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Holman Bible Dictionary

Judah

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(jyoo' duh) Personal, tribal, and territorial name meaning, “Praise Yahweh,” but may have originally been related to the mountain of Jehud. 1. In Genesis 29:35 , the fourth son of Jacob and the progenitor of the tribe of Judah. His mother was Leah. Though Judah is prominent in the Genesis narratives, he seldom occupies center stage. Genesis 38:1 is an exception. It relates the seduction of Judah by his daughter-in-law Tamar. Their union resulted in the birth of Pharez and Zarah. Genesis 49:8-12 preserves the blessing of Judah by Jacob. Through Judah ran the genealogical line that led to Jesus.

2. The tribe of Judah occupied the strategically important territory just to the west of the Dead Sea. The city of Jerusalem was on the border between Judah and Benjamin. David was from the tribe of Judah. 3. When the kingdom was divided following the death of Solomon, the southern kingdom took the name Judah. See Judas ; Geography; Tribes of Israel; Patriarchs; Israel .

4. The province set up by the Persian government to rule a conquered Judean kingdom (Nehemiah 5:14 ; Haggai 1:1 ). Judah formed one small province alongside Samaria, Galilee, and Idumea. All these reported to the Satrap of the Persian satrapy of Abarnaharah which encompassed the land west of the Euphrates River with its center in Damascus (Ezra 5:3 ,Ezra 5:3,5:6 ; Ezra 6:6 ,Ezra 6:6,6:13 ). The satrap reported to a higher official over Babylon and Abarnaharah with headquarters in Babylon. When Judah's exiles returned from Babylon, Zerubbabel was governor of Judah; Tattenai, satrap of Abarnaharah or Beyond the River; and Ushtannu, satrap of Babylon and Abarnaharah.

5. Priest whose sons helped Zerubbabel and Joshua begin work on restoring the Temple after 537 B.C. (Ezra 3:9 ; compare Nehemiah 12:8 ). 6 . Levite whom Ezra condemned for having foreign wife who might tempt Israel to worship other gods (Ezra 10:23 ). 7 . Member of tribe of Benjamin who lived in Jerusalem after the return from Exile and was second in command over the city (Nehemiah 11:9 ). He may be the official who joined Nehemiah in leading the celebration of the completion of the Jerusalem wall (Nehemiah 12:34 ). 8 . Priestly musician who helped in Nehemiah's celebration (Nehemiah 12:36 ). 9 . An obscure geographical reference in the description of the tribal borders of Naphtali (Joshua 19:34 ). The earliest Greek translators could not understand the reference and so did not translate it. (Compare TEV, NIV). Naphtali's territory does not touch that of the tribe of Judah. Some try to define Judah here as the sixty towns of Jair east of the Jordan (Joshua 13:30 ). Others translate Judah as “low-lying land” (REB). Some scholars try to make another place name such as Jehuda out of the reference. It may be that a copyist confused Jordan and Judah, which resemble one another in appearance in Hebrew writing, and miscopied Jordan as Judah and then copied Jordan. No sure solution exists to explain Judah in this text. 10. City of Judah (2 Chronicles 25:28 ) is Jerusalem.


Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Judah'. Holman Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hbd/j/judah.html. 1991.

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