The article addresses the controversial issue of the formation of "biblical Israel" in biblical historiography. It begins by presenting the political-cultural struggle between Assyria and Babylonia in the second and first millennia BCE, in part over
the question of ownership of the cultural patrimony of ancient Mesopotamia. It goes on to examine relations between Judah and Israel and compares them to those between Assyria and Babylonia. It then suggests that the adoption of the Israelite
identity by Judah, which took place during the reign of Josiah as part in his cultic reform, was motivated by the desire to take possession of the highly prestigious heritage of Israel, which had remained vacant since that kingdom’s annexation by
Assyria in 720 BCE.