Review of the Judean Kings

A brief summary of each of the Judean kings who ruled Judea for more than four centuries.

Judean King Ruled Highlights
King David 40 years Anointed by the prophet Samuel, pious author of Psalms, the fiercest warrior and an incredible statesman. Forerunner of all future legitimate Jewish kings, including one day the Messiah. He conquered all his enemies and laid the groundwork for his son’s empire, which was the greatest empire in Jewish history. He also conquered Jerusalem and began collecting the materials to build the Temple, but God told him his son would build it. Discussed in: “David.”
King Solomon 40 years Solidified the kingdom, made it into the leading empire in the world and built the Temple. Asked God for wisdom and became world-renowned at a young age. Authored three classic biblical works: Song of Songs, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. However, during his reign decline already set in. When he died the kingdom split into two: the kingdoms of Israel and Judea. Discussed in: “Solomon.”
King Rehoboam 17 years Was left with only a small part of the people and country after the split. Became king at age 41. Made a foolish choice listening to younger advisors who told him to deal with the people in a harsh way. He lost in 17 years what had taken 80 years to put together. He not only lost the empire and the treasures; worst of all, he lost the people. Discussed in: “The Divided Kingdom.”
King Avijam 3 years An outright idolater himself – the first time any king from the House of David worshiped idols. It was a time of open war with Northern Kingdom: border skirmishes, armies marching against each other, Jews killing Jews. Discussed in: “The Judean Monarchy.”
King Asa 41 years One of the great kings. In many ways, he was a throwback to David, restoring what David accomplished and had been overturned in succeeding generations. He made a clean sweep of idolatry and sexual immorality (I Kings 15:12-13). He continued the war with the Northern Kingdom, whose king at the time was the very powerful and aggressive Basha, who had captured numerous Judean cities. Asa made an alliance with Aram to put some pressure on Basha to keep him out of Jerusalem, but the short-term gain of this policy would prove disastrous for long-term goals of the Jewish people. Discussed in: “The Judean Monarchy.”
King Jehoshaphat 25 years A righteous man like his father. During his time, Aram declined. He wanted to make peace with the king of Israel, Ahab, a noble thought but a fatal mistake because one should not make an alliance with a thoroughly evil purpose even for a good cause. The Israel/Judean army was routed. Jehoshaphat married his son, Jehoram, to Ahab’s daughter, Athaliah. Another mistake. Discussed in: “The Judean Monarchy.”
King JehoramAthaliah 8 years6 years His wife was Athaliah, the daughter (or sister) of Ahab. After he died, she tried to usurp the throne and killed all living descendants of David, except for the infant Joash, who was hidden in the Holy of Holies. She brought Judea to the verge of ruin and disintegration until she was assassinated. Discussed in: “The Judean Monarchy.”
King Ahaziah 1 year Son of Athaliah. Went to visit the king of Israel, but a coup broke out (led by Jehu) and he was assassinated. (Some say him mother arranged for the assassination.) Discussed in: “The Judean Monarchy.”
King Joash 40 years Joash was one-year old when his grandmother, Athaliah, tried to wipe out the house of David. He was hidden away for six years while his wicked mother ruled Judea and brought it to utter ruin. He was a righteous king who did away with idolatry and was the first one to refurbish the Temple in 200 years. However, against the word of the prophet, he attacked the kingdom of Israel and lost. Jerusalem’s walls were broken and its treasures plundered. Joash was captured and eventually killed. Discussed in: “The Judean Monarchy.”
King Amaziah 29 years A righteous king who wanted to unite the Jewish world by conquering the Northern Kingdom (the first one to attempt to do so by force). Even though the prophet said not to do so, he invaded the kingdom of Israel… and lost. He was captured and Jerusalem was plundered. As Judea grew weaker Amaziah was assassinated by a group of generals. However, the assassins gave the throne to an heir from the House of David. Discussed in: “The Judean Monarchy.”
King Uzziah 52 years A righteous king, he was also known as Azariah. However, he made the mistake of trying to also serve as High Priest. When he entered the Temple to conduct the service there was an earthquake and he became leprous. It was a momentous event that left its mark on future generations of kings and hammered home the point not to mix into the running of the priesthood. Discussed in: “The Judean Monarchy.”
