Judah and Its Towns

The land of Judah in southern Israel was home to many important leaders throughout Israel’s history. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph all lived in the hill town of Hebron for a time (Genesis 13:18; 35:27; 37:12-14), and later several of them were buried in the family tomb there (Genesis 23:19; 25:9; 50:12-13). Likewise, David was born in the Judean town of Bethlehem (1 Samuel 16-17), and while he was on the run from Saul, he traveled from hideout to hideout throughout Judah (1 Samuel 19-26), which was no doubt familiar terrain for him. Various strongholds near the oasis of En-gedi in the barren Judean wilderness served as some of David’s hideouts (1 Samuel 23:29), and Masada (which means “stronghold”) was likely among them. When David first became king, he reigned over Judah from the town of Hebron and moved to Jerusalem only after he gained control over all Israel (2 Samuel 5:1-5). His son Absalom later staged a rebellion against him from Hebron (2 Samuel 15:1-12). Hundreds of years later Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1-12; Luke 2:1-20), and Masada became the final holdout for a group of Jewish zealots during their revolt against the Romans.

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