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This article is about the nation. You may be looking for the Tribe of Judah or the Patriarch, from whom the tribe of Judah descended.

Judah was an ancient kingdom established after a civil war that split the united kingdom of Israel. It was established around 930 BC and lasted until 586 BC when it was left in ruins by the forced exile of its people by the Kingdom of Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar. Although the northern kingdom of Israel kept the name "Israel", Judah was the true successor of the united monarchy, as it continued to be ruled by the God-appointed House of David, and continued to worship God in the Temple at Jerusalem.


While the Kingdom of Judah is referred to by the name of Judah, its dominant and majority tribe, it also included the greater portion of the tribal territory of Benjamin. The tribe of Simeon, whose territorial allotment was within the tribe of Judah's would also have been included, although it was a smaller tribe. The tribe of Levi had several cities within Judah's territory, and Jerusalem, the location of the Temple where many of the priests and Levites served, was also located in Judah. The Levites in Israel who remained faithful to God also fled to Judah shortly after the kingdoms were divided. Moreover, godly members of every Israelite tribe continued to flee to Judah throughout its history, as Judah was usually more faithful to God than Israel. So, all twelve tribes of Israel had a presence in Judah.

Division of the kingdom[]

United Monarchy[]

All twelve tribes of Israel were part of a single kingdom under the reigns of Saul, David, and Solomon, a period of Israelite history called the "United Monarchy." Even so, there was still a division recognized between Judah and the rest of Israel during this period.[1] When Saul died, David, a member of the tribe of Judah, became king. He was initially only king of the tribe of Judah and reigned in Hebron,[2] fighting a civil war against Saul's son Ish-bosheth.[3] Eventually David, who God had appointed to be king,[4] prevailed and became king of all Israel.[5]

However, divisions persisted between Judah and the rest of Israel during David's reign. The tribe of Judah was considered to be more loyal than the rest of Israel to their kinsman David,[6] and the rest of Israel resented the close access that the men of Judah had to David. At a vulnerable point in David's reign, a Benjaminite named Sheba attempted to revolt and much of Israel followed him, but Judah remained loyal to David.[7] A civil war was narrowly avoided when Sheba was killed.[8]

Prophecy of the divided kingdom[]

Under the reign of David's son Solomon, Israel reached its greatest ever level of territory and prosperity. But while Solomon began as a righteous king, in his old age he no longer followed God alone.[9] So, God spoke to Solomon, telling him that the kingdom would be torn from him and given to one of his servants.[10] Nevertheless, for the sake of Solomon's father David, God would not make this happen during Solomon's day,[11] and God would leave one tribe for Solomon's son.[12]

The beneficiary of this division was to be a man named Jeroboam the son of Nebat, a member of the tribe of Ephraim, whom Solomon had placed in charge of forced labour from the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh.[13] One day as Jeroboam was walking outside Jerusalem, a prophet named Ahijah the Shilonite met him and prophesied that God would tear the kingdom out of the hands of Solomon's son, and would give 10 tribes to Jeroboam.[14] Ahijah told Jeroboam that if Jeroboam kept God's commandments, God would give him a dynasty like he gave to David.[15] The House of David would be punished, but not forever.[16] When Solomon heard of this, he sought to kill Jeroboam, but Solomon could not stop what God had set in motion, and Jeroboam escaped to Egypt.[17]

Rehoboam's folly[]

Solomon died in 931 BC, and his son Rehoboam succeeded him as king.[18] Rehoboam then went to Shechem, where an assembly was gathered to officially proclaim him king.[19] Hearing that Solomon had died, Jeroboam also came up to Shechem and led negotiations with Rehoboam on behalf of Israel. The people told Rehoboam that Solomon had given them heavy service, but if Rehoboam lightened the load, they would serve him.[20] Rehoboam asked the people for three days to answer, and he went and took counsel with his advisors. First he took counsel with the old men who had been Solomon's advisors, and they advised him to agree to the people's terms, as this would make them loyal subjects for his whole reign.[21] But Rehoboam disregarded their advice and instead took counsel from the young men who had grown up with him. They advised him to make a show of strength, and tell the people that he would give them even harder service, combined with harsher punishments.[22] Rehoboam foolishly followed this advice, and gave a harsh answer to the people. Hearing this, the people revolted.[23] Rehoboam sought to restore order by sending Hadoram, the official in charge of forced labour, but the people stoned him to death. Rehoboam had to flee to Jerusalem, where he continued to reign over the people of Judah,[24] but the 10 northern tribes made Jeroboam king of Israel. This is how Israel and Judah became two separate nations.


