Question

How did the breaking of God's law result Israel's 8th and 6th century B.C. exiles?

Answer

God's covenant was a legal arrangement in the form of an international treaty between God and Israel. It included stipulations, which we commonly call "laws," as well as blessings that would accrue to Israel if they obeyed the laws, and curses that would befall Israel if they broke the laws (cf. Lev. 26; Deut. 28ff.). Among these curses — pretty much the ultimate curse — was subjugation under a foreign power resulting in exile from the Promised Land. By most accounts, exile and subjugation by a foreign power constitute severe "political problems." Certainly they entail other problems, too, but a major emphasis in Scripture with regard to exile is the loss of political autonomy.

In 922 B.C., the northern ten tribes of Israel were taken from Solomon's son Rehoboam and given to Jeroboam because Solomon grossly violated God's covenant (1 Kings 11). Jeroboam's kingdom retained the name "Israel," and Rehoboam's kingdom in the south came to be called "Judah." Subsequently, both kingdoms were unfaithful to God's covenant. As a result, Israel was exiled to Assyria in 723/722 B.C. Subsequently, Assyria was conquered by Babylon, and many of its Israelite captives were taken to Babylon. Then, in 587/586 B.C. Judah was also exiled to Babylon, essentially reuniting the nation of Israel by recombining the northern kingdom (Israel) with the southern kingdom (Judah) in the Babylonian exile.

Answer by Ra McLaughlin

Ra McLaughlin is Vice President of Finance and Administration at Third Millennium Ministries.