Kingdom of Judah

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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, Abijah and his people defeated them with a great slaughter, so that 500,000 chosen men of Israel fell slain[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]

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