King Jotham 16 years A righteous king who fought idolatry and rebuilt new gates for the Temple. However, his reign was undermined by his inability to ward off the aggression of Aram and Israel. Discussed in: “The Judean Monarchy.”
King Ahaz 16 years An idolatrous, wicked king, who restored the ways of idolatry and brought the country to the verge of complete spiritual and physical collapse. Discussed in: “The Judean Monarchy.”
King Hezekiah 29 years He lived 290 years after his grandfather, King Solomon. He had Messianic potential. He established Jewish education like never before. In his day, the mightiest army in the world, the Assyrian – 185,000 strong — was wiped out on the night of Passover by a miraculous plague. Hezekiah failed to sing God’s praises for the miracle and thus lost the opportunity to be the Messiah. He made a great mistake when he curried favor with the new empire on the rise: Babylon, who little more than a century later would become the nemesis of Judea and destroy the Temple. Discussed in: “Hezekiah: The Messiah Who Was Not.”
King Manasseh 55 years He was evil incarnate. He murdered his famous grandfather, the prophet Isaiah. He undid everything his righteous father, Hezekiah, did, defiling the Temple and restoring all the corrupt, idolatrous ways of his worst predecessors. After he had done the worst of his damage, he was captured by a foreign power, imprisoned and tortured. However, he was freed, reinstated as king and repented. Nevertheless, it was too little too late. The societal damage he caused was too great to overcome. Discussed in: “Hezekiah: The Messiah Who Was Not.”
King Josiah 30 years He lived during the time of the prophet Jeremiah. He was the last great king of Judea. There never was anyone like him “who returned to God with all his heart, all his soul and all his might…” (II Kings 23:25). He ridded the country of idol worship. However, he embarked on an ill-advised war with Egypt and was killed in battle at the Valley of Megiddo. Discussed in: “Jeremiah.”
King Jehoahaz 3 months He took the throne after his father Josiah was killed in battle. In his three month reign, Jehoahaz attempted to undo all the good that his father had done over decades (II Kings 23:32). Pharaoh Necho imposed an enormous tax (II Kings 23:33). When Jehoahaz did not pay it, Egypt brought in exile to Egypt and he died there. His arrival marked the beginning of a great Jewish community in Egypt. Discussed in: “The End Nears.”
King Jehoiakim 11 years He was arguably the most immoral of all Davidic kings. He went out of his way to express his contempt for the Jewish religion and God, engaged in all sorts of sexual excesses, including incest with his mother and daughters-in-law. He persecuted Jeremiah and burned an early version of the Book of Lamentations, which foretold the destruction of Judea and the Temple. However, he was captured by the Babylonians and died in captivity before they had a chance to execute him. Discussed in: “The End Nears.”
King Jehoiachin 3 months Jehoiachin, who was also known as Jeconiah, took over after his father’s demise and adopted his father’s vile ways. However, it only lasted three months until the Babylonians returned and took him into exile. They let Jerusalem and the Temple stand, but also took 10,000 of the leaders, scholars and prophets into exile back to Babylon. He underwent a remarkable and sincere spiritual transformation in the dungeon. Years after that, Jehoiachin was let out of prison and was instrumental in building up the Jewish community in Babylon along with the 10,000 other leaders taken into exile. The foundation they set enabled Babylon to become the center of Jewish life for more than a thousand years. Discussed in: “The End Nears.”
King Zedekiah 11 years The son of king Josiah, the uncle of Jeoiachin. Following the defeat of Jehoiachin, Judea was finished as an independent country. Nevertheless, after consulting with his advisors — but against the advice of Jeremiah, whom he had freed from prison — he rebelled. Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple on ninth of Av in 586 BCE. Zedekiah was captured, saw his sons slain before his eyes and then was himself blinded him before being taken back to Babylon in chains. He eventually died in Babylon, but not after he had been freed from prison after the death of his Nebuchadnezzar. Discussed in “The Last King of Judea.”
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Crash Course
by
Berel Wein adapted by Yaakov Astor

2 Responses to “Review of the Judean Kings”

  1. Margie Collins says:

    Very thorough explanation of Old Testament kings. I enjoyed reading it very much.

  2. Janice says:

    Excellent review of the kings of Judah. I am using this for my bible study at church. Thank you, for your work. I also need the Kings of Israel.