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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible


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JUDAH (‘he is to be praised’; the popular etymologies seem to regard the name as an unabbreviated Hoph. impf. of jâdâh , ‘to praise’). Judah is represented as the fourth son of Leah by Jacob ( Genesis 29:35 [J [Note: Jahwist.] ] Genesis 35:23 (P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] ]). Though he was of late birth, the Judæan document (J [Note: Jahwist.] ) nevertheless gives him precedence over Reuben, the firstborn, who is favoured by the later Ephraimite document E [Note: Elohist.] . According to J [Note: Jahwist.] , it was Judah who proposed to sell Joseph in order to avert the danger which threatened him at the hands of his brethren ( Genesis 37:26 ff.). Similarly, when they return to Joseph’s house with the silver cup, J [Note: Jahwist.] gives the pre-eminence to Judah, and makes him spokesman for all in his pathetic appeal to Joseph ( Genesis 44:14-34 ). Reuben, because of his lust towards Bilhah ( Genesis 49:4; cf. Genesis 35:22 ), and Simeon and Levi, because of their barbarous conduct towards the Shechemites, fall before their enemies and into disfavour with their brethren, and Judah succeeds to the primogenitureship.

A tradition is preserved in Genesis 38:1-30 which is generally supposed to be of great value as bearing upon the early development of the tribe. Judah is there said to have withdrawn himself from his brethren and to have gone down to a certain Adullamite whose name was Hirah. There he met with Bath-shua, a Canaanitess, whom he took to wife. She bore him three sons, Er, Onan, and Shelah. Er and Onan were slain by Jahweh for their wickedness. Er’s widow, Tamar, a Canaanitess also, it seems, posing by the wayside as a hierodule, enticed Judah to intercourse with her, and of her the twin sons Perez and Zerah were born to Judah. This story is usually held to be based upon facts of tribal history, though cast in the form of personal narrative, and also to prove clearly that Judah, like other tribal names, is but the eponymous head of the tribe. It points to the settlement of Judah in the region of Adullam and its union with foreign stock. Hirah is a Canaanite clan; Er and Onan stand for two other clans which became united to Judah, but early disappeared; the other three continued to exist as constituents of Judah. Besides these it would appear that in the time of David the Calebite and Jerahmeelite tribes, mentioned in 1 Chronicles 2:1-55 as descendants of Perez, were incorporated into the tribe. In 1 Samuel 27:10; 1 Samuel 30:14 they still appear to be independent, though the Chronicler makes both Caleb and Jerahmeel descendants of Judah through Perez and Hezron, to whom also he traces David. In Numbers 13:1-33 (P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] ) Caleb, who is sent by Moses as one of the spies, belongs to Judah; but in Numbers 32:12 , Joshua 14:6; Joshua 14:14 (R [Note: Redactor.] ), Judges 3:1-31 etc., he is a Kenizzite, the son of Kenaz. From the last passage we see that Othniel, whose chief centre was Kiriathsepher (Debir), was another closely related tribe, and both appear from Genesis 36:16; Genesis 36:42 (P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] ) to have been Edomites. Kenites, commonly supposed to be of Midianite origin, we are told in Judges 1:16 , also went up from Jericho with Judah into the Wilderness.

Of all these foreign elements by which the tribe of Judah was increased, the Calebite was the most important. In fact the Chronicler makes the Judahite stock consist largely of the descendants of Hezron. It was the Calebite capital, Hebron, that under David (himself said to be Hezronite) became the capital of Judah. After this time the history of the tribe becomes the history of the Southern Kingdom.

P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] ’s Sinai census (Numbers 1:27 ) gives 74,600, and that of the Wilderness 76,500 ( Numbers 26:22 ).

The territory of the tribe is described in Joshua 15:1 ff. (P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] ); but this is late and an ideal apportionment. In the Song of Deborah Judah is not even mentioned, because ‘it was not yet made up by the fusion of Israelite, Canaanite, Edomite, and Arabic elements,’ as Stade ( GVI [Note: VI Geschichte des Volkes Israel.] 113) puts it. The Blessing of Jacob ( Genesis 49:8 ff.) and that of Moses ( Deuteronomy 33:7 ) reflect conditions during the monarchy. How the tribe entered W. Canaan and obtained its early seat around Bethlehem it is impossible to say. See also Tribes of Israel.

James A. Craig.

JUDAH. 1. See preced. article. 2. Ezra 3:9 (cf. Nehemiah 12:8 ) = 1Es 5:58 Joda. 3. A Levite, Ezra 10:23 = 1E Esther 9:23 Judges 1:4 . An overseer, Nehemiah 11:9 . Nehemiah 11:5 . A priest’s son, Nehemiah 12:36 . Nehemiah 12:6 . Luke 1:39; see Jutah . 7. See next article.

JUDAH ‘upon (AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ) or at (RV [Note: Revised Version.] ) Jordan’ ( Joshua 19:34 ) is a very doubtful site. It is the general opinion that the text of this passage must be corrupt, and that the name of some place near Jordan, perhaps Chinneroth, may have been lost.

E. W. G. Masterman.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Judah'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. 1909.

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