The Jewish kingdom begins
In 930 B.C., the northern ten tribes of Israel rejected the rule of Solomon's son King Rehoboam. This prophesied event (1Kings 11:11 - 13) created the Kingdom of Israel to the north and left Rehoboam governing the tribe of Judah. The tribe of Benjamin also came under his power since their territory contained the capital city of Jerusalem (Joshua 18:28). The Levites, who served at Jerusalem's temple, additionally came under his jurisdiction.
This article explores the grave locations of all twenty Biblical sovereigns (19 men and 1 woman) who ruled over the Kingdom of Judah from its start in 930 B.C. to its complete collapse in 586.
King Rehoboam, son of Solomon, assumed the throne in 930 B.C. at the age of 41. Jeroboam and the northern ten tribes, during Rehoboam's coronation celebration in Shechem, offered to continue serving him if he reduced his father's heavy taxation. The king's rejection of the request and his unwise harsh response enraged the tribes and led to their forming a new kingdom (1Kings 12).
Upon Rehoboam's death at age 59 his grave was placed in the same general location as other kings in Jerusalem (1Kings 14:31).
Abijah, son of Rehoboam, assumed the throne in 913 B.C. His faith in God, early in his reign, allowed him to withstand Israel's attempt to conquer his kingdom (2Chronicles 13). After ruling for only three years he is buried in Jerusalem (2Chronicles 14:1).
Asa, the son of Abijah, became king in 910 B.C. His rule of forty-one years was one of the longest of either Judah's or Israel's kingly lines. His reign was also unique in that it spanned part or all of the reigns of eight monarchs over Israel (Jeroboam, Nadab, Baasha, Elah, Zimri, Tibni, Omri and Ahab)!
After stricken with a severe foot disease (2Chronicles 16:12) Asa places his son Jehoshaphat on the throne with him starting in 872 B.C. He is buried, three years later, in a special Jerusalem grave he constructed (1Kings 15:24, 2Chronicles 16:13 - 14).
Jehoshaphat, at the age of 38, began his sole rule over Judah. He is considered a good king who, upon his death at age 59, was buried in Jerusalem (1Kings 22:50).
Jehoram co-ruled as king with his father Jehoshaphat starting in 853 B.C. and began his sole rule in 848. After his father's death, he secured his throne by murdering his six brothers (2Chronicles 21:1 - 4).
Jehoram also makes the momentous decision to ally himself with Israel through his marriage to Athaliah. This act sets the stage for this daughter of King Ahab and Jezebel to plunge the Kingdom of Judah into its most evil period since the death of Solomon.
Jehoram dies at the age of 44 after the Lord punishes him with an incurable bowel disease. He is so despised that his grave, though in Jerusalem, is not placed among the other rulers of the people (2Chronicles 21:18 - 20).
Ahaziah, the son of Jehoram through Athaliah, becomes the ruling monarch in 841 B.C. when he is only twenty-two years old. His reign is cut short when Israel's King Jehu mortally wounds him near Ibleam. Fleeing the battlefield, Ahaziah ends up in Megiddo where he dies. His body is transported to Jerusalem and placed among the other kingly graves (2Kings 9:27 - 28).
Queen Athaliah, with both her husband and son dead, seizes control of Judah's throne. She quickly murders all the males of royal blood with only one, a baby named Joash, escaping her slaughter (2Kings 11:1 - 2).
Athaliah's rule lasts until 835 B.C. when seven-year old Joash is declared the rightful king by Jehoiada the High Priest. The evil queen is killed at Jerusalem's Horse Gate (2Kings 11:4 - 16, 2Chronicles 23:15) and is buried in an unknown location.
Joash (also called Jehoash) was the son of Judah's king Ahaziah. He ruled until the age of 46 when, in payment for his murder of Zechariah the high priest (2Chronicles 24:20 - 22), two of his servants killed him in his bed. Although he was buried in Jerusalem his grave was not placed among the other rulers (2Kings 12:19 - 21, 2Chronicles 24:25 - 26).
Amaziah was born when his father, King Joash, was only fifteen years old. Amaziah's reign is unique in that for twenty-four of his twenty-nine years of rule his son Azariah also co-ruled with him.
Amaziah was killed in 767 B.C. at Lachish after he was forced to flee Jerusalem. His body was brought back to the city where he was laid to rest (2Chronicles 25:27 - 28).
Azariah (also called Uzziah), at the age of 16, began to co-rule with his father Amaziah. Although considered a good ruler, he nevertheless tempted God by forcefully attempting to burn incense (a priestly duty) in Jerusalem's temple. The Lord punished His prideful act by miraculously giving him leprosy as eighty-one priests courageously withstood him (2Chronicles 26:16 - 20)!