Reign of Rehoboam[]

The early history of the Kingdom of Judah was marked by repeated conflict with Israel. Initially, Rehoboam sought to reconquer Israel and assembled an army of 180,000 to invade.[25] But God sent the prophet Shemaiah to command him not to go to war against his relatives, for the turn of events had come from God. Rehoboam listened to Shemaiah and did not invade.[26] Nevertheless, Rehoboam placed a large emphasis on strengthening Judah's defenses throughout his reign, by fortifying cities, building fortresses and towers, and strengthening the military's equipment. This allowed him to keep his control over Judah and Benjamin.[27]

In the meantime, Jeroboam was reigning over Israel in a very wicked manner. He had wanted to prevent his people from coming to Rehoboam's territory in Jerusalem to worship at the temple, so he instead made two golden calves as idols for the people to worship. Instead of the rightful priests and Levites leading worship, he appointed his own priests. This caused the priests and Levites to flee to Judah from Israel,[28] and many other faithful Israelites did too,[29] strengthening Rehoboam and his kingdom. For three years, Rehoboam faithfully followed God and was strong.[30]

However, after Rehoboam became strong he began abandoning the laws of God.[31] During this time he permitted idolatry to flourish in Judah, as the people had also turned away from God. Because of their unfaithfulness, in 926 BC God allowed Pharaoh Shishak of Egypt to invade Judah.[32] Shishak defeated several cities and advanced all the way to Jerusalem.[33] Then, after hearing a message from the prophet Shemaiah, Rehoboam and the leaders of Judah repented of their sin, and God did not allow Jerusalem to be conquered or Judah to be destroyed.[34] Nevertheless, Judah had to pay a heavy tribute to Egypt to make Shishak turn back.[35]

Reign of Abijam[]

Rehoboam died in 915 BC, and his son Abijam (also called Abijah) succeeded him as king.[36] He continued in the sins of his father, and idolatry continued to flourish in Judah.[37] Despite this, Abijam continued to at least acknowledge God, and proper worship continued to be conducted in the Temple, which is more than what could be said about Israel at that time.[38] Under Abijam's reign, Judah continued to have conflict with Israel. Ahead of a battle against Jeroboam and Israel at Mount Zemaraim, Abijam made a speech to Jeroboam and Israel urging them not to fight. He said that God was on the side of Judah, as he was a descendant of David, whom God had given a dynasty.[39] He condemned the golden calf idolatry of Israel, and pointed to the fact that Judah was ministered by God's rightful priests and maintained God's rightful worship in the Temple as evidence that if the two armies fought, God would be on the side of Judah.[40] Yet despite Abijam's speech, Jeroboam, whose army was twice the size of the army of Judah, set an ambush against Abijam and attacked Judah.[41] But the people of Judah cried out to God, and God gave them victory over the larger army of Israel.[42]

Overall, Rehoboam and Abijam were not especially good kings, but they were much better than their counterparts in Israel.

Reign of Asa[]

Abijam died in 912 BC, and his son Asa succeeded him as king.[43] Unlike Rehoboam and Abijam, Asa walked in the ways of his ancestor David, and was considered to be a good and righteous king.[44] Asa ushered in a period of religious reform in Judah, and removed the idolatry that his fathers had allowed to flourish from the land.[45] God gave Judah a period of peace and rest during the beginning of Asa's reign, which he used to strengthen Judah's defenses. But around the year 896 BC, Judah was invaded by a vast Ethiopian army, numbering one million soldiers.[46] But despite being significantly outnumbered, Judah defeated the Ethiopians because Asa cried to God for help.[47]

The conflict between Judah and Israel continued throughout Asa's reign. At one point Israel came all the way to Ramah, which is only around 8 kilometres from Jerusalem, and built up the city, intending to shut Asa in Jerusalem and prevent anyone from entering or leaving.[48] Instead of relying on God when faced with this threat, Asa went and formed an alliance with Ben-Hadad king of Syria, and the Syrians invaded northern Israel, forcing the Israelites to abandon Ramah.[49] Despite the political success of this alliance, God condemned it through the prophet Hanani, who said that if Asa had trusted God, both Israel and Syria could have been given into the hands of Judah.[50] Asa did not take the prophet's messsage well and arrested him, and Judah experienced a decline throughout Asa's last years, as he began oppressing some of the people.[51] Nevertheless, when Asa died he was still considered to be a largely righteous and well-respected king.

Reign of Jehoshaphat[]

Asa died in 871 BC, and his son Jehoshaphat succeeded him as king.[52] Jehoshaphat was also a good and righteous king. Continuing and expanding on the legacy of his father Asa's religious reforms, Jehoshaphat was even more zealous. It was not enough to just remove idolatry from the land; in the third year of of his reign Jehoshaphat sent priests and Levites throughout all his cities to teach the Law of God to the people.[53] Under Jehoshaphat Judah became one of the most powerful states in the region, conquering Edom and collecting tribute from the Philistines and the Arabians.[54] Judah's increased power, prosperity, and security was a result of God's blessing on Jehoshaphat because he was so faithful.[55]

