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Judea is a term used for the mountainous southern part of the historic Land of Israel.
Map of the region in the 9th century BC
Kings of Judah


The Kingdom of Judah (Hebrew: מַלְכּוּת יְהוּדָה, Modern Malkut Yəhuda Tiberian Malkûṯ Yəhûḏāh) existed at two periods in Jewish history. According to the Hebrew Bible, a kingdom emerged in Judah after the death of Saul, when the tribe of Judah elevated David, who came from the Tribe of Judah, to rule over it. After seven years David became king of a reunited Kingdom of Israel, and David moved the capital from Hebron to Jerusalem.[1] However, in about 930 BC the united kingdom split, with ten of the twelve Tribes of Israel rejecting Solomon's son Rehoboam as their king. The Tribes of Judah and Benjamin remained loyal to Rehoboam, and reformed the Kingdom of Judah, while the other entity continuing to be called the Kingdom of Israel, or Israel. The Kingdom of Judah is also often referred to as the Southern Kingdom, while the Kingdom of Israel following the split is referred to as the Northern Kingdom.

Judah existed until 586 BC, when it was conquered by the Babylonian Empire under Nebuzar-adan, captain of Nebuchadnezzar's body-guard.[2] With the deportation of most of the population and the destruction of the Temple and of Jerusalem, the destruction of the kingdom was complete. Gedaliah, with a Chaldean guard stationed at Mizpah, was made governor to rule over Judah,[3][4] but before long he was assassinated, and the remnant of the community was left leaderless.

The Davidic dynasty began when the tribe of Judah made David its king, following the death of Saul. The Davidic line continued when David became king of the reunited Kingdom of Israel. When the united kingdom split, the tribes of Judah and Benjamin continued to be loyal to the Davidic line, which ruled it until the kingdom was destroyed in 586 BC. However, the Davidic line continued to be respected by the exiles in Babylon, who regarded the Exilarchs as kings-in-exile.



The Kingdom of Judah comprised the territories of the tribes of Judah, Simeon, and Benjamin, an area of about 8,900 km2 (3,436 sq mi). During the first period of the Kingdom of Judah, the capital was Hebron, and during the second period, the capital of the united kingdom, Jerusalem, continued as the capital of Judah. Jerusalem was in the territory of the tribe of Benjamin.

The area that comprised the kingdom consisted of the area known as Har Yehudah ("the mountain (district) of the gorge(s)"). The area seems to have originally been occupied by Kenites, Calebites, Othnielites, and in Jerusalem Jebusites.

After the breakdown of the United Monarchy, the border between Benjamin and Ephraim (which was the border between the northern and southern kingdoms) became a matter of dispute between them. Though Bethel had originally been allocated to Benjamin, by the time of the prophetess Deborah, Bethel is described as being in the land of the Tribe of Ephraim.[5] Some twenty years after the breakup of the United Monarchy, Abijah, the second king of Judah, defeated Jeroboam of Israel and took back the towns of Bethel, Jeshanah and Ephron, with their surrounding villages, with a great loss of life.[6] Ephron is believed to be the Ophrah that was also allocated to the Tribe of Benjamin by Joshua.[7]


Jewish king and soldiers in ancient Judah

The united Kingdom of Israel was a union of the twelve Israelite tribes living in the area that presently approximates modern Israel and the Palestinian territories. The united kingdom existed from around 1020 to about 930 BC.

