From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

JUDaeA. 1 . In its earlier signification the term ‘Judaea’ (Ἰουδαία) was applied to a limited district, of which Jerusalem was the centre, occupied by the captives who returned from Babylon after the decree of Cyrus. The scattered remnants of the Israelites who availed themselves of this opportunity, representing most, if not all, of the several tribes, joined forces with the men of Judah in rebuilding the Temple and its defences; and from this date, except on the lists of the genealogical and tribal records, they were not distinguished from them. Hence the tribe of Judah, which, according to Josephus, arrived first in those parts, gave name both to the inhabitants and the territory, the former being designated as Jews and the latter as ‘Judaea’ or ‘Jewry’ ( Ant . xi. v. 7). At a later date both names were used in a wider sense, including all the Israelites who returned, and also their settlements or possessions in other sections of the land. Under Persian rule the land of Judah was designated as a province of the Empire, and was administered by a governor, who resided at Jerusalem ( Ezra 5:8;  Ezra 5:14,  Nehemiah 11:3,  Haggai 1:1;  Haggai 1:14). During the period of the Roman occupation the term was sometimes used as a general expression for Palestine as a whole ( BJ i. viii. 2; Strabo, xvi. 2. 21; Tacitus, Hist. v. 6;  Luke 1:5,  Acts 28:21), also to include a portion, apparently, of the trans-Jordanic country ( Ant . xii. iv. 11;  Matthew 19:1,  Mark 10:1; Ptol. v. 16. 9). Apart from this exceptional usage, the name ordinarily—as we find it in the NT and the writings of Josephus—is applied to the southernmost of the three districts—Galilee, Samaria, Judaea—into which Western Palestine was divided in the time of Christ. With some variations on the north and west borders at different periods, Judaea covered all of the territory south of the Wady Ishar and the village of Akrabbeh ( PEFS t [Note: EFSt Quarterly Statement of the same.] , 1881, p. 48), from the Mediterranean to the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea. According to Josephus, its limits extended from a village on the north called Annath, or Borkeos, identified with Aina Berkit , to Iardas (possibly Tell Arad ), on the edge of the desert, to the south. Its breadth he defines, in general terms, as extending from the river Jordan to Joppa ( BJ iii. iii. 5). In other words, its area practically corresponded with the area of the kingdom of Judah in the period of its greatest enlargement. As thus defined it included the tribal possessions of Simeon, Judah, Benjamin, Dan, and, to some extent at least, of Ephraim.

A distinction should be noted here between the use of the word Judaea to designate strictly Jewish territory, from which the outlying Hellenistic or Gentile towns were excluded, and the Roman usage of the word to designate a political division, which for administrative purposes included all the coast towns south of Mt. Carmel, the chief of which in the time of Christ was Caesarea, the residence of its Procurator. In the one case its northern limit was Antipatris, on the plain of Sharon; in the other it extended to Acre (Ptolemais) beyond Mt. Carmel. The S.E. portion of Judaea has sometimes been designated as a separate district under the name Idumaea , but this term properly describes a settlement of the Edomites in Judaea, and not a separate division of the country. Idumaea, according to Josephus, was one of the eleven toparchies into which Judaea proper was divided for administrative purposes under Roman rule ( BJ iii. iii. 5). See Idumaea.

2 . When our Lord was born, Judaea constituted a part of the dominion of Herod the Great, who accordingly is called by the Evangelists ‘king of Judaea’ ( Luke 1:5, cf.  Matthew 2:1). After the death of Herod, the Roman emperor assumed the right to settle the dispute which had arisen among his sons concerning the division of the kingdom, and by his decree Judaea and Samaria were in the partition assigned to Archelaus. The sovereignty of Rome was more fully asserted also at this time in refusing to any of Herod’s sons the title ‘king.’ When by the same authority Archelaus was deposed (a.d. 6), the territory over which he held rule was attached to the province of Syria, and thus for the first time came under immediate Roman rule. From this date it was administered by a governor or procurator, who was chosen from the equestrian order. Following Archelaus the province was administered by five procurators during the life and ministry of Jesus, viz. Coponius ( circa (about) a.d. 6–9), Marcus Ambivius ( circa (about) 9–12), Annius Rufus ( circa (about) 12–15), Valerius Gratus (15–25), Pontius Pilate (26–36). It was during Pilate’s rule that the word of God came to John the Baptist in the wilderness, and some years later this Roman procurator made his name for ever infamous by giving sentence that the Christ, whom he had openly declared to be innocent of crime, should be led away to be crucified.

