Israel frequently features in the news today, often for the wrong reasons. Violence in the Holy Land is an all-too-common occurrence. To understand why this part of the Middle East is such a flashpoint, knowing its long history is essential, and Norman Gelb's 'Kings of the Jews' illuminates the evolution of the Jewish nation, forerunner of the modern State of Israel. This is the story of the lives and times of the men and women who ruled it in a Middle East arguably even more turbulent than it is today, from Saul, its first king, to Herod Agrippa II, its last. It is also the story of key formative experiences of the Jews, including the disperson of the 'Lost Tribes of Israel', the traumatic Babylonian Exile, the Maccabee uprising and the war with Rome. Including informative illustrations and maps, it is an essential guide to the early history of the Jewish people. "Makes Jewish history more approachable to the modern reader - rich, epic and certain to maintain interest" - Kirkus Review.
Although Saul, David, and Solomon are the best known kings of Israel, a total of 52 men and two women served as monarchs between the years 1020 B.C.E. and 70 C.E. Their stories are told in this well-researched account by historian Gelb. After Solomon died in 931 B.C.E., his realm was divided into Judah and Israel. For the next 109 years, each kingdom had 19 kings and, in addition, Israel had one queen. They fought with each other and with neighboring states; the rulers often came to a bloody end. Israel, the Northern Kingdom, was conquered by the Assyrians in 722 B.C.E. and little is known about the fate of its inhabitants. The Jews of Judah, the Southern Kingdom, were exiled into Babylonia in 587 B.C.E., and upon their return became subjects of the Persians, then Greeks and Syrians, until the rebellion of the Maccabees. Maccabean rule was followed by the Hasmoneans, who gave way to Herod, king under the Romans, from 37 to 4 B.C.E.. When the Romans conquered Jerusalem in 70 C.E., the Jewish monarchy finally ended. This useful narrative recalls the contributions of Israel s many kings and brings them back to life. \n