After the death of Solomon in 931 BC, the ten northern tribes refused to accept Rehoboam as their king, and instead in about 930 BC chose Jeroboam, who was not of the Davidic line, as their king. The northern kingdom continued to be called the Kingdom of Israel or Israel. The revolt took place at Shechem, and at first only the tribe of Judah remained loyal to the house of David. But very soon thereafter the tribe of Benjamin joined Judah, and Jerusalem (which was in Benjamin's territory)[8] became the capital of the new kingdom. The southern kingdom was called the Kingdom of Judah, or Judah. Members of the tribes of Ephraim, Manasseh and Simeon "fled" to Judah during the reign of Asa of Judah.[9] Whether these groups were absorbed into the population or remained distinct groups, or returned to their tribal lands is not indicated. After the destruction of Israel, Judah continued to exist for about a century and a half until being conquered by the Babylonians. Hezekiah of Judah (727-698 BC) is noted in the Bible for initiating reforms that enforced Jewish laws against idolatry (in this case, the worship of Ba'alim and Asherah, among other traditional Near Eastern divinities). [10][11] In his reign is also dated the Siloam inscription in Old Hebrew alphabet.

Manasseh of Judah (698-642 BC), sacrificed his son to Molech.[12] He and his son Amon (reigned 642-640 BC) reversed Hezekiah's reforms and officially revived idolatry. According to later rabbinical accounts, Manasseh placed a grotesque, four-faced idol in the Holy of Holies.

The reign of king Josiah (640-609 BC) was accompanied by a religious reformation. According to the Bible, while repairs were made on the Temple, a 'Book of the Law' was discovered (possibly the book of Deuteronomy).[13]

Relations with the Northern Kingdom

For the first sixty years, the kings of Judah tried to re-establish their authority over the northern kingdom, and there was perpetual war between them. Israel and Judah were in a state of war throughout Rehoboam's seventeen year reign. Rehoboam built elaborate defenses and strongholds, along with fortified cities. In the fifth year of Rehoboam's reign Pharaoh Shishaq of Egypt, brought a huge army and took many cities. When they laid siege to Jerusalem, Rehoboam gave them all of the treasures out of the temple as a tribute, and Judah became a vassal state of Egypt. Rehoboam's son and successor, Abijah continued his father's efforts to bring Israel under his control. He waged a major battle against Jeroboam of Israel, and was victorious with a heavy loss of life on the Israel side,[14] after which Jeroboam posed little threat to Judah for the rest of his reign and the border of the Tribe of Benjamin was restored to the original tribal border.[15]

Abijah's son and successor, Asa maintained peace for the first 35 years of his reign,[16] during which time he revamped and reinforced the fortresses originally built by his grandfather Rehoboam. An invasion by the Egyptian-backed chieftain Zerah the Ethiopian and his million men and 300 chariots was defeated by Asa's 580,000 men (these figures come from 2 Chronicles) in the Valley of Zephath, near Mareshah.[17] The Bible does not state whether Zerah was a pharaoh or a general of the army. The Ethiopians were pursued all the way to Gerar, in the coastal plain, where they stopped out of sheer exhaustion. The resulting peace kept Judah free from Egyptian incursions until the time of Josiah, some centuries later.

In his 36th year Asa was confronted by Baasha of Israel,[18] who built a fortress at Ramah on the border, less than ten miles from Jerusalem. The result was that the capital was under pressure and the military situation was precarious. Asa took gold and silver from the Temple and sent them to Ben-Hadad I, king of Aram Damascus, in exchange for the Damascene king canceling his peace treaty with Baasha. Ben-Hadad attacked Ijon, Dan, and many important cities of the tribe of Naphtali, and Baasha was forced to withdraw from Ramah.[19] Asa tore down the unfinished fortress and used its raw materials to fortify Geba and Mizpah, on his side of the border.[20]

Asa's successor, Jehoshaphat changed the policy towards Israel and instead pursued alliances and co-operation with the northern kingdom. The alliance with Ahab was based on marriage. This alliance led to disaster for the kingdom with the Battle of Ramoth-Gilead.[21] He then entered into an alliance with Ahaziah of Israel for the purpose of carrying on maritime commerce with Ophir. But the fleet that was then equipped at Ezion-Gever was immediately wrecked. A new fleet was fitted out without the cooperation of the king of Israel, and although it was successful, the trade was not prosecuted.[22] He subsequently joined Jehoram of Israel in a war against the Moabites, who were under tribute to Israel. This war was successful, with the Moabites being subdued. However, on seeing Mesha's act of offering his own son in a human sacrifice on the walls of Kir-haresheth filled Jehoshaphat with horror, and he withdrew and returned to his own land.[23]

Jehoshaphat's successor, Jehoram formed an alliance with Israel by marrying Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab. Despite this alliance with the stronger northern kingdom, Jehoram's rule of Judah was shaky. Edom revolted, and he was forced to acknowledge their independence. A raid by Philistines, Arabs and Ethiopians looted the king's house, and carried off all of his family except for his youngest son Jehoahaz.

