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israel Summary and Overview

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israel in Easton's Bible Dictionary

the name conferred on Jacob after the great prayer-struggle at Peniel (Gen. 32:28), because "as a prince he had power with God and prevailed." (See JACOB T0001945.) This is the common name given to Jacob's descendants. The whole people of the twelve tribes are called "Israelites," the "children of Israel" (Josh. 3:17; 7:25; Judg. 8:27; Jer. 3:21), and the "house of Israel" (Ex. 16:31; 40:38). This name Israel is sometimes used emphatically for the true Israel (Ps. 73:1: Isa. 45:17; 49:3; John 1:47; Rom. 9:6; 11:26). After the death of Saul the ten tribes arrogated to themselves this name, as if they were the whole nation (2 Sam. 2:9, 10, 17, 28; 3:10, 17; 19:40-43), and the kings of the ten tribes were called "kings of Israel," while the kings of the two tribes were called "kings of Judah." After the Exile the name Israel was assumed as designating the entire nation.

israel in Smith's Bible Dictionary

(the prince that prevails with God). 1. The name given, #Ge 32:28| to Jacob after his wrestling with the angel, #Ho 12:4| at Peniel. Gesenius interprets Israel "soldier of God." 2. It became the national name of the twelve tribes collectively. They are so called in #Ex 3:16| and afterward. 3. It is used in a narrower sense, excluding Judah, in #1Sa 11:8; 2Sa 20:1; 1Ki 12:16| Thenceforth it was assumed and accepted as the name of the northern kingdom. 4. After the Babylonian captivity, the returned exiles resumed the name Israel as the designation of their nation. The name Israel is also used to denote lay-men, as distinguished from priests, Levites and other ministers. #Ezr 6:16; 9:1, 10:25; Ne 11:3| etc.

israel in Schaff's Bible Dictionary

IS'RAEL . Gen 35:10. The surname of Jacob, given to him by the angel at Peniel. Gen 32:28; Hos 12:3. It signifies "the prince that prevails with God." One of the finest hymns of Charles Wesley describes that mysterious wrestling with God in prayer, and begins, "Come, thou Traveller unknown, Whom still I hold, but cannot see; My company before is gone, And I am left alone with thee; With thee all night I mean to stay. And wrestle till the break of day. * * * * * * * * * "What though my shrinking flesh complain, And murmur to contend so long? I rise superior to my pain; When I am weak, then I am strong; And when my all of strength shall fail, I shall with the God-man prevail." We find the name "Israel" soon after used for the whole race of Jacob's posterity, Ex 3:16; also for the kingdom of the ten tribes, as distinguished from Judah, 2 Kgs 14:12; and again, in a spiritual sense, for the whole body of true believers. Rom 9:6; Jud 11:26. Land of. See Canaan.