3 . The physical features of Judaea are sharply outlined and singularly diversified. Its distinctive characteristics fall naturally into five subdivisions, originally suggested by the OT writers, viz. the ‘Plain of the Coast,’ the ‘Shephelah’ or region of the low hills, the ‘Hill country,’ the ‘Negeb’ or dry country, and the ‘Wilderness.’

The Maritime Plain varies in width from 10 to 16 miles. It is for the most part flat or rolling, and rises gradually toward the base of the mountains. The upper portion (Sharon) is noted for its rich pasturage; the lower (Philistia) for its vast grain-fields, which have yielded enormous crops without the use of fertilizers, except such as nature has distributed over its surface from the wash and waste of the mountains, for forty centuries. The international highway which follows the line of the coast inside the region of the sand-dunes is one of the oldest caravan and military roads in the world. Most of the noted towns of the Plain are on or near this ancient highway. This section of Judaea has no associations with the life or ministry of Jesus, but in the Acts there are several references to visits which were made, or events which took place, in its towns, in connexion with the work of the Apostles or their associates (chs. 8–10 and 18–21).

The ‘Shephelah’ belongs to the plain rather than to the central ridge of the mountains, from which it is distinctly separated by a series of almost continuous breaks or depressions. It has been aptly described as ‘a loose gathering of chalk and limestone hills, round, bare, and featureless, but with an occasional bastion flung well out in front of them.’ There are several noted valleys, which begin their courses as wadis in the central range, and cut their way through the Shephelah to the plain. Each of these affords a passage-way into the heart of the mountain stronghold of Judaea, and each has its distinct characteristics and historical associations. Apostles and evangelists entered this region soon after the dispersion of the believers at Jerusalem, and in its limestone grottoes, in the days of the persecutions, multitudes of hunted and outlawed Christians found refuges and hiding-places ( HGH L [Note: GHL Historical Geog. of Holy Land.] , ch. 11.).

The ‘Hill country’ or highland region fills most of the space between the Jordan Valley and the sea, and gives character to the district as a whole. In its present condition it is the most rugged and desolate section of the Lebanon range. In former times its hillsides were terraced, and every available break in its table-lands was carefully cultivated; and yet in every period of its history it has been regarded as a rough, stony land, more suitable for pastoral than for agricultural pursuits. Its watershed is an irregular, undulating plateau, which varies in width from 12 to 18 miles. The general direction of the numerous ravines or torrent-beds which diversify, and in some sections deeply corrugate, its sides, is east and west. On the east side they are short, direct, and deeply cleft; on the west, comparatively long and shallow, reaching the coast often by circuitous routes. The highest elevation (3564 ft.) is er-Ramah , a short distance north of Hebron. The general average of the plateau on which Jerusalem is located is about 2500 ft. South of Hebron there is a gradual descent by steps or terraced slopes to the region which for many centuries has borne the distinctive name ‘Negeb’ or dry country.

The ‘Wilderness’ includes the whole of the eastern slope or declivity of the Judaean mountains. It is a barren, uncultivated region, unique in its setting, and notable above all other sections of the land for its desolation, its loneliness, and its scenes of wild and savage grandeur. The variation in levels from the edge of the plateau to the surface of the Dead Sea is but little short of 4000 ft., nearly one half of which is a precipitous descent from sea-level to the margin of the deeply depressed basin amid the silent hills. In this ‘land not inhabited’ John the Baptist sought seclusion while preparing for his ministry as the forerunner of the Messiah; and here the Holy One, concerning whom he bore record, abode ‘forty days tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him’ ( Matthew 3:1-6 ||  Luke 3:2,  Matthew 4:1-11 ||  Mark 1:12-13).

