again scattering the people. The kingdom of Judah was officially destroyed.

Empire after empire continued to invade God’s holy land for thousands of years. Israel remained under Roman rule until Arabia invaded in the 12th century. The northern kingdom then became known as Palestine. Later in 1917, the Ottoman Empire renamed it as “Southern Syria” after they too conquered the area.

Sadly, Israel would not be its own nation again until 1947-1948 when the United Nations officially recognized its existence.Modern-day Israel has no formal kingdoms, but much of its territorial boundaries reflect the historical kingdom boundaries.

Kingdom Discrimination

Despite the Roman occupation, there was always a remnant of Jews who remained in the northern kingdom area. And by the time Jesus began His ministry in the first century, the North vs. South idea was still simmering.

Jesus often encountered a sort of discrimination that plagued the country because of the two-kingdom mentality. A great example of it was His encounter with the woman at the well in John 4:4-42. The discrimination was so strong it was unheard of for a southern man to have anything to do with a northerner, especially a northern (Samaritan) woman.

Jesus later made the divisiveness the basis for the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37).

We might speculate that Jesus might also have been discriminated against simply because He grew up in Nazareth, which was technically in the northern kingdom though more on the border of the two kingdoms. The Pharisees had an obvious disdain for Him even before they considered Him a threat. Even the people initially rejected Him (John 1:46) and His band of ragtag disciples. Though whether it was regional discrimination, we don’t know. But it’s possible.

Despite it all, Jesus continually aimed toward reuniting Israel and turning the hearts of its people back to God. His message of love and faithfulness, of loving thy neighbor as God loves us, was always at the forefront of His mind, and it won over the people both northerners and southerners.Though the two-kingdom idea persisted under Roman rule, Jesus always tried to reunite the people under and with God.

Later, the apostle Paul also addressed Israel’s divided nature when he said he is both a Jew (Acts 21:39) and an Israelite (Philippians 3:5), highlighting the fact that he was loyal to the entire nation and not just one kingdom.

As an important side note, though He grew up in the northern kingdom of Israel, Jesus is still referred to as the Lion of Judah. He received the title because He was born in Bethlehem in the southern kingdom of Judah. Jesus also being God had His temple in Jerusalem as well, which is also in Judah. Therefore, the title is rightfully His.

Prophesied Reunion

The Bible tells us God has plans to reunite His people and the nation of Israel.

“In those days and in that time, says the LORD, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, with continual weeping they shall come and seek the LORD their God.” Jeremiah 50:4

“Say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD GOD: Surely I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel, his companions; and I will join them with it, with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they will be one in My hand.’” Ezekiel 37:19-20

But these prophecies have not yet been fulfilled. We know this because of what God promised Abraham in the book of Genesis.

Picture of a beach with a seashell: We know the two kingdoms of Israel have not yet been reunited because the descendants of Abraham are not yet the multitude of the world.

“For You said, ‘I will surely treat you well and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.” Genesis 32:12

Considering the current percentage of Jewish people in the world compared to the world’s overall population of 7.8 billion, Abraham’s descendants are not yet without number.

We also read in Genesis 48:17-20 where Jacob placed his right hand of blessing on his grandson, Ephraim, and his left hand on Manasseh. Both Ephraim and Manesseh were Joseph’s sons, but Manesseh was the first-born, not Ephraim. So, Jacob should have put his right hand on Manesseh, but he didn’t. Joseph was quick to correct his father, but Jacob (Israel) meant what he did.

“But his father refused and said, ‘I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great, but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.” Genesis 48:19

Jacob prophesied that Ephraim would become a multitude of nations. Though Ephraim did eventually become the national designation of the ten northern tribes, neither it nor its descendants have yet become a multitude of nations.

Gathering His Children

The current nation of Israel is still largely made up of the original southern kingdom of Judah, while the tribes of the northern kingdom remain scattered. But we know God promises to gather His children (Matthew 24:31; Mark 13:27) and reunite the two kingdoms one day.

Unfortunately, the day of that reunion has not yet come. And it may not come at all until Jesus returns to claim His kingdom fully and restore His people to Himself.

But we’ll know when the day comes because the Israelites will once again proudly proclaim, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord (Matthew 23:39).”Man waiting for the Lord's return and the time when the two kingdoms of Israel are finally reunited.

9 Replies to “Where are the Kingdoms of Judah and Israel Today?”

  1. I enjoyed the lesson above and need more.

    It was an eye opener. I now want to know how this history relates to current events.

    Thanks

    • Everything happening today is setting up for Christ’s return. More Jews are moving back to Israel, we’re seeing more instances of natural disasters, the Sanhedrin has come back to life and is trying to perform animal sacrifices at the temple in Jerusalem, there are more people calling for the rebuilding of the temple, and we’re encountering more and more false teachers. Jesus said all these things would happen before His return. Though I don’t believe His return is any day now, if we pay attention, we can see the signs of things beginning. What’s most important, though, is that we are ready when He comes.

  2. You say you don’t think the time to be anywhere near. But what about the generation of the fig? isn’t it in 1948. So how do we determine how long the generation is? does he give us the formula in the end of Daniel?

    • Most people believe it was in 1948 when Israel was recognized as an official nation. But you’re right, Daniel gives us the answer when he prophesies about end times. You’ll find it in Daniel 9:25-27 when he talks about the 70 groups of 7 weeks. In verse 25, the anointed prince is Jesus. Verse 26 refers to His death, the destruction of the second temple in 70 AD, and the subsequent trouble the Isrealites would have. There is prophetic stop to the clock at this point. Verse 27 refers to the final “week” of seven years which will occur when the anti-Christ creates a covenant of peace for 7 years. He will make this peace deal before he desecrates the third temple (which is not built yet). It’s at this point the tribulatoin period will begin. I hope that answers your question.

  3. An eye openner really. Thanks. May I know if the two groups believe in the same Jesus Christ or they are still holding onto the OT Messiah who is still to come.

  4. is the God of the Jews the same God Christianity believes? Our pastor said it is not as we believe in the trinity and they do not?

    • What?! With complete respect, either your pastor is a false teacher or you are misunderstanding. We all serve the same God. He is the Creator, Almighty God, Everlasting Father. Yes, Jews and Christians serve the same God. Perhaps what your pastor is trying to say is that Jews only recognize the Father whereas Christians recognize God as 3-in-one–Father, Son, Holy Spirit. It is unfortunate the Jews do not realize Jesus is the promised Messiah they’ve been waiting for thousands of years. Yet, we know He is (praise the Lord!). Regardless, He is the same God. Deuteronomy 6:4 tells us that God is “one,” where the Hebrew word for “one” used here means “unity” and not “singleness,” indicating that God is a triune God. We can also see evidence of it Genesis 1:26 when He refers to Himself as “we.” These verses are important because they are not only in the Christian Old Testament but also in the Jewish Torah. We all serve the same God. The Jews just don’t recognize or refuse to acknowledge that God is triune. It is very heartbreaking, I think. It is why we need to pray for our Jewish brothers and sisters. Because unless and until they see God this way–until they accept the truth that Jesus is God’s son–Jesus will not return for His church. I hope that answers your question. Thank you for commenting. God bless.

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