israel in Fausset's Bible Dictionary

("soldier of" or "contender with God".) 1. The name given by the angel of Jehovah to Jacob, after by wrestling he had prevailed and won the blessing (Genesis 32:26-28), "for thou hast contended with God and with men, and hast prevailed" (Hosea 12:4). Sarah and Sur mean also "to be a prince". KJV combines both meanings: "as a prince hast thou power with God and with men," etc. 2. The name of the nation, including the whole 12 tribes. 3. The northern kingdom, including the majority of the whole nation, namely, ten tribes; or else all except Judah, Benjamin, Levi, Dan, and Simeon (1 Samuel 11:8; 2 Samuel 20:1; 1 Kings 12:16). In 1 Kings 11:13; 1 Kings 11:31-32 Jeroboam was appointed by God to have ten tribes, Solomon's seed one; but two were left for David's line when Ahijah gave ten out of the 12 pieces of his garment to Jeroboam. The numbers therefore must be understood in a symbolical rather than in a strictly arithmetical sense. Ten expresses completeness and totality in contrast with one, "the tribe of Judah only" (1 Kings 12:20); but "Benjamin" is included also (1 Kings 21; 2 Chronicles 11:3; 2 Chronicles 11:23). Levi was not counted in the political classification, it mainly joined Judah. Ephraim and Manasseh were counted as two. Judah included also Simeon, which was so far S. and surrounded by Judah's territory (Joshua 19:1-9) that it could not have well formed part of the northern kingdom. Moreover several cities of Dan were included in "Judah," namely, Ziklag, which Achish gave David, Zorea, and Ajalon (2 Chronicles 11:10; 2 Chronicles 28:18). These counterbalanced the loss to Judah of the northern part of Benjamin, including Bethel, Ramah, and Jericho, which fell to "Israel" (1 Kings 12:29; 1 Kings 15:17; 1 Kings 15:21; 1 Kings 16:34). Thus only nine tribes, and not all these, wholly remained to the northern kingdom. The sea coast was in the hands of Israel from Accho to Japho, S. of this the Philistines held the coast. It is estimated Judah's extent was somewhat less than Northumberland, Durham, and Westmoreland; Israel's as large as Yorkshire, Lancashire, and Cumberland; and Israel's population in 957 B.C. 3,500,000 (2 Chronicles 13:3). The division was appointed by God as the chastisement of the house of David for the idolatries imported by Solomon's wives. The spreading of the contagion to the whole mass of the people was thus mercifully guarded against. Jeroboam's continued tenure of the throne was made dependent on his loyalty to God. Rehoboam's attempt to reduce the revolting tribes was divinely forbidden. Jeroboam recognized the general obligation of the law while, he violated its details. (See JEROBOAM.) His innovation was in the place of worship (Bethel and Dan instead of Jerusalem), and in the persons by whom it was to be performed (priests taken from the masses instead of from Levi), also in the time of the feast of tabernacles (the eighth instead of the seventh month). In the symbols, the calves, he followed Aaron's pattern at Sinai, which he himself had been familiarized to in Egypt; at the same time recognizing the reality of God's deliverance of Israel out of Egypt in saying like Aaron, "Behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of Egypt," (1 Kings 12:28; Exodus 32:4; Exodus 32:8). His own miraculous punishment (1 Kings 13), the death of his son, the overthrow of the three royal dynasties, Jeroboam's, Baasha's, and Ahab's; as foretold by the prophets (Isaiah 8, Isaiah 9, Isaiah 28; Hosea; and Amos), the permanent removal of Israel by Assyria, all attested God's abhorrence of idolatry. The wise design of God in appointing the separation between Israel and Judah appears in its effect on Judah. It became her political interest to adhere to the Mosaic law. This was the ground of confidence to Abijah in battle with Jeroboam (2 Chronicles 13:9-11). The Levites being cast out of office by Jeroboam left their suburbs and came to Judah. Rehoboam's chastisement for forsaking God's law, Judah also making high places, images, and groves (2 Kings 14:22-23; 2 Chronicles 12:1, etc.), had a salutary effect on Ass and Jehoshaphat in succession. Excepting the period of apostasy resulting in the first instance from Jehoshaphat's unfortunate alliance with Ahab's family, a majority of Judah's kings were observers of the law, whereas there was not one king faithful to Jehovah in Israel's line of kings. Shechem, the original place of meeting of the nation under Joshua (Joshua 24:1), was the first capital (1 Kings 12:25); then Tirzah, famed for its loveliness (Song of Solomon 6:4; 1 Kings 14:17; 1 Kings 15:33; 1 Kings 16:8; 1 Kings 16:17; 1 Kings 16:23). Omri chose Samaria for its beauty, fertility, and commanding position (24); after a three years' siege it fell before the Assyrian king. Jezreel