4 . The sacred memories and thronging events which have been, and for ever shall be, associated with these holy hills cannot be fittingly expressed by voice or pen. In the long ages past the highways of this Judaean plateau have been trodden by the feet of patriarchs, prophets, priests, and kings, and for centuries its sanctuary on Mt. Zion was the dwelling-place of Jehovah; but, more than all else in its wonderful history, it was the place of the incarnation, the self-denying ministry, the agony, the death, the resurrection, and the ascension of the Son of God, the Saviour of the world.

Literature.—Stanley, S P [Note: P Sinai and Palestine.] pp. 227–233; Conder, Pal . [Note: Palestine, Palestinian.] ch. 1. p. 221; Schürer, HJ P [Note: JP History of the Jewish People.] , index; G. A. Smith, HGH L [Note: GHL Historical Geog. of Holy Land.] , chs. 12.–15.; Neubauer, Géog. du Talm . p. 52 ff.; PE F [Note: EF Palestine Exploration Fund.] Memoirs , vol. iii.; C. W. Wilson in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible, vol. ii. p. 791; Smith, D B [Note: Dictionary of the Bible.] 2 [Note: designates the particular edition of the work referred] , vol. ii. p. 1488; Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible, art. ‘Palestine’; Baedeker, Pal . [Note: Palestine, Palestinian.] and Syria , lvi.

Robert L. Stewart.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [2]

JUDÆA. A name first appearing in Tob 1:18 as applied to the old kingdom of Judah (of which Judæa is merely the Græco-Roman equivalent), as it was reoccupied after the Captivity by the returned descendants of subjects of the Southern Kingdom. Though sometimes (as in   Luke 23:5 , and more definitely in   Acts 10:37;   Acts 26:10 ) loosely employed to denote the whole of Western Palestine, the name was properly confined to the southernmost of the three districts into which the Roman province of Western Palestine was divided the other two being Galilee and Samaria. It lay between Samaria on the north and the desert of Arabia Petræa on the south; but its exact boundaries cannot be stated more definitely. After the death of Herod, Archelaus became ethnarch of Judæa, and after his deposition it was added to the province of Syria, and governed by a procurator with his headquarters in Cæsarea.

It was in the wilderness of Judæa that John the Baptist came forward as the forerunner of Christ (  Matthew 3:1; cf.   Mark 1:4; and   Luke 3:2 , ‘the wilderness’). It is probably the same as the ‘wilderness of Judah’ (  Judges 1:16 ,   Psalms 63:1 [title], the desert tract to the W. of the Dead Sea. R. A. S. Macalister.

People's Dictionary of the Bible [3]

Judæa ( Ju-Dç'Ah ), or Judea, Province of . A name applied to that part of Canaan occupied by those who returned after the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities, The word first occurs,  Daniel 6:13 (A. V. "Jewry"), and the first mention of the "province of Judæa" (R. V. "Judah") is in  Ezra 5:8; it is alluded to in  Nehemiah 11:3(A. V "Judah"); in the Apocrypha the word "province" is dropped, and throughout it and in the New Testament the expressions are the "land of Judæa" and "Judæa." In a wider and more improper sense "Judæa" was sometimes applied to the whole country of the Canaanites, its ancient inhabitants, and even in the gospels we read of the coasts of Judæa "beyond Jordan."  Matthew 19:1;  Mark 10:1. Judæa was strictly the southern district, west of the Jordan, and south of Samaria. It was made a portion of the Roman province of Syria after Archelaus was deposed, a.d. 6, and was governed by a procurator, who was subject to the governor of Syria. See Canaan, Palestine, and Judah.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [4]

Judae'a. Judae'a or Jude'a See Judea .