Destruction of Israel

In c. 732 BCE, Pekah of Israel allied with Rezinof Aram and threatened Jerusalem. Ahaz of Judah appealed to Tiglath-Pileser III of Assyria for help and paid tribute to Tiglath-Pileser[24] Tiglath-Pileser sacked Damascus and Israel, annexing Aram[25] and large parts of Israel. According to 2 Kings 16:9 and 15:29, the population of Aram and the annexed part of Israel was deported to Assyria.

Israel continued to exist within the reduced territory as an independent kingdom until around 720 BCE, when it was again invaded by Assyria and the rest of the population deported. The Bible relates that the population of Israel was exiled, becoming known as the Ten Lost Tribes. However, other writers estimate that only a fifth of the population (about 40,000) were actually resettled out of the area during the two deportation periods under Tiglath-Pileser and Sargon II.[26] Many also fled south to Jerusalem, which appears to have expanded in size fivefold during this period, requiring a new wall to be built, and a new source of water (Siloam) to be provided by Hezekiah.

Clash of empires

Besides witnessing the destruction of Israel and the deportation of its population, Ahaz and his co-regent son Hezekiah were vassal to Assyria and forced to pay an annual tribute. After Hezekiah became sole ruler in c. 715 BC, he re-captured Philistine-occupied lands in the Negev desert, formed alliances with Ashkelon and Egypt, and made a stand against Assyria by refusing to pay tribute.[27] (Isaiah 30-31; 36:6-9) In response, Sennacherib of Assyria attacked the fortified cities of Judah. (2 Kings 18:13) Hezekiah paid three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold to Assyria — requiring him to empty the temple and royal treasury of silver and strip the gold from the doorposts of Solomon's Temple. (2 Kings 18:14-16)[27] However, Sennacherib besieged Jerusalem[28] (2 Kings 18:17) in 701 BC, though the city was never taken.

During the long reign of Manasseh (c. 687/686 - 643/642 BC),[29] Judah was a vassal of Assyrian rulers - Sennacherib and his successors, Esarhaddon[30] and Ashurbanipal after 669 BC. Manasseh is listed as being required to provide materials for Esarhaddon's building projects, and as one of a number of vassals who assisted Ashurbanipal's campaign against Egypt.[30].

When Josiah became king of Judah in c. 641/640 BC,[29] the international situation was in flux. To the east, the Assyrian Empire was beginning to disintegrate, the Babylonian Empire had not yet risen to replace it, and Egypt to the west was still recovering from Assyrian rule. In this power vacuum, Judah was able to govern itself for the time being without foreign intervention. However, in the spring of 609 BC, Pharaoh Necho II personally led a sizable army up to the Euphrates River to aid the Assyrians.[31] Taking the coast route Via Maris into Syria at the head of a large army, Necho passed the low tracts of Philistia and Sharon. However, the passage over the ridge of hills which shuts in on the south of the great Jezreel Valley was blocked by the Judean army led by Josiah, who may have considered that the Assyrians and Egyptians were weakened by the death of the pharaoh Psamtik I only a year earlier (610 BC).[32] Presumably in an attempt to help the Babylonians, Josiah attempted to block the advance at Megiddo, where a fierce battle was fought and where Josiah was killed.[33] Necho then joined forces with the Assyrian Ashur-uballit II and together they crossed the Euphrates and lay siege to Harran. The combined forces failed to capture the city, and Necho retreated back to northern Syria. The event also marked the disintegration of the Assyrian Empire.

