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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hills in the Judean desert.

Judea or Judæa (Hebrew: יהודה, Standard Yəhuda Tiberian Yəhûḏāh, "praised, celebrated"; Greek: Ιουδαία, Ioudaía; Latin: Iudaea) is the name given to the mountainous southern part of the historic Land of Israel (Hebrew: ארץ ישראלEretz Yisrael), an area now divided between Israel and the West Bank (itself partly under Palestinian Authority administration and Israeli military rule).

The name Judea is a Greek and Roman adaptation of the name "Judah", which originally encompassed the territory of the Israelite tribe of that name and later of the ancient Kingdom of Judah. The area was the site of the Hasmonean Kingdom and the later Kingdom of Judah, a client kingdom of the Roman Empire. In modern times, Jordan renamed Judea and Samaria the West Bank. The name "Yehudah" may be used by Hebrew speakers to refer to a large southern section of Israel and the occupied territories[1] (disputed by Israel). The combined term Judea and Samaria, refers to land alternatively called the West Bank.


Location and historical boundaries

The Judean hills.

The original boundaries were "Bethsûr" (near Hebron), on the south; Beth-horon (today Beit 'Ur al Fawka on the West Bank), on the north; Latrun or Emaüs, on the west (22 kilometres west of Jerusalem); the Jordan River on the east. The classical historian Josephus used a more expanded definition, encompassing the lower half of what is now the West Bank in the north down to Beer Sheba in the south, and bordered on the east and west by the Mediterranean and the Jordan river. Coordinates: 31°41′56″N 35°18′23″E / 31.69889°N 35.30639°E / 31.69889; 35.30639


Abu Ehmad, an Arab farmer, ploughs his fields in Judea, 1913.

Judea is a mountainous and arid region, much of which is considered to be a desert. It varies greatly in height, rising to an altitude of 1,020 m (3,346 ft) in the south at Mount Hebron, 30 km (19 miles) southwest of Jerusalem, and descending to as much as 400 m (1,312 ft) below sea level in the east of the region. Major urban areas in the region include Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Gush Etzion (including Beitar Illit and Efrat), Jericho and Hebron.

Geographers divide Judea into several distinct regions: the Hebron hills, the Jerusalem saddle, the Bethel hills and the Judean desert east of Jerusalem, which descends in a series of steps to the Dead Sea. The hills are distinct for their anticline structure. In ancient times the hills were forested, and the Bible records agriculture and sheep farming being practiced in the area. Animals are still grazed today, with shepherds moving them between the low ground to the hilltops (which have more rainfall) as summer approaches, while the slopes are still layered with centuries-old stone terracing. The region dried out over the centuries and much of the ancient tree cover has since disappeared.


Human settlement in Judea stretches back to the Stone Age and the region is believed by paleoanthropologists to have been one of the routes through which Homo sapiens travelled out of Africa to colonise the rest of the world around 100,000 years ago. Archaeological evidence of human settlement dates back 11,000 years in the case of the city of Jericho, believed to be the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in the world. In historic times, the region was inhabited by a number of peoples, most famously the Israelites. Judea is central to much of the narrative of the Torah, with the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob said to have been buried at Hebron in the Tomb of the Patriarchs.

Judea was ruled by the Kingdom of Judah, a client kingdom of Persia,[2] and later the Seleucid dynasty of Greece who were eventually expelled from the region by Judas Maccabeus. The Maccabean family established the Hasmonean dynasty of Kings who ruled in Judea for over a century. [3]

Roman conquest

Judea lost its independence to the Romans in the 1st century BCE, by becoming first a tributary kingdom, then a province, of the Roman Empire. The Romans had allied themselves to the Maccabees and interfered again in 63 BCE, following the end of the Third Mithridatic War, when general Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus stayed behind to make the area secure for Rome. Queen Alexandra Salome had recently died, and a civil war broke out between her sons, Hyrcanus II and Aristobulus II. Pompeius restored Hyrcanus but political rule passed to the Herodian family, first as procuratores and later as client kings. In 6 CE, Judea came under direct Roman rule as the province of Iudaea. Eventually, the Jews rose against Roman rule in 66 CE in a revolt that was unsuccessful. Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 CE and much of the population was killed or enslaved. [4]

Bar Kokhba revolt

The Jews rebelled again 70 years later under the leadership of Simon bar Kokhba and established the last Kingdom of Israel, which lasted three years, before the Romans managed to conquer the province for good, at a high cost in terms of manpower and expense.

After the defeat of Bar Kokhba (132-135 CE) the Roman Emperor Hadrian was determined to wipe out the identity of Israel-Judah-Judea, and renamed it Philistina (after the ancient enemy of the Israelites; the Philistines). Until that time the area had been called "province of Judea" by the Romans. At the same time, he changed the name of the city of Jerusalem to Aelia Capitolina. The Romans killed many Jews and sold many more into slavery; many Jews departed into the Jewish diaspora, but there was never a complete Jewish abandonment of the area. [5]

20th century

Bedouins live in the desert around Judea.