Holman Bible Dictionary [5]

 Ezra 5:8Judea

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [6]

( Ι᾿Ουδαία , fem. Of Ι᾿Ουδαῖος , Jew or Jewish, sc. land; once in A.V. for Chald. יְהוּד , Judah,  Ezra 5:8; "Jewry,"  Luke 23:5;  John 7:1), the southernmost of the three divisions of the Holy Land. It denoted the kingdom of Judah as distinguished from that of Israel. (See Judah). But after the captivity, as most of the exiles who returned belonged to the kingdom of Judah, the name Judaea (Judah) was applied generally to the whole of Palestine west of the Jordan ( Haggai 1:1;  Haggai 1:14; Haggai 2, 2). Under the Romans, in the time of Christ, Palestine was divided into Galilee, Samaria, and Judaea ( John 4:4-5;  Acts 9:31), the last including the whole of the southern part west of the Jordan But this division was only observed as a political and local distinction, for the sake of indicating the part of the country, just as we use the name of a county ( Matthew 2:1;  Matthew 2:5;  Matthew 3:1;  Matthew 4:25;  Luke 1:65); but when the whole of Palestine was to be indicated in a general way, the term Judaea was still employed. Thus persons in Galilee and elsewhere spoke of going to Judaea ( John 7:3;  John 11:7), to distinguish the part of Palestine to which they were proceeding; but when persons in Rome and other places spoke of Judea ( Acts 28:21), they used the word as a general denomination for the country of the Jews, or Palestine. Indeed, the name seems to have had a more extensive application than even to Palestine west of the Jordan It denoted all the dominions of Herod the Great, who was called the king of Judaea; and much of these lay beyond the river (comp.  Matthew 19:1,  Mark 10:1). After the death of Herod, however, the Judaea to which his son Archelaus succeeded was only the southern province so called ( Matthew 2:22), which afterwards became a Roman province dependent on Syria and governed by procurators, and this was its condition during our Lord's ministry (see Nohrbor, Judoea provincia Romanorum, Upsal. 1822). It was afterwards for a time partly under the dominion of Herod Agrippa the elder ( Acts 12:1-19), but on his death it reverted to its former condition under the Romans. See Smith's Dict. of Class. Geog. s.v.

It is only Judaea, in the provincial sense, that requires our present notice, the country at large being described in the article PALESTINE. In this sense, however, it was much more extensive than the domain of the tribe of Judah, even more so than the kingdom of the same name. There are no materials for describing its limits with precision, but it included the ancient territories of Judah, Benjamin, Dan, Simeon, and part of Ephraim. It is, however, not correct to describe Idumaea as not anciently belonging to Judah. The Idumaea of later times, or that which belonged to Judaea, was the southern part of the ancient Judah, into which the Idumaeans had intruded during the exile, and the annexation of which to Judea only restored what had anciently belonged to it.

The name Judea occurs among the list of nations represented at the paschal outpouring of the Holy Spirit ( Acts 2:9), where some have preferred the various readings India or Idumoea (see Kuinol, ad loc.), and even Junia ( Ι᾿Ουνίαν , Schulthess, De Charismat. 1 , 145), a place in Armenia, with various other conjectural emendations (see Bowyer's Conjectures On The N.T. ad loc.), all alike unnecessary (see Hackett, Alford, ad loc.).

In the Rabbinical writings, Judaea, as a division of Palestine, is frequently called" the south," or "the south country," to distinguish it from Galilee, which was called" the north" (Lightfoot, Chorog. Cent. 12). The distinction of the tribe of Judah into "the Mountain," "the Plain," and /" the Vale," which we meet with in the Old Testament ( Numbers 13:30), was preserved under the more extended denomination of Judea (for the more specific divisions in  Joshua 15:21-63, see Keil's Comment. ad loc.; Schwarz, Palest. p. 93-122). The Mountain, or hill country of Judaea ( Joshua 21:11;  Luke 1:39), was that "broad back of mountains," as Lightfoot calls it ( Chorog. Cent. 11), which fills the center of the country from Hebron northward to beyond Jerusalem (for  Luke 1:39, (See Juttah) ).

