Introduction to the Southern Kingdom

by | Oct 8, 2020 | 02 Library, Background & History, Introductions

After the death of King Solomon, two of his sons, Rehoboam and Jeroboam, fought for the throne. When Rehoboam harshly raised taxes on the people, the 10 northern tribes rebelled and installed Jeroboam as their king, creating the northern kingdom of Israel. The two southern tribes, Benjamin and Judah, remained with Rehoboam and became the kingdom of Judah.


  • 1 Kings 14:21-15:24 – Rehoboam, Abijah, Asa
  • 1 Kings 22:41-50 – Jehoshaphat
  • 2 Kings 8:16-16:20 (Jehoram through Ahaz, interspersed with Northern kings)
  • 2 Kings 18-25 – Hezekiah through the fall of Jerusalem
  • 2 Chronicles 10-26 (whole history)

Special Format – for the Kings of Judah, add’s the King’s mother

  • Opening: “1Now in the eighteenth year of King Jeroboam the son of Nebat, Abijam began to reign over Judah. 2He reigned for three years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Maacah the daughter of Abishalom. 3And he walked in all the sins that his father did before him, and his heart was not wholly true to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father (1Kings 15:1-3).”
  • Closing: “7The rest of the acts of Abijam and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? And there was war between Abijam and Jeroboam. 8And Abijam slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city of David. And Asa his son reigned in his place (1Kings 15:7-8).”

Period of Conflict with Israel (931-870 BC)

Rehoboam (931-913 BC; 1 Kings 14:21-31; 2 Chronicles 10-12)

  • Rehoboam inherits after Solomon. He makes matters worse politically and economically. 10 nothern tribes rebel, leaving Judah and Benjamin loyal to him.
  • Continued warfare with Israel (1 Kings 14:30); probably around the border between the northern edge of Judah and the southern edge of Israel
  • Fortifies 15 cities in Judah and Benjamin, west and south of Jerusalem for defense against Egypt and Philistia.
  • Shishak, the King of Egypt, attackes Judah (150 cities) and defeats Rehoboam in 926 BC, emptied the treasuries of the Temple and the royal palace. Reason: 2 Chronicles 12:1 – he and all Israel abandoned the law of the Lord. Response: Rehoboam humbled himself and “there was some good in Judah”.

Abijam/Abijah (913-911; 1 Kings 15:1-8; 2 Chronicles 13:1-22)

  • His heart was not fully devoted to the Lord (1 Kings 15:30 yet pious speech on the brink of a battle with Jeroboam (2 Chronicles 13:4-12) on apostasy of the North
  • Constant state of war with Israel (1 Kings 15:6-8).

Asa (911-870; 1 Kings 15:9-24; 2Chronicles 14-16)

  • Good king but becomes proud. Covenant renewal at Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 15)
  • Built up fortified cities; victory over Egypt via reliance on God (2 Chronicles 14:11); victory in war with Baasha, king of Israel, at Ramah thanks to alliance with Be-Hadad of Damascus, rather than reliance upon God (2 Chronicles 16:7)

Period of Alliance with Israel (870-835 BC)

Jehoshaphat (870-848 BC; 1 Kings 22:412-50; 2 Chronicles 17-20)

  • Good king; Removed the high places but later re-established them; rids shrine of prostitutes; sends priest into Judah to teach from “the book of the law” (2 Chronicles 17:9).
  • Strong ruler; fortifies norther town of the southern kingdom; built supply cities; makes judicial improvements; marriage alliance with the House of Omri; period of economic prosperity

Jehoram (853-841; 2 Kings 6:16-24; 2 Chronicles 21)

  • “He walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, as the house of Ahab had done, for he married the daughter of Ahab” (2 Chronicles 21:6; Murders his own brothers to gain political advantage; the prophet Elijah writes him a letter announcing divine judgment on him for his disobedience.
  • Two successful rebellions; Judah invaded by the Philistines and the Arabs: carry off all the goods found in the kings palace including his sons and wives (2 Chronicles 21:17)

Ahaziah (841 BC; 1 Kings 8:25-29; 2 Chronicles 22:1-9)

  • Wicked, influenced by his mother (Athaliah, daughter of Ahab); worshiped Baal (1Kings 22:53).
  • Reigns less than 1 year; allies with Joram (son of Ahab) and goes to war against Hazael king of Aram at Ramoth Gilead; killed by Jehu

Queen Athaliah (841-835 BC; 2 Kings 11:1-16; 2 Chronciles 22:10-23:15)

  • Daughter of Jezebel; very wicked. Installs Baalism
  • Slaughters her grandchildren (Ahaziah’s children) so she can seize the throne; baby Joash rescued and hidden for the 6 years of her reign; Jehoida, the high priest, secretly anoints Joash as king at age 7, overthrows and executes Athaliah.

