The Kingdom of Judah (c.930–586 BCE) was one of the successor states to the "United Monarchy" often known as the Kingdom of Israel. It is often referred to as the Southern Kingdom to distinguish it from the Northern Kingdom (of Israel). According to the Hebrew Bible, the Kingdom of Judah first emerged after the death of Saul the King, when the tribe of Judah elevated King David to rule over them. The area of Har Yehudah (=the mountain (district) of the gorge(s)) seems to have originally been occupied by Kenites, Calebites, Othnielites, and in Jerusalem Jebusites. The tribe of Judah was Biblically initially the only one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel to follow the house of David to found the Southern Kingdom. Soon after, the tribe of Benjamin joined the tribe of Judah. According to the 2 Samuel (5:6&7), Jerusalem became the capital of the new kingdom.
After the death of Saul's son Ish-bosheth, David came to rule the other tribes of Israel, creating a united Kingdom of Israel. David's grandson Rehoboam was rejected by ten of the twelve Tribes of Israel during the disruption at Shechem, leaving only the Kingdom of Judah ruled by the Davidic line. The Northern Kingdom fell to the Assyrian Empire c. 720 BCE but the Kingdom of Judah survived for almost 350 years until it was conquered in 586 BCE by the Babylonian Empire under Nebuzar-adan, captain of Nebuchadnezzar's body-guard.(2 Kings 25:8-21). This event coincided with the destruction of the First Temple of Jerusalem and with the Babylonian Captivity.
After the death of King Solomon, the son of King David, the ten northern tribes of the Kingdom of Israel revolted against the Davidic line, refusing to accept Rehoboam son of Solomon and instead chose as king Jeroboam who was not a member of King David's family.
When the disruption took place at Shechem, at first only the tribe of Judah followed the house of David. But very soon after the tribe of Benjamin joined the tribe of Judah, and Jerusalem became the capital of the new kingdom (Joshua 18:28), which was called the kingdom of Judah. The Second Book of Chronicles (2 Chronicles 15:9) also says that members of the tribes of Ephraim, Manasseh and Simeon "fled" to Judah during the reign of Asa.
For the first sixty years, the kings of Judah aimed at re-establishing their authority over the kingdom of the other ten tribes, so that there was a state of perpetual war between them. For the following eighty years, there was no open war between them. For the most part, they were in friendly alliance, co-operating against their common enemies, especially against Damascus.
The Kingdom of Israel, or Northern Kingdom, existed as an independent state from about 930 BCE until around 720 BCE when it was conquered by the Assyrian Empire. The Bible relates that all Israelites were exiled, becoming known as the The Ten Lost Tribes. However, it is estimated that only a fifth of the population (about 40,000) were actually resettled out of the area during the two deportation periods under Tiglath-pilaser III and Sargon II. Nevertheless, many Israelites fled south to Jerusalem, which appears to have expanded in size by 500% during this period, requiring a new wall to be built, and a new source of water (Siloam) to be provided by King Hezekiah.
After the destruction of Israel, Judah continued to exist for about a century and a half until being overthrown by the Babylonians.
King Hezekiah of Judah (727-698 BCE) 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). In his reign is also dated the Siloam inscription in Old Hebrew alphabet.
Manasseh of Judah (698-642 BCE), sacrificed his son to Molech, . He and his son Amon (reigned 642-640 BCE) 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 BCE) 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).
Its capital was Jerusalem.
The kingdom maintained a separate existence for three hundred and eighty-nine years. It occupied an area of about .
|Albright||Thiele||Galil||Kitchen||Common/Biblical name||Regnal Name and style||Notes|
The House of David
|1000–962||1010–970||1010–970||David||דוד בן-ישי מלך ישראל|
David ben Yishai, Melekh Ysr’el
|Reigned over Israel & Judah in Jerusalem for 33 years and 7 years in Hebron, 40 years in total. Death: Natural causes|
|962–922||970–931||971–931||Solomon||שלמה בן-דוד מלך ישראל|
Shelomoh ben David, Melekh Ysr’el
|Reigned over Israel & Judah in Jerusalem for 40 years. Death: Natural Causes|
Son of David by Bathsheba, his rights of succession were disputed by his older half-brother Adonijah
|922–915||931–913||931–914||931–915||Rehoboam||רחבעם בן-שלמה מלך יהודה|
Rehav’am ben Shlomoh, Melekh Yehudah
|Reigned over Judah in Jerusalem for 17 years. Death: Natural Causes|
|915–913||913–911||914–911||915–912||Abijam||אבים בן-רחבעם מלך יהודה |
’Aviyam ben Rehav’am, Melekh Yehudah
|Reigned over Judah in Jerusalem for 3 years. Death: Natural Causes|
