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6. Divided Kingdoms and Exile

Image by Ben White

Kid Explanation: Exile

Exile in the Bible was when God's people, the Israelites, were taken away from their homeland to live in another place. This happened because they disobeyed God's rules and didn't worship God the way they were supposed to. During exile, they felt sad and missed their home very much. But even in a strange land, God didn't forget them. God promised to bring them back home one day. 

Before many people were exiled, conquered, and forced to move to new places, the kingdom that Solomon ruled split in two. 

  • The northern kingdom is still named Israel.

  • The southern kingdom is called Judah

In ancient times, there were two kingdoms of Israel: the Northern Kingdom called Israel and the Southern Kingdom known as Judah. The Northern Kingdom, conquered by Assyria, had no "good" kings and faced troubles with rulers like Omri and Ahab, along with Ahab's wife, Jezebel, who worshipped other gods and caused problems for prophets. On the other hand, the Southern Kingdom, conquered by Babylon, had some "good" kings like Asa, Josiah, and Hezekiah, but also faced challenges with rulers like Athaliah, who was just as bad as her mom, Jezebel. Despite these struggles, prophets like Elijah, Elisha, and Isaiah helped guide their people through difficult times.

Image by Mick Haupt


  • Conquered By: Assyria

  • Tribes: Zebulun, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, Dan, Manasseh, Ephraim, Reuben, and Gad

  • Capital: Samaria

  • Prophets: Elijah, Elisha, Amos, Hosea, Jonah, & Nahum

  • First King: Jeroboam


  • The Northern Kingdom had no “good” kings.  They had some REALLY bad ones.

  • OMRI: REALLY BAD! (1 Kings 16:21-28)

  • AHAB: THE WORST! (1 Kings 16:31-34)

  • JEZEBEL: AHAB’S TERRIBLE WIFE! (2 Kings 9:30-37)

  • Today, if a woman is called a “Jezebel,” it means she is an evil, scheming, shameless, or immoral person.


  • Conquered By: Babylon

  • Tribes: Judah and Benjamin

  • Capital: Jerusalem

  • Prophets: Amos, Habakkuk, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Joel, Micah, Obadiah, Zechariah, and Zephaniah

  • First King: Rehoboam (Solomon’s son)


  • The Southern Kingdom had a few “good” kings and several “bad” kings.

  • ASA: GOOD (2 Chronicles 14:1-8)

  • JOSIAH: REALLY GOOD (2 Chronicles 34:1-10

  • HEZEKIAH: AWESOME! (2 Kings 18:5-7)

  • Judah also had a “bad” woman!

  • Athaliah: Daughter of Jezebel and Ahab (2 Kings 11:1-3, 13-16)

Why should you care about dividing kingdoms and exiles?

This matters because much of the Hebrew Scripture is in response to this division. ALL of these books in the Bible are influenced by what happened once the kingdom divided and people were conquered and exiled in both places. 

  1. The Book of Lamentations: This book is a series of laments mourning the destruction of Jerusalem and the suffering of the people during the Babylonian siege and subsequent exile. It reflects on the anguish and despair experienced by the Israelites in captivity.

  2. The Book of Ezekiel: Ezekiel prophesies during the exile, and much of his message is directed toward the exiled Israelites in Babylon. He provides messages of hope, warning, and encouragement, as well as visions of restoration and renewal.

  3. The Book of Isaiah: Isaiah prophesies both before and during the exile, offering words of judgment for Israel's sins and warnings of the impending exile. However, Isaiah also speaks of future restoration and redemption, offering hope to the exiled people.

  4. The Books of Ezra and Nehemiah: These books recount the return of the exiles from Babylon to Jerusalem and the efforts to rebuild the city and the temple. They reflect on the challenges faced by the returning exiles and their efforts to reestablish their community and worship.

  5. The Psalms of Exile: Many of the Psalms were composed during or in response to the exile, expressing the emotions, struggles, and faith of the people during this difficult time. Psalms of lament, longing for Jerusalem, and prayers for deliverance are common themes in these Psalms.

  6. The Prophetic Books: Various prophets, including Jeremiah, Daniel, and others, address the exile and its implications in their messages. They speak of the reasons for the exile, the consequences of disobedience, and the hope for future restoration.

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