The Kingdom of Israel was not destroyed and exiled in one day. It was a gradual process composed of disintegration and habituation, by both external and internal forces, which dissolved a people who at one time celebrated a thriving society with independence, purpose and freedom.
The disintegration of the Kingdom of Israel and the destruction of the First Temple were made possible by external and internal processes in the political, social, and security fields. They created favorable operating conditions for the enemy to tear the kingdom to pieces. Internal social processes led to a loss of direction, the undermining of the foundation stones, damage to the nation's collective identity and shared values, and factionalism and extremism. All this invited the enemy to destroy the national home and exile its inhabitants to the diaspora.
The internal and external pressures at the time dragged the leadership into dire situations of concessions on values and territories, and ultimately complete surrender, a process that lasted for about 130 years. The people became accustomed to this state of gradual destruction from generation to generation until they no longer maintained sovereignty over the country, their values eroded, they lost a common ground between one another, their political institutions crumbled, and they were cast into exile.
A reminder of the sequence of events
The process of the destruction of the First Temple was staggered and, as mentioned, unfolded over about 130 years. Over that time a number of exiles were decreed against the people of Israel, culminating in mass slaughter and the destruction of Jerusalem. These events are etched into the national, religious consciousness and the Hebrew calendar, in a period called Ben Hametzarim, beginning with the 17th of Tammuz, which marks the siege on Jerusalem, and ending three weeks later with the 9th of Av, the day commemorating the destruction of the Temple.
The first three exiles were executed by an Assyrian king known in the Talmud by different names: Tiglath Plaser, Falnaser, Shalmaneser, Paul, Sargon, Asenfar, Raba, Yakira, and Sennacherib.
In the book Midrash Tadsha, it is written about the first exile: "Paul the king of Assyria came and exiled Reuben and Gad and half the tribe of Manasseh." This is how we lost the east side of the Jordan river. Or if you will - there are two banks of the Jordan, and neither is ours.
The second exile is recorded in the book of Kings II 15, “In the days of King Pekah of Israel, King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria came and captured Ijon, Abel- Beth-Maachah, Janoah, Kedesh, Hazor—Gilead, Galilee, the entire region of Naphtali; and he deported the inhabitants to Assyria.” The Galilee is no longer in Jewish hands.
A third exile is mentioned in the book of Kings II 16:6, “At that time King Rezin of Aram recovered Elath for Aram. He drove out the Judites from Elath, and Edomites came to Elath and settled there, as is still the case.” Nowadays, indeed, Jews have returned to settle in the Eilat region, but we still face a great settlement challenge and a greater governance challenge all over the south of the country. The loss of governance and security could lead to a geographic disconnection between the center of the country and the south, if the land grabbing and the illegal settlement of the Bedouins continue, as well as their violence, terrorism, and crime against Jews.
The fourth exile of Israel is mentioned in the book of Kings II 17:6, “In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria. He deported the Israelites to Assyria and settled them in Halah, at the [River] Habor, at the River Gozan, and in the towns of Media.” This is the exile of the Jews from Samaria. 55 years ago, after the 6-Day War, the people of Israel returned to settle in Samaria after its liberation from the Jordanian occupation. But since the Oslo Accords, another exile from Samaria was imposed on the new Jewish settlers when they were evicted from Ganim, Kadim, Sa-nur, and Chomesh. There is a campaign on areas C and heritage sites in areas A and B that are deliberately created by the Palestinian Authority in the absence of governance and Jewish sovereignty, and in the absence of the Jewish people recognizing that our image was shaped in Samaria.
After the exile in Samaria came the fifth exile, written in the book of Isaiah 5: "And it came to pass in the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, that Sennacherib, king of Assyria, went up against all the fortified cities of Judah, and he fell by the hand of Serivat of Judah." All the southern cities of Judah fell to Sennacherib.
The sixth Exile occurred during the days of Jehoiakim when Nebuchadnezzar exiled Jehoiakim and some of the people who were with him, especially the leadership and the military officers. As it is written in II Chronicles, chapter 30: "Above him, Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon came up; and they imprisoned him, in bronze, for his journey in Babylon."
The seventh exile is known as the exile of Jehoiachin and the exile of the deaf and the blacksmith. The prophet Ezekiel, Daniel, and Mordechai were among those who were exiled. The Talmud in Gitin 88a explains that the deaf and the blacksmith were the class of the disciples of the sages and great Torah scholars in Israel. Their exile by Nebuchadnezzar was part of the dissolution of society and the creation of a separation between religion and state. We are experiencing this loss today, the State of Israel without religion is void of its unique values. It becomes an entity like every other country.
“He exiled all of Jerusalem: all the commanders and all the warriors—ten thousand exiles—as well as all the craftsmen and smiths; only the poorest people in the land were left. He deported Jehoiachin to Babylon, and the king’s mother and wives and officers and the notables of the land were brought as exiles from Jerusalem to Babylon.” Nebuchadnezzar emptied Israel of its uniqueness and purpose by essentially dismantling the foundations of the society which remained weakened, vulnerable, and devoid of content.
