This should be his busiest time of year.
Alex Israel's new book focuses on the first half of the book Kings, called I Kings because the Greek translation of the book divided the book in two, a convention that was accepted by Jews in The book of Kings as a whole deals with "the four hundred years of history from Solomon to the exile, from the advent of the Temple to its destruction" in BCE.
It describes the kings of the two nations, Judah and Israel, the politics, wars, and a significant problem of the era, idolatry. Alex Israel's book is subtitled "Torn in Two" because after Solomon's death in BCE, his son Rehoboam refused to accept the demands of the ten northern tribes to reduce taxation.
When he rebuffed them, they withdrew from the nation of Judah and formed their own country, which they called Israel. In the final chapter of I kings, King Ahab of Israel formed a short-lived alliance with King Jehoshaphat of Judah, but a prophet criticized the alliance.
Israel lasted for about years until it was conquered by Assyria. The ten tribes were driven into exile, and became known in history as "the ten lost tribes," although some of the inhabitants escaped south to Judah; so all the tribes continued to exist, although only Levites and the family of Aaron, the priests, know their lineage today.
This book describes the reign of thirteen kings, five from Judah and eight from Israel. Three of the thirteen stand out; one from Judah, Solomon, and two from Israel, Jeroboam, who organized the split from Judah, and Ahab, the husband of Jezebel who repeatedly repented his wrongs and then, perhaps provoked by Jezebel, reverted to the performance of improper acts.
Solomon attempted to strengthen the unity of Israel, but his son destroyed his goal. Solomon began his reign as a man devoted to God, he built Israel's first temple, but he ended his life seduced by his foreign wives to worship idols.
The biblical Elijah is radically different than the Elijah known through post-biblical legends. Alex Israel offers readers an explanation of each of the twenty-two chapters, discussing each in turn, in an easy to read, comprehensive, and insightful manner. For example, among much else, in explaining chapter 1, Israel answers why it was necessary to seek a virgin from "the entire country" to lay in King David's bed to warm him; couldn't "a suitable candidate have been found in a more limited local - the province of Judah, for instance?
In his explanation of chapter 2, again among much else, Israel explains why this son of David felt he could escape Solomon's attempt to kill him by seeking asylum by leaning on the altar.
The Torah states that the altar is not an asylum for a murderer. He also explains why Solomon felt he had to kill his brother. In his discussions of chapters 9 and 10, which describe the wealth and opulence of Solomon's reign, Israel warns readers that the Solomon chapters "bear a double reading.
But as one revisits these chapters a second time, especially with the awareness of Solomon's failures at the end of his reign, one appreciates that he did not fail overnight; darker strands are revealed, indicating the deep flaws that threatened the impressive national enterprise.
In chapter 11, Israel gives readers an insightful even-handed picture of Jeroboam who rebelled against Solomon's son and established a new kingdom for ten of the twelve tribes.
In chapter 12, he shows that the rivalry between Judah and Joseph - Jeroboam was from Joseph - goes back unabated to the time of Jacob's sons. While all the kings of Judah were descendants of David, the kings of the northern kingdom came from various tribes and repeatedly suffered untimely ends through bloody assassinations.
Jeroboam's son succeeded him but was assassinated by Baasha after ruling only two years. Baasha's son followed him as king but was also assassinated by Zimri after two years, and Zimri lasted only seven days. The history of these kings of Israel as well as the kings of Judah is a fascinating tale, especially with Alex Israel's explanations of the events.
Readers will enjoy this book and look forward to its sequel. Finis' experiences are unusual, even bizarre, but fascinating and thought-provoking. The book is written in language that reminded me of William Faulkner and was a pleasure to read.
Finis writes at age 30 about his experiences since childhood until he converted to Judaism at age He could recall events that transpired soon after he began to crawl. His parents, especially his mother, were from well-known and respected families of fundamentalist Southern Baptists living in the Deep South and leaders of the Movement.
It was assumed that he would follow family tradition and be the Movement's future leader. Yet, as far back as he could remember he asked questions about his family's beliefs and practices.FORGETFULNESS OF SELF WILLARD D.
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