was the residence of some kings. Shiloh in Ephraim was the original seat of the sanctuary (Judges 21:19; Joshua 18:1) before it was removed to Jerusalem. The removal was a source of jealousy to Ephraim, to obviate which the Maschil (instruction) of Asaph (Psalm 78) was written (see Psalm 78:60; Psalm 78:67-69). Jealousy and pride, which were old failings of Ephraim, the leading tribe of the N. (Judges 8:1; Judges 8:12), were the real moving causes of the revolt from Judah, the heavy taxation was the ostensible cause. Joshua and Caleb represented Ephraim and Judah respectively in the wilderness, and Joshua took the lead in Canaan. It galled Ephraim now to be made subordinate. Hence flowed the readiness with which they hearkened to Absalom and their jealousy of Judah at David's restoration (2 Samuel 19:41-43) and their revolting at the call of Sheba (2 Samuel 20:1). The idolatry of Solomon alienated the godly; his despotic grandeur at the cost of the people diminished his general popularity (1 Kings 11:14-40). The moment that God withdrew the influence that, restrained the spirit of disunion, the disruption took place. Jeroboam adopted the calf idolatry for state policy, but it eventuated in state ruin. God made Israel's sin her punishment. Degradation of morality followed apostasy in religion and debasement of the priesthood. God's national code of laws, still in force, and the established idolatry were in perpetual conflict. The springs of national life were thereby poisoned. Eight houses occupied the throne, revolution ushering in each successively. The kingdom's duration was 254 years, from 975 to 721 B.C. Israel's doom acted in some degree as a salutary warning to Judah, so that for more than a century (133 1/2 years) subsequently its national existence survived. The prophets, extraordinarily raised up, were the only salt in Israel to counteract her desperate corruption: Ahijah, Elijah, Micaiah, Elisha, and Jonah, the earliest of the prophets who were writers of Holy Scripture. In the time of this last prophet God gave one last long season of prosperity, the long reign of Jeroboam II, if haply His goodness would lead the nation to repentance. This day of grace being neglected, judgment only remained. Revolts of Edom, Moab, and Ammon, the assaults of Syria under Benhadad dud Hazael, and finally Assyria, executed God's wrath against the apostate people. Pul, Tiglath Pileser, Shalmaneser, Sargon, and Esarhaddon were the instruments (2 Kings 15-17; Ezra 4:2; Ezra 4:10; Isaiah 20:1). Ahijah first foretold to Jeroboam at the beginning of the kingdom, "Jehovah shall root up Israel and scatter them beyond the river" (1 Kings 14:15; Amos 5:27). (This table [omitted] is not available in the current version of the product.) This kingdom was sometimes also designated "Ephraim" from its leading tribe (Isaiah 17:3; Hosea 4:17), as the southern kingdom "Judah" was so designated from the prominent tribe. Under Messiah in the last days Ephraim shall be joined to Judah; "the envy of Ephraim shall depart, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim" (Isaiah 11:13; Ezekiel 37:16-22). Ezekiel 37:4. After the return from Babylon the nation was called "Israel," the people "Jews," by which designation they are called in Esther. The ideal name for the twelve tribes regarded as one whole even after the division (1 Kings 18:30-31). The spiritual Israel, the church of the redeemed (Romans 9:6; Galatians 6:16). What became of the scattered people is hard to discover. Many joined Judah, as Anna of Asher is found in Luke 2:36. The majority were "scattered abroad" with the Jews, as James addresses "the twelve tribes." The Jews in Bokhara told Jos. Wolff "when the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul, king of Assyria, and Tiglath Pileser, they were carried away ... even the Reubenites, Gadites, and half Manasseh, to Halah (now Balkh) and Habor (now Samarcand) and Hara (now Bokhara), and to the river Gozan (the Ammos, Jehron, or Oxus). They were expelled by the Tahagatay, the people of Genghis Khan; then they settled in Sabr Awar and Nishapoor (except some who went to China), in Khorassan. Centuries afterward most returned to Bokhara, Samarcand, and Balkh. Timoor Koorekan (Tamerlane) gave them many privileges. The Jews of Bokhara said that many of Naphtali wander on the Aral mountains, and that the Kafir Secahpoosh on the Hindu Koosh or Indian Caucasus are their brethren." The Afghans style themselves the Bani Israel, "the sons of Israel," and by universal tradition among themselves claim descent from Saul, or Malik Twalut, through Afghana, son of Jeremiah, Saul's second son. When Bakht-u-nasr (Nebuchadnezzar) took Israel into captivity, the tribe of Afghana, on account of their clinging to the Jewish religion, were driven into the mountains about