Israel’s Northern Kingdom, the birth of Samaria
The dominant tribe within of the Northern Kingdom was Ephraim. The Ephraimite town of Samaria became the residence of its kings and a cultic system to rival that of Jerusalem operated from there.
Whilst the scriptures refer to the Southern Kingdom as Judah, the Northern Kingdom is variously called Israel, Ephraim or Samaria. Northern Kingdom is used on this site in preference to these other terms whenever it is necessary to avoid ambiguity.
Established when Jeroboam led the northern tribes in rebellion against the unpopular governance of Solomon’s son Rehoboam, the Northern Kingdom was led by a series of dynasties that embraced cultural diversity and departed from adherence to the Law of Moses. These replaced one another through assassination, generally followed by the murder of the deposed kings potential heirs.
The powerful dynasty of Omri established Samaria as the chief city in the Northern Kingdom, the name of the city and the name of the kingdom becoming effectively synonymous.Omri himself reigned for fifty years; Long enough to be mentioned on one of that regions most significant archaeological treasures, the Moabite Stone, as well as in Assyrian inscriptions from that period. Yet in its thirst for power that dynasty nearly destroyed the line of David.
Hostilities with Judah continued intermittently throughout the Northern Kingdom’s existence and eventually provoked king Ahaz of Judah to appeal for Assyrian assistance. The Assyrians then reduced the Northern Kingdom to little more than a city-state based on Samaria. When Samaria then rebelled against Assyrian rule, the city withstood an Assyrian siege for three years, but its eventual fall marked the end of the Northern Kingdom.