(Haaretz) In the 10th century B.C.E., the Israelite tribes were led by judges, but cried out against them, and yearned for a leader. Samuel warned them of the follies of kings: "And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you". Yet Saul was elected anyway, and would be followed by King David and his wise son Solomon. These kings created a powerful United Monarchy stretching from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River. So goes the biblical story (Samuel 8:1-14).
Yet no archaeological evidence has been found that even remotely supports the grandeur described in the biblical accounts of David and Solomon, who ostensibly reigned between 1050 B.C.E. and 930 B.C.E. The only material sign of the kings' existence is controversial too: a stele found in northern Israel, from the mid-9th century B.C.E., inscribed with the words "House of David." But not everyone agrees that's what the stone even says.
According to the Bible, after David assumed the throne and conquered Jerusalem from the Jebusites, he consolidated the kingdom, including by conquering Edom. David's son Solomon took it further, building up Jerusalem and the Temple and entering into political alliances. After Solomon died, in around 930 B.C.E., his son Rehoboam was unable to hold the kingdom together: it split into Israelite and Judahite entities fighting each other.
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Is that what happened? Did a great United Monarchy take form, chiefly under David, develop further under his son, and then fall apart?