Northern Israel was much more tolerant of other gods [small “g”] than Judah. They allowed temples to be built, priests to practice, the people to choose the form of religion they would accept, and the royalty encouraged these religions by intermarrying with their kings right up until the time they had to flee the land ahead of invaders. Judah, with its hereditary priesthood and written codes, only put up with it for so long, then they swept it all away, making temple worship the only legally permitted religion in the land, although laws were routinely broken by the entire population. There was more at stake than just religion, however.
The temple at the time of the kings was also what we would call civil government today. The priests were the teachers, judges, lawyers, doctors, scribes, record-keepers, and social services administrators of the kingdom. Everything was done “by the book” and that book was the Book of Moses.
The problem with allowing pagan temples and priests to practice freely was that the Phoenicians brought their own laws with them and bound those laws on everyone equally, whether they were Israelites or their own people. It didn’t take very long before they were the only law in Israel, and the local religion fell into ruins, along with the law, the priests, and all the services the priests provided. The country went into chaos followed by anarchy as the two factions fought an undocumented war about whose authority was legitimate. With the sitting queen being from the pagan people, that was a losing battle for the Israelites.
The priesthood in Judea had a much deeper investment in losing their positions than the priesthood in northern Israel. They also had a lot of help from the prophets.
“And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.” (1 Kings 18:21)
Then Elijah went to Ahab, king of northern Israel, and set up a test to see which god had the power. He called for a show-down in the mountains between himself representing the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the prophets of Ba’al. He had the people set up an altar stacked with wood and gave the first turn to the priest of Ba’al. They performed all their dances and rites before the altar all day, but nothing happened. Then, toward evening, Elijah had them pour water on the wood, repeat that process several times, then prayed and threw incense on the wood and it sprang into flames and burned with such fierceness that the stones were reduced to powder. The people were so convinced that they rushed the city where Ahab and Jezebel lived. One of the servants who followed the God of Israel threw Jezebel out the window, killing her, and her body was eaten by the dogs. Jezebel was a daughter of the Phoenicians, not of Israel. But the death of Jezebel didn’t end the problem. Her daughter (or as some say, granddaughter), Athaliah, married the king of Judah and the same problem of religious gridlock played out again.
And so the queens of both Israel and Judah gave political power to the external religions of that area, causing confusion and eventually the destruction of both nations. The destruction of northern Israel came about through loss of the knowledge of the laws that provided them with the wealth necessary for the land to support a large population, including the land Sabbaths. The German people have a law that says that, if anyone cuts down one tree, they must plant two others in its place. There is only one place where the loss of forestation contributed to the desertification of the land, and that is in the mountains that were assigned to the half-tribe of Joseph. The total confidence of the German people that they are a superior race would also reinforce the hereditary political standing of the tribe of Ephraim in Israel. It is very likely that the Germans are the present-day tribe of Ephraim.
Judea, however, is very clearly changed with the failure to observe the land Sabbaths, stated unequivocally as the cause of the Babylonian Captivity, yet when they returned to their land after their masters in Babylon complained bitterly to the Persians about the cost of feeding and maintaining the captives, they continued to ignore the land Sabbaths because of the poverty under which they lived. The land had been completely wasted through neglect and erosion by that time.
“Environmental stewardship of the land” has become a prime subject of study around the world today, but the knowledge of how to maintain good, fertile land is described in a book that can be found in almost every household in the lands to which the Israelites were scattered. The basis of soil fertility is not plants. It is fungus that grows around the roots of plants. When the soil does not rest in the seventh year, and the choice of which year is designated the seventh year is not arbitrary, then the fungus that coats the roots, especially the fungus that fixes nitrogen, is weakened and depleted so that it does not provide enough nutrients to feed the necessary quantity of bacteria, which in turn does not provide the nutrients to feed the earthworms whose castings enrich the ground and feed the fungus, completing the cycle.
There is no environmental law attached to the moon-based calendar. The Law of Moses as defined by the calendar found at Qumran is the only one that takes into account the cycles on earth toward the increase of the fertility of the soil and sustainability of the source of all wealth, which is production of food for the soil micro-organisms, mankind and beasts. Everything else can be substituted by crops, stone or wood, but not food, and it was the influence of the Phoenician religion that diverted the use of this these laws from the Israelites, which was given as a warning to Moses before the people ever got into the land on their journey from Egypt. Baalam, king of the Phoenicians in Tyre, was only the first, and showed the way to pervert Israel from their God to all the generations of the tribes surrounding Israel. Return to that calendar and those laws of sustainability is the only way to regenerate the wealth of Israel and its people.