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Kings of Judah

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Kings of Judah

The genealogy of the kings of Judah, along with the kings of Israel.

The Kings of Judah were the monarchs who ruled over the ancient Kingdom of Judah. According to the biblical account, this kingdom was founded after the death of Saul, when the Tribe of Judah elevated David to rule over it. After seven years, David became king of a reunited Kingdom of Israel. However, in about 930 BC the united kingdom split, with ten of the twelve Tribes of Israel rejecting Solomon's son Rehoboam as their king. The Tribes of Judah and Benjamin remained loyal to Rehoboam, and reformed the Kingdom of Judah, while the other entity continuing to be called the Kingdom of Israel, or just Israel.

The capital of the Kingdom of Judah was Jerusalem. All of the kings of Judah lived and died in Judah except for Ahaziah (who died at Megiddo in Israel), Jehoahaz (who died a prisoner in Egypt) and Jeconiah and Zedekiah who were deported as part of the Babylonian captivity.

Judah existed until 586 BC, when it was conquered by the Babylonian Empire under Nebuzaradan, captain of Nebuchadnezzar's body-guard.[1] With the deportation of most of the population and the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, the demise of the Kingdom of Judah was complete.

The Davidic dynasty began when the tribe of Judah made David its king, following the death of Saul. The Davidic line continued when David became king of the reunited Kingdom of Israel. When the united kingdom split, the tribes of Judah and Benjamin continued to be loyal to the Davidic line, which ruled it until the kingdom was destroyed in 586 BC. However, the Davidic line continued to be respected by the exiles in Babylon, who regarded the exilarchs as kings-in-exile.

A more complete biography of the Kings of Judah than that of the Hebrew Bible were written by Iddo the Seer and in the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah, both of which are mentioned in the Bible. However, both of these works have been lost.


  • List of Kings 1
    • House of David 1.1
  • Chronology 2
    • Co-regency 2.1
    • Synchronism to fall of Judah 2.2
    • Synchronism to Gregorian dating 2.3
  • Coronation ritual 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

List of Kings

Most modern historians follow either the older chronologies established by William F. Albright or Edwin R. Thiele,[2] or the newer chronologies of Gershon Galil and Kenneth Kitchen,[3] all of which are shown below. All dates are BCE.

