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Ancient Kingdoms of Israel and Judah

The history of ancient Israel and Judah is deeply intertwined with the biblical narrative. References to Judah in the Bible provide insights into the rich history and cultural significance of this ancient kingdom. From its establishment in the Iron Age to its ultimate destruction, Judah played a pivotal role in shaping the religious and political landscape of the region.

In this article, we will explore the biblical references to Judah, delve into the history of Judah as depicted in the Bible, and examine the enduring legacy of this ancient kingdom. We will delve into the stories of its kings, the challenges it faced, and the impact of the Babylonian Exile. Through the study of biblical accounts and archaeological evidence, we will uncover the fascinating journey of Judah and its lasting significance in the religious traditions that followed.

Key Takeaways:

  • The Kingdom of Judah is intricately connected to biblical narratives and holds significant religious and cultural importance.
  • Examining biblical references and accounts provides valuable insights into the history and legacy of Judah.
  • The Babylonian Exile marked a turning point in the history of Judah and laid the foundation for future religious developments.
  • Archaeological findings continue to shed light on the existence and practices of the ancient kingdom of Judah.
  • The stories and teachings of Judah have had a lasting influence on the faith and identity of millions of people throughout history.

Importance of Judah in the Bible

The tribe of Judah holds immense significance in the biblical context, playing a crucial role in the history of Israel. Considered one of the twelve tribes of Israel, Judah held a central position among its brethren. This tribe produced numerous notable biblical figures, including the renowned kings, David and Solomon. The kingdom of Judah, with Jerusalem as its capital, served as the epicenter of both Jewish religious and political life, influencing the trajectory of the Israelite nation.

The Davidic dynasty, which traces its origins to Judah, carries tremendous weight in biblical history. From this lineage, the future messianic line is believed to emerge, fostering a sense of anticipation and significance among the faithful.

The Significance of Judah’s Position

Being one of the twelve tribes of Israel, Judah played a significant role in shaping the destiny of the nation. The prominence of Judah stemmed from its revered ancestor, Judah, the fourth son of Jacob and Leah. In Genesis 49:8-12, Judah receives a notable blessing from his father, prophesying that the scepter will not depart from Judah’s hand until the coming of the Messiah.

“The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.” (Genesis 49:10)

These words underscore the prophetic significance assigned to the tribe of Judah, further emphasizing its importance in the biblical narrative.

Biblical Kings from Judah

The tribe of Judah is also known for its association with influential biblical kings who held the throne of the kingdom of Judah. The line of David, a member of the tribe of Judah, produced notable monarchs who left an indelible mark on Israel’s history.

King Reign
David 1010-970 BCE
Solomon 970-931 BCE
Hezekiah 715-686 BCE
Josiah 640-609 BCE

These kings, renowned for their leadership and devotion to Yahweh, shaped the destiny of the kingdom of Judah. Their reigns were marked by periods of spiritual revival, cultural prosperity, and significant religious reforms that left a lasting impact on the religious landscape of Israel.

The biblical kings from the tribe of Judah played pivotal roles in the preservation of Israel’s faith, safeguarding the traditions and worship practices of the nation.

The Kingdom of Judah in the Old Testament

The Old Testament is rich with accounts and references to the Kingdom of Judah, providing a glimpse into its history and religious practices. Prophets and historians such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Chronicles document the reigns of various kings of Judah, offering insights into their alliances, wars, and interactions with neighboring nations. Through these biblical accounts, we gain a deeper understanding of the tribe of Judah and its significant role in preserving Hebrew religion and identity during times of political and religious turmoil.

One of the prominent figures from the tribe of Judah is King David, who is considered a central figure in biblical history. King David’s reign marked a golden era for the Kingdom of Judah, characterized by military successes and the establishment of Jerusalem as its capital. Additionally, King David’s son, King Solomon, is renowned for his wisdom and the construction of the First Temple in Jerusalem.

“The tribe of Judah, as depicted in the Old Testament, played a crucial role in the preservation of Hebrew religion and identity during times of political and religious turmoil.”