Four godly kings (935-731 BC)

Joash (835-796 BC; 2 Kings 12; 2 Chronicles 23:16-24:27)

  • Before Joash takes the throne, Jehoida begins religious reform, tearing down the altars to Baal (2 Kings 11:18)
  • Joash “does right in the Lord’s eyes” but fails to remove the high places.
  • Repairs the damaged Temple, collecting money for the repairs from people who donate when they make sacrifices
  • After Jehoida’s death, Joash slides downhill spiritually, listening to advisors promoting Baal.
  • Reigns 40 years. Losses a battle to Hazael, king of Damascus, who damages Judah. Joash pays tribute to Hazael to avoid destruction of Jerusalme, handing over the gold of the Temple and the royal palace.
  • Assassinated by his own officials.

Amaziah (796-767 BC; 2 Kings 14:1-20; 2 Chronicles 25)

  • He did right in the eyes of the Lord but not wholeheartedly (2 Chronicles 25:2); late in life worships Edom’s pagan gods after victory over Edom.
  • Reigns 29 years. Punishes those who conspired against his father.
  • Has victory of Edom and regains territory lost by revolt under Jehoram.
  • Defeated and captured by Jehoash (king of Israel) just west of Jerusalem.
  • Jehoash proceeds to Jerusalem, destroys 600 feet of city wall, seizes booty and captives. Eventually a conspiracy rises against him, he flees and is killed.

Uzziah/Azariah (767-740; 2 Kings 14:21-22; 2 Kings 15:1-7; 2 Chronicles 26)

  • One of the best southern kings. Leads them into a “golden” period, simultaneous with a “golden” period in the north.
  • Did what was right the Lord’s eyes but high places not removed.
  • Pride leads to his downfall.
  • Usurps the priestly role and the Lord strikes him with leprosy
  • Rules 52 years over a time of peace.
  • Many building projects, expands the territory, giving him a worldwide reputation.
  • Improved Judah’s position simultaneous with Jeroboam II’s enlargement. The two areas together were approximately the size of the kingdom under David & Solomon.

Jotham (740-731 BC; 2 Kings 15:32-38; 2 Chronicles 27:1-9)

  • Did right in the Lord’s eyes. “Grew powerful because he walked steadfastly before the Lord.”
  • Maintains Judah’s strong military and economic position.
  • Wins a battle with the Ammonites.

Years of Assyrian Dominance (743-640 BC)

Ahaz (731-715; 2 Kings 16: 2 Chronicles 28)

  • Made idols for worshiping Baal and sacrificed his sons in the fire.
  • While meeting with Tiglath-Pilesar in Damascus, admired a pagan altar and made a copy of it in Jerusalem, establishing it as the official place of sacrifice, ignoring the Levitical priesthood (2 Kings 16).
  • King in Judah at the time of the fall of the northern kingdom (722 BC). Becomes Assyrians next target.
  • Willingly submits to Tiglath-Pileser

Hezekiah (715-686 BC; 29 years; 2 Kings 18-20; 2 Chronicles 29-32)

  • Among the best of the Kings of Judah. “Did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father David had done”
  • 2 Kings 18:5: Trusted in the Lord. No king like him before or after.
  • Reversed the apostasy and idolatry of Ahaz
  • Reopens and repairs the temple, purifies the temple and reinstitutes the Levitical priesthood (2 Chronicles 29)
  • Celebrates a long-neglected Passover, inviting the northerners to come.
  • Successful builder (especially the famous tunnel in Jerusalem to transport water during a siege)
  • Assyria the main world power, yet Hezekiah stands against them.