Common/Biblical name Albright Thiele Galil Kitchen Regnal Name and style Notes

House of David

Reigned over Judah for 7 years in Hebron, then Israel & Judah in Jerusalem for 33 years; 40 years in total.
1000–962   1010–970 1010–970 דוד בן-ישי מלך ישראל
David ben Yishai,
Melekh Ysra’el
Death: natural causes
Reigned over Israel & Judah in Jerusalem for 40 years.
962–932   970–931 971–931 שלמה בן-דוד מלך ישראל
Shelomoh ben David,
Melekh Ysra’el
Death: natural causes
Son of David by Bathsheba, his rights of succession were disputed by his older half-brother Adonijah
Reigned for 17 years.
932–915 931–913 931–914 931–915 רחבעם בן-שלמה מלך יהודה
Rehav’am ben Shlomoh,
Melekh Yehudah
Death: natural causes
Reigned for 3 years.
915–913 913–911 914–911 915–912 אבים בן-רחבעם מלך יהודה
’Aviyam ben Rehav’am,
Melekh Yehudah
Death: natural causes
Reigned for 41 years.
913–873 911–870 911–870 912–871 אסא בן-אבים מלך יהודה
’Asa ben ’Aviyam,
Melekh Yehudah
Death: severe foot disease
Reigned for 25 years.
873–849 870–848 870–845 871–849 יהושפט בן-אסא מלך יהודה
Yehoshafat ben ’Asa,
Melekh Yahudah
Death: natural causes
Reigned for 8 years.
849–842 848–841 851–843 849–842 יהורם בן-יהושפט מלך יהודה
Yehoram ben Yehoshafat,
Melekh Yahudah
Death: severe stomach disease
Reigned for 1 year.
842–842 841–841 843–842 842–841 אחזיהו בן-יהורם מלך יהודה
’Ahazyahu ben Yehoram,
Melekh Yehudah
Death: killed by Jehu, who usurped the throne of Israel
Reigned for 6 years.
842–837 841–835 842–835 841–835 עתליה בת-עמרי מלכת יהודה
‘Atalyah bat ‘Omri,
Malkat Yehudah
Death: killed by the troops assigned by Jehoiada the Priest to protect Joash.
Queen Mother, widow of Jehoram and mother of Ahaziah
Jehoash (Joash)
Reigned for 40 years.
837–800 835–796 842–802 841–796 יהואש בן-אחזיהו מלך יהודה
Yehoash ben ’Ahazyahu,
Melekh Yehudah
Death: killed by his officials namely: Zabad, son of Shimeath, an Ammonite Woman, and Jehozabad, son of Shimrith, a Moabite Woman.
Reigned for 29 years.
800–783 796–767 805–776 796–776 אמציה בן-יהואש מלך יהודה
’Amatzyah ben Yehoash,
Melekh Yehudah
Death: killed in Lachish by the men sent by his officials who conspired against him.
Reigned for 52 years.
783–742 767–740 788–736 776–736 עזיה בן-אמציה מלך יהודה
‘Uziyah ben ’Amatzyah,
Melekh Yehudah
עזריה בן-אמציה מלך יהודה
‘Azaryah ben ’Amatzyah,
Melekh Yehudah
Death: Tzaraas
First Olympiad took place in Uzziah's 48th regnal year.
Reigned for 16 years.
742–735 740–732 758–742 750–735/30 יותם בן-עזיה מלך יהודה
Yotam ben ‘Uziyah,
Melekh Yehudah
Death: natural causes
Reigned for 16 years.
735–715 732–716 742–726 735/31–715 אחז בן-יותם מלך יהודה
’Ahaz ben Yotam,
Melekh Yehudah
Death: natural causes
The Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser III records he received tribute from Ahaz; compare 2 Kings 16:7-9
Reigned for 29 years.
715–687 716–687 726–697 715–687 חזקיה בן-אחז מלך יהודה
Hizqiyah ben ’Ahaz,
Melekh Yehudah
Death: Natural Causes
Contemporary with Sennacherib of Assyria and Merodach-Baladan of Babylon.
Reigned for 55 years.
687–642 687–643 697–642 687–642 מנשה בן-חזקיה מלך יהודה
Menasheh ben Hizqiyah,
Melekh Yehudah
Death: natural causes
Mentioned in Assyrian records as a contemporary of Esarhaddon
Reigned for 2 years.
642–640 643–641 642–640 642–640 אמון בן-מנשה מלך יהודה
’Amon ben Menasheh,
Melekh Yehudah
Death: killed by his officials, who were killed later on by the people of Judah.
Reigned for 31 years.
640–609 641–609 640–609 640–609 יאשיהו בן-אמון מלך יהודה
Yo’shiyahu ben ’Amon,
Melekh Yehudah
Death: shot by archers during the battle against Neco of Egypt. He died upon his arrival on Jerusalem.
Reigned for 3 months.
609 609 609 609 יהואחז בן-יאשיהו מלך יהודה
Yeho’ahaz ben Yo’shiyahu,
Melekh Yehudah
Death: Neco, king of Egypt, dethroned him and was replaced by his brother, Eliakim. Carried off to Egypt, where he died.
Reigned for 11 years.
609–598 609–598 609–598 609–598 יהויקים בן-יאשיהו מלך יהודה
Yehoyaqim ben Yo’shiyahu,
Melekh Yehudah
Death: Natural Causes
The Battle of Carchemish occurred in the fourth year of his reign (Jeremiah 46:2)
Reigned for 3 months & 10 days.
598 598 598–597 598–597 יהויכין בן-יהויקים מלך יהודה
Yehoyakhin ben Yehoyaqim,
Melekh Yehudah
יכניהו בן-יהויקים מלך יהודה
Yekhonyahu ben Yehoyaqim, Melekh Yehudah
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 BC. Called Jeconiah in Jeremiah and Esther
Reigned for 11 years.
597–587 597–586 597–586 597–586 צדקיהו בן-יאשיהו מלך יהודה
Tzidqiyahu ben Yo’shiyahu,
Melekh Yehudah
Death: unknown.
His reign saw the second rebellion against Nebuchadnezzar (588-586 BC). Jerusalem was captured after a lengthy siege, the temple burnt, Zedekiah blinded and taken into exile, and Judah reduced to a province.