Azariah, forced into quarantine due to being a leper, made his son Jotham co-ruler in 750 B.C. When he died he was buried near, but not with, the graves of other kings in Jerusalem due to his leprosy (2Kings 15:6 - 7, 2Chronicles 26:23).
Jotham, at the age of 36, began his sole reign over the Jews. He died at the age of 44 and was buried in Jerusalem (2Kings 15:38).
Ahaz became king of Judah at the age of 20 in 735 B.C. A wicked monarch, he was attacked early in his reign by Israel's Pekah. His rebellion against God, along with the people forsaking their Creator, caused the Lord to allow his army to suffer 120,000 casualties against Pekah in a single day (2Chronicles 28:5 - 6)!
Ahaz's grave was placed in Jerusalem but not among the other rulers of the people (2Kings 16:20, 2Chronicles 28:27).
Hezekiah, whose rule began in 715 B.C., was one of the most righteous kings over the Kingdom of Judah (2Kings 18:3 - 6). He holds the distinction of being the first monarch to take the throne without the existence of his brethren in the northern ten tribes (they were taken captive in 723).
The king, due to a serious illness, was destined to die at the age of 39. Due to his heartfelt prayers to God, however, he was healed and granted another 15 years of life. This miraculous act made Hezekiah the only righteous person in the Bible who was informed by God exactly how long he would live (2Kings 20:1 - 6). After his death at age 54, he was buried in Jerusalem (2Chronicles 32:33).
Manasseh co-ruled with his righteous father Hezekiah for ten years (696 to 686 B.C.) before his sole reign. Unfortunately, for most of his remaining 45 years of rule, he indulged in great evil. He rebuilt pagan altars, worshipped false deities represented in the heavens, practiced sorcery and witchcraft, and even sacrificed his own sons in the valley of Hinnom (2Kings 21:2 - 16, 2Chronicles 33:2 - 10)!
Manasseh, after years of pursuing the vilest sins, becomes an Assyrian prisoner taken to Babylon (2Chronicles 33:11). This punishment finally moves him to repent whereby God mercifully allows him to return to Jerusalem and regain his throne.
Upon Manasseh's death his grave is placed in the garden of his private Jerusalem home (the garden of Uzza, 2Kings 21:18) but not among the other sovereigns of Judah (2Chronicles 33:12 - 20).
Amon, son of Manasseh, rose to the throne of Judah in 642 B.C. when he was 22. His rule was cut short, however, when he was assassinated by his servants after serving only two years. He was buried in Jerusalem in the same garden of Uzza as his father (2Kings 21:26).
Josiah was one of the two best kings of Judah. In 640 B.C., he assumed the throne at the tender age of eight. During his reign, he did as much as possible to return the people to the true worship of God.
Josiah's life abruptly ended, however, when he tried to stop Egypt's army from passing through Israel on their way to aid the Assyrians. He was killed in battle, near Megiddo, with his body buried amongst the kings in Jerusalem (2Kings 23:28 - 30).
The Egyptian Pharaoh Neco takes Jehoahaz prisoner, in 609 B.C., after he served only three months as ruler over Judah. Jehoahaz is the first of three Jewish kings taken as prisoner to a foreign country. He ultimately dies in Egypt (2Kings 23:31 - 34).
Jehoiakim, after ruling Judah as a wicked king for eleven years (609 to 598 B.C.), dies and is likely buried in Jerusalem with the other kings (2Kings 24:5 - 6).
Jehoiachin, the next to last king over the Kingdom of Judah, ruled for only three months. His sins, a continuation of the grievous acts performed by his father, so sickened God that he declared the following.
"As I live," says the LORD, "though Coniah (another name for Jehoiachin) the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah were the signet on My right hand, yet I would pull you out of there!
"And I will give you into the hand of those who seek your life . . . And I will cast you and your mother who bore you into another country where you were not born. And there you shall die (Jeremiah 22:24 - 26, see also 2Kings 8 - 15).
Jehoiachin becomes the second of Judah's kings taken as a prisoner to a foreign land (in this case Babylon). He dies while in captivity.
Zedekiah, in 597 B.C., became the third son of King Josiah (the other two being Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim) to rule. God, weary of his people's sinfulness and unwillingness to follow his laws, allows Babylon to conquer the kingdom of Judah. They destroy Jerusalem and burn the temple to the ground.
Zedekiah is not only captured by the Babylonians, he has his eyes gouged out and is bound with fetters before being taken to Babylon. He becomes the last of Judah's three kings who ends up dying in a foreign land (2Kings 25:6 - 7, Jeremiah 52:11).