Israel vs. Judah: Are they the same?

Two months ago, I traveled to Israel to celebrate the Passover festival in Jerusalem and to enjoy the beautiful topography and the rich Jewish culture. Upon my return to the United States, I was so thrilled to share my wonderful experiences about Israel. Someone from my congregation asked me if I visited the land of Judah. Another member interjected and said that Israel and Judah are the same. Thus, I needed to distinguish two from a theologian’s perspective. So, ‘Israel vs. Judah: Are they the same?’

Israel and Judah are not the same as they are two distinct and separate entities, as illustrated in 1 Kings 11:31-35. After the death of King Solomon, Israel was split into a northern kingdom which retained the name Israel after Jacob, and a southern kingdom, termed Judah, which was named after the tribe of Judah. The northern kingdom is still present today as the autonomous nation of Israel. The southern kingdom is not a nation anymore but is located in the present-day West Bank, which consists of Judea and Samaria.

In this article, I will shed light on the differences and similarities between Israel and Judah and much more. Get on board with me as we delve into this subject without further ado.

Israel vs. Judah: Difference in definition

Israel vs. Judah-Are they the same?
Judah according to bible. Image source: Pinterest

Israel refers to the northern kingdom that lasted from 1020 to 922 BCE with 10 tribes comprising Gad, Issachar, Naphtali, Asher, Ephraim, Manasseh, Reuben, Simeon, Dan, and Zebulun. It was established as a kingdom under King Jeroboam.

Judah refers to the southern kingdom that lasted from 930 BCE to 587 BCE with 2 tribes comprising Benjamin and Judah. It was established as a kingdom under King Rehoboam.

Differences between Israel and Judah

Parameters of Comparison




Earlier, the whole kingdom shared the capital in Samaria. Today, Jerusalem is its capital.

Earlier, the kingdom had its capital in Jerusalem.


Much bigger and extended territory and population than Judah.

Smaller than Israel.


More prosperous than Judah.

Less prosperous than Israel.


It was the northern region.

It was the southern region.

Consisting Tribes

Remaining 10 tribes, namely Gad, Issachar, Naphtali, Asher, Ephraim, Manasseh, Reuben, Simeon, Dan, and Zebulun.

2 tribes, namely Judah and Benjamin.

Conquered by

The Assyrians in 722 BCE.

The Babylonians in 586 BCE.


Less stable due to numerous attacks.

Lasted longer because it was less prone to attacks.


More economical than Judah.

Less economical than Israel.

Similarities between the Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah

Both the Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah were in the Southern Levant region in the Middle East. Additionally, they believed in one God known as YHWH. Both Kingdoms used the Paleo-Hebrew alphabet in their writing.

The Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah were under a monarchy and governed by kings. Also, both Kingdoms were inhabited by the Jews, who were identified as the children of Israel. Finally, both kingdoms were premised during the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age.

Why did Israel split into Judah and Israel?

Israel vs. Judah
Why did Israel split into Judah and Israel? Image source: Pixabay

Israel split into Judah and Israel because the northern tribes were displeased with the hefty taxation levied by King Solomon. During his reign, King Solomon imposed heavy taxes upon the Israelites to finance his extravagant ventures. The people became miserable due to the immense taxes and began protesting. Jeroboam was an administrator in the north and became acquainted with the people’s plight.

King Solomon received a prophecy, as illustrated in 1 Kings 11:30-31, that the Kingdom of Israel would have a secession. This was the partition of his kingdom into two; ten tribes to the north under Jeroboam’s reign and two tribes to the south under King Solomon’s son. Unhappy with the prophecy, King Solomon plotted to murder Jeroboam, who escaped to Egypt until Solomon died. Rehoboam then succeeded King Solomon and carried on with his father’s hefty taxation.

According to 1 Kings 12:1-4, the northern tribes conveyed their discontentment about the taxes to Rehoboam by sending him a delegation that included Jeroboam, who was now back in Israel. Just like his father, King Solomon, Rehoboam disregarded their concerns, and this made people reach a boiling point that created the impetus of the split of Israel. It was divided into two; Israel, the northern kingdom with ten tribes under King Jeroboam, and Judah, the southern kingdom with two tribes under King Rehoboam.

In addition, Israel split into Judah and Israel because King Solomon was overly smitten and in love with numerous pagan women that were not citizens of Israel, and God punished him by splitting his kingdom. According to Deuteronomy 17:17, the kings reigning over God’s people were not allowed to marry many women because this would cause them to turn away from serving God.

In addition, all Israelite men were specifically forbidden to marry foreign women because they did not worship the true God and would strongly influence their husbands to turn their hearts away from God. King Solomon married foreigners such as the Ammonites and Egyptians and indulged in a staggering number of women comprising 700 wives and 300 concubines. By so doing, God’s punishment to King Solomon for his grievous sins was to divide his kingdom by tearing Israel’s ten tribes away from his reigning dynasty, as illustrated in 1 Kings 11:11.

Another root cause of Israel’s splitting into Judah and Israel was that King Solomon practiced idolatry by worshipping pagan deities, and this angered God, who split his kingdom. According to 1 Kings 11:9-10, God commanded King Solomon twice not to worship idols, but he disobeyed and turned away from God, and this angered Him. In addition, to please his numerous pagan wives, King Solomon built for them places to worship their false deities, burn incense, and offer sacrifices to their gods, as illustrated in 1 Kings 11:8. According to 2 Kings 23:13, King Solomon built altars for the worship of idols such as Astarte, Chemosh, and Molech.

Will Israel and Judah be reunited?

According to Jeremiah 50:4-5, both Israel and Judah will come together to seek God as they head to Zion, declaring to join themselves to God in an everlasting covenant that will never be broken or forgotten. In addition, according to Ezekiel 37:16-22, the Jews will be brought out from the nations and be gathered together in their own land. They will be under one nation with one king reigning over them and will never be divided into the kingdom of Israel and the kingdom of Judah again but will be reunited as one nation with peace and prosperity in the Kingdom of God.

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