The Kingdom of Judah faced numerous challenges throughout its existence, including invasions by foreign powers, internal conflicts, and religious idolatry. Despite these difficulties, the biblical accounts demonstrate the resilience and faithfulness of the tribe of Judah in upholding their cultural and religious heritage.

It is important to note that the Old Testament contains valuable historical and religious records, showcasing the significance of the tribe of Judah in the broader narrative of ancient Israel. The biblical accounts provide a unique perspective on the social, political, and religious dynamics of the Kingdom of Judah during this period.

Key Kings of Judah in the Old Testament

King Reign Notable Achievements
Rehoboam 931-913 BCE Consolidated the Kingdom of Judah after the split with the Kingdom of Israel.
Asa 913-873 BCE Implemented religious reforms and sought to eliminate idolatry.
Hezekiah 715-686 BCE Strengthened the defenses of Jerusalem and successfully withstood the siege of the Assyrians.
Josiah 640-609 BCE Implemented extensive religious reforms, rediscovered the Book of the Law, and centralized worship in Jerusalem.

The reigns of these kings, along with others mentioned in the Old Testament, reveal the challenges and triumphs of the Kingdom of Judah, highlighting the enduring significance of this tribe in biblical history.

Judah in the Old Testament

The Exile and Return of Judah

The Babylonian conquest of Judah in 586 BCE marked a significant turning point in the history of the tribe of Judah. The Babylonians destroyed the city of Jerusalem, including Solomon’s Temple, and deported a substantial number of Judahites to Babylon. This event, known as the Babylonian Exile or the Exile of Judah, had profound implications for the Jewish people and their religious practices.

During the Exile, the Judahites were forced to adapt to a new way of life in Babylon. They faced challenges in maintaining their cultural and religious identity in a foreign land. However, despite the difficulties, the exiled Judahites managed to preserve their traditions, including their religious texts and practices, which would later become the foundation for Judaism.

After the fall of Babylon to the Persians, the exiled Judahites were allowed to return to their homeland. This period of return marked a significant moment in the history of Judah. The returning exiles rebuilt Jerusalem and the Second Temple, re-establishing their religious and political center.

The Exile and subsequent return of Judah laid the foundation for the Second Temple period, which lasted until the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in 70 CE. It was during this period that important texts, such as the Hebrew Bible, were compiled and canonized, shaping the religious beliefs and practices of the Jewish people.

Overall, the Exile and return of Judah is a pivotal chapter in the history of the tribe and the development of Judaism as it is known today. It underscores the resilience and determination of the Judahites to preserve their religious and cultural heritage in the face of adversity.

Iron Age Kingdoms of Israel and Judah

During the Iron Age, the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah emerged as distinct political entities in the region. These kingdoms were ruled by various kings, starting with Saul, David, and Solomon for the United Monarchy and later by a succession of kings in each kingdom. The biblical accounts provide details about the reigns of these kings, their achievements, and their relationship with Yahweh, the God of Israel. The tales of their victories, failures, and religious reforms shaped the religious and political landscape of ancient Israel and Judah.

The United Monarchy

The United Monarchy, consisting of Israel and Judah, came into power during the 11th century BCE. Saul was the first king, followed by the legendary King David, known for his victory over Goliath and establishing Jerusalem as the capital. It was under David’s son, King Solomon, that the Kingdom of Israel reached its peak, known for its wealth, wisdom, and the construction of the first temple in Jerusalem.

Succession and Divided Kingdoms

Following Solomon’s reign, the United Monarchy split into separate kingdoms: Israel in the north, comprising ten tribes, and Judah in the south, consisting of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. Both kingdoms had their own kings, and their relationship with each other often fluctuated between alliances and conflicts.

Biblical Kings from Judah

Judah had a series of kings, including Rehoboam, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah. Some of these kings were known for their religious reforms, such as Hezekiah’s cleansing of the temple and Josiah’s rediscovery of the book of the law. The influence of these kings and their dedication to Yahweh left a lasting impact on the religious practices of the people of Judah.

