So, the Biblical authors, writing from a Southern Judea perspective, have very little to say about Israel's impressive achievements culturally, politically, and militarily. But they do give us glimpses of it. And these glimpses are collaborated by extra-biblical evidence. In contrast to the single Davidic dynasty of Judah, the Northern Kingdom of Israel witnesses a succession of dynasties, most of them lasting really only two, three generations. The most successful of these dynasties though, and the one that's most vilified by the biblical authors, remember the life when Judah perspective and they don't like the Northern Kingdom. So they're going to vilify anything that's very successful there, while the most successful dynasty is the Omride dynasty. The Omride dynasty is named after the founding King Omri, who dies in 875 BCE. And Omri is the father of a more famous king, one that you know, Ahab or Ahab, Ahab and his wife Jezebel. Many of these stories are probably familiar to you. So, Omri, Ahab, and then Ahab son Joram were the ones, not Saul, David, and Solomon, who really placed Israel on the map. They were the ones who consolidated a large territorial state from the competing centers and rulers that one can read about in 1 Kings 12-15. And they introduced a developed infrastructure, a monumental building program all over their kingdom, a bureaucratic organization, international diplomacy, and not least, a standing professional army with impressive chariot divisions. Now, the role of a standing army and chariots is especially noteworthy. And inscription from the Assyrian king Sennacherib the third tell us about a battle at Qarqar, up in the north. And the battle takes place in 853, where Ahab is now fighting an alliance against the Assyrians, an alliance with many other partners. But Ahab, this Omride King, this Israelite king, provides the largest contingency of chariots to the coalition. 2,000 chariots, the Assyrian source says, was the number of chariots that this Israelite king provided, which was much more than anybody else had. For more on this battle, you can see the link I provided in the material for this week. But, in the coming weeks, I'm going to speak about how the history of Israel from the Book of Genesis to the Biblical Book of Kings depicts a transition from this ideal time when the nation fought their own wars voluntarily as non-professional citizen soldiers to the rise of the state with kings who conscript soldiers and hire professional warriors to fight there for their political interest. And the most important part of the professional standing army on the other side of history are the chariot divisions. So, the transition within the biblical history from this voluntary citizens army to this professional standing army with great chariot divisions really represents the center of the message that the biblical authors are trying to get at. I'm going to ask you in the discussion to think about, by reading an encyclopedia article I wrote about chariots, and looking at some of the biblical evidence, to think why are the biblical authors so interested in this role of the chariot divisions, but above all, what the chariots really represent. And that is a military organization that is about voluntary service, where we all fight together, versus a kind of system, where there is one at the top, who has his professional soldiers, and they fight for his interest. They fight for the palace. And why the biblical authors, who are writing at the time, where they are no longer fighting wars, no longer interested really in going to battle against their enemies, why are they spending so much time on military organization? That would be the question for the forum that I would like you to discuss. Now, the Omride rulers not only built many impressive cities such as their new capital at Samaria known as Somron, Samaria, but they also managed to extend the territory of Israel's kingdom from its Courtland's in Ephriam and Ephriam hill country to the Jezreel Valley and further northwards into the Galilee, as well as across the Jordan River and the east, around the Gilead region. They even managed to push into Mobei territory across the Jordan. And both biblical sources and Mobei sources, the so-called Mesha stele, which I've mentioned before, attest to their military feats. And all the places that the Omride rulers exerted their military and political influence, we can observe the way these rulers promoted the construction of impressive cities and architecture and really a great society that emerges with them. The power that was growing in Judah appears to have been a vassal to the Omrides and fully subject to the authority of these kings from Israel. Some of the biblical passages, however, insist that the Judah's Kings simply collaborated with the Omride kings. So, take a look at 2 Kings 3:4-8, for example, to see how when the Omride King wants to go to war against Moab, he then offers a place alongside him in this coalition. But really, probably historically, on the basis of other evidence, when the Omride kings went to war, the Judah High King had to join them because the Judah High King was the Omrides kings' tusstle. The influence of the Omrides on Judah can be seen in the story of how a woman from the Omride household reigned as Queen for six years in Judah until she was deposed and then Dividic King was then reinstated. And that Queen's name is Atalia or Athalaya. You can read about that in 2 Kings 11. It was very fascinating account. The Omrides established a cosmopolitan kingdom with many diplomatic ties to important economic centers. Thus, Ahab marries a famous woman, I just mentioned, Jezebel. And Jezebel comes from where? From Phoenicia in the North. And Phoenicia is a very wealthy center known for its trade. And one can witness the influence of Phoenicia in the northern lands and architecture and art. For example, the extraordinary ivory carvings that you find within Israel and really throughout much of the ancient East. So, here is an Omride kingdom with great diplomatic ties, marriage ties, political ties, military achievements exerting its influence far and wide. The Omride dynasty ended, according to the biblical sources, in a bloody putsch undertaken by Jehu or Jehu. Jehu went on to establish his own dynasty. And some of us call that dynasty the Nimshites. Like the Omrides, Omrides are followed by the Namshites. Jehu has Jezebel thrown from her window, where she is devoured by the dogs in that gruesome scene described in the Bible, and all the male descendants of the Omrides are brought together, the 70 sons of Omri, and massacred. And you can read about this in 2 Kings 9-10 if you are so inclined. This brutality is said to have been authorized strangely by a true prophet of Yahweh of Israel's God named Elisha or Elisha. And Jehu kills of Ahab's descendants because Ahab is worshiping false gods and brings foreign influences into Israel. According to the biblical sources, Jehu kills Ahab son, Joram, the successor, after he had been wounded in battle with Aram Damascus, this kingdom to the north across the Jordan. In a triumphal inscription, found way up on the northern border of Israel at Tel Dan, the king of Aram-Damascus, whose name is Hazael, claims proudly to have killed Joram, Ahab's son, who would become king of Israel along with the Judah High King that was fought alongside him. And the biblical authors seem to know that this is the truth. Hazael was the one who had done the job in executing Joram. But they needed Jehu, a native Israelite king who was devout and pious and devoted to Israel's God to be the man who wipes out the house of Omri, the house of Ahab. Why? Because it needs to be divine punishment. And then, Jehu can establish himself on the throne as one who is authorized by one Yahweh's prophets, Elisha, to do the job and then becomes a more righteous king in his stead. So, these biblical authors depict Joram being wounded in battle with Hazael and then later finished off by Jehu. So, they can have their cake and eat it too. Hazael, yes, he did something to Joram, but, actually, Jehu is the one who really killed him. Once again, we have here a very slick solution by the biblical authors, and they really do know how to bring sources together and find very expedient solutions to their historical problems. So, Aram-Damascus and Hazael, which I just noted, who wiped out Joram, they won the upper hand over Israel. And much of what the Omrides had achieved was lost during the reign of Jehu, the successor to the Omrides. This included the territories in the Galilee in the Transjordan that the Omrides had conquered and annexed Israel. And many scholars believe that some of the accounts of the successful incursions by the Arameans that the biblical authors date to the time of the Omrides, meaning to the time of Ahab and Joram, actually occurred during this later period. These accounts are found in 1 Kings 20, 22, and 2 King 6. So, what the biblical authors are doing are taking historical events from a later time, from the time of Jehu, the righteous King, and the writer injecting them back into the reign of the evil kings of the Omrides. But historically, it's likely that these incursions, that these great battles that the Arameans fight against Israel and causing great bloodshed, really happened during the reign of the righteous King Jehu.