(yehudah; in Genesis 29:35 Codex Vaticanus, Ioudan; Codex Alexandrinus, Iouda; elsewhere Codices Vaticanus and Alexandrinus, Ioudas):
1. Jacob's Son:
The 4th son born to Jacob by Leah in Paddan-aram (Genesis 29:35, etc.). Of this patriarch's life only scanty details remain to us. He turned his brethren from their purpose to slay Joseph, persuading them to sell him to the Midianites at Dothan (Genesis 37:26). A dark stain is left upon his memory by the disgraceful story told in Genesis 38. Reuben forfeited the rights of primogeniture by an act of infamy; Simeon and Levi, who came next in order, were passed over because of their cruel and treacherous conduct at Shechem; to Judah, therefore, were assigned the honors and responsibilities of the firstborn (34; 35:22; 49:5). On the occasion of their first visit to Egypt, Reuben acted as spokesman for his brethren (42:22,37). Then the leadership passed to Judah (43:3, etc.). The sons of Joseph evidently looked askance upon Judah's promotion, and their own claims to hegemony were backed by considerable resources (49:22). The rivalry between the two tribes, thus early visible, culminated in the disruption of the kingdom. To Judah, the "lion's whelp," a prolonged dominion was assured (49:9).
2. Tribe of Judah:
The tribe of Judah, of which the patriarch was the name-father, at the first census in the wilderness numbered 74,600 fighting men; at Sinai the number "from 20 years old and upward" was 76,500 (Numbers 1:27; 26:22; see NUMBERS). The standard of the camp of Judah, with which were also the tribes of Zebulun and Issachar, was to the East of the tabernacle "toward the sunrising," the prince of Judah being Nahshon, the son of Amminadab (Numbers 2:3). Caleb, the son of Jephunneh, represented Judah among the spies (Numbers 13:6); he also was told off to assist at the future allocation of the tribal portions (Numbers 34:19).
The land assigned to Judah lay in the South of Palestine (see JUDAH, TERRITORY OF), comprising part of the mountain, the Shephelah, and the maritime plain. The information given of its conquest is meager and cannot be arranged in a self-consistent story. In Joshua 11:21, the conquest is ascribed to Joshua. Caleb is described as conquering at least a portion in Joshua 14:12; 15:13; while in Judges 1 the tribes of Judah and Simeon play a conspicuous part; and the latter found a settlement in the South within the territory of Judah The tribal organization seems to have been maintained after the occupation of the land, and Judah was so loosely related to the northern tribes that it was not expected to help them against Sisera. Deborah has no reproaches for absent Judah. It is remarkable that no judge over Israel (except Othniel, Judges 3:9-11) arose from the tribe of Judah. The first king of all Israel was chosen from the tribe of Benjamin. This made acquiescence on the part of Judah easier than it would have been had Saul sprung from the ancient rival, Ephraim. But the dignity of Judah was fully vindicated by the splendid reigns of David and Solomon, in lineal descent from whom the Saviour of the world should come. The further history of the tribe is merged in that of Israel.