After King David’s son Solomon died in the tenth century B.C., the internal strife and sin divided their single united kingdom into two separate entities. The Northern Kingdom was called Israel and included ten of the twelve tribes: Reuben, Simeon, Manasseh, Issachar, Zebulun, Ephraim, Dan, Asher, Naphtali, and Gad. The Southern Kingdom was called Judah and included the tribes of Benjamin and Judah. Immersed throughout both kingdoms were members of the priestly family of Levi.
Israel didn’t heed any of the warnings to return to God given her by the prophets, and in 722 B.C., Assyria conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel, taking captive and deporting the members of the ten tribes. These tribes dispersed and became absorbed into the surrounding pagan cultures – for the most part. There was a small, nearly-invisible remnant that continued to maintain a form of Jewish identity, many of whom immigrated south into the kingdom of Judah.
In approximately 586 B.C., the Southern Kingdom was conquered by Babylon. The Babylonians destroyed the Temple Solomon built, and took many of the people captive. Around 445 B.C., Nehemiah led a remnant of the Jewish people back to Jerusalem and rebuilt its walls and gates.
Over 500 years later, in 70 A.D., the Romans destroyed the Second Temple and, again, Jewish people were driven from their homeland and dispersed throughout the known world.