The Plain was the low country towards the sea coast, and seems to have included not only the broad plain which extends between the sea and the hill country, but the lower parts of the hilly region itself in that direction. Thus the Rabbins allege that from Beth-horon to the sea is one region (Talmud Hieros. Shebiith, 9:2). The Vale is defined by the Rabbins as extending from Engedi to Jericho (Lightfoot, Panergon, § 2); from which, and other indications, it seems to have included such parts of the Ghor, or great plain of the Jordan, as lay within the territory of Judaea. This appropriation of the terms is far preferable to that of some writers, such as Lightfoot, who suppose "the Plain" to be the broad valley of the Jordan, and "the Valley" to be the lower valley of the same river. That which is called the Wilderness of Judaea was the wild and inhospitable region lying eastward of Jerusalem, in the direction of the Jordan and Dead Sea ( Isaiah 40:3;  Matthew 3:1;  Luke 1:80;  Luke 3:2-4). In the N.T. only the Highlands and the Desert of Judaea are distinguished. We may have some notion of the extent northward which Judaea had obtained, from Josephus calling Jerusalem the center of the country ( War, 3, 3, 5), which is remarkable, seeing that Jerusalem was originally in the northernmost border of the tribe of Judah. In fact. he describes the breadth of the country as extending from the Jordan to Joppa which shows that this city was in Judaea. How much further to the north the boundary lay we cannot know with precision, as we are unacquainted with the site of Annath, otherwise Borceros, which he says lay on the boundary in between Judaea and Samaria. The mere fact that Josephus makes Jerusalem the center of the land seems to prove that the province did not extend so far to the south as the ancient kingdom of the same name. As the southern boundary of Judea was also that of the whole country, it is only necessary to remark that Josephus places the southern boundary of the Judaea of the time of Christ at a village called Jardan, on the confines of Arabia Petraea. No place of this name has been found, and the indication is very indistinct, from the fact that all the country which lay beyond the Idumaea of those times was then called Arabia. In fixing this boundary, Josephus regards Idumaea as part of Judaea, for he immediately after reckons that as one of the eleven districts into which Judaea was divided. Most of these districts were denominated, like our counties, from the chief towns. They were,

1. Jerusalem;

2. Gophna;

3. Acrabatta;

4. Thumna;

5. Lydda;

6. Emmaus;

7. Pella;

8. Idumaea;

9. Engaddi;

10. Herodium; and,

11. Jericho.

Judaea is, as the above intimations would suggest, a country full of hills and valleys. The hills are generally separated from one another by valleys and torrents, and are, for the most part, of moderate height, uneven, and seldom of any regular figure. The rock of which they are composed is easily converted into soil, which being arrested by the terraces when washed down by the rains, renders the hills cultivable in a series of long, narrow gardens, formed by these terraces from the base upwards. In this manner the hills were in ancient times cultivated most industriously, and enriched and beautified with the fig tree, the olive tree, and the vine; and it is thus that the scanty cultivation which still subsists is now carried on. But when the inhabitants were rooted out, and the culture neglected. the terraces fell to decay, and the soil which had been collected, in them was washed down into the valleys, leaving only the arid rock, naked and desolate. This is the general character of the scenery; but in some parts the hills are beautifully wooded, and in others the application of the ancient mode of cultivation still suggests to the traveler how rich the country once was and might be again, and how beautiful the prospects which it offered. As, however, much of this was the result of cultivation, the country was probably anciently, as at present, naturally less fertile than either Samaria or Galilee. The present difference is very pointedly remarked by different travelers; and lord Lindsay plainly declares that "all Judea, except the hills of Hebron and the vales immediately about Jerusalem, is barren and desolate. But the prospect brightens as soon as you quit it, and Samaria and Galilee still smile like the land of promise." But there is a season after the spring rains, and before the summer heat has absorbed all the moisture left by them when even the desert is clothed with verdure, and at that season the valleys of Judaea present a refreshingly green appearance. This vernal season, however, is of short duration, and by the beginning of May the grass upon the mountains, and every vestige of vegetation upon the lower grounds, have in general completely disappeared. (See Kitto, Pictorial History of Palestine, Introduct. p. 39, 40, 119, 120; and the Travels of Nau, p. 439; Roger, p. 182; Mariti, 2, 362; Lindsay, 2, 70; Stephens, 2, 249; Elliot, p. 408, 409; Olin, 2, 323; Stanley, p. 161, 173. For a general discussion, see Reland, Paloest. p. 31, 174, 178; Rosenm Ü ller, Bibl. Geogr. 2, 2, 149; Ritter, Erdk. 14, 81, 1064, 1080, 1088; 15, 25, 125, 131, 655; 16, 1 sq., 21 sq., 33 sq., 35 sq., 509 sq., 26, 114 sq., 547.) (See Tribe Of Judah).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [7]

