Southern Kingdom

Following the death of Solomon, the nation of Israel split.  Solomon’s son Rehoboam acted with a heavy hand toward the people and many left to follow Jeroboam.  Rehoboam was left with the southern kingdom and David’s throne to reign from.

The southern kingdom is also known as the kingdom of Judah.  Judah was not only the largest tribe, it was the tribe of David so that made it the ruling tribe as well.  At times the tribe of Benjamin is overlooked even though it also was a part of the southern kingdom.  There are several places that only mention the tribe of Judah as a part of the kingdom but this was only because Benjamin was fairly small and ultimately not noteworthy in relation to Judah.  At some point half of the tribe of Manasseh also joins with the kingdom of Judah.

Unlike the northern kingdom, the southern kingdom has a mix of both good and bad kings. The best of this group was King Hezekiah.  He is the best overall king next to David.  Unfortunately, his son Manasseh is the worst king of Judah and he also reigns the longest at 55 years.  Manasseh is actually imprisoned for a period of time in Babylon where he appears to repent because God restores him to the throne and he tears down the idols that he had built.

While the northern kingdom fell in 722 BC, the southern kingdom continued to survive for around another 150 years.  Eventually it too falls however.  The southern kingdom is destroyed in three phases.  Beginning in 605 BC King Nebuchadnezzar attacks Jerusalem.  This first time he carries away a part of the royal family including Daniel.  A second attack follows in 597 BC.  Finally a rebellion is discovered and Nebuchadnezzar returns to the city in 586 BC.  This time he leaves nothing as he flattens the city to the ground, destroys the temple, and deports all but the poorest people to Babylon.

2 Chronicles closes by noting that the Jews would be in exile for 70 years as punishment because they had failed to celebrate the Sabbath years that God had commanded and so the land would rest to make up for the years that it had been ignored.