The hostility between Judah and Israel initially continued during the reign of Jehoshaphat, but eventually Jehoshaphat made an alliance with Ahab king of Israel.[56] To seal the alliance, Jehoshaphat's son Jehoram married Ahab's daughter Athaliah. While the alliance secured peace between Israel and Judah for many years, it later proved to be disastrous. While Jehoshaphat was a godly king, Ahab and his sons were very wicked, and their influence eventually led Judah to turn to false gods. Judah's alliance to Israel extended to joint military ventures. In 853 BC, Jehoshaphat went to visit Ahab in Samaria, and Ahab convinced him to join in an attack on Syria in an attempt to take Ramoth-Gilead back for Israel.[57] Ahead of the battle, Jehoshaphat asked Ahab to find a prophet to inquire of God, but Ahab only brought his large band of false prophets, who declared that they would defeat the Syrians.[58] Jehoshaphat recognized that these were not true prophets, so he persisted and eventually Ahab brought in Micaiah, a true prophet of God whom Ahab had imprisoned. Micaiah did not bow to political pressure to make an optimistic statement, and instead prophesied that Ahab would be killed in the battle.[59] Despite this prophecy, Ahab and Jehoshaphat still went to the battle. Ahab told Jehoshaphat to wear his royal robes, while Ahab would disguise himself as a common soldier.[60] In the battle, the Syrians thought Jehoshaphat was the king of Israel, so they concentrated their attack on him. But Jehoshaphat cried out to God for help, and He rescued him.[61] Despite Ahab's disguise, a random shot from a Syrian archer killed him, and the coalition of Israel and Judah lost the battle.[62] When Jehoshaphat returned to Judah, the prophet Jehu the son of Hanani admonished him for allying with the wicked king Ahab, but said that God still found good in him.[63]

Later in his reign, Jehoshaphat set about to reform the judicial system in Judah. He appointed judges throughout all the cities of Judah, charging them to ensure that they did not show partiality or take bribes.[64] He also appointed a high court in Jerusalem, to rule on the most disputed cases, and again emphasized to the judges the need to fear God in their decisions.[65] Moreover, Jehoshaphat himself went on a tour of Judah, going from town to town throughout his entire territory to bring his people back to God.[66]

During Jehoshaphat's reign, a great coalition of Moabites, Ammonites, Meunites, and men from Mount Seir attacked Judah, marching through Edom (which was under Judah's possession.[67] In this battle Jehoshaphat and all Judah displayed strong trust in God. He prayed to God for deliverance from the horde,[68] and God spoke through the prophet Jahaziel, telling them not to be afraid.[69] Judah was told that they would not need to even fight the battle, for God would fight for them.[70] Instead, Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah went out, and they sang praises to God.[71] While they were singing, God caused the nations of the coalition to fight against and destroy each other, and Judah took all the spoil.[72]

During Jehoshaphat's reign, Judah's territory was extended significantly southward, reaching the Red Sea at Ezion-Geber. Jehoshaphat allied with Ahab's son King Ahaziah of Israel in an attempt to open trade routes to Tarshish, but God did not approve of the joint venture with an evil king, and the ships were destroyed before they could leave.[73]

Reign of Jehoram[]

Jehoshaphat died in 849 BC, and his son Jehoram succeeded him as king.[74] Unlike his godly father, Jehoram was a very evil king. He murdered all of his brothers to wipe out and potential rivals for the throne.[75] He was married to Athaliah the daughter of Ahab king of Israel, and he walked in the ways of Ahab.[76] He forsook God and promoted idolatry. Under Jehoram's reign, Edom revolted from Judah.[77] The city of Libnah also revolted in response to Jehoram apostasy.[78] Judah also experienced raids from the Philistines and the Arabians, peoples who had previously given tribute to Judah.[79] The raiders also killed all of Jehoram's sons except the youngest. Because Jehoram refused to repent, God struck his bowels with a painful disease, and he died in agony to no one's regret.[80]

Reign of Ahaziah[]

Jehoram died in 842 BC, and his only surviving son, Ahaziah, succeeded him as king.[81] Like his father, Ahaziah was an evil king. He was also a weak man, who followed the advice of his mother Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab.[82] He also brought other relatives from the House of Ahab to Judah to be his counsellors, and they gave him wicked and foolish advice, which he followed.[83] Judah remained allied to Israel, and in 841 BC Ahaziah led Judah to join King Joram of Israel in again attempting to reconquer Ramoth-Gilead from Syria. The battle went poorly, and Joram was wounded and went to the city of Jezreel to recover.[84] Ahaziah went to Jezreel to visit Joram, at just the time God was brining judgement on the House of Ahab, and Ahaziah was included in that judgement. God had appointed one of Joram's commanders, Jehu, to become the new king of Israel,[85] and he arrived in Jezreel while Ahaziah was visiting Joram. Ahaziah and Joram met Jehu in their chariots, and Jehu killed Joram with a bow and arrow and severely wounded Ahaziah. He managed to flee, but died of his wounds in Megiddo.[86]