A footnote from the Amplified Bible regarding Jeremiah 36:3 disputes that King Jehoiakim died of natural causes: Several years after these events, the king rebelled against Babylon (II Kings 24:1) and was attacked by numerous bands from various nations subject to Babylon (II Kings 24:2). He thus came to a violent death and a disgraceful burial such as Jeremiah had foretold several chapters before this one (Jer. 22:13-19). There, after a stern and scathing censure of the king, the Lord foretells through his prophet that Jehoiakim will "be buried with the burial of a donkey--dragged out and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem" (Jer. 22:19).


The breakup of the united Kingdom of Solomon

There has been considerable academic debate about the actual dates of reigns of the Judahite kings. Scholars have endeavored to synchronize the chronology of events referred to in the Bible with those derived from other external sources. The convention is to try to reduce the dating in terms of the current era dating, the Gregorian calendar. The sources create certain obstacles in their endeavours and has generated academic disagreements, as reflected in the table above.

Biblical scholars have noted the apparent inconsistencies in the chronology of the kings of Judah and Israel based on the biblical sources. Some have also pointed out the difficulties of cross-synchronising that dating with those of the other cultures of the area. Some have attempted to give as much historical weight as possible to the biblical sources, while others discount their reliability as a historic source, some even denying to the biblical sources any historical value at all.

Using the information in Kings and Chronicles, Edwin Thiele has calculated the dates of the reigns of the kings of Judah from the division of the kingdom, which he calculates to have been in 931-930 BC. Thiele noticed that for the first seven kings of Israel (ignoring Zimri's inconsequential seven-day reign), the synchronisms to Judean kings fell progressively behind by one year for each king. Thiele saw this as evidence that the northern kingdom was measuring the years by a non-accession system (first partial year of reign was counted as year one), whereas the southern kingdom was using the accession method (it was counted as year zero). Also he concluded that the calendars for reckoning the years of kings in Judah and Israel were offset by six months, that of Judah starting in Tishri (in the fall) and that of Israel in Nisan (in the spring). This is the conclusion from cross-synchronizations between the two kingdoms which often allows the narrowing of the beginning and/or ending dates of a king to within a six-month range, indicating the difference being due to the calendar starting date. Once these were understood, the various reign lengths and cross-synchronisms for these kings was worked out, and the sum of reigns for both kingdoms produced 931/930 BC for the division of the kingdom when working backwards from the Battle of Qarqar in 853 BC.

Thiele showed that for the reign of Jehoram, Judah adopted Israel's non-accession method of counting the years of reign, meaning that the first partial year of the king's reign was counted as his first full year, in contrast to the "accession" method previously in use whereby the first partial year was counted as year "zero," and "year one" was assigned to the first full year of reign. Thiele attributed this change to the rapprochement between Judah and Israel, whereby Jehoshaphat, Jehoram's father, made common cause with Ahab at the battle of Ramoth-Gilead, and chose a daughter for his son from the house of Ahab (1 Kings 22:1-38, 2 Kings 8:18).[4] This convention was followed in Judah for the next three monarchs: Ahaziah, Athaliah, and Jehoash, returning to Judah's original accession reckoning in the time of Amaziah. These changes can be inferred from a careful comparison of the textual data in the Scripture, but because the Scriptural texts do not state explicitly whether the reckoning was by accession or non-accession counting, nor do they indicate explicitly when a change was made in the method, many have criticized Thiele's chronology as being entirely arbitrary in its assignment of accession and non-accession reckoning. The arbitrariness, however, apparently rested with the ancient kings and their court recorders, not with Thiele. The official records of Tiglath-Pileser III show that he switched (arbitrarily) to non-accession reckoning for his reign, in contrast with the accession method used for previous kings of Assyria.[5] Tiglath-Pileser left no record explaining to modern historians which kind of method he was using, nor that he was switching from the method used by his predecessors; all of this is determined by a careful comparison of the relevant texts by Assyriologists, the same as Thiele did for the regnal data of Judah and Israel.


