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Kingdom of Judah
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Kingdom of Judah

In the Old Testament, the Kingdom of Judah (Hebrew: ממלכות יהודה - Mamlakut Yəhdhāh) was the nation formed from the territories of the tribes of Judah, Simeon and Benjamin after the Kingdom of Israel was divided, and was named after Judah son of Jacob (Israel). The name Judah itself is derived from Y(e)huda meaning Praise.

Judah is often referred to as the Southern Kingdom to distinguish it from the Northern Kingdom (being the Kingdom of Israel) after the division of the Kingdom. Its capital was Jerusalem. See History of ancient Israel and Judah.

This article is about what the Bible says. For how this relates to history, see the Bible and history.

When the disruption took place at Shechem, at first only the tribe of Judah followed the house of David. But very soon after the tribe of Benjamin joined the tribe of Judah, and Jerusalem became the capital of the new kingdom (Joshua 18:28), which was called the kingdom of Judah.

For the first sixty years the kings of Judah aimed at re-establishing their authority over the kingdom of the other ten tribes, so that there was a state of perpetual war between them. For the following eighty years there was no open war between them. For the most part they were in friendly alliance, co-operating against their common enemies, especially against Damascus. For about another century and a half Judah had a somewhat checkered existence after the termination of the kingdom of Israel till its final overthrow in the destruction of the temple (586 BC) by Nebuzar-adan, who was captain of Nebuchadnezzar's body-guard (2 Kings 25:8-21).

The kingdom maintained a separate existence for three hundred and eighty-nine years. It occupied an area of 8,900 km; (3,435 square miles).

The kings of Judah

For this period, most historians follow either the chronology established by William F. Albright or Edwin R. Thiele, both of which are shown below. All dates are BC/BCE.

Albright dates Thiele dates Common/Biblical Name Regnal name and style Notes
922-915 931-913 Rehoboam רהבעם בן-שלמוה מלך יהודה
Rehbem ben Shelmoh, Melek Yahudah
Hitherto king of Israel.
915-913 913-911 Abijam אבים בן-רהבעם מלך יהודה
Abyam ben Rehbem, Melek Yahudah
 
913-873 911-870 Asah אסא בן-אבים מלך יהודה
As’a ben ’Abyam;, Melek Yahudah
 
873-849 870-848 Jehoshaphat יהושפט בן-אסא מלך יהודה
Yehoshafat ben ’As’a;, Melek Yahudah
 
849-842 848-841 Jehoram יהורם בן-יהושפט מלך יהודה
Yehoram ben Yehoshafat, Melek Yahudah
Killed
842-842 841-841 Ahaziah אחויהו בן-יהורם מלך יהודה
’Achazyhu ben Yehoram;, Melek Yehudah
Killed by Yehu, King of Israel
842-837 841-835 Athaliah עטליתו בת-עמרי מלכח יהודה
Athalyhu bet Omry, Melika Yehudah
Queen Mother, wife of Jehoram; died in a coup
837-800 835-796 Jehoash יהואש בן-אחויהו מלך יהודה
Yehu’ash ben ’Achazyhu;, Melek Yahudah
killed by his servants
800-783 796-767 Amaziah אמציה בן-יהואש מלך יהודה
’Amatzyah ben Yehu’ash;, Melek Yahudah
Assassinated
783-742 767-740 Uzziah or Azariah עזיה בן-אמציה מלך יהודה
Uzyah ben ’Amatzyah;, Melek Yahudah
עזריה בן-אמציה מלך יהודה
Uzaryah ben ’Amatzyah;, Melek Yahudah
George Syncellus wrote that the First Olympiad took place in Uzziah's 48th regnal year.
742-735 740-732 Jotham יותם בן-עזיה מלך יהודה
Yutham ben Uzyah, Melek Yahudah
 