On his return march to Egypt in 608 BC, Necho found that Jehoahaz had been selected to succeed his father, Josiah.[34] Necho deposed Jehoahaz, who had been king for only three months, and replaced him with his older brother, Jehoiakim. Necho imposed on Judah a levy of a hundred talents of silver (about 3 3/4 tons or about 3.4 metric tons) and a talent of gold (about 75 pounds or about 34 kilograms). Necho then took Jehoahaz back to Egypt as his prisoner, [35] never to return.

Jehoiakim ruled originally as a vassal of the Egyptians, paying a heavy tribute. However, when the Egyptians were defeated by the Babylonians at Carchemish in 605 BC, Jehoiakim changed allegiances, paying tribute to Nebuchadrezzar II of Babylon. In 601 BC, in the fourth year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar unsuccessfully attempted to invade Egypt and was repulsed with heavy losses. This failure lead to numerous rebellions among the states of the Levant which owed allegiance to Babylon. Jehoiakim also stopped paying tribute to Nebuchadnezzar[36] and took a pro-Egyptian position. Nebuchadnezzar soon dealt with these rebellions. According to the Babylonian Chronicles, after invading "the land of Hatti (Syria/Palestine)"[37][38] in 599 BC, he lay siege to Jerusalem. Jehoiakim died in 598 BC[39] during the siege, and was succeeded by his son Jeconiah at an age of either eight or eighteen.[40] The city fell about three months later,[41][42] on 2 Adar (March 16) 597 BC. Nebuchadnezzar pillaged both Jerusalem and the Temple, carting all his spoils to Babylon. Jeconiah and his court and other prominent citizens and craftsmen, along with a sizable portion of the Jewish population of Judah, numbering about 10,000[43] were deported from the land and dispersed throughout the Babylonian Empire. (2 Kings 24:14) Among them was Ezekiel. Nebuchadnezzar appointed Zedekiah, Jehoiakim's brother, king of the reduced kingdom, who was made a tributary of Babylon.

Destruction and dispersion

Despite the strong remonstrances of Jeremiah and others, Zedekiah revolted against Nebuchadrezzar, ceasing to pay tribute to him and entered into an alliance with Pharaoh Hophra of Egypt. In 589 BC, Nebuchadnezzar II returned to Judah and again besieged Jerusalem for eighteen months. During this period, many Jews fled to surrounding Moab, Ammon, Edom and other countries to seek refuge. (Jeremiah 40:11-12) The city fell and Nebuchadnezzar again pillaged both Jerusalem and the Temple,[44] after which he destroyed them both. He took Zedekiah to Babylon, putting an end to the independent Kingdom of Judah. In addition to those killed during the siege, over time, some 4,600 Jews were deported after the fall of Judah. (Jeremiah 52:29)

After the destruction of Judah, Babylon created Yehud Province for the remnant of the Jewish population in a part of the former kingdom, and appointed Gedaliah governor, supported by a Chaldean guard. The administrative centre of the province was Mizpah, (2 Kings 25:22-24, Jeremiah 40:6-8) and not Jerusalem. On hearing of the appointment, the Jews that had taken refuge in surrounding countries returned to Judah. (Jeremiah 40:11-12) However, before long Gedaliah was assassinated by a member of the royal house, and the Chaldean soldiers killed. The population that was left in the land and those that had returned fled to Egypt fearing a Babylonian reprisal, under the leadership of Johanan, son of Kareah, ignoring the urging of the prophet Jeremiah against the move. (2 Kings 25:26, Jeremiah 43:5-7) In Egypt, the refugees settled in Migdol, Tahpanhes, Noph, and Pathros, (Jeremiah 44:1) and Jeremiah went with them as moral guardian.

The numbers that were deported to Babylon and those who made their way to Egypt and the remnant that remained in the land and in surrounding countries is subject to academic debate.