Manasseh (686-642 BC; 2 Kings 21; 2 Chronicles 33)

  • Evil and idolatrous for most of his life; experiences divine punishment and repents at the end of his life.
  • Reigns 55 years, the longest of any king north or south. Captured by an Assyrian King as divine punishment but later restored.
  • Rebuilt the outer wall of Jerusalem.

Amon (642-640 BC; 2 Kings 21:19-23; 2 Chronicles 33:21-25)

  • Reverts to idolatry.
  • Assassinated by his own officials

Years of Babylonian Dominance (640-586 BC)

Josiah (640-609 BC; 2 Kings 22-23:30; 2 Chronicles 34:1-35:27)

  • Among the best of the kings. Reigns over an era of peace and prosperity and religious reform.
  • Begins religious reform in the 18th year of his reign, when workmen repairing the temple rediscover the Book of the Law (1 Kings 22:8; 2 Chronicles 34:14).
  • The prophetess Huldah warns that Judah will be punished for her sins but not in Josiah’s day.
  • Josiah cleanses the temple, removes pagan priests, poles and prostitutes and celebrates Passover according to the Mosaic laws (2 Kings 23:22).
  • Became King at age 8 and was killed in battle with Neco of Egypt.

Jehoahaz/Shallum (609 BC; 2 Kings 23:31-33; 2 Chronicles 36:1-4)

  • Does evil in the eyes of the Lord.
  • Replaced after 3 months by Neco of Egypt. Taken prisoner to Egypt and dies there.

Jehoiakim/Eliakim (609-598 BC; 2 Kings 23:34-24:5; 2 Chronicles 36:5-8)

  • Does evil. Josaih’s reforms are forgotten.
  • Burns a scroll of Jeremiah’s prophecies (Jeremiah 36)
  • 605 BC – Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon soundly defeats the Egyptians at Carchemish and establishes Babylon as the new world power.
  • Nebuchadnezzar invades Jerusalem and Judah becomes one of his vassal states, paying high taxes
  • Deports some of the nation into exile, including Daniel (Daniel 1:1-6).
  • 602 BC – Against Jeremiah’s advice, Jehoiakim decides to rebel against Babylon and his rebellion is put down.
  • 601 BC – Babylon seiges Jerusalem,
  • 597 BC – Babylon enters the city and deports a second wave of exiles, including the Ezekiel. Jehoiakim dies on the way to captivity in Babylon.

Jehoiachin (598 -597 BC; 2 Kings 24:6-16; 2 Chron 36:8-10)

  • Rules only 2 months (December – March) during the siege of Jerusalem.
  • 597 BC – Babylon enters the city and deports a second wave of exiles, including the Ezekiel. Jehoiachin also taken captive by Babylon, and Babylon installs his uncle as king.

Zedekiah (597-586 BC; 2 Kings 24:17-25:7; 2 Chron 36:11-21; Jeremiah 29:1-10)

  • Final king of Judah. Also did evil in the Lord’s eye.
  • The people never accepted him as king because he was installed by the Babylonians.
  • 589 BC – Despite Jeremiah’s warnings, Zedekiah revolts against Babylon in some sort of alliance with Egypt, prompting a second siege of Jeruslam.
  • 586 BC – the Babylonians destroy Jerusalem, burning down the temple and Solomon’s palace.
  • Gedaliah installed as governor. Zedekiah is caught, blinded and taken to Babylon along with the final wave of exiles.
  • 2 Kings 25:21; 2 Chronicles 26:15-17.

Invasions of Jerusalem

There were 4 significant invasions of Jerusalem in Old Testament history:

  1. By Shishak, king of Egypt, ca. 925 BC during the reign of Rehoboam (1 Kings 14:25-26; 2 Chronicles 12).
  2. By the Philistines and Arabians between 848–841 BC during the reign of Jehoram of Judah (2 Chronciles 21:8–20).
  3. By Jehoash, king of Israel, ca. 790 BC (2 Kings 14; 2 Chronciles 25).
  4. By Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, in the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC.


Alfred Edersheim Old Testament Bible History:

  • Book 5 — Birth Of Solomon To Reign Of Ahab
  • Book 6 — The Reign Of Ahab To The Decline Of The Two Kingdoms
  • Book 7 — From The Decline Of The Two Kingdoms To The Assyrian And Babylonian Captivity


Series: Bible Study 101

Photo by Carolyn V on Unsplash