As today's definition of Judea mostly covers the portion of the West Bank south of Jerusalem, the following subdivisions of both Israel and the PNA fall within the demographically-disputed area:

PNA governorates

Israeli settlement councils


Map of the southern Levant, c.830s BCE.      Kingdom of Judah      Kingdom of Israel      Philistine city-states      Phoenician states      Kingdom of Ammon      Kingdom of Edom      Kingdom of Aram-Damascus      Aramean tribes      Arubu tribes      Nabatu tribes      Assyrian Empire      Kingdom of Moab


External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Alternative spellings




Judea (uncountable)

  1. The Roman rendition of Judah. Used after the fall of the Davidic dynasty and through the period as part of the Roman Empire.
    1611 In the hundred fourscore and eighth year, the people that were at Jerusalem and in Judea, and the council, and Judas, sent greeting and health unto Aristobulus, king Ptolemeus' master, who was of the stock of the anointed priests, and to the Jews that were in Egypt — 2 Maccabees 1:10 KJV.

Related terms

Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

After the Captivity this name was applied to the whole of the country west of the Jordan (Hag 1:1, 14; 2:2). But under the Romans, in the time of Christ, it denoted the southernmost of the three divisions of Palestine (Mt 2:1, 5; 3:1; 4:25), although it was also sometimes used for Palestine generally (Acts 28:21).

The province of Judea, as distinguished from Galilee and Samaria, included the territories of the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, Dan, Simeon, and part of Ephraim. Under the Romans it was a part of the province of Syria, and was governed by a procurator.

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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Simple English

Judea or Judaea (Hebrew: Yehuda) is a term used for the mountainous southern part of the West Bank. In modern times, the name "Yehudah" is most often used by Zionists.

Judea is also the ancient name of the area surrounding Jerusalem (today, parts of Israel and the West Bank).


Major cities

Major cities in this area are Hebron, Bethlehem, Efrat and Beitar Illit.

Ancient Judea

Judea was the territory of the ancient Kingdom of Judah. Judea lost its Nationhood to the Romans in the 1st century BC, by becoming first a tributary kingdom, then a province, of the Roman Empire.

The first interference of Rome in the region dates from 63 BCE, following the end of the Third Mithridatic war.

After the defeat of Mithridates VI of Pontus, general Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (Pompey the Great) stayed behind to make the area secure for Rome. Judea at the time was not a peaceful place. Queen Alexandra had recently died, and her sons were troubling the country with a civil war for power. They were Hyrcanus and Aristobulus.

In 63 BCE, Aristobulus was surrounded in Jerusalem by his brother's armies, and the situation was bad. He sent a messenger to Marcus Aemilius Scaurus, Pompey's representative in the area. Aristobulus offered a large bribe to be rescued, that Pompey quickly accepted, but later, he tried to accuse Scaurus of extortion. This caused his downfall, because Scaurus was Pompey's brother in law and was protected by him. The general did not like what Aristobulus had done, and put the prince and high priest Hyrcanus in charge of the kingdom. Judea and Galilee became tributary kingdoms of Rome, which meant that they had to pay tribute to the Roman Republic to buy their protection.

After Caesar's death

Around the same time Pompey was defeated by Julius Caesar, Hyrcanus was followed by a member of his court, Antipater. Caesar and Antipater were both killed in 44 BCE, and Herod, Antipater's son, was appointed as governor (tetrarch) by Rome in 41 BCE. He became the king (basileus) of Judea in 37 BCE, and was known as King Herod the Great. During his reign, the great port of Caesarea Maritima was built. He died in 4 BCE, and his kingdom was divided among his sons. One of these was Herod Archelaus, who ruled Judea so badly that he was made to quit in 6 CE by the Roman Emperor Augustus Caesar, after his own people complained about him.

The kingdom of Judea now became part of a larger Roman province of Ivdaea. This was one of the few governed by a knight, not a former consul or praetor of senatorial rank, because its income to the Roman treasury was small, and the region was peaceful. Pontius Pilate was one of these procurators.

Between 41 and 44 CE, Judea won a little more independence again, when Herod Agrippa was made king by emperor Claudius. After Agrippa's died, the province again went to direct Roman control for a short time. Judea was returned little by little to Agrippa's son, Marcus Julius Agrippa, in 48. However, there was still a Roman procurator in the area, responsible for keeping peace and raising taxes. When he died, around the year 100, the area returned once again to direct Roman control.


Judea was the stage of three major rebellions against the Romans. They were (see Judea rebellions for a full account):

  • 66-70 - first rebellion, followed by the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple (see Great Jewish Revolt, Josephus)
  • 115-117 - second rebellion, because of too much taxation
  • 132-135 - third rebellion, led by Simon Bar Kokhba

After Bar Kokhba's revolt was stopped by the Roman forces, the emperor Hadrian changed the name of the province to Syria Palaestina, and Jerusalem became Aelia Capitolina in order to embarrass the Jewish people by attempting to erase the nation's name from the region.


  • Until 63 BCE - independent state
  • 63 BCE-6 CE - client kingdom of Rome
  • 6-41 - Roman province
  • 26-36 - procurator Pontius Pilatus
  • 41-44 - ruling of Herod Agrippa (client king)
  • 44-48 - Roman province
  • 48-100 - ruling of Herod Agrippa II (client king)
  • 66-70 - First rebellion
  • 100 onwards - Roman province
  • 115-117 - second rebellion
  • 132-135 - third rebellion: Simon Bar Kokhba
  • 135 - Judea renamed Syria Palaestina by emperor Hadrian.

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