The eighth exile came after over a hundred years of this slow destruction wherein parts of the land were lost, there was external pressure and internal polarization, and exile of the people from their country. All that was left for the enemy was to break the heart of the Israeli nation - to destroy Jerusalem, the capital of Israel. On the 9th of Av, Jerusalem was destroyed and with it the kingdom finally fell and many of the people of Israel were killed or exiled. As it is written in Kings II 25:9, “He burned the House of the LORD, the king’s palace, and all the houses of Jerusalem; he burned down the house of every notable person.”
Who learned what?
The enemies of Israel understand even nowadays that the destruction of the State of Israel or the Zionist entity is carried out in stages and over time. All that is needed is patience (saber in Arabic), offensive jihadist determination, and Middle Eastern cunningness that exploits the weakness and innocence of the enemy who is allured with “hudna” and “tahdiya”, temporary arrangements, and illusory agreements that only serve Arab interests.
Look no further than the "phase plans" devised by our Arab enemies in the jubilees of the last years. It was the Egyptians who came up with "Nasser's Phased Plan" during the War of Attrition. There is the most famous "step plan" of the PLO that was accepted at the 12th meeting of the Palestinian National Council in June 1974, devised by the terrorist leader Arafat. It was a strategic plan with ten clear points that detailed how all of “Palestine” will be liberated, and it is still valid to this day. Further examples are the Palestinian construction plan in Area C, which has been carried out even more intensively in recent years, known as "Fiad's phased plan," and of course the unmistakable Hamas strategy of phased attacks on Israel.
In light of these facts, all that remains is to examine the processes and conduct of the Arab parties and the MKs who head them. Under the auspices of the law and with the assistance of post-Zionist parties, they are systematically eroding the principles on which the State of Israel was founded as a Jewish and democratic state, which constitutes a national home for the Jewish people in the Land of Israel. In a word, they are attacking Zionism!
All of these plans and phases, from the time of the kings to the present day, have one purpose - the destruction of Israel. If it does not happen with one crushing blow as has been tried without much success, then it will be done in stages, bit by bit, until society falls apart from within and can no longer withstand the external challenges and pressures.
A domestic contribution to these efforts of dismantling the State of Israel and the Jewish society for which it exists can be found in the ever-growing devaluation of education for the love of the land, its heritage, and Jewish tradition which has persevered despite exile and persecution. We must demand and ask where the "lessons of the motherland" have gone that were formerly part of the educational curriculum.
Why has the value of loving the country been omitted and absent for years from the spirit of the IDF and its values? How is the creeping devaluation of the status of Bible studies allowed, and how is the subject "History of the People of Israel" now part of general history and no longer on its own?
How did "Israel Thought” and the “Oral Tradition” become the property of a few students who choose to study this major instead of the sciences or computers, whereas most students don't learn about Israel's tradition, customs, and the sages of past generations?
The disintegration of our cultural assets, devaluation of professions that distinguish our identity as a people, and our attachment to the Land of Israel is a strategic danger that will harm our resilience and national security. While this is the case among the Jewish citizens of Israel in particular, our Arab enemies, the children of the Palestinian entity invented like the fantasy of the magical "Kingdom of Narnia", are not frozen in their tracks. They systematically invent delusional narratives and cultivate an ethos of terror and myths about martyrs, on which generations of young people are educated. They compare the Zionist Israelis to the Crusaders who led crusades and conquests, massacred everything on their way to the Holy Land, and eventually ruled it for no more than 88 years until they were forced to retreat.
The three weeks before “Tisha B'av” are meant to remind us all of the cliché: "Gentlemen, history repeats itself". It is possible that the names of the people and places, the dates, the means, and the various conditions have changed, but the essence is what is important. It must be taught and understood, lest God forbid we are forced to go into exile again.
The difference is that the State of Israel did gain its renewed independence only 74 years ago, but the people of Israel returned to their homeland and realized the vision of returning to Zion. This is after about two thousand years in exile long before the invention of Christianity and of course Islam, which engraved on its flag the saying: "Muhammad law by the sword".
And despite everything, according to the words of the prophet Jeremiah 3:15-16: "In those days and at that time, I will raise up a true branch of David’s line, and he shall do what is just and right in the land. In those days Judah shall be delivered and Jerusalem shall dwell securely. And this is what she shall be called: “The Lord is our Vindicator.”
*My thanks to my teacher and rabbi, Rabbi Moshe for his contribution and for enlightening my eyes to the sources.
*This article is dedicated to the uplifting of the soul of my friend, the late Yehuda Rubinovitz.
Colonel (res) Tal Braun is a Senior researcher in IDSF (Habithonistim) with an LLB, BA political science, MA military & security studies.