Tyranny of Athaliah[]

When Ahaziah's mother, Athaliah, heard that her son was dead, she seized power for herself, by murdering all of Ahaziah's sons.[87] In three generations, the House of David had almost completely been exterminated: Jehoram had murdered all the other sons of Jehoshaphat, the Arabians had killed all the sons of Jehoram except Ahaziah, and Athaliah had murdered all the sons of Ahaziah - except one. One of Ahaziah's sisters, Jehosheba, rescued his youngest son Joash, who was still an infant, from the massacre, and hid him from Athaliah.[88] But Judah was ruled by Athaliah for six years.[89] A member of the House of Ahab, Athaliah was a very evil ruler. She profaned the Temple, and erected a temple to the false god Baal.

Reign of Joash[]

While Athaliah was ruling over Judah, Jehosheba kept him hidden with her husband, the high priest Jehoiada. In 835 BC, when Joash was seven, Jehoiada made a plan with the Levites, the heads of Judah's various clans, and the military commanders to overthrow Athaliah and restore the rightful House of David. He revealed to them that Joash was alive, and they made a plan to place him on the throne.[90] On the Sabbath day, the day of the changing of the Temple guard (a day when it would not be suspicious to have double the amount of guards in the Temple), Jehoiada and the people anointed Joash king in the Temple.[91] When Athaliah heard the people rejoicing, she entered the Temple to see what was going on. Seeing King Joash, she cried out that it was treason. But the people had sided with the rightful king, and Jehoiada had Athaliah executed outside the Temple, along with her followers.[92]

The beginning of Joash's reign was marked by a series of religious reforms. As he was a child when he first became king, he first reigned under the leadership of Jehoiada. Jehoiada destroyed the temple of Baal, and killed the priest of Baal.[93] He also set watchmen around the Temple to ensure that it would not be profaned again.[94] When Joash came of age, he was a righteous king all the days that his mentor Jehoiada was still alive.[95] One of Joash's most important acts was to conduct a major restoration of the Temple, which had fallen into disrepair during the rule of Athaliah.[96]

After the death of Jehoiada, however, Joash began to turn away from God. He came under the influence of ungodly advisors, and began allowing idolatry to return to Judah.[97] God sent several prophets to Joash and all Judah, but they would not listen to them.[98] One of these prophets was Zechariah, who was the son of Jehoiada. Zechariah told Joash that since he had forsaken God, God had forsaken him.[99] But Joash would not listen, and ordered Zechariah to be killed.[100]

That same year, Judah was invaded by Syria. Although Judah's army outnumbered the army of Syria, God allowed Judah to fall into the hands of the Syrians.[101] Joash was wounded in this war, and some of his servants assassinated him while he was lying on his bed.[102]

Reign of Amaziah[]

Joash was assassinated in 796 BC, and his son Amaziah succeeded him as king.[103] Amaziah was a generally righteous king, but he did not wholeheartedly follow God.[104] Once he was secure in his position as king, he executed everyone involved in the assassination of his father.[105] But he did not kill their families, which was the custom in the region, instead obeying the Law of Moses, in which God commanded that children should not be put to death for the sins of their fathers.[106] During Amaziah's reign, Judah was at war with Edom. Amaziah initially hired 100,000 mercenaries from Israel to help him in the war,[107] but a prophet told him that God would give the Edomites into his hand, without the help of the Israelite mercenaries, who God was not with.[108] Amaziah listened to the prophet and sent home the mercenaries and won a great victory against Edom.[109] But after Amaziah had defeated the Edomites, he brought their idols back to Judah and worshipped them.[110] When Amaziah refused to repent, a prophet told him that God would bring judgement against him.[111]

Shortly after this, Amaziah decided to provoke a war against Jehoash king of Israel.[112] Jehoash sent word to Amaziah warning him not to try, but Amaziah would not listen to him.[113] The war was a disaster for Judah,[114] and Jehoash even captured Amaziah.[115] For the rest of Amaziah's reign, Judah was subject to Israel, and he was eventually assassinated.[116]

Reign of Uzziah[]

In 767 BC, the people of Judah then made Amaziah's son Uzziah king.[117] Uzziah was a generally good and righteous king.[118] While Amaziah had left Judah weak and subject to Israel, Uzziah restored Judah's power. Uzziah sought God, and God made him prosper.[119] He restored to Judah its former territory to the south, extending all the way to the Red Sea, and built the city of Eloth on the shore of the sea.[120] He defeated the Philistines in the west and captured some of their cities and territories,[121] and also defeated the Arabians in the southeast.[122] The Ammonites also became subject to Judah and paid tribute.[123] Uzziah undertook massive infrastructure projects throughout Judah. He built towers in Jerusalem and expanded the city's fortifications,[124] and built many towers and cisterns in the wilderness. He also greatly improved Judah's agriculture.[125] Uzziah also built up a very strong army for Judah,[126] which was equipped with new weapons and armour.[127] Under Uzziah's leadership, the men of Judah invented catapults for the defense towers, to shoot large stones at enemy armies.[128] This was a very noteworthy invention, as it came 300 years before catapults were known to have been used elsewhere.