Kings of Judah and Their Reigns

Name Reign Achievements
Rehoboam 931-913 BCE Reigned over the divided kingdom, built fortifications
Asa 913-873 BCE Religious reforms, alliance with Aram against Israel
Jehoshaphat 873-849 BCE Alliances with Ahab of Israel, religious reforms
Hezekiah 715-686 BCE Religious reforms, resistance against Assyria
Josiah 640-609 BCE The Book of the Law rediscovered, religious reforms

Archaeological Evidence of the Kingdom of Judah

Archaeological excavations have provided valuable insights into the history of Judah as described in the Bible. These discoveries offer a glimpse into the existence of the Kingdom of Judah and its significance in biblical narratives.

One remarkable finding is the Large Stone Structure in Jerusalem. This massive platform, consisting of large stones, suggests the presence of an urbanized society during the 10th century BCE. Its grandeur aligns with the biblical accounts of a united kingdom under the reigns of David and Solomon.

history of Judah in the bible

Another notable archaeological site is Khirbet Qeiyafa, a fortress located southwest of Jerusalem. Excavations at this site have uncovered large fortifications and numerous artifacts, providing further evidence of a prosperous and organized society during the time of the biblical Kings of Judah.

However, it is important to note that interpretations and dating of these archaeological findings remain a subject of scholarly debate. Different experts may offer varying explanations and theories based on the available evidence.

Nevertheless, the physical remains of ancient sites in Judah offer valuable insights into the daily lives, architecture, and material culture of the people during the biblical period. These archaeological discoveries contribute to our understanding of the history and significance of Judah in the Bible.

Archaeological Site Significance
Large Stone Structure in Jerusalem Indicates urbanization and supports the idea of a united kingdom under David and Solomon
Khirbet Qeiyafa Fortress Provides evidence of a prosperous society during the Kings of Judah

The Samaritan Schism

The Assyrian conquest of Israel led to the resettlement of Assyrians in Samaria, the capital of the kingdom. These Assyrians brought their own gods and religious practices, eventually leading to the formation of a distinct religious group known as the Samaritans. The Samaritans adopted many Hebrew Torah and cultic practices but developed their own beliefs and worship traditions. This schism between the Jews and the Samaritans played a significant role in the religious and social dynamics of the region and is mentioned in the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament.

Throughout the biblical significance of the tribe of Judah, the Samaritans have a unique place. They emerged as a distinct group due to the Assyrian conquest of Israel and their subsequent settlement in Samaria. While having similarities in their religious practices with the Hebrews, the Samaritans also developed their distinct beliefs and traditions. This schism between the Jews and the Samaritans had far-reaching effects on the religious and social dynamics of the region.

According to scriptural accounts, the animosity between the Jews and the Samaritans can be traced back to the Assyrian conquest. The Assyrians brought their own gods and religious practices, which the Israelites assimilated to some extent. However, they did not embrace these practices entirely, leading to a divergence in religious beliefs and rituals. The Samaritans integrated elements of Hebrew Torah and cultic practices while retaining their unique traditions. This created a significant rift between the two communities.

“You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.” – Jesus (John 4:22)

The schism between the Jews and the Samaritans is referenced in various teachings of Jesus in the New Testament. The encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well highlights the tension and differences between the two groups. Despite this division, Jesus’ ministry extended to the Samaritans, demonstrating the importance of bridging religious and social divides.

biblical significance of the tribe of Judah

“But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him… “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” – Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:33, 36-37)

Challenges and Decline of the Hebrew Kingdoms

The biblical accounts of Judah reveal the numerous challenges faced by the Hebrew kingdoms of Israel and Judah throughout their existence. These challenges, coupled with external pressures, ultimately contributed to their decline and eventual destruction.

Internal conflicts and disobedient rulers fueled political instability, weakening the unity and strength of the kingdoms. The biblical accounts highlight instances of idolatry and religious deviations, which further eroded the foundations of the Hebrew kingdoms.

The geographical location of Israel and Judah also posed significant challenges. Situated amidst powerful neighboring empires, such as the Assyrians and Babylonians, the Hebrew kingdoms were vulnerable to dominance and conquest. These regional powers imposed their authority, leading to periods of subjugation and political subordination.