Another potential confusion arises from periods of co-regency when a son may be made king during the continuing reign of the father, as an equal of the father. In those situations the year reigns are counted in terms of both the father and of the son. At times the period of co-regency is clearly indicated (for example in 2 Kings 8:16), while in others it must be inferred from the dating.

As an example of the reasoning that finds inconsistencies in calculations when coregencies are a priori ruled out, 2 Kings 18:10 dates the fall of Samaria (the Northern Kingdom) to the 6th year of Hezekiah's reign. William F. Albright has dated the fall of the Kingdom of Israel to 721 BC, while E. R. Thiele calculates the date as 723 BC.[6] If Abright's or Thiele's dating are correct, then Hezekiah's reign would begin in either 729 or 727 BC. On the other hand, 18:13 states that Sennacherib invaded Judah in the 14th year of Hezekiah's reign. Dating based on Assyrian records date this invasion to 701 BC, and Hezekiah's reign would therefore begin in 716/715 BC.[7] This dating would be confirmed by the account of Hezekiah's illness in chapter 20, which immediately follows Sennacherib's departure (2 Kings 20). This would date his illness to Hezekiah's 14th year, which is confirmed by Isaiah's statement (2 Kings 18:5) that he will live fifteen more years (29-15=14). As shown below, these problems are all addressed by scholars who make reference to the ancient Near Eastern practice of coregency.

Following the approach of Wellhausen, another set of calculations shows it is probable that Hezekiah did not ascend the throne before 722 BC. By Albright's calculations, Jehu's initial year is 842 BC; and between it and Samaria's destruction the Books of Kings give the total number of the years the kings of Israel ruled as 143 7/12, while for the kings of Judah the number is 165. This discrepancy, amounting in the case of Judah to 45 years (165-120), has been accounted for in various ways; but every one of those theories must allow that Hezekiah's first six years fell before 722 BC. (That Hezekiah began to reign before 722 BC, however, is entirely consistent with the principle that the Ahaz/Hezekiah coregency began in 729 BC.) Nor is it clearly known how old Hezekiah was when called to the throne, although 2 Kings 18:2 states he was twenty-five years of age. His father died at the age of thirty-six (2 Kings 16:2); it is not likely that Ahaz at the age of eleven should have had a son. Hezekiah's own son Manasseh ascended the throne twenty-nine years later, at the age of twelve. This places his birth in the seventeenth year of his father's reign, or gives Hezekiah's age as forty-two, if he was twenty-five at his ascension. It is more probable that Ahaz was twenty-one or twenty-five when Hezekiah was born (and suggesting an error in the text), and that the latter was thirty-two at the birth of his son and successor, Manasseh.

Since Albright and Friedman, several scholars have explained these dating problems on the basis of a coregency between Hezekiah and his father Ahaz between 729 and 716/715 BC. Assyriologists and Egyptologists recognize that coregency was a practice both in Assyria and Egypt,[8][9] After noting that coregencies were only used sporadically in the northern kingdom (Israel), Nadav Na'aman writes,

In the kingdom of Judah, on the other hand, the nomination of a co-regent was the common procedure, beginning from David who, before his death, elevated his son Solomon to the throne…When taking into account the permanent nature of the co-regency in Judah from the time of Joash, one may dare to conclude that dating the co-regencies accurately is indeed the key for solving the problems of biblical chronology in the eighth century B.C."[10]