However, Judah's prosperity and power led Uzziah to become prideful.[129] He attempted to burn incense in the temple, something only the priests were authorized to do.[130] The priests tried to get Uzziah to to leave, but he refused and became angry, so God struck him with leprosy.[131] This finally caused Uzziah to relent, but he remained a leper to the day of his death, while his son Jotham governed as his regent.[132]

Reign of Jotham[]

Jotham began to reign in 750 BC (while Uzziah was still alive). He was a good and righteous king, following mostly in the way of his father, except he learned from his father's mistake and did not try to enter the Temple as a priest. Nevertheless, despite Jotham's personal righteousness, the people of Judah still acted wickedly.[133] Like his father, Jotham embarked on several building projects. He built a new gate for the Temple, and expanded the walls of Jerusalem.[134] He also built several cities, towers, and forts throughout the land of Judah.[135] During the reign of Jotham, Judah went to war against Ammon, and prevailed, exacting tribute from the Ammonites.[136]

Reign of Ahaz[]

Jotham died in 730 BC, and his son Ahaz succeeded him as king. Unlike his father, Ahaz was a very wicked king. Instead of following God, he worshipped Baal and other false gods from the surrounding nations.[137] He even practiced human sacrifice, sacrificing his own sons to idols.[138] Under the reign of Ahaz, all of Judah became plagued by idolatry.[139]

The reign of Ahaz was also a time of military disaster for Judah. Israel and Syria allied against Judah and defeated it, and many Judahites were taken captive to Damascus.[140] The Israelites also took many captives, but released them after God sent a prophet to condemn them for it.[141] At this time Edom and Philistia also attacked Judah, taking captives and capturing cities.[142] But all of this did not cause Ahaz to repent. He instead sought help from Assyria, and Judah was forced to become an Assyrian vassal.[143] Through it all, Ahaz continued to lead Judah into idolatry, worshipping the gods of all the nations who defeated him.[144] He also shut up the Temple and stopped worship there, and destroyed many of the Temple's vessels.[145]

Reign of Hezekiah[]

Ahaz died in 715 BC, and his son Hezekiah succeeded him as king. Unlike his father, Hezekiah was a good and righteous king.[146] At the very beginning of his reign he re-opened the temple, repaired some of the damage that Ahaz had done,[147] and had the priests and Levites reconsecrate themselves and the Temple.[148] Hezekiah led Judah in a great ceremony to restore worship and sacrifice in the Temple.[149] Hezekiah also led Judah in celebrating a great Passover, and even invited the northern tribes of Israel to join them, and some did.[150] This Passover had to be held in the second month instead of the first, because not enough of the priests had yet consecrated themselves, but it was still a great assembly.[151] After the first week, the people decided to keep the feast for another whole week, and during the feast there was great joy in Jerusalem, the like of which had not been seen since the days of Solomon.[152]

During the reign of Hezekiah, the Assyrian Empire conquered Israel and took its people into captivity.[153] Because of the actions of Ahaz, Judah had been a vassal of Assyria, but Hezekiah rebelled and would not serve Assyria.[154] In response, in 701 BC King Sennacherib of Assyria attacked Judah. Sennacherib captured several of Judah's cities, and at this point Hezekiah told Sennacherib that he would serve him again, and he sent tribute to Assyria.[155] But the tribute did not satisfy Sennacherib, and Assyria continued on to Jerusalem. With a great army, some of Sennacherib's officials came to Judah and made a speech to Hezekiah and all the people, saying that neither trust in an alliance with Egypt nor even trust in God could rescue Judah out of the hand of Assyria.[156] They also mocked God, saying that He was no different than any of the false gods of the surrounding nations that had been conquered by Assyria.[157] But despite the grim situation, God would rescue Judah from Assyria. Hezekiah prayed to God, reminding of how Sennacherib had mocked God, and asking God to save Judah to show the whole world who the only true God really is.[158] In response, God gave word to the prophet Isaiah to tell Hezekiah that Sennacherib would surely be defeated.[159] And it came to pass: the angel of the LORD killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in one night, and Sennacherib was forced to abandon Judah and return to Assyria.[160]

Reign of Manasseh[]

Hezekiah died in 686 BC, and his son Manasseh succeeded him as king. For the most part, Manasseh was a very evil king.[161] He rebuilt the pagan altars that Hezekiah had destroyed and worshipped Baal and many other false gods, leading Judah into idolatry.[162] He even built altars to false gods in the Temple.[163] He practiced fortune-telling, necromancy, and sorcery, and even practiced human sacrifice of his own sons.[164] Manasseh also killed many innocent people in Judah.[165] More than any other king, Manasseh led Judah into sin, and caused Judah's eventual exile as punishment for their sin.[166]

