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The Southern Kingdom consisted of 2 tribes (Judah and Benjamin). The kingdom extended in the north as far as Bethel, while in the south it ended in the dry area known as the Negev. Its eastern and western boundaries were the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Jerusalem was its capital and it lasted from about 922-586 BC.
Judah was left suddenly independent when Rehoboam flatly refused to lighten the heavy load of forced labor and high taxation imposed on the Israelites by his father Solomon (1 Kin. 12:1-24). Upon Rehoboam's refusal, the ten tribes living north of Bethel promptly declared their independence.
But something else occurred along with this Division. An entirely unexpected blow that devastated Judah. Shishak, Pharaoh of Egypt, invaded the country, plundered the treasures of the Temple and the royal palace, and destroyed a number of newly built fortresses (2 Chr. 12:1-12). Judah never recovered from the sudden loss of her national wealth. Because her land was not as fertile as that of the northern kingdom of Israel, Judah never enjoyed the same degree of prosperity. Rehoboam wanted to attack Israel and reunite the kingdom by force, but a Word from the Lord came to Shemaiah the prophet saying,
IKing 12:24 'Thus says the LORD: "You shall not go up nor fight against your brethren the children of Israel."