Judah, Juda, Joda [Jū'dah]—object of praise or praise of the lord. The fourth son of Jacob by Leah, and founder of a tribal family (Gen. 29:35; Num. 26:19-21; 1 Chron. 2:3-6).
The character of Judah is revealed in his confession of sin before Joseph (Gen. 44:18-34). This appeal has been described as “One of the noblest pieces of natural eloquence in any literature, sacred or profane.” In the last words of Jacob much is said of Judah (Gen. 49:8). We have:
I. His praise. “Thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise.” The origin of his name is to be found in the gratitude of his mother at the time of his birth (Gen. 29:35). A still more distinguished mother praised the Lord for a greater Son who came from the tribe of Judah (Luke 1:46, 47).
II. His conquests. “Thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies.” Here we have the prophecy of a conqueror, the anticipation of the figure of the lion, which was emblazoned on the flag of Judah, and was symbolic of the strength of the tribe in battle. Judah was the first tribe called to fight the Canaanites after Joshua’s death (Judg. 1:1, 2)—a battle ending in victory for Judah. See also Psalm 18:40.
III. His pre-eminence. “Thy father’s children shall bow down before thee.” The superiority of the tribe of Judah continued almost to the end of the Old Testament and passed on to Him who has the pre-eminence in all things. Judah was first in numbers, first in territory, first in marching order, first in prowess, first in war.
IV. His regal dignity. The lion-king of the forest became the symbol of Judah, as the king of the tribes (Num. 2:3, 4). “A lion’s whelp,” speaks of the first energy of youth, and the early days of Judah were full of vigor and energy. How prophetic all this is of Him who came as the Lion of the tribe of Judah! The old divines said that Christ was a lamb in His death, but a lion in His resurrection. How different is His prowess from the deadly power of him who is a roaring lion!
2. An ancestor of Kadmiel who helped to rebuild the Temple (Ezra 3:9).
3. A Levite who had taken a strange wife (Ezra 10:23).
4. A Benjamite, son of Senuah, second in authority over Jerusalem in Nehemiah’s day (Neh. 11:9).
5. A Levite who returned from exile with Zerubbabel (Neh. 12:8).
6. A prince of Judah (Neh. 12:34).
7. A priest and musician (Neh. 12:36).