Judea or Judæa (Hebrew: יהודה, Standard "Yəhuda" Tiberian "Unicode|Yəhûḏāh", "praised, celebrated"; Greek: Ιουδαία, "Ioudaía"; 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 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 Judea, a client kingdom of the Roman Empire. In modern times, the name "Yehudah" may be used by Hebrew speakers to refer 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.

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 (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.


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 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, 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.

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. 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.

Bar Kochba revolt

The Jews rebelled again 70 years later under the leadership of 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 began using the name "Palastina" to describe all the land of Israel. 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.

20th century

Judea later became part of the Mandate for Palestine, when the territory was 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 with the exception of East Jerusalem) and remained part of Jordan until the 1967 Six-Day War, when it was captured 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 denoting that Judea and Samaria are located to the west of the Jordan river, as opposed to most of the territory of Jordan.


, c.830s BCE.]

*18th century BCE? - 11th century BCE — province in Canaan
*1004 BCE? — Jewish conquest
*11th century BCE - 930 BCE — part of the United Monarchy
*930 BCE586 BCEKingdom of Judah
*586 BCE -539 BCEBabylonian Empire
*539 BCE -332 BCEPersian Empire
*332 BCE - 305 BCEMacedonian Empire of Alexander the Great
*305 BCE - 198 BCEPtolemaics
*198 BCE - 141 BCESeleucids
*141 BCE - 37 BCE — The Hasmonean state in Israel established by the Maccabees, after 63 BCE under Roman supremacy
*37 BCE - 70 CE — Herodian Dynasty ruling Judea under Roman supremacy (37 BCE-6 CE, 41-44 CE), interchanging with direct Roman rule (6-41, 44-66). This ended in the first Jewish Revolt of 66 - 73, which saw the Temple destroyed in 70.
*73 — Fall of Masada
*115–117 — Kitos War
*132–135 — Bar Kokhba's revolt
*135 — Judea renamed Syria Palaestina by emperor Hadrian
*400–638 — Byzantine Christian province
*638 — Muslim rule established
*1099 — The Crusaders conquer the region
*1187 — Expulsion of the Crusaders from Judea and reassertion of Muslim rule
*1516 — Beginning of Ottoman rule
*1917 — Defeat of the Ottomans; beginning of British rule
*1919 — Incorporation into the Mandate for Palestine
*1947 — United Nations partition plan assigns most of Judea to an Arab state or corpus separatum
*1948 — 1948 Arab-Israeli War leaves much of the area under the control of Jordan, though Israel controls the Shephelah and part of the Judean Desert near Ein Gedi
*1967 — Israel captures Judea in the Six-Day War and annexes parts of it. The annexation is not recognized by any country.
*1995 — As part of the Oslo Accords, the Palestinian Authority receives autonomy over much of the Arab population

External links

* [http://www.dinur.org/1.html?rsID=219 The Jewish History Resource Center] Project of the Dinur Center for Research in Jewish History, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
* [http://www.Fsmitha.com/h1/ch17.htm Judea and civil war]
* [http://www.livius.org/ja-jn/jewish_wars/jwar01.htm The subjugation of Judea]
* [http://www.livius.org/jo-jz/judaea/judaea.htm Judaea 6-66 CE]
* [http://www.biblelandpictures.com/gallery/gallery.asp?categoryid=107 Judea photos]

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