So despite opposition from the priests, the reign of kings began. The first king was Saul of the tribe of Joseph, who had defeated the Ammonites, and after his death in a battle against the Philistines, his commander-in-chief, David, of the tribe of Judah, became king in his place. As a boy, David had won renown for slaying Goliath, the Philistine giant, with a stone from his sling. From around 1001-968 BCE, David was the anointed king of all Israel. He took the city of Jerusalem and made it his capital, and brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem and in accordance with Mosaic tradition, set it in the middle of the Tabernacle he had built for it. During David’s reign, the State of the Children of Israel gained in importance. After David’s death, Solomon, son of David and Bathsheba, who was the widowed wife of the Hittite lieutenant Uriah, became king. King Solomon was famous for his wisdom and ruled from about 968-928 BCE, and his reign brought peace and prosperity through commercial and political transactions. King David’s conquests had gained possession of gold and silver mines which now enabled Solomon to increase his wealth. He built a glorious palace for himself and a grand Temple in Jerusalem for Yahveh. No longer was Yahveh housed in a tent, (10th century BCE). The account in the Old Testament tells how the Queen of Sheba came on a visit to Jerusalem and how, seeing the costly palace of Solomon in all its glory, even this wealthy Queen was impressed. Solomon was also renowned for his huge harem of wives and concubines. David is said to have written the Psalms, King Solomon to have composed another three Books of the Old Testament: the Song of Solomon, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.
The Solomon’s Temple stood on what is now the site of the Omar Mosque it was built as a rectangle, the entrance facing east, and in the porch, were two huge pillars of bronze, cast by Hiram, the Phoenician from Tyre. The walls were lined with cedar wood, embossed with carvings in relief, and tons of gold were used to ornament the Temple. The inner courtyard was reserved for soothsayers and the outer for the populace. It was said to have taken seven years to complete and was the first building for worship devoted to those who believed in the One Supreme God, after the ones which devoted to Aton by the Egyptians. In time, the Temple in Jerusalem, and indeed the whole city became a religious centre. However, this Temple had a relatively short history. In 586 BCE it was demolished by the Babylonians, replaced in 515 BCE with a smaller version and King Herod the Great rebuilt it on a more lavish scale in the 1st century BCE. Finally the Romans destroyed this in the year 70 CE, and tradition has it that it will be rebuilt once more when the Messiah returns.
The contentions among the tribes of Israel were exacerbated on the death of Solomon: the southern Kingdom of Judah was comprised of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, the northern Kingdom of Israel consisted of the other ten of the Twelve Tribes. The Kingdom of Israel lasted from the end of the 10th to the beginning of the 8th century BCE. By 721 BCE, Israel had been conquered and some were carried away into captivity by the Assyrians. The Kingdom of Judah was at first under the protection of Assyria, but later fought to end this domination with the help of the Egyptians. They were defeated by the Assyrians but the Assyrian army was the victim of a plague. At this time the worship of many foreign gods was spreading, and after Egyptian dominance, the Babylonians took control. As a result of the 587 BCE insurrections, the Babylonians captured Jerusalem, set fire to the city and its Temple, and removed most of the inhabitants to Babylon. While in exile there, from 587- 538 BCE, the Jews began to trade, since at that time it was a huge commercial centre. This rendered it easier for the Jews to observe their own religious practices. It had been very difficult for a farmer not to water his fields nor feed his flocks on the Sabbath, but after Jews became more involved in commerce keeping the Sabbath strictly became easier. Moreover, since there was no longer a Temple and therefore sacrifices could not be performed, other aspects of their religious law, especially the keeping of the Sabbath gained in importance. The concept of a congregation arose to replace the Holy Temple, and the shared faith which was the only thing they could take with them into exile, made them into a nation.