735-715 732-716 Ahaz אחז בן-יותם מלך יהודה
’Achaz ben Yutham;, Melek Yahudah
The Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser III records he received tribute from Ahaz; compare 2 Kings 16:7-9. Fate unknown
715-687 716-687 Hezekiah הזקיה בן-אחז מלך יהודה
Hizqiyah ben ’Achaz;, Melek Yahudah
Contemporary with Sennacherib of Assyria, and Merodach-baladan of Babylon (but see note 1 below).
687-642 687-643 Manasseh מנשה בן-הזקיה מלך יהודה
Manasheh ben Hizqiyah, Melek Yahudah
 
642-640 643-641 Amon אמון בן-מנשה מלך יהודה
’Amon ben Manasheh;, Melek Yahudah
Assassinated
640-609 641-609 Josiah יאשיהו בן-אמון מלך יהודה
Y’ashyahu ben ’Amon;, Melek Yahudah
Died in battle against Necho II of Egypt.
609 609 Jehoahaz or Ahaz יהואחז בן-יאשיהו מלך יהודה
Yehu’achaz ben Y’ashyahu;, Melek Yahudah
אחז בן-יאשיהו מלך יהודה
’Achaz ben Y’ashyahu;, Melek Yahudah
 
609-598 609-598 Jehoiakim יהויקים בן-יהואחז מלך יהודה
Yehuyaqim ben Yehu’achaz;, Melek Yahudah
The Battle of Carchemish occurred in the fourth year of his reign (Jeremiah 46:2).
598 598 Jehoiachin or Jeconiah יהויכין בן-יהויקים מלך יהודה
Yehuychyn ben Yehuyaqim, Melek Yahudah יכניהו בן-יהויקים מלך יהודה
Yekonyhu ben Yehuyaqim, Melek Yahudah
Perhaps reigned from March to May as 2 Chronicles 36:10 suggests. Called 'Jeconiah' in Jeremiah and Esther
597-587 597-586 Zedekiah צדקיהו בן-יהויכין מלך יהודה
Tzidqiyahu ben Yehuychyn, Melek Yahudah
The last king of Judah. Deposed, blinded and sent into exile. Fate unknown. See note 2 below.

Notes:-

1. Hezekiah was contemporary with Sennacherib of Assyria, and Merodach-baladan of Babylon. There is some question whether these kings can provide a reliable synchronism for his reign: Al-Biruni and Bar-Hebraeus mention a "King Sennacherib the Less" as well. Furthermore, there was another king named Merodakh Baladan ben Baladan, also known as Mardokempad. (Ptolemy assumed, without any reason, that Mordac Empadus was contemporary with King Hezekiah.) These two Baladans remained pretenders during Sennacherib's reign, therefore it is not easy to identify their regnal years as Ptolemy attempted. According to Robert R. Newton (The Crime of Claudius Ptolemy, 1977), this ancient scholar frequently attributed some observations to certain years of some kings for the sake of simplicity in his tabulation, but those were not part of the original observations. Newton also asserts Ptolemy often contrived astronomical data in order to support his own theories.

2. Zedekiah rebelled twice: in the first rebellion (597 BC), Nebuchadnezzar II captured Jerusalem, and took most of its leaders into exile. In the second rebellion (588586 BC), Jerusalem was captured after a lengthy siege, the temple burnt, Zedekiah taken into exile and Judah was reduced to a province. Nebuchadnezzar had left Gedaliah as his governor, who was killed in one last revolt, and the few members of the ruling classes left from the kingdom of Judah took the prophets Jeremiah and Baruch with them as they fled to sanctuary in Egypt.

From the end of the Kingdom to Present Time

After the end of the ancient kingdom the area passed into foreign rule, apart from brief periods, under the following powers:-

587–c. 539 BC: Persians

332305 BC: Macedonians

305141 BC: Seleucids

14163 BC: The Hasmonean State in Palestine

6337 BC: Roman province of Judaea

37 BCAD 44: The Herodian Kingdom of Judaea

44: Roman province of Judaea

4493: The Herodian Kingdom of Judaea

44395: Roman Empire

395634: Byzantine Empire

6341516: Caliphate with Crusader state intervals

15161917: Ottoman Turks

19181948: British under League of Nations mandate

May 1948 to present: independent State of Israel

See Also