Judah was eventually attacked by Assyria, and Manasseh was taken captive to Babylon.[167] But there, in his distress, Manasseh humbled himself to God and repented of his sins.[168] God heard Manasseh's prayers and returned him to Judah, where he then sought to rid the land of the idolatry that he himself had caused.[169]

Reign of Amon[]

Manasseh died in 642 BC, and his son Amon succeeded him as king. Amon was an evil king like his father had been, except he did not repent.[170] After a short, two-year reign, he was assassinated by his servants.[171]

Reign of Josiah[]

Amon died in 640 BC, and his son Josiah succeeded him as king. Josiah was only eight years old when he became king,[172] but he became a very good and righteous king.[173] He removed idolatry from Judah.[174] During his reign the Assyrian Empire was weakening, and Josiah managed to extend Judah's territory into much of the former kingdom of Israel.[175] During Josiah's reign, the Book of the Law, which had been lost during the reigns of Manasseh and Amon, was found during a repair of the Temple that Josiah had ordered.[176] When the Book was read to Josiah, he mourned because he saw that Judah had committed many of the sins in the Book that would lead to punishment.[177] He sent to the prophetess Huldah, who prophesied that while Judah would eventually be punished for its sins, it would not happen during the days of Josiah, because he had humbled himself to seek God.[178] Despite the promise of eventual punishment, Josiah then went on a further campaign of reform throughout all his kingdom[179] - not to try and ward off the coming judgement, but because it was the right thing to do. So Josiah led Judah into one last period of restoration before the coming exile.

At this time the balance of power was quickly changing throughout the Near East. The Assyrian Empire was on the decline, while the Babylonian Empire was on the rise. The two powers were going to meet in battle at Carchemish, and Pharaoh Neco of Egypt was going up to assist Assyria. Having to pass through Judah, Josiah went out to meet him.[180] The Pharaoh warned Josiah to keep out of the way, for he had no quarrel with Judah. But Josiah would not listen to him, and went out to fight the Egyptians, where he was killed in battle.[181]

Decline of Judah[]

Josiah died in 609 BC, and the people took his son Jehoahaz and made him king.[182] But when Pharaoh Neco returned from the Battle of Carchemish (which he lost) three months later, he deposed Jehoahaz and placed a tribute on Judah.[183] Neco instead placed another one of Josiah's sons, Jehoiakim, on the throne, and took Jehoahaz in captivity to Egypt.[184] So Judah became a vassal of Egypt.

Jehoiakim was a very evil king. He perverted justice and persecuted God's prophets.[185] Eventually King Nebuchadnezzar of the Babylonian Empire came up against Judah and defeated it, taking Jehoiakim into exile in Babylon.[186] Nebuchadnezzar also looted the Temple.[187]

In place of Jehoikam, his son Jehoiachin was placed on the throne in 598 BC.[188] He also was an evil king, and after reigning for only three months, Nebuchadnezzar had him taken into exile in Babylon, and the Temple was looted again.[189]

Nebuchadnezzar instead placed Zedekiah, a son of Josiah and Jehoiachin's uncle, on the throne of Judah, though he was a mere vassal. He also was an evil king, who did not listen to the prophet Jeremiah.[190] During the reign of Zedekiah, not only the king but also the officials, priests, and people acted very unfaithfully.[191] Zedekiah made an ill-fated attempt to revolt against Babylonia, prompting Nebuchadnezzar to return to Judah and completely conquer it. The Babylonians destroyed the entire city of Jerusalem, including the Temple, and killed many people, taking the rest into captivity.[192] At this point Judah ceased to exist as a country, and was incorporated into the Babylonian Empire.

The Babylonians initially left a remnant in Judah, and placed one of the only leaders in the community left, Gedaliah, as governor of Judah.[193] Gedaliah attempted to have the people act peacefully and accept their new status as subjects of the Babylonian Empire,[194] but he was soon murdered, and all the people who remained in Judah fled to Egypt in fear of the Babylonians.[195]


The Babylonian Empire was itself conquered by the Persian Empire, led by King Cyrus, in 539 BC. In his first year as king, Cyrus made a decree allowing the Jews to return to Judah and rebuild the Temple.[196] Judah remained part of the Persian Empire, but gained some autonomy as a province. Its first governor was Zerbubbabel, a descendant of Judah's royal family.[197]

Ultimately Jesus would be descended from Judah's royal line,[198] fulfilling God's promise to David that he would be given a dynasty that would reign forever.[199]