The House of David

The House of David continued to be respected and recognised as leaders of the Babylonian Jewish community as Exilarchs.


A Jewish kingdom was revived by the Maccabees four centuries later, in a modified form.

Prophets of Judah


  1. ^ 2 Samuel 5:6-7
  2. ^ 2 Kings 25:8-21
  3. ^ 2 Kings 25:22-24
  4. ^ Jeremiah 40:6-8
  5. ^ Judges 4:5
  6. ^ 2 Chronicles 13:17-19
  7. ^ Joshua 18:20-28, esp 23
  8. ^ Joshua 18:28
  9. ^ 2 Chronicles 15:9
  10. ^
  11. ^ 2 Kings 18-20
  12. ^ 2 Kings 21
  13. ^ [1] See also 1 Kings 13, 2 Kings 22-23 , 2 Chr 34-35
  14. ^ Abijah and his people defeated them with a great slaughter, so that 500,000 chosen men of Israel fell slain: 2 Chronicles 13:17
  15. ^ 2 Chronicles 13:20
  16. ^ 2 Chronicles 16:1
  17. ^ 2 Chronicles 14:9-15
  18. ^ 2 Chronicles 16:1
  19. ^ 2 Chronicles 16:2-6
  20. ^ 2 Chronicles 16:1-7
  21. ^ 1 Kings 22:1-33
  22. ^ 2 20:35-37 HE; 1 Kings 22:48-49
  23. ^ 2 Kings 3:4-27
  24. ^ 2 Kings 16:7-9
  25. ^ Lester L. Grabbe, Ancient Israel: What Do We Know and How Do We Know It? (New York: T&T Clark, 2007): 134
  26. ^ Finkelstein & Silberman 2001, The Bible Unearthed.
  27. ^ a b Peter J. Leithart, 1 & 2 Kings, Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible, p255-256, Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, MI (2006)
  28. ^ James B. Pritchard, ed., Ancient Near Eastern Texts Related to the Old Testament (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1965) 287-288.
  29. ^ a b Edwin Thiele, The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, (1st ed.; New York: Macmillan, 1951; 2d ed.; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965; 3rd ed.; Grand Rapids: Zondervan/Kregel, 1983). ISBN 082543825X, 9780825438257
  30. ^ a b A History of Israel, John Bright, p. 311, (1980) [2]
  31. ^ [3][4]
  32. ^ [5]
  33. ^ 2 Kings 23:29, 2 Chronicles 35:20-24
  34. ^ 2 Kings 23:31
  35. ^ 2 Chronicles 36:1-4
  36. ^ [6] The Divided Monarchy ca. 931 - 586 BC
  37. ^ No 24 WA21946, The Babylonian Chronicles, The British Museum
  38. ^ Geoffrey Wigoder, The Illustrated Dictionary & Concordance of the Bible Pub. by Sterling Publishing Company, Inc. (2006)
  39. ^ Dan Cohn-Sherbok, The Hebrew Bible, Continuum International, 1996, page x. ISBN 030433703X
  40. ^ [7] Bible Studies website
  41. ^ Philip J. King, Jeremiah: An Archaeological Companion (Westminster John Knox Press, 1993), page 23.
  42. ^ 2 Chronicles 36:9
  43. ^ The Oxford History of the Biblical World, ed. by Michael D Coogan. Pub. by Oxford University Press, 1999. pg 350
  44. ^ Ezra 5:14

See also

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Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki


Early Advantages.

The legitimate successor of the kingdom established by David was the smaller kingdom to the south, which remained true to Solomon's son Rehoboam. Although the first titular king of Judah, he was the third king to reign in Jerusalem. The possession of this great fortress rendered it possible to hold all the country to the south and the most valuable portion of Benjamin in the immediate north. More important than its strategic value was its prestige as the first great national center, the seat of a splendid court of the "thrones of justice," and, above all, of the prescriptive worship of the God of Israel. Moreover, its territory, though small, was compact, homogeneous, and easily defended; and its country population, frugal, hardy, and unspoiled by contact with foreigners, was devotedly attached to the legitimate dynasty. Again, since all the most formidable invaders of Palestine came from the north, the rival kingdom became perforce its protector from spoliation and ruin. Thus it came to pass that, while northern Israel passed through frequent changes of dynasty, became a prey to many terrible invasions, and endured as a nation but a little more than two centuries, the kingdom of Judah was controlled by the "house of David" throughout its existence, which lasted for three and one-half centuries after the disruption.

