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Judah Kingdom of


Judah, Kingdom of. 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 not all, of the territory of Simeon, 1 Sam. 27:6; 1 Kings 19:3, comp. Josh. 19:1, and of Dan, 2 Chron. 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 Chron. 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. 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 Chron. 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 gauge 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.)