Why did the North and South divide into two kingdoms?

As you might imagine, scholars are divided about whether Israel was divided into two kingdoms, whether David and Solomon existed, and more. 

The biblical explanation is that the south and north divided into a great kingdom (Israel) and a smaller Kingdom (Judah) because of Solomon’s taxing policies and his relationship to the priesthood. Internecine strife among David’s children further divided the single monarchy. 

However, Israel Finkelstein’s archeological findings have cast some doubt on that story. He argued for a “low chronology”  in which David was a “small chieftain” over a loose southern group that had no connection to the more powerful northern kingdom. While we have records of building projects and international alliances associated with powerful northern kings Omri and Ahab, he finds no sense that Judah emerged as a full-fledged nation state until after the north fell. He believes the south may have been a vassal of the north, whose removal allowed it to blossom. That would make many of the stories of David and Solomon, including Solomon’s legendary great works, a nostalgic fiction about a united past that never existed. Some adherents to Finkelstein’s arguments see the “united monarchy as fabricated during the Babylonian Exile (Links to an external site.) transforming David and Solomon from local folk heroes (Links to an external site.) into rulers of international status.” (quote is from the Wikipedia entry on the divided monarchy). This goes along with the general themes I have put forward in this class, which is that the united past described in Genesis and Exodus was constructed to create a unifying fiction for a diverse post-exile group. Others believe Josiah himself created the fiction to justify his territorial expansion. 

An archeologist named Eliat Mazar discovered evidence of structures she believes support the existence of David’s Kingdom, which has resulted in a “modified low chronology.” Archeologist William Dever has criticized Finkelstein’s findings and supports the idea of a divided monarchy. Other archeologists remain divided among the three camps.

The Wikipedia entry on the divided monarchy is quite useful. I am not one of those who believe we should not use Wikipedia; however, citing encyclopedias in general in research is less helpful than going to the original sources. Here are some ideas for further reading: 

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