Among the numerous scholars who have recognized the coregency between Ahaz and Hezekiah are Kenneth Kitchen in his various writings,[11] Leslie McFall,[12] and Jack Finegan.[13] McFall, in his 1991 article, argues that if 729 BC (that is, the Judean regnal year beginning in Tishri of 729) is taken as the start of the Ahaz/Hezekiah coregency, and 716/715 BC as the date of the death of Ahaz, then all the extensive chronological data for Hezekiah and his contemporaries in the late eighth century BC are in harmony. Further, McFall found that no textual emendations are required among the numerous dates, reign lengths, and synchronisms given in the Bible for this period.[14] In contrast, those who do not accept the Ancient Near Eastern principle of coregencies require multiple emendations of the Scriptural text, and there is no general agreement on which texts should be emended, nor is there any consensus among these scholars on the resultant chronology for the eighth century BC. This is in contrast with the general consensus among those who accept the biblical and near Eastern practice of coregencies that Hezekiah was installed as coregent with his father Ahaz in 729 BC, and the synchronisms of 2 Kings 18 must be measured from that date, whereas the synchronisms to Sennacherib are measured from the sole reign starting in 716/715 BC. The two synchronisms to Hoshea of Israel in 2 Kings 18 are then in exact agreement with the dates of Hoshea's reign that can be determined from Assyrian sources, as is the date of Samaria's fall as stated in 2 Kings 18:10. An analogous situation of two ways of measurement, both equally valid, is encountered in the dates given for Jehoram of Israel, whose first year is synchronized to the 18th year of the sole reign of Jehoshaphat of Judah in 2 Kings 3:1 (853/852 BC), but his reign is also reckoned according to another method as starting in the second year of the coregency of Jehoshaphat and his son Jehoram of Judah (2 Kings 1:17); both methods refer to the same calendrical year.

Scholars who accept the principle of coregencies note that abundant evidence for their use is found in the biblical material itself.[15] The agreement of scholarship built on these principles with both biblical and secular texts was such that the Thiele/McFall chronology was accepted as the best chronology for the kingdom period in Jack Finegan's encyclopedic Handbook of Biblical Chronology.[16]

Synchronism to fall of Judah

The Babylonian Chronicles give 2 Adar (16 March), 597 BC, as the date that Nebuchadnezzar first captured Jerusalem, thus putting an end to the reign of Jehoaichin.[17] Zedekiah's installation as king by Nebuchadnezzar can thus be dated to the early spring of 597 BC.

Historically, there has been considerable controversy over the date when Jerusalem was captured the second time and Zedekiah's reign came to an end. There is no dispute about the month: it was the summer month of Tammuz (Jeremiah 52:6). The problem has been to determine the year. It was noted above that Albright preferred 587 BC and Thiele advocated 586 BC, and this division among scholars has persisted until the present time. If Zedekiah's years are by accession counting, whereby the year he came to the throne was considered his "zero" year and his first full year in office, 597/596, was counted as year one, Zedekiah's eleventh year, the year the city fell, would be 587/586. Since Judean regnal years were measured from Tishri in the fall, this would place the end of his reign and the capture of the city in the summer of 586 BC. Accession counting was the rule for most, but not all, of the kings of Judah, whereas "non-accession" counting was the rule for most, but not all, of the kings of Israel.[2][18]

The publication of the Babylonian Chronicles in 1956, however, gave evidence that the years of Zedekiah were measured in a non-accession sense. This reckoning makes year 598/597, the year Zedekiah was installed by Nebuchadnezzar according to Judah's Tishri-based calendar, to be year "one," so that the fall of Jerusalem in his eleventh year would have been in year 588/587, i.e. in the summer of 587 BC. The Bablyonian Chronicles allow the fairly precise dating of the capture of Jehoiachin and the start of Zedekiah's reign, and they also give the accession year of Nebuchadnezzar's successor Amel-Marduk (Evil Merodach) as 562/561 BC, which was the 37th year of Jehoiachin's captivity according to 2 Kings 25:27. These Babylonian records related to Jehoiachin's reign are consistent with the fall of the city in 587 but not in 586, thus vindicating Albright's date.

