Current scholarly debate over the historical character of David’s rule generally considers the biblical portrait to represent David as king of Judah first, and subsequently over “all Israel.” The ninth-century Tel Dan inscription, which refers to the “House of David” (byt dwd), is often taken as evidence for the dynasty of Judah. Mahri Leonard-Fleckman argues that references to Judah in the story of David as king do not suffice to constitute a coherent stratum of material about Judah as a political entity. Comparing the “house of . . .” terminology in the ninth-century Tel Dan inscription with early first-millennium Assyrian usage, then giving close examination to the “house of David” materials in 2 Samuel and 1 Kings, she understands the “house of David” as a small body politic connected to David, but distinct from any Judean dynastic context.
One implication is that the identification of Judah as a later southern kingdom may have less to do with an Israelite secession from Jerusalem than with an Israelite rejection of David’s lineage and the subsequent redactional creation of Judah-centric language on the part of a Davidic coterie.