Judah, Kingdom of
Judah, Kingdom of
an ancient state in southern Palestine (from about 928 B.C. to 586 B.C.).
The Kingdom of Judah was formed after the fall of the Kingdom of Israel and Judah (which had arisen in the late 11th century B.C.) and was ruled by a dynasty of David’s descendants. Its capital was Jerusalem. The kingdom was essentially characterized by the same social and economic processes as those of the Kingdom of Israel. Judah was greatly weakened by an invasion of the Egyptians during the reign of Rehoboam (928–911 B.C.) and protracted wars with the Kingdom of Israel. During the reign of Uzziah (785–733 B.C.) the Kingdom of Judah regained control over Idumaea and gained access to the Red Sea. King Hezekiah (who reigned from 727 to 698 B.C.) carried out, under the influence of the prophet Isaiah, a number of military, economic, social, religious, and ritual reforms aimed at strengthening the country against the possibility of war with Assyria. Hezekiah’s foreign policy was at first cautious; later he joined an anti-Assyrian coalition but suffered defeat and became a tributary of Assyria.
The reign of King Josiah from 639 to 609 B.C. was a landmark in the history of the kingdom: Judah threw off the Assyrian yoke and even annexed a considerable part of the territory of the former Kingdom of Israel. The conditions of debtor slaves wereeased and the worship of Yahweh was centralized in Jerusalem. The last kings of Judah abandoned the pro-Babylonian orientation and tried unsuccessfully to ally themselves with Egypt. In 587 B.C. the Kingdom of Judah was conquered by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II, Jerusalem and the Temple wereburned, and many inhabitants were driven into captivity (the Babylonian Exile).
I. D. AMUSIN