  1. 1 Sam. 11:8 (Link)
  2. 2 Sam. 2:4 (Link)
  3. 2 Sam. 2:10 (Link)
  4. 1 Sam. 16:13 (Link)
  5. 2 Sam. 5:5 (Link)
  6. 2 Sam. 19:43 (Link)
  7. 2 Sam. 20:2 (Link)
  8. 2 Sam. 20:22 (Link)
  9. 1 Kings 11:9 (Link)
  10. 1 Kings 11:11 (Link)
  11. 1 Kings 11:12 (Link)
  12. 1 Kings 11:13 (Link)
  13. 1 Kings 11:28 (Link)
  14. 1 Kings 11:31 (Link)
  15. 1 Kings 11:38 (Link)
  16. 1 Kings 11:39 (Link)
  17. 1 Kings 11:40 (Link)
  18. 2 Chron. 9:31 (Link)
  19. 2 Chron. 10:1 (Link)
  20. 2 Chron. 10:4 (Link)
  21. 2 Chron. 10:7 (Link)
  22. 2 Chron. 10:11 (Link)
  23. 2 Chron. 10:16 (Link)
  24. 2 Chron. 10:18 (Link)
  25. 2 Chron. 11:1 (Link)
  26. 2 Chron. 11:4 (Link)
  27. 2 Chron. 11:12 (Link)
  28. 2 Chron. 11:13 (Link)
  29. 2 Chron. 11:16 (Link)
  30. 2 Chron. 11:17 (Link)
  31. 2 Chron. 12:1 (Link)
  32. 2 Chron. 12:2 (Link)
  33. 2 Chron. 12:4 (Link)
  34. 2 Chron. 12:7 (Link)
  35. 2 Chron. 12:9 (Link)
  36. 2 Chron. 12:16 (Link)
  37. 1 Kings 15:3 (Link)
  38. 2 Chron. 13:10 (Link)
  39. 2 Chron. 13:5 (Link)
  40. 2 Chron. 13:12 (Link)
  41. 2 Chron. 13:13 (Link)
  42. 2 Chron. 13:15 (Link)
  43. 2 Chron. 14:1 (Link)
  44. 1 Kings 15:11 (Link)
  45. 1 Kings 15:12 (Link)
  46. 2 Chron. 14:9 (Link)
  47. 2 Chron. 14:11 (Link)
  48. 2 Chron. 16:1 (Link)
  49. 2 Chron. 16:3 (Link)
  50. 2 Chron. 16:7 (Link)
  51. 2 Chron. 16:10 (Link)
  52. 2 Chron. 17:1 (Link)
  53. 2 Chron. 17:9 (Link)
  54. 2 Chron. 17:11 (Link)
  55. 2 Chron. 17:3 (Link)
  56. 2 Chron. 18:1 (Link)
  57. 2 Chron. 18:3 (Link)
  58. 2 Chron. 18:5 (Link)
  59. 2 Chron. 18:16 (Link)
  60. 2 Chron. 18:29 (Link)
  61. 2 Chron. 18:31 (Link)
  62. 2 Chron. 18:33 (Link)
  63. 2 Chron. 19:2 (Link)
  64. 2 Chron. 19:7 (Link)
  65. 2 Chron. 19:8 (Link)
  66. 2 Chron. 19:4 (Link)
  67. 2 Chron. 20:1 (Link)
  68. 2 Chron. 20:12 (Link)
  69. 2 Chron. 20:15 (Link)
  70. 2 Chron. 20:17 (Link)
  71. 2 Chron. 20:21 (Link)
  72. 2 Chron. 20:22 (Link)
  73. 2 Chron. 20:37 (Link)
  74. 2 Chron. 21:4 (Link)
  75. 2 Chron. 21:4 (Link)
  76. 2 Chron. 21:6 (Link)
  77. 2 Chron. 21:8 (Link)
  78. 2 Chron. 21:10 (Link)
  79. 2 Chron. 21:16 (Link)
  80. 2 Chron. 21:19 (Link)
  81. 2 Chron. 22:1 (Link)
  82. 2 Chron. 22:3 (Link)
  83. 2 Chron. 22:4 (Link)
  84. 2 Chron. 22:5 (Link)
  85. 2 Kings 9:3 (Link)
  86. 2 Kings 9:27 (Link)
  87. 2 Kings 11:1 (Link)
  88. 2 Kings 11:2 (Link)
  89. 2 Kings 11:3 (Link)
  90. 2 Chron. 23:3 (Link)
  91. 2 Chron. 23:11 (Link)
  92. 2 Chron. 23:14 (Link)
  93. 2 Chron. 23:16 (Link)
  94. 2 Chron. 23:18 (Link)
  95. 2 Chron. 24:2 (Link)
  96. 2 Chron. 24:4 (Link)
  97. 2 Chron. 24:18 (Link)
  98. 2 Chron. 24:19 (Link)
  99. 2 Chron. 24:20 (Link)
  100. 2 Chron. 24:22 (Link)
  101. 2 Chron. 24:24 (Link)
  102. 2 Chron. 24:25 (Link)
  103. 2 Chron. 24:27 (Link)
  104. 2 Chron. 25:2 (Link)
  105. 2 Chron. 25:3 (Link)
  106. 2 Chron. 25:4 (Link)
  107. 2 Chron. 25:6 (Link)
  108. 2 Chron. 25:8 (Link)
  109. 2 Chron. 25:11 (Link)
  110. 2 Chron. 25:14 (Link)
  111. 2 Chron. 25:16 (Link)
  112. 2 Chron. 25:17 (Link)
  113. 2 Chron. 15:19 (Link)
  114. 2 Chron. 25:22 (Link)
  115. 2 Chron. 25:23 (Link)
  116. 2 Chron. 25:27 (Link)
  117. 2 Chron. 26:1 (Link)
  118. 2 Chron. 26:4 (Link)
  119. 2 Chron. 26:5 (Link)
  120. 2 Chron. 26:2 (Link)
  121. 2 Chron. 26:6 (Link)
  122. 2 Chron. 26:7 (Link)
  123. 2 Chron. 26:8 (Link)
  124. 2 Chron. 26:9 (Link)
  125. 2 Chron. 26:10 (Link)
  126. 2 Chron. 26:13 (Link)
  127. 2 Chron. 26:14 (Link)
  128. 2 Chron. 26:15 (Link)
  129. 2 Chron. 26:16 (Link)
  130. 2 Chron. 26:18 (Link)
  131. 2 Chron. 26:19 (Link)
  132. 2 Chron. 26:21 (Link)
  133. 2 Chron. 27:2 (Link)
  134. 2 Chron. 27:3 (Link)
  135. 2 Chron. 27:4 (Link)
  136. 2 Chron. 27:5 (Link)
  137. 2 Chron. 28:2 (Link)
  138. 2 Chron. 28:3 (Link)
  139. 2 Chron. 28:4 (Link)
  140. 2 Chron. 28:5 (Link)
  141. 2 Chron. 28:14 (Link)
  142. 2 Chron. 28:18 (Link)
  143. 2 Chron. 28:21 (Link)
  144. 2 Chron. 28:23 (Link)
  145. 2 Chron. 28:24 (Link)
  146. 2 Chron. 29:2 (Link)
  147. 2 Chron. 29:3 (Link)
  148. 2 Chron. 29:5 (Link)
  149. 2 Chron. 29:35 (Link)
  150. 2 Chron. 30:11 (Link)
  151. 2 Chron. 30:3 (Link)
  152. 2 Chron. 30:26 (Link)
  153. 2 Kings 18:9 (Link)
  154. 2 Kings 18:7 (Link)
  155. 2 Kings 18:14 (Link)
  156. 2 Kings 18:19 (Link)
  157. 2 Kings 18:33 (Link)
  158. 2 Kings 19:19 (Link)
  159. 2 Kings 19:32 (Link)
  160. 2 Kings 19:35 (Link)
  161. 2 Chron. 33:2 (Link)
  162. 2 Chron. 33:3 (Link)
  163. 2 Chron. 33:4 (Link)
  164. 2 Chron. 33:6 (Link)
  165. 2 Kings 21:16 (Link)
  166. 2 Kings 21:14 (Link)
  167. 2 Chron. 33:11 (Link)
  168. 2 Chron. 33:12 (Link)
  169. 2 Chron. 33:15 (Link)
  170. 2 Chron. 33:23 (Link)
  171. 2 Chron. 33:24 (Link)
  172. 2 Chron. 34:1 (Link)
  173. 2 Chron. 34:2 (Link)
  174. 2 Chron. 34:4 (Link)
  175. 2 Chron. 34:6 (Link)
  176. 2 Chron. 34:14 (Link)
  177. 2 Chron. 34:21 (Link)
  178. 2 Chron. 34:27 (Link)
  179. 2 Chron. 34:30 (Link)
  180. 2 Chron. 35:20 (Link)
  181. 2 Chron. 35:24 (Link)
  182. 2 Chron. 36:1 (Link)
  183. 2 Chron. 36:3 (Link)
  184. 2 Chron. 36:4 (Link)
  185. Jer. 26:21 (Link)
  186. 2 Chron. 36:6 (Link)
  187. 2 Chron. 36:7 (Link)
  188. 2 Chron. 36:8 (Link)
  189. 2 Chron. 36:10 (Link)
  190. 2 Chron. 36:12 (Link)
  191. 2 Chron. 36:14 (Link)
  192. 2 Chron 36:19 (Link)
  193. 2 Kings 25:22 (Link)
  194. 2 Kings 25:24 (Link)
  195. 2 Kings 25:26 (Link)
  196. Ezra 1:2 (Link)
  197. Ezra 2:2 (Link)
  198. Matt. 1:1 (Link)
  199. 2 Sam. 7:13 (Link)