Easton's Bible Dictionary
Praise, the fourth son of Jacob by Leah. The name originated in Leah's words of praise to the Lord on account of his birth: "Now will I praise [Hebrews odeh] Jehovah, and she called his name Yehudah" (Genesis 29:35).
It was Judah that interposed in behalf of Joseph, so that his life was spared (Genesis 37:26, 27). He took a lead in the affairs of the family, and "prevailed above his brethren" (Genesis 43:3-10; 44:14, 16-34; 46:28; 1 Chronicles 5:2).
Soon after the sale of Joseph to the Ishmaelites, Judah went to reside at Adullam, where he married a woman of Canaan. (see ONAN; TAMAR.) After the death of his wife Shuah, he returned to his father's house, and there exercised much influence over the patriarch, taking a principal part in the events which led to the whole family at length going down into Egypt. We hear nothing more of him till he received his father's blessing (Genesis 49:8-12).
Judah, Kingdom of
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. It was very small in extent, being only about the size of the Scottish county of Perth.
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 next 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. For about another century and a half Judah had a somewhat checkered existence after the termination of the kingdom of Israel till its final overthrow in the destruction of the temple (B.C. 588) by Nebuzar-adan, who was captain of Nebuchadnezzar's body-guard (2 Kings 25:8-21).
The kingdom maintained a separate existence for three hundred and eighty-nine years. It occupied an area of 3,435 square miles. (see ISRAEL, KINGDOM OF.)
Judah, Tribe of
Judah and his three surviving sons went down with Jacob into Egypt (Genesis 46:12; Exodus 1:2). At the time of the Exodus, when we meet with the family of Judah again, they have increased to the number of 74,000 males (Numbers 1:26, 27). Its number increased in the wilderness (26:22). Caleb, the son of Jephunneh, represented the tribe as one of the spies (13:6; 34:19). This tribe marched at the van on the east of the tabernacle (Numbers 2:3-9; 10:14), its standard, as is supposed, being a lion's whelp. Under Caleb, during the wars of conquest, they conquered that portion of the country which was afterwards assigned to them as their inheritance. This was the only case in which any tribe had its inheritance thus determined (Joshua 14:6-15; 15:13-19).
The inheritance of the tribe of Judah was at first fully one-third of the whole country west of Jordan, in all about 2,300 square miles (Joshua 15). But there was a second distribution, when Simeon received an allotment, about 1,000 square miles, out of the portion of Judah (Joshua 19:9). That which remained to Judah was still very large in proportion to the inheritance of the other tribes. The boundaries of the territory are described in Joshua 15:20-63.
This territory given to Judah was divided into four sections.
(1.) The south (Hebrews negeb), the undulating pasture-ground between the hills and the desert to the south (Joshua 15:21.) This extent of pasture-land became famous as the favourite camping-ground of the old patriarchs.
(2.) The "valley" (15:33) or lowland (Hebrews shephelah), a broad strip lying between the central highlands and the Mediterranean. This tract was the garden as well as the granary of the tribe.
(3.) The "hill-country," or the mountains of Judah, an elevated plateau stretching from below Hebron northward to Jerusalem. "The towns and villages were generally perched on the tops of hills or on rocky slopes. The resources of the soil were great. The country was rich in corn, wine, oil, and fruit; and the daring shepherds were able to lead their flocks far out over the neighbouring plains and through the mountains." The number of towns in this district was thirty-eight (Joshua 15:48-60).
(4.) The "wilderness," the sunken district next the Dead Sea (Joshua 15:61), "averaging 10 miles in breadth, a wild, barren, uninhabitable region, fit only to afford scanty pasturage for sheep and goats, and a secure home for leopards, bears, wild goats, and outlaws" (1 Samuel 17:34; 22:1; Mark 1:13). It was divided into the "wilderness of En-gedi" (1 Samuel 24:1), the "wilderness of Judah" (Judges 1:16; Matthew 3:1), between the Hebron mountain range and the Dead Sea, the "wilderness of Maon" (1 Samuel 23:24). It contained only six cities.
Nine of the cities of Judah were assigned to the priests (Joshua 21:9-19).
Judah upon Jordan
The Authorized Version, following the Vulgate, has this rendering in Joshua 19:34. It has been suggested that, following the Masoretic punctuation, the expression should read thus, "and Judah; the Jordan was toward the sun-rising." The sixty cities (Havoth-jair, Numbers 32:41) on the east of Jordan were reckoned as belonging to Judah, because Jair, their founder, was a Manassite only on his mother's side, but on his father's side of the tribe of Judah (1 Chronicles 2:5, 21-23).