The history of the kingdom may best be divided with reference to its most decisive external relations. The first period extends from Rehoboam to Jotham (934-735 B.C.); the second, from Ahaz to Josiah (735-608); the third, from Jehoahaz to Zedekiah and the fall of Jerusalem (608-586).

Strife with Israel.

Strife between the two kingdoms followed inevitably upon the separation. At first Judah, through the small standing army maintained by David and Solomon, was steadily successful. One victory especially, gained by Abijah (918) over Jeroboam, was made much of in the later traditions of the kingdom. But the next king, Asa (915), was so closely pressed by Baasha of Israel that he was forced to invoke the effective aid of the Arameans of Damascus. Yet before the death of Asa a lasting friendship was made with Israel, now under the new and powerful dynasty of Omri (886). Henceforth Judah assumed its natural subordinate rôle till Israel was crushed by alien foes. From any other serious danger Judah was for a long time almost entirely free. The raid of Shishak of Egypt (929) soon after the schism involved indeed the submission of Jerusalem; but it was quickly over and left no permanent results.

Alliance with Israel.

In the prolonged wars waged by the Arameans of Damascus and Mesha of Moab against northern Israel the Southern Kingdom took no direct share beyond sending aid to the sister kingdom. Thus Jehoshaphat (872), the son of Asa, fought side by side with Ahab of Israel in the fateful battle of Ramoth in Gilead (853). Jehoshaphat further strengthened the alliance by marrying his son Jehoram to Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab and the Phenician Jezebel. One injurious effect of this union was the introduction of the evil cult of the Tyrian Baal from Samaria into Jerusalem. When Jehu rose against Joram of Israel and put him to death (842), Ahaziah, the son of Jehoram, then visiting his uncle in Jezreel, also fell a victim to the fury of the usurper. The consequence was that Athaliah undertook to govern in Jerusalem.

The reign of this foreign queen with her odious cult was tolerated for only six years, when the priests of Yhwh placed upon the throne Jehoash, the youthful son of Ahaziah (836). His reign was chiefly marked by a purification of the Temple services. Under his son and successor, Amaziah, Judah began a career of development and prosperity which finally made it one of the leading kingdoms of the West-land. An essential factor in this achievement was the reconquest of Edom, which had been lost to Judah under Jehoram. This secured a share of the overland traffic of western Arabia, as well as the control of the Red Sea trade from the Gulf of Akaba. Amaziah's successes led him foolishly to provoke to war Joash, King of Israel. The result was the defeat and capture of Amaziah and the submission of Jerusalem, which, however, was released upon the surrender of the treasures of the Temple and of the royal palace (c. 790).

Era of Expansion.

With Uzziah (Azariah; sole ruler 769) the prosperity of Judah was renewed and brought to its greatest height. As a powerful ruler and statesman he was the only true successor of King David. His kingdom was extended beyond precedent, embracing much of the Philistine country, and for a time even holding the suzerainty of Moab. In fortifications and standing armies as well as in the development of all the natural resources of his country, he was a successful imitator of the great Assyrian monarchs. Jotham (sole ruler 738?) continued the vigorous régime of his father.

It should be noted that the expansion of Judah was coincident with the equally remarkable recuperation of northern Israel after the long and exhausting Syrian wars. The temporary prosperity of both kingdoms was chiefly due to the opportunities of development afforded by the decline of Damascus. Judah as well as Israel had suffered from the aggression of this powerful Aramean state; for in the early days of Jehoash (c. 835), Hazael of Damascus had ravaged the whole country up to the city of Jerusalem, which opened its gates to him and yielded up its spoil.

