Judah, Tribe of

Judah and his three surviving sons went down with Jacob into
Egypt (Gen. 46:12; Ex. 1:2). At the time of the Exodus, when we
meet with the family of Judah again, they have increased to the
number of 74,000 males (Num. 1:26, 27). Its number increased in
the wilderness (26:22). Caleb, the son of Jephunneh, represented
the tribe as one of the spies (13:6; 34:19). This tribe marched
at the van on the east of the tabernacle (Num. 2:3-9; 10:14),
its standard, as is supposed, being a lion's whelp. Under Caleb,
during the wars of conquest, they conquered that portion of the
country which was afterwards assigned to them as their
inheritance. This was the only case in which any tribe had its
inheritance thus determined (Josh. 14:6-15; 15:13-19).

The inheritance of the tribe of Judah was at first fully
one-third of the whole country west of Jordan, in all about
2,300 square miles (Josh. 15). But there was a second
distribution, when Simeon received an allotment, about 1,000
square miles, out of the portion of Judah (Josh. 19:9). That
which remained to Judah was still very large in proportion to
the inheritance of the other tribes. The boundaries of the
territory are described in Josh. 15:20-63.

This territory given to Judah was divided into four sections.
(1.) The south (Heb. negeb), the undulating pasture-ground
between the hills and the desert to the south (Josh. 15:21.)
This extent of pasture-land became famous as the favourite
camping-ground of the old patriarchs. (2.) The "valley" (15:33)
or lowland (Heb. shephelah), a broad strip lying between the
central highlands and the Mediterranean. This tract was the
garden as well as the granary of the tribe. (3.) The
"hill-country," or the mountains of Judah, an elevated plateau
stretching from below Hebron northward to Jerusalem. "The towns
and villages were generally perched on the tops of hills or on
rocky slopes. The resources of the soil were great. The country
was rich in corn, wine, oil, and fruit; and the daring shepherds
were able to lead their flocks far out over the neighbouring
plains and through the mountains." The number of towns in this
district was thirty-eight (Josh. 15:48-60). (4.) The
"wilderness," the sunken district next the Dead Sea (Josh.
15:61), "averaging 10 miles in breadth, a wild, barren,
uninhabitable region, fit only to afford scanty pasturage for
sheep and goats, and a secure home for leopards, bears, wild
goats, and outlaws" (1 Sam. 17:34; 22:1; Mark 1:13). It was
divided into the "wilderness of En-gedi" (1 Sam. 24:1), the
"wilderness of Judah" (Judg. 1:16; Matt. 3:1), between the
Hebron mountain range and the Dead Sea, the "wilderness of Maon"
(1 Sam. 23:24). It contained only six cities.

Nine of the cities of Judah were assigned to the priests
(Josh. 21:9-19).