Despite their efforts to maintain independence and sovereignty, the Hebrew kingdoms struggled to withstand the relentless waves of conquest and militaristic campaigns launched by their formidable neighbors. The Assyrian conquest of the kingdom of Israel in 720 BCE marked a significant blow to the Hebrews, and the subsequent Babylonian invasion in 586 BCE sealed the fate of the kingdom of Judah.

“And Jehoiachin the king of Judah went out to the king of Babylon, he and his mother, and his servants, and his princes, and his officers: and the king of Babylon took him in the eighth year of his reign.”

These challenges, both internal and external, gradually weakened the Hebrew kingdoms, rendering them vulnerable to conquest and subjugation. The decline of Israel and Judah marked the end of an era, with their destruction serving as a turning point in the history of the Hebrew people.

Challenges Faced Impact on the Hebrew Kingdoms
Internal conflicts and disobedient rulers Political instability and weakened unity
Religious idolatry and deviations Erosion of the kingdoms’ foundations
Vulnerability to domination by neighboring empires Periods of subjugation and political subordination
Conquests by the Assyrians and Babylonians Gradual decline and eventual destruction

The challenges faced by the Hebrew kingdoms underscore the complex interplay between internal dynamics and external forces that shaped their history and eventual demise.

biblical accounts of Judah

Legacy and Enduring Influence

Although the Hebrew kingdoms of Israel and Judah no longer exist as political entities, their legacy and enduring influence continue to shape religious and cultural identity. The stories and teachings found in the Hebrew Bible have provided a foundation for Judaism and influenced the development of Christianity and Islam.

The city of Jerusalem, once the capital of the Kingdom of Judah, remains a focal point of religious pilgrimage and worship for millions around the world. Its historical and religious significance, deeply rooted in the history of Judah in the Bible, draws people of various faiths to this sacred city.

“Jerusalem is the abode of the Almighty, the dwelling place of kings, and the center of the world. Every heart that yearns for spiritual connection finds solace in the ancient streets of this holy city.”

The history and significance of the Hebrew kingdoms continue to resonate through the ages. The enduring influence of the values, teachings, and traditions that originated in Israel and Judah has shaped the moral compass of countless individuals and societies throughout history. The wisdom imparted through the scriptures has guided believers in their pursuit of spiritual enlightenment, ethical conduct, and social justice.

The Davidic Dynasty: A Symbol of Hope

One of the most enduring legacies of Judah in the Bible is the Davidic Dynasty, which symbolizes hope and the promise of a future messianic king. King David, the renowned poet, warrior, and ruler, belonged to the tribe of Judah. His legacy as a man after God’s own heart has inspired generations of believers to seek righteousness and live according to divine principles.

It is from the lineage of David that Jesus Christ, the central figure of Christianity, is believed to have descended. The prophecies in the Hebrew scriptures, such as those found in the book of Isaiah, foretold the coming of a messianic figure from the house of David. Christians interpret the life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus as the fulfillment of these prophecies, further solidifying the enduring influence of Judah’s history in the Bible.

history of Judah in the bible

The impact of Israel and Judah, as recorded in the Bible, extends beyond religious contexts. Both ancient kingdoms have left indelible marks on various aspects of human civilization, including literature, art, architecture, and political thought. Their legends, epics, and cultural practices have inspired countless works of literature, music, and visual arts, enriching the tapestry of human creativity for millennia.

Today, the history of Judah in the Bible continues to be studied, interpreted, and celebrated by scholars, theologians, and believers alike. The stories of courage, faith, triumph, and tribulation found within its pages serve as timeless reminders of the enduring power and relevance of ancient narratives in shaping the human experience.

The Impact of the Exile

The Babylonian Exile of the tribe of Judah had a profound impact on the Jewish people. The forced relocation to Babylon brought about a period of cultural transformation and religious introspection. It was during this time that the Israelite religion, characterized by Yahwism, evolved into what would become Judaism. The exiles in Babylon sustained their faith and traditions, leading to the writing and compilation of biblical texts, such as the Babylonian Talmud and the Book of Ezekiel. The Exile marked a turning point in Jewish history and set the stage for future developments in religious thought and practice.

