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The nation of Israel was composed of the descendants of the twelve sons of Jacob (or Israel, as he was named by God in Genesis 32:28 and Genesis 35:10). Those twelve sons (in the order of their births, as indicated starting in Genesis 29:32) were Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, and Benjamin. The twelve tribes of Israel were named after those sons, with each tribe being composed of those who were descended from that particular son. The nation of Israel remained united through the reign of King Solomon, with its capital in Jerusalem. However, after Solomon's death, when Solomon's son Rehoboam attempted to succeed him, ten of the twelve tribes revolted against Rehoboam, because he indicated that he would be harsher on them than Solomon had been (1 Kings 12). Only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin remained loyal to Rehoboam. The tribes that revolted set themselves up as a separate nation (still called by the collective name Israel, or the house of Israel, or the Northern Kingdom), with their capital in Samaria, and Jeroboam -- whom God had originally raised up as a rival to Solomon (as noted in 1 Kings 11) as a judgment on the idolatry and forsaking of God that characterized the later years of Solomon's reign -- as their king. The two tribes who stayed loyal to Rehoboam were thereafter collectively referred to simply as Judah or the house of Judah (rather than Judah and Benjamin), or the Southern Kingdom. The remainder of the book of 1 Kings, as well as the book of 2 Kings, in the Bible relates the subsequent history of those two kingdoms.
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