Israel is divided. Over time, many kings rule over the Israelites, and most of them are unfaithful. Jerusalem is destroyed by the Babylonians
JUST as Jehovah had foretold, Israel was divided after Solomon defected from pure worship. His son and successor, Rehoboam, was harsh. In response, ten of Israel’s tribes revolted and formed the northern kingdom of Israel. Two tribes remained loyal to the king on David’s throne in Jerusalem, forming the southern kingdom of Judah.
Both kingdoms had a tumultuous history, largely on account of faithless and disobedient kings. Israel fared even worse than Judah, for its kings promoted false worship from the start. Despite the powerful works of such prophets as Elijah and Elisha—both of whom even resurrected the dead—Israel kept reverting to a wicked course. Finally, God allowed the northern kingdom to be destroyed by Assyria.
Judah lasted a little more than a century longer than Israel, but it too faced divine punishment. Only a few Judean kings responded to the warnings of God’s prophets and tried to lead the nation back to Jehovah. King Josiah, for example, began to cleanse Judah of false worship and restored Jehovah’s temple. When an original copy of God’s Law given through Moses was found, Josiah was deeply moved and therefore intensified his campaign of reform.
Sadly, though, Josiah’s successors did not follow that king’s good example. Jehovah thus allowed the nation of Babylon to conquer Judah, destroying Jerusalem and its temple. The survivors were taken into exile in Babylon. God foretold that the exile would last 70 years. Judah lay desolate for all that time—until, as promised, the nation was allowed to return to its own soil.
However, no more kings in David’s line would rule until the reign of the promised Deliverer, the foretold Messiah. Most of the kings who had sat on David’s throne in Jerusalem proved that imperfect humans are not qualified to rule. Only the Messiah would be truly qualified. Jehovah thus said to the last of those Davidic kings: “Lift off the crown. . . . It will certainly become no one’s until he comes who has the legal right, and I must give it to him.”—Ezekiel 21:26, 27.