The exile of the tribe of Judah to Babylon had far-reaching consequences for the Jewish people. Cut off from their homeland, the exiles were forced to adapt to a new culture and environment. This period of exile led to significant changes in the religious beliefs and practices of the Israelites, laying the foundation for the development of Judaism.

Transformation of the Israelite Religion

During the Babylonian Exile, the Israelite religion underwent a transformation. The exiles began to deeply reflect on their faith and sought to preserve their religious traditions in a foreign land. The emphasis on monotheism and the worship of Yahweh, which characterized their religion, became more pronounced.

The exiles created rituals and practices to maintain their connection with their homeland and their God. The synagogues, which emerged during this period, served as gathering places for communal worship and study of the Torah. The importance of the study of scripture and adherence to religious laws became central tenets of Judaism.

The Writing and Compilation of Biblical Texts

One of the significant outcomes of the Exile was the writing and compilation of biblical texts. The exiles in Babylon preserved their traditions and stories through the written word, ensuring the continuity of their history and religious teachings. The Babylonian Talmud, a collection of Jewish laws, customs, and discussions, was compiled during this period, providing a comprehensive guide for Jewish life.

The Book of Ezekiel, a prophetic book in the Hebrew Bible, also emerged during the Exile. It contains visions and teachings that shaped the religious beliefs of the exiles and played a crucial role in the development of Jewish theology.

Legacy and Future Developments

The Babylonian Exile marked a turning point in Jewish history. The period of exile and the subsequent return to the land of Judah laid the foundation for the Second Temple period and the development of Judaism as a distinct religious tradition.

The religious practices and beliefs that emerged during the Exile continued to evolve and shape Jewish identity and theology. The impact of the Exile can still be seen today in various aspects of Jewish life, including the study of scripture, the observance of religious laws, and the importance of cultural and religious heritage.

Key Developments during the Exile

Key Developments Description
Transformation of Israelite Religion The exile led to a deeper emphasis on monotheism and worship of Yahweh, contributing to the development of Judaism.
Writing and Compilation of Texts The exiles preserved their traditions through the written word, resulting in the compilation of the Babylonian Talmud and the Book of Ezekiel.
Development of Jewish Laws and Customs The exiles created a comprehensive guide for Jewish life through the compilation of laws, customs, and discussions in the Babylonian Talmud.

Conclusion

The ancient kingdoms of Israel and Judah hold immense historical and religious significance for the Hebrew people. The narratives of these kingdoms, their rulers, and their religious practices have shaped the cultural and religious traditions that endure to this day. Archaeological discoveries have provided valuable insights into the existence of these kingdoms and have offered partial validation to the biblical accounts. The legacy of Israel and Judah lives on through the religious teachings, traditions, and historical narratives that have influenced the faith and identity of millions of individuals throughout history.

As we delve deeper into the history of Israel and Judah, we gain a deeper understanding of their impact on the development of biblical literature and the religious landscape of the ancient Near East. The stories of the United Monarchy, the Babylonian Exile, and the cultural transformation that occurred during these periods offer valuable insights into the origins of Judaism and its subsequent influence on other major world religions. Jerusalem, the ancient capital of Judah, remains a central focal point for religious pilgrimages and continues to be a symbol of religious and cultural heritage.

The ongoing archaeological efforts and scholarly debates surrounding the ancient Israelite kingdoms further enrich our understanding of this rich and complex history. While there are still many aspects of Israel and Judah that remain elusive, the enduring legacy of these kingdoms serves as a testament to their enduring importance in shaping religious beliefs and cultural practices. By exploring the ancient kingdoms of Israel and Judah, we gain a deeper appreciation for the roots and evolution of the Hebrew people and their enduring impact on the world.

FAQ

What is the significance of the tribe of Judah in the biblical context?

The tribe of Judah played a central role in the history of ancient Israel. Many important biblical figures, including King David and King Solomon, belonged to the tribe of Judah. The kingdom of Judah, with Jerusalem as its capital, became the center of Jewish religious and political life. It is from Judah that the Davidic dynasty and the future messianic lineage are believed to originate.

What are some biblical references to Judah?