|913–873||911–870||911–870||912–871||Asa||אסא בן-אבים מלך יהודה |
’Asa ben ’Aviyam, Melekh Yehudah
|Reigned over Judah in Jerusalem for 41 years. Death: Severe foot disease|
|873–849||870–848||870–845||871–849||Jehoshaphat||יהושפט בן-אסא מלך יהודה |
Yehoshafat ben ’Asa, Melekh Yahudah
|Reigned over Judah in Jerusalem for 35 years. Death: Natural Causes|
|849–842||848–841||851–843||849–842||Jehoram||יהורם בן-יהושפט מלך יהודה|
Yehoram ben Yehoshafat, Melekh Yahudah
|Reigned over Judah in Jerusalem for 8 years. Death: Severe Stomach disease|
|842–842||841–841||843–842||842–841||Ahaziah||אחזיהו בן-יהורם מלך יהודה |
’Ahazyahu ben Yehoram, Melekh Yehudah
|Reigned over Judah in Jerusalem for 1 year. Death: Killed by Jehu, who usurped the throne of Israel|
|842–837||841–835||842–835||841–835||Athaliah||עתליה בת-עמרי מלכת יהודה|
‘Atalyah bat ‘Omri, Malkat Yehudah
|Reigned over Judah in Jerusalem for 6 years. Death: Killed by the troops assigned by Jehoiada the Priest to protect Joash.|
Queen Mother, widow of Jehoram and mother of Ahaziah
|837–800||835–796||842–802||841–796||Jehoash||יהואש בן-אחזיהו מלך יהודה |
Yehoash ben ’Ahazyahu, Melekh Yehudah
|Reigned over Judah in Jerusalem for 40 years. Death: Killed by his officials namely: Zabad, son of Shimeath, a Moabite Woman, and Jehozabad, son of Shimrith, a Moabite Woman.|
|800–783||796–767||805–776||796–776||Amaziah||אמציה בן-יהואש מלך יהודה |
’Amatzyah ben Yehoash, Melekh Yehudah
|Reigned over Judah in Jerusalem for 29 years. Death: Killed in Lachish by the men sent by his officials who conspired against him.|
|עזיה בן-אמציה מלך יהודה|
‘Uziyah ben ’Amatzyah, Melekh Yehudah
עזריה בן-אמציה מלך יהודה
‘Azaryah ben ’Amatzyah, Melekh Yehudah
|Reigned over Judah in Jerusalem for 52 years. Death: Tzaraas|
George Syncellus wrote that the First Olympiad took place in Uzziah's 48th regnal year.
|742–735||740–732||758–742||750–735/30||Jotham||יותם בן-עזיה מלך יהודה |
Yotam ben ‘Uziyah, Melekh Yehudah
|Reigned over Judah in Jerusalem for 16 years. Death: Natural Causes|
|735–715||732–716||742–726||735/31–715||Ahaz||אחז בן-יותם מלך יהודה|
’Ahaz ben Yotam, Melekh Yehudah
|Reigned over Judah in Jerusalem for 16 years. Death: Natural Causes|
The Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser III records he received tribute from Ahaz; compare 2 Kings 16:7-9
|715–687||716–687||726–697||715–687||Hezekiah||חזקיה בן-אחז מלך יהודה|
Hizqiyah ben ’Ahaz, Melekh Yehudah
|Reigned over Judah in Jerusalem for 29 years. Death: Natural Causes|
Contemporary with Sennacherib of Assyria and Merodach-Baladan of Babylon.
|687–642||687–643||697–642||687–642||Manasseh||מנשה בן-חזקיה מלך יהודה|
Menasheh ben Hizqiyah, Melekh Yehudah
|Reigned over Judah in Jerusalem for 55 years. Death: Natural Causes|
Mentioned in Assyrian records as a contemporary of Esarhaddon
|642–640||643–641||642–640||642–640||Amon||אמון בן-מנשה מלך יהודה|
’Amon ben Menasheh, Melekh Yehudah
|Reigned over Judah in Jerusalem for 2 years. Death: Killed by his officials, which were killed later on by the people of Judah.|
|640–609||641–609||640–609||640–609||Josiah||יאשיהו בן-אמון מלך יהודה|
Yo’shiyahu ben ’Amon, Melekh Yehudah
|Reigned over Judah in Jerusalem for 31 years. Death: He was shot by archers during the battle against Neco of Egypt. He died upon his arrival on Jerusalem.|
|יהואחז בן-יאשיהו מלך יהודה|
Yeho’ahaz ben Yo’shiyahu, Melekh Yehudah
אחז בן-יאשיהו מלך יהודה
’Ahaz ben Yo’shiyahu, Melekh Yehudah
|Reigned over Judah in Jerusalem for 3 months. Death: Neco, king of Egypt, dethroned him and was replaced by his brother, Eliakim. Then he was carried off to Egypt, where he died.|
|609–598||609–598||609–598||609–598||Jehoiakim||יהויקים בן-יאשיהו מלך יהודה|
Yehoyaqim ben Yo’shiyahu, Melekh Yehudah
|Reigned over Judah in Jerusalem for 11 years. Death: Natural Causes|
The Battle of Carchemish occurred in the fourth year of his reign (Jeremiah 46:2)
|יהויכין בן-יהויקים מלך יהודה|
Yehoyakhin ben Yehoyaqim, Melekh Yehudah
יכניהו בן-יהויקים מלך יהודה
Yekhonyahu ben Yehoyaqim, Melekh Yehudah
|Reigned over Judah in Jerusalem for 3 months & 10 days. Death: King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon sent for him and brought him to Babylon, where he lived and died.|
Jerusalem was captured by the Babylonians and Jehoiachin deposed on 16 March, 597 BCE. Called Jeconiah in Jeremiah and Esther
|597–587||597–586||597–586||597–586||Zedekiah||צדקיהו בן-יהויכין מלך יהודה|
Tzidqiyahu ben Yo’shiyahu, Melekh Yehudah
|Reigned over Judah in Jerusalem for 11 years. Death: Unknown.|
His reign saw the second rebellion against Nebuchadnezzar (588-586 BCE). Jerusalem was captured after a lengthy siege, the temple burnt, Zedekiah blinded and taken into exile, and Judah reduced to a province.
After the end of the ancient kingdom the area passed into foreign rule, apart from brief periods, under the following powers: