Judah (Heb. Yehuddh) the fourth of the sons of Jacob by Leah. The tribe named after him was the most numerous of the tribes of Israel. On the conquest of Palestine it received all the land bounded by Dan, Benjamin, the Dead sea, Idumaea, Simeon, and the Mediterranean. It became particularly powerful under the dynasty of David, which originated in one of its towns, Bethlehem, and, after the division of the Hebrew state into two kingdoms, the principal member and representative of the southern, named from it the kingdom of Judah. After the destruction of the northern kingdom, Israel, by the Assyrians, Judah became the common name of the Hebrew nation in general, and the name Jews (Heb. Yehudim, Lat. Judcei) is derived from it. Jerusalem, the capital of the undivided Hebrew state, and afterward of the southern division, was situated on the confines of Judah and Benjamin. The mountain of Judah was a range traversing its centre, and the desert of the same name near its southern boundary.
Judah, surnamed Hakkadosh, "the Holy," a celebrated rabbi of the 2d century, of the house of Gamaliel, one of his successors as nasi (patriarch), and the principal author of the Mishnah. He was a friend of one of the Roman emperors, whom Rapoport, the most competent critic on the subject, identifies with Marcus Aurelius.
Judah, surnamed Hallevi, "the Levite," a Spanish rabbi of the 12th century, called as an Arabic writer Abul Hassan. He distinguished himself as a physician, philosophical theologian, and poet, in the last capacity being unsurpassed, if not unequalled, by any post- Biblical writer in Hebrew. Shortly before the middle of the 12th century he made a pilgrimage to the land of his fathers, a part of which he sings in glowing strains of pious devotion; but before he reached the holy city every trace of him is lost. According to a tradition, he was killed by a Mussulman before entering its gate. His principal work is the Kuzari ("The Khazar"), a vindication of the truth and exposition of the principles of Judaism, in fictitious discourses on religion between a king of the Khazars, who was converted to that faith about four centuries before the time of the author, and a rabbi. It was translated from the Arabic into Hebrew by Judah ben Tibbon, into Latin by Buxtorf, and also into Spanish and German. His songs, which among others contain the gems of Hebrew liturgical poetry, have found numerous translators and editors, among the most recent of whom are Luzzato, Sachs, Dukes, and Geiger (Der Divan des Castiliers Abu'I-Hassan Juda ha-Levi, Bres-lau, 1851). His elegy on Zion was translated into German by Mendelssohn.