The Old Testament contains numerous accounts and references to the Kingdom of Judah. The prophets and historians of the Old Testament, such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Chronicles, provide insights into the history and religious practices of the kingdom. The biblical accounts describe the reigns of various kings of Judah, their alliances, wars, and interactions with other nations.

What is the history of Judah in the Bible?

The tribe of Judah played a significant role in the history of Israel as depicted in the Bible. Judah was one of the twelve tribes of Israel and held a central position among them. The biblical accounts describe the reigns of various kings of Judah, their alliances, wars, and interactions with other nations. The tribe of Judah, as depicted in the Old Testament, played a crucial role in the preservation of Hebrew religion and identity during times of political and religious turmoil.

What happened during the Exile and Return of Judah?

The Babylonian conquest of Judah in 586 BCE marked a significant turning point in the history of the tribe of Judah. The Babylonians destroyed the city of Jerusalem, including Solomon’s Temple, and deported a substantial number of Judahites to Babylon. This event is known as the Babylonian Exile or the Exile of Judah. However, after the fall of Babylon to the Persians, the exiled Judahites were allowed to return to their land. This period of exile and subsequent return laid the foundation for the Second Temple period and the development of Judaism as we know it today.

Who were some of the biblical kings from Judah?

Some of the biblical kings from the tribe of Judah include King David, King Solomon, King Hezekiah, and King Josiah. These kings played significant roles in the history of Judah and the development of religious and political institutions. The tales of their victories, failures, and religious reforms shaped the religious and political landscape of ancient Israel and Judah.

Is there any archaeological evidence of the Kingdom of Judah described in the Bible?

Yes, archaeological excavations have provided valuable insights into the existence of the Kingdom of Judah as described in the Bible. Discoveries, such as the Large Stone Structure in Jerusalem and the fortress at Khirbet Qeiyafa, indicate the presence of an urbanized society during the 10th century BCE, supporting the biblical accounts of a united kingdom under David and Solomon. However, interpretations and dating of these archaeological findings remain a subject of scholarly debate.

What was the Samaritan schism mentioned in the Bible?

The Assyrian conquest of Israel led to the resettlement of Assyrians in Samaria, the capital of the kingdom. These Assyrians brought their own gods and religious practices, eventually leading to the formation of a distinct religious group known as the Samaritans. The Samaritans adopted many Hebrew Torah and cultic practices but developed their own beliefs and worship traditions. This schism between the Jews and the Samaritans played a significant role in the religious and social dynamics of the region and is mentioned in the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament.

What were some challenges faced by the Hebrew kingdoms of Israel and Judah?

The Hebrew kingdoms of Israel and Judah faced numerous challenges throughout their existence. Internal conflicts, disobedient rulers, and religious idolatry led to political instability and weakened the unity and strength of the kingdoms. Additionally, the geographical location of the Hebrew kingdoms made them vulnerable to the dominance and conquests of neighboring empires, such as the Assyrians and Babylonians. Over time, these challenges, along with external pressures, contributed to the decline and eventual destruction of the Hebrew kingdoms.

What is the lasting legacy of the ancient kingdoms of Israel and Judah?

Although the Hebrew kingdoms of Israel and Judah no longer exist as political entities, their legacy and enduring influence continue to shape religious and cultural identity. The stories and teachings found in the Hebrew Bible have provided a foundation for Judaism and influenced the development of Christianity and Islam. The city of Jerusalem, once the capital of the Kingdom of Judah, remains a focal point of religious pilgrimage and worship for millions around the world. The history and significance of the Hebrew kingdoms continue to resonate through the ages.

What was the impact of the Exile on the tribe of Judah?

The Babylonian Exile of the tribe of Judah had a profound impact on the Jewish people. The forced relocation to Babylon brought about a period of cultural transformation and religious introspection. It was during this time that the Israelite religion, characterized by Yahwism, evolved into what would become Judaism. The exiles in Babylon sustained their faith and traditions, leading to the writing and compilation of biblical texts, such as the Babylonian Talmud and the Book of Ezekiel. The Exile marked a turning point in Jewish history and set the stage for future developments in religious thought and practice.

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  • Greg Gaines

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