The history of the Southern Kingdom (2 Kings 7)

Bilderesultat for house of david inscription

Illustration: The “House of David” inscription from Tel Dan

The southern kingdom of Judah came into being when the northern ten tribes broke away from the united monarchy in approximately 930 B.C. (1 Kings 12:1-24). The remaining kingdom, consisting of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, retained Jerusalem, the capital of the united monarchy, as its capital.

Twenty kings ruled the southern kingdom throughout its 345-year span. All were from the line of David, with one exception – Athaliah, daughter of Ahab, king of the northern kingdom (2 Kings 8:18). She married into the royal Judean family and became queen for six years, from 841-835 B.C. (2 Kings 11). Of those twenty kings, seven are attested in records outside the Bible. In addition, seals or seal impressions have been discovered for fifteen Judean officials and priests named in the Bible.

In the fifth year of Rehoboam, the first king of the southern kingdom after the division of the land, Egypt’s pharaoh Shishak campaigned against Judah, plundering the temple and the royal palace (2 Chronicles 12:1-9). Inscribed on a wall on the temple of Amon in Thebes, Egypt , is a list of places Shishak conquered. Rehoboam was compelled to buy off Shishak with a large payment or tribute

While the ninth century B.C. saw skirmishes with the small kingdom bordering Judah, the eighth century was largely one of peace – the most prosperous era of Judean history. It is estimated that the population of the southern kingdom was 120,000-150,000 at this time, with the majority of people living in Jerusalem and its environs. All of this changed, however, with the coming of the Assyrians during the last quarter of the century.

In 701 B.C. Sennacherib ravaged Judah (2 Kings 18:13), and for the next half century Judah was dominated by Assyria. When this world power grew weak, Josiah (641-609 B.C.) was able to focus again on internal matters and to lead a religious revival (2 Chronicles 34:3-35:19). From 609-605 B.C. the southern kingdom was subject to Egypt (2 Kings 23:31-35). With the defeat of pharaoh Neco at Carchemish by Nebuchardezzar in 605 B.C., Jerusalem fell under Babylonian domination. Nebuchadnezzar crushed one rebellion at Jerusalem in 597 B.C. (24:10-16) and 11 years later destroyed the city, bringing the southern kingdom to an end (25:1-21).


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