The first king, Saul (c.1020 BCE), bridged the period between loose tribal organization and the setting up of a full monarchy under his successor, David.
King David (c.1004-965 BCE) established his kingdom as a major power in the region by successful military expeditions, including the final defeat of the Philistines, as well as through a network of friendly alliances with nearby kingdoms. Consequently, his authority was recognized from the borders of Egypt and the Red Sea to the banks of the Euphrates. At home, he united the 12 Israelite tribes into one kingdom and placed his capital, Jerusalem, and the monarchy at the center of the country's national life. Biblical tradition depicts David as a poet and musician, with verses ascribed to him appearing in the Book of Psalms.
David was succeeded by his son Solomon (c.965-930 BCE) who further strengthened the kingdom. Through treaties with neighboring kings, reinforced by politically motivated marriages, Solomon ensured peace for his kingdom and made it equal among the great powers of the age. He expanded foreign trade and promoted domestic prosperity by developing major enterprises, such as copper mining and metal smelting, while building new towns and fortifying old ones of strategic and economic importance.
Crowning his achievements was the building of the Temple in Jerusalem, which became the center of the Jewish people’s national and religious life. The Bible attributes to Solomon the Book of Proverbs and the Song of Songs.
A thumbsized ivory pomegranate bearing a paleo-Hebrew inscription, probably from the First Temple in Jerusalem, 8th century BCE
(The Israel Museum, Jerusalem)