Vassalage to Assyria.

A decisive change took place with the accession of Ahaz, son of Jotham (735). The determining political factor was now the great Assyrian empire, reorganized under Tiglath-pileser III. (Pul). To resist his expected invasion Pekah, King of Israel, made alliance with Rezin of Damascus. Ahaz refused to join the league, and, when threatened with coercion by the allies, called in the help of the invader. The northern half of Israel was annexed by the Assyrians; and Damascus fared still worse. Judah was reprieved; but it became a vassal state of Assyria.

Hezekiah, son of Ahaz (719), prospered as long as he deferred to the prophet Isaiah with his wise policy of "quietness and confidence" in Yhwh. But in 701 he joined in a wide-spread insurrection against Assyria, with the result that the whole of Judah was devastated by the Assyrian king Sennacherib, many of its people were deported, and Jerusalem itself was spared only after a plague had broken out in the army of the invader. This national discipline favored the religious reforms of Isaiah: but Hezekiah died in comparative youth; and the reign of his son and successor, Manasseh (690), was marked by degeneracy in faith, worship, and morals. Judah was still the vassal of Assyria; and the prestige of the sovereign state had potent influence in the religious as well as in the political sphere. An attempted insurrection in the latter part of the reign of Manasseh was speedily crushed; and Judah bore until the downfall of Assyria the yoke to which Ahaz had offered submission. The brief reign of Amon (641) showed no improvement upon that of his father, Manasseh.

Reformation; Vassalage to Egypt.

Under the youthful Josiah (639) the reforming priestly party gained the upper hand. The law of Moses was promulgated, and gross abominations in religion and morals were sternly put down (621). But this promising career was soon cut short. Necho II., at the head of the revived native monarchy of Egypt, was now aiming to replace Assyria in the dominion of western Asia. He passed through Palestine with an invading force in 608; and Josiah, offering battle to him at Megiddo, was defeated and slain.

At Jerusalem Jehoahaz, second son of Josiah, was put upon the throne, but after three months was dethroned by Necho and exiled to Egypt. He was replaced by Josiah's eldest son, Eliakim, whose name was changed by Necho to "Jehoiakim" to indicate his change of allegiance. Judah's vassalage to Egypt was, however, very brief. In 607 Nineveh was taken and destroyed by the Medes. The whole of the low countries westward to the Mediterranean fell to the ally of the Medes, the new Babylonian monarchy. The Chaldean Nebuchadnezzar shattered the power of Egypt at Carchemish in 604; Syria and Palestine were soon cleared of the Egyptias; and Jehoiakim became a Babylonian subject.

The prophet Jeremiah counseled continued submission; but in 598 Jehoiakim rebelled. Jerusalem was invested; and before the siege had well begun the unhappy king died. His son Jehoiachin (597) held out for three months, and then surrendered at discretion. He and his chief men, with the flower of the kingdom, were deported. Most of the captives, with the prophet Ezekiel, were placed in an agricultural colony by the canal Chebar in central Babylonia.

Fall of Jerusalem.

Over the crippled and enfeebled kingdom was placed Zedekiah, the third son of Josiah. Again symptoms of discontent appeared, fomented by Egyptian intrigues. Again Jeremiah interposed with remonstrance, protest, and invective; and yet again the deluded Judahites rebelled. In Jan., 587, the Chaldean army appeared before Jerusalem. This time a more desperate resistance was offered. Promises of help from Egypt could not be fulfilled. The city was taken (July, 586); the leaders of the rebellion were put to death; and Zedekiah himself was carried, a blinded captive, with the greater portion of his subjects, to Babylon. All valuable property was taken away as spoil; and the Temple and city were destroyed by fire. This was the end of the royal house of David, though not the end of Jewish nationality.


See Israel and the articles on the several kings of Judah.

This entry includes text from the Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906.
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