Synchronism to Gregorian dating

Another potential confusion arises from the convention of dating the reigns of the Israelite kings by reference to the Gregorian calendar. This potential confusion arises because year numbers of the Gregorian calendar commence on 1 January, while year numbers for dating biblical events start on 1 Tishri of the Hebrew calendar, which is not fixed in terms of the Gregorian year, and also usually occurs in September–October of the Gregorian year. Accordingly, an event which takes place after 1 Tishri, between, say, November and December under Gregorian dating, would be in the next year under biblical dating.

Coronation ritual

A detailed account of a coronation in ancient Judah is found in II Kings 11:12 and II Chronicles 23:11, in which the seven-year-old Jehoash is crowned in a coup against the usurper Athaliah. This ceremony took place in the doorway of the Temple in Jerusalem. The king was led to "his pillar", "as the manner was", where a crown was placed upon his head, and "the testimony" given to him, followed by anointing at the hands of the high priest and his sons. Afterwards, the people "clapped their hands" and shouted "God save the King" as trumpets blew, music played, and singers offered hymns of praise.

All of these elements would find their way in some form or another into European coronation rituals after its conversion to Christianity many centuries later. Christian coronation rites (the few that remain) continue to borrow from this example.

See also


  1. ^ 2 Kings 25:8-21
  2. ^ a b Edwin Thiele, The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, (1st ed.; New York: Macmillan, 1951; 2d ed.; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965; 3rd ed.; Grand Rapids: Zondervan/Kregel, 1983). ISBN 0-8254-3825-X, 9780825438257
  3. ^ On the Reliability of the Old Testament (2003) by Kenneth Kitchen. Grand Rapids and Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. ISBN 0-8028-4960-1.
  4. ^ Thiele, Mysterious Numbers" 58.
  5. ^ Hayim Tadmor, The Inscriptions of Tiglath-Pileser III, King of Assyria (Jerusalem: Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, 1994) 232, n.3.
  6. ^ Edwin R. Thiele, The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings (3rd ed.; Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan/Kregel, 1983) pp. 134, 217.
  7. ^ Leslie McFall, “A Translation Guide to the Chronological Data in Kings and Chronicles,” Bibliotheca Sacra 148 (1991) p. 33. (Link)
  8. ^ William J. Murnane, Ancient Egyptian Coregencies (Chicago: The Oriental Institute, 1977).
  9. ^ J. D. Douglas, ed., New Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1965) p. 1160.
  10. ^ Nadav Na'aman, "Historical and Chronological Notes on the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah in the Eighth Century B.C." Vetus Testamentum 36 (1986) p. 91.
  11. ^ See Kitchen's chronology in New Bible Dictionary p. 220.
  12. ^ Leslie McFall, "Translation Guide" p.42.
  13. ^ Jack Finegan, Handbook of Biblical Chronology (rev. ed.; Peabody MA: Hendrickson, 1998) p. 246.
  14. ^ Leslie McFall, "Translation Guide" pp. 4-45 (Link).
  15. ^ Thiele, Mysterious Numbers chapter 3, "Coregencies and Rival Reigns."
  16. ^ Jack Finegan, Handbook of Biblical Chronology p. 246.
  17. ^ D. J. Wiseman, Chronicles of Chaldean Kings in the British Museum (London: Trustees of the British Museum, 1956) 73.
  18. ^ Leslie McFall, “A Translation Guide to the Chronological Data in Kings and Chronicles,” Bibliotheca Sacra 148 (1991) 45.[2]

External links

  • The Jewish History Resource Center Project of the Dinur Center for Research in Jewish History, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  • Complete Bible Genealogy A synchronized chart of the kings of Judah and Israel
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