Herat, whence they spread into the Cabool valley along the right bank of the Indus to the borders of Scinde and Beloochistan. Subsequently, they fell into idolatry, and then Mohamedanism. But they have a tradition that the Kyber hills were inhabited until recently by Jews. Similarly, the Santhals on the W. frontier of lower Bengal derive themselves from the Horites who were driven out of mount Seir by the Edomites. Their traditions point to the Punjab, the land of the five rivers, as the home of their race. They say their fathers worshipped God alone before entering the Himalayan region; but when in danger of perishing on those snowy heights they followed the direction whence the sun rose daily, and were guided safe; so they hold a feast every five years to the sun god, and also worship devils. They alone of the Hindu races have negro features, and the lightheartedness and also the improvidence of the race of Ham. God will yet restore Israel; He alone can discriminate them among the Gentiles. "Ye shall be gathered one by one, O ye children of Israel ... In that day the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish ... and the outcasts ... and shall worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerusalem" (Isaiah 27:13). Jeremiah 3:14-18; "I will take you one of a city and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion." The rabbis ordain that when one builds a new house he should leave part unfinished "in memory of the desolation" (zeker lachorchan); and when a marriage takes place the bridegroom ends the ceremony by trampling the glass to pieces out of which he has drunk. Yet still they look for the restoration promised in Deuteronomy 30:1-6; Isaiah 11:10-16. David Levi infers from Isaiah: (1) God's coming vengeance on Israel's foes; (2) especially on Edom, i.e. Rome; (3) Israel's restoration; (4) that of the ten tribes; (5) like the deliverance from Egypt (but exceeding it in the greatness of God's interposition: Jeremiah 23:5-8); (6) not to be prevented by the Jewish sinners who shall be cut off; (7) not until after a long time; (8) the shekinah and spirit of prophecy will return (Ezekiel 11:23; Ezekiel 43:2); (9) the apostatized from the nation will be restored to it; (10) a king of David's line and name will reign (Ezekiel 34:23-24); (11) they will never go into captivity again (see for the permanence and full bliss of their restoration Isaiah 35:12; Isaiah 54:7-11); (12) the nations will generally acknowledge one God and desire to know His law (Isaiah 2:3; Isaiah 60:3; Isaiah 66:23; Zechariah 8:21-23; Zechariah 14:16-19); (13) peace will prevail (Isaiah 2:4; Zechariah 9:10); (14) a resurrection of those prominent for piety or wickedness (Daniel 12:2). See Isaiah 11; Isaiah 9:8-10; Isaiah 42:13-16; Isaiah 61:1-8, where "the desolations of many generations" cannot be merely the 70 years' captivity. After abiding many days without king, priest, sacrifice, altar, ephod, and teraphim, Israel shall seek the Lord their God and David their king (Hosea 3:4-5). The blessing to all nations through Israel will fulfill the original promises to Adam (Genesis 3:15) and Abraham (Genesis 22:18; Romans 11:25-26, etc.). Providential preparations for their restoration are already patent: the waning of Turkish power; the Holy Land unoccupied in a great measure and open to their return; their mercantile character, to the exclusion of agriculture, causing their not taking root in any other land, and connecting them with such mercantile peoples as the English and Americans, who may help in their recovering their own land (Isaiah 60:9; Isaiah 66:19-20); their avoidance of intermarriage with Christians. The Israelites when converted will be the best gospel preachers to the world (Zechariah 8:13; Zechariah 8:23; Micah 5:7), for they are dispersed everywhere, familiar with the language and manners of all lands, and holding constant correspondence with one another (compare the type, Acts 2:11); and as during their alienation they have been unimpeachable, because hostile, witnesses of the divine origin of the Messianic prophecies to which Christianity appeals, so when converted from hostility they would be resistless preachers of those truths which they had rejected (Romans 11:15). Our age is that of the 42 months during which the court without the temple is given unto the Gentiles, and they tread under foot the holy city (Revelation 11:2-3), and God scatters the power of the holy people (Daniel 12:7; Luke 21:24). At its close Israel's times begin. The 1,260 years may date from A.D. 754, when Pepin granted temporal dominion to the popes; this would bring its close to 2014. The event alone will clear all (Daniel 7:25; Daniel 8:14; Daniel 12:11-12; Revelation 12:6; Revelation 12:14; Leviticus 26:14, etc.). (Graves, Pentateuch, closing lecture).