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For the Roman Empire province, see Iudaea Province.
Map of the southern Levant, c.830s BC.      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
Map of the southern Levant, c.830s BC.      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

Judea or Judæa (Hebrew: יהודה, Standard Yəhuda Tiberian Yəhûḏāh, "praise God"; Greek: Ιουδαία; Latin: Iudaea) is the mountainous southern part of the historic Land of Israel (Hebrew: ארץ ישראל Eretz Yisrael), an area now divided between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and, in a few geographical definitions of Judea, Jordan.

The name Judea is a Greek and Roman adaptation of the name "Judah" and originally implied the whole territories of the previous Jewish Kingdoms, but by the time of the New Testament it had been limited in scope to the south of the region. In Hebrew Yehudah refers to a large southern section of Israel and the West Bank, or in the combined term Judea and Samaria to refer specifically to the West Bank area south of Jerusalem.

The area was the site of the ancient Kingdom of Judah, the Hasmonean Kingdom, and the later Kingdom of Judea, a client kingdom of the Roman Empire.


[edit] Location and historical boundaries

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 (a few miles 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.

The Judean hills near Gush Etzion fall away to the similarly named desert surrounding the Dead Sea.
The Judean hills near Gush Etzion fall away to the similarly named desert surrounding the Dead Sea.

[edit] Geography

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, 19 miles (30 km) southwest of Jerusalem, and descending to as much as 400 m (1,312ft) below sea level in the east of the region. Major cities in the region include Jerusalem, Beitar Illit, Bethlehem, Efrat, Gush Etzion, 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. 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. The region dried out over the centuries and much of the ancient tree cover has since disappeared.

[edit] History

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.

In historic times, Judea was ruled by the Kingdom of Judah, a client kingdom of Persia, 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. A power struggle within the ruling family led the Romans to assert control in the region after being approached for aid by one side of the conflict. Eventually as Roman policies became intolerant and oppressive a massive uprising took place which proved unsuccessful. Jerusalem was destroyed and much of the population was killed or enslaved. The Jews rebelled again 70 years later under the leadership of Simon Bar-Kochba and established the last Kingdom of Israel, which lasted three years, before the Romans managed to conquer the province for good at a terrible cost in terms of manpower and expense.

[edit] Bar Kochba revolt

After the defeat of Bar Kokhba (132-135 AD) the Roman Emperor Hadrian determined to wipe out the identity of Israel-Judah-Judea, and began using the name "Palastina" to describe all the land of Israel, until that time the area was 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 in slavery; many Jews departed into the Jewish diaspora, but there was never a complete abandonment of the Land. There was never a time when there were not Jews and Jewish communities, though the size and conditions of those communities fluctuated greatly. The Bar Kokhba revolt was the last time the Jewish people had independence in the holy land until the 1948 war of independence.

[edit] 20th century

It later became part of the Mandate for Palestine, when the territory of Judea split between British-ruled Palestine and the autonomous Emirate of Transjordan Palestine (a territorial unit within the Mandate, later to become Transjordan, then the independent Kingdom of Jordan). Jordan became independent in 1946, and the United Nations formed a plan to partition the remaining British mandate of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states in 1947. Jordan captured most of the Arab Palestinian partition following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. It was annexed by Jordan in 1950 (though this annexation was recognized only by the United Kingdom and Pakistan) and remained part of Jordan until the 1967 Six-Day War, when it was taken by Israeli forces. This part of Judea is now generally known outside Israel as the West Bank - a name given to it by Jordan after 1948 which denotes that Judea and Samaria are located to the west of the Jordan river, as opposed to most of the territory of Jordan.

[edit] Chronology

[edit] External links

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