Judea, Judaea

JUDEA, JUDAEA (jū-dē'a, Heb. yehûdhâh, Gr. Ioudaia). A geographical term that first appears in the Bible in Ezra.5.8 (kjv, niv “district of Judah”), where it designates a province of the Persian Empire. The land of Judea is also mentioned in the apocryphal books 1 Esdras (1:30) and 1 Maccabees (5:45; Ezra.7.10). Since most of the exiles who returned from the Babylonian exile belonged to the tribe of Judah, they came to be called Jews, and their land Judea.

Under the Persian Empire, Judea was a district administered by a governor who was usually a Jew (Hag.1.14; Hag.2.2). Under Rome, with the banishment of Herod’s son Archelaus, Judea became annexed to the Roman province of Syria; but its governors were procurators appointed by the Roman emperor. Their immediate superior was the proconsul of Syria, who ruled from Antioch (Luke.3.1). The official residence of the procurators was Caesarea. This was true during the ministry of Christ. Geographically, Judea was about fifty-five miles (ninety-two km.) north to south and the same distance east to west, extending from the Mediterranean to the Dead Sea, with its northern boundary at Joppa and its southern boundary a few miles south of Gaza and the southern portion of the Dead Sea. Its exact boundary was, however, never fixed.