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Biblical People
Judah (jooda), KJV of NT frequently Juda (jooda). [Heb. Yehudah. On the basis of Gen 29:35, the name is usually explained as meaning “let Him (God) be praised,” but the etymology is uncertain. The name occurs also on a contract among the non-Biblical documents of the Dead Sea scrolls. In Mt 1:2, 3, KJV, the name appears as Judas. Aramaic YehuÆd. Gr. Ioudas.]

1.    The 4th son of Jacob by his wife Leah (Gen 29:32-35). He married a Canaanite girl, Shua, with whom he had become acquainted through a Canaanite friend (ch 38:1, 2). She bore him 3 sons, Er, Onan, and Shelah (vs 3-5). As wife for his son Er he took Tamar, another Canaanite girl (v 6). When Er died childless, Judah gave Tamar to Onan, in harmony with custom of the time (vs 7, 8). When Onan died without leaving an heir (vs 9, 10), Tamar went back to her father's house, having Judah's promise, however, that she would be given to Shelah as soon as he reached the age of maturity (v 11). When Judah failed to keep his word Tamar obtained offspring by deception from Judah himself, and bore him two sons, Perez and Zerah (vs 12-30). Although Judah is revealed to have been morally aberrant in certain respects, yet in many other ways his character seems to have been more exemplary than that of his brothers. He did not take part in Simeon and Levi's massacre of Shechem (ch 34), and it was he who, in an attempt to save Joseph, proposed to his brothers that Joseph be sold rather than murdered (ch 37:26-28). Later, in Egypt, he showed much nobility of character when Joseph, unrecognized by his brothers, wanted to detain Benjamin for having allegedly stolen a silver cup. Judah eloquently pleaded on behalf of his younger brother, and offered himself as prisoner to Joseph to obtain Benjamin's release (Gen 44). When Jacob and his family migrated to Egypt Judah was chosen to precede the company and announce Jacob's arrival to Joseph (ch 46:28). When Jacob blessed his sons upon his deathbed, he gave Judah the blessings due the first-born (ch 49:8-12), passing over Reuben for his sin of incest (v 4), and Simeon and Levi, because of their murder of the Shechemites (vs 5-7). The prophecies pronounced at that time were later fulfilled. The tribe of Judah became the most important of the tribes of Israel, and Perez (KJV “Pharez”), one of Judah's sons, became the ancestor of David and of the royal house of the southern kingdom (Ruth 4:18-22; 1 Chr 2:3-15; 3:1-6) and of the Lord Jesus, the Saviour of mankind (Mt 1:3-16).

2.    A Levite, whose descendant Kadmiel and Kadmiel's sons were prominent in the days of Zerubbabel (Ezr 3:9). He is called Hodaviah in ch 2:40 and Hodevah in Neh 7:43. He is possibly identical with Judah, 3.

3.    A Levite who returned from Babylonia with Zerubbabel (Neh 12:8); possibly identical with Judah, 2.

4.    A Levite who was married to a foreign wife in the time of Ezra (Ezr 10:23).

5.    A Benjamite who was the 2d administrator of Jerusalem in Nehemiah's time (Neh 11:9).

6.    A prominent Jew who took part in the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem in Nehemiah's time (Neh 12:34).

Horn, Siegfried H., Seventh-day Adventist Bible Dictionary, (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association) 1979.

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