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English Bible Dictionary

Kingdom of Judah

 

Extent: When the disruption of Solomon's kingdom took place at Shechem, B.C. 975, only the tribe of Judah followed David, but almost immediately afterward the larger part of Benjamin joined Judah. A part, if no all, of the territory of Simeon, (1 Samuel 27:6; 1 Kings 19:3) comp. Josh 19:1 And of Dan, (2 Chronicles 11:10) comp. Josh 19:41,42 Was recognized as belonging to Judah; and in the reigns of Abijah and Asa the southern kingdom was enlarged by some additions taken out of the territory of Ephraim. (2 Chronicles 13:19; 15:8; 17:2) It is estimated that the territory of Judah contained about 3450 square miles. Advantages: The kingdom of Judah possessed many advantages which secured for it a longer continuance than that of Israel. A frontier less exposed to powerful enemies, a soil less fertile, a population hardier and more united, a fixed and venerated centre of administration and religion, a hereditary aristocracy in the sacerdotal caste, an army always subordinate, a succession of kings which no revolution interrupted; so that Judah survived her more populous and more powerful sister kingdom by 135 years, and lasted from B.C. 975 to B.C. 536. History--The first three kings of Judah seem to have cherished the hope of re-establishing their authority over the ten tribes; for sixty years there was war between them and the kings of Israel, and you can find more about that here on st-takla.org on other commentaries and dictionary entries. The victory achieved by the daring Abijah brought to Judah a temporary accession of territory. Asa appears to have enlarged it still further. Hanani's remonstrance, (2 Chronicles 16:7) prepares us for the reversal by Jehoshaphat of the policy which Asa pursued toward Israel and Damascus. A close alliance sprang up with strange rapidity between Judah and Israel. Jehoshaphat, active and prosperous, commanded the respect of his neighbors; but under Amaziah Jerusalem was entered and plundered by the Israelites. Under Uzziah and Jotham, Judah long enjoyed prosperity, till Ahaz became the tributary and vassal of Tiglath-pileser. Already in the fatal grasp of Assyria, Judah was yet spared for a checkered existence of almost another century and a half after the termination of the kingdom of Israel. The consummation of the ruin came upon its people in the destruction of the temple by the hand of Nebuzaradan, B.C. 536. There were 19 kings, all from the family of David. (Population: We have a gage as to the number of the people at different periods in the number of soldiers. If we estimate the population at four times the fighting men, we will have the following table: King...Date... Soldiers... Population David...B.C. 1056-1015... 500,000... 2,000,000 Rehoboam...975-957... 180,000... 720,000 Abijah...957-955... 400,000... 1,600,000 Asa...955-914... 500,000... 2,000,000 Jehoshaphat...914-889... 1,160,000... 4,640,000 Amaziah...839-810... 300,000... 1,200,000 -ED.)

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