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Israel, Kingdom of

The division of the house of Israel into two kingdoms at approximately 925 B.C. had been prophesied by Ahijah (1 Kgs. 11:31–35). The immediate cause was a revolt of the people against the heavy taxes levied by Solomon and his son Rehoboam. Ten tribes formed the northern kingdom, with headquarters at Shechem in Samaria. They were known as Israel, or the northern kingdom, or Ephraim, since Ephraim was the dominant group among them. Their first king was Jeroboam, an Ephraimite; he was followed later by such kings as Omri and Ahab (who ruled with his Phoenician wife Jezebel). The southern kingdom, consisting of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, was headquartered at Jerusalem.

The northern kingdom soon went into apostasy and adopted many practices of Baalism, notwithstanding the ministries of such great prophets as Elijah and Amos. After a history of over 200 years and a series of 19 kings, the kingdom was captured by the Assyrians and the people carried away captive into Assyria. They have therefore become known as the “lost ten tribes.”

Since their captivity they have never yet returned to their homeland, but extensive promises and prophecies speak of the time when they of the “north countries” shall return when they are ready to obey the gospel. The gathering of the lost tribes is to be a more spectacular event than the children of Israel coming out of Egypt in Moses’ day. Prophecies of their return are: Isa. 11:10–16; Jer. 3:18; 16:14–21; 1 Ne. 22:4–12; 2 Ne. 10:21–22; 3 Ne. 15:13–15; 16:1–5; D&C 133:26–35.