jōō - dē´a , - dē´a ( Ἰουδαία , Ioudaı́a ): The "land of the Jews," the Greco-Roman equivalent of Judah. As most of the Israelites returning from the captivity belonged to the tribe of Judah, they came to be called Jews and their land Judea. In   Tobit 1:18 the name is applied to the old kingdom of Judah. For a general description of the physical geography and early history of this region see Judah . The limits of this district varied greatly, extending as the Jewish population increased, but in many periods with very indefinite boundaries.

Under the Persian empire, Judea (or Judah) was a district administered by a governor who, like Zerubbabel ( Haggai 1:14;  Haggai 2:2 ), was probably usually a Jew. Even as late as Judas Maccabeus, Hebron and its surroundings - the very heart of old Judah was under the domination of the Edomites, whom, however, Judas conquered (1 Macc 5:65); in the time of his brother Jonathan (145 BC), three tetrarchies of Samaria, Aphaerema, Lydda and Ramathaim, were added to Judea (1 Macc 10:30, 38; 11:34); in some passages it is referred to at this time as the "land of Judah" (Ἰούδα ) (1 Macc 10:30, 33, 37). The land was then roughly limited by what may be called the "natural boundaries of Judah" (see Judah ).

Strabo (xvi. 11,21) extends the name Judea to include practically all Palestine; as does Lk ( Luke 4:44 m;   Luke 23:5;  Acts 2:9;  Acts 10:37 , etc.). In several New Testament references ( Matthew 4:25;  Mark 1:5;  Mark 3:7;  Luke 5:17;  John 3:22;  Acts 1:8 ), Judea is contrasted with its capital Jerusalem. The country bordering on the shores of the Dead Sea for some miles inland was known as the Wilderness of Judea (see Judah; Jeshimon ) ( Matthew 3:1 ), or "the wilderness" ( Mark 1:4;  Luke 3:2 ); here John the Baptist appeared as a preacher. According to  Matthew 19:1 (but compare   Mark 10:1 , where the Revised Version (British and American) has "Judaea and beyond Jordan"), some cities beyond Jordan belonged to Judea. That this was an actual fact we know from Ptolemy (  Mark 10:16 ,  Mark 10:9 ) and Josephus ( Ant ., Xii , iv, 11).

According to Josephus ( Bj , III, iii, 5), Judea extended from Anuath-Borkaeos (i.e. Khan Berkı̂t near Khan es Sâweh , close to the most northerly frontier of Judah as described in Judah (which see)) to the village Jordan, possibly Tell ‛Arād , near Arabia in the South. Its breadth was from Joppa in the West to Jordan in the East. The seacoast also as far north as Ptolemais ( ‛Akka ), except Jamnia, Joppa and (according to the Talm) Caesarea, belonged to this province.

After the death of Herod the Great, Archelaus received Judea, Samaria and Idumea as his ethnarchy, but on his deposition Judea was absorbed into the Roman province of Syria, the procurator of which lived at Caesarea.

Of later history it is only necessary to notice that in the 5th century Judea became part of the land known as Palaestina Prima; that at the time of the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem (12th century) all the hill country of Judah from Sinjil to Tekoa was the royal domain, while the southern section to Beersheba belonged to the Seigneur de Abraham (i.e. of Hebron); and lastly that a district, the rough equivalent of the kingdom of Judah, though larger, and of the Judea described by Josephus ( Bj , III, iii, 5), though slightly smaller, forms today the Mutaserraflic of el Kuds , an administrative area where more than in any spot in the world the problem of the "land of the Jews" is today increasingly acute.

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [8]

A southern district of Palestine extending in one direction between Samaria and the desert of Arabia, and in the other between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea.

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [9]