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Judah

Judah

1565-1466 BCE

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Judah, the fourth son of Jacob and Leah, was born in Charan on the 15th of Sivan, of the year 2196 from creation (1565 BCE). He passed away on the same date 119 years later, in Egypt.

Judah took the leadership role both in selling Joseph into slavery and in the brothers' later attempts to find him and free him, and to protect Benjamin. On his deathbed, Jacob conferred the leadership of Israel upon Judah, proclaiming: "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the legislator from between his feet, until Shiloh (the Moshiach) comes..." The royal house of David, as well as many of the great sages and leaders of Israel throughout the generations of Jewish history, trace their lineage to Judah.

Judah had five sons: Er and Onan, who died without children; Shelah; and his twins from Tamar, Peretz and Zerach. Their decendants formed the Tribe of Judah, the most populous and prestigious of the twelve tribes of Israel.

After the death of King Solomon in 797 BCE, the people of Israel split into two kingdoms: ten trbes formed the Kingdom of Israel in the north, with Shomrom (Samaria) as the capitol; only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin remained loyal to Solomon's son, Rechavam, and formed the Kingdom of Judea in the south, in the areas surrounding the capital Jerusalem. Eventually, the Northern Kingdom was conquered by Assaria and the ten tribes living there were exiled and lost to the Jewish people; the inhabitants of Judea were also exiled (to Babylonia) but subsequently returned to the Holy Land and rebuilt Jerusalem and the Holy Temple. Over time, the terms "Judean" and "Jew"--which originally referred to a member of the tribe of Judah--became synponymous with "Israelite" and was used to refer to the descendants of all of Jacob's twelve sons--i.e., the Jewish people.

Links:
More on Judah
Reuben and Judah; a Contrast
On Leadership On the essence of the Jewish leader

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