PEREA (pĕ-rē'a, Gr. Peraia, Peraios, Peraites). A word that does not occur in the Bible but was used by Josephus and others to designate the small territory on the east side of the Jordan opposite old Judea and Samaria; known in the Gospels as the land “beyond the Jordan.” For example, the words in
In the days of Jesus, Herod Antipas ruled the unfertile desert country together with Galilee; but after the Herods, at the time the Gospels were written, Perea belonged to the larger province of Judea. It stretched from Pella in the north to Machaerus in the south. In the days of the Maccabees it was inhabited chiefly by Gentiles, but at the time of Christ it had a heavy Jewish population. Gadara may have been the capital. John baptized in Bethabara “on the other side of Jordan,” or in Perea (
PEREA pə rē’ ə (ἡ Περαία, Περαι̂ος, Περαίτης, on the other side). The Gr. term for Trans-Jordan.
The LXX tr. of the familiar OT term beyond the Jordan is πἐραν του̂ Ιορδάνου. It never occurs in the Bible (except in a variant of
Before the Israelite conquest, Perea was occupied by Moabites, Ammonites, and others. Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh inherited it in the original allotment. Being on the E frontier of the Promised Land, Perea often suffered first from an attack from the E.
The Mishnah speaks of three districts in the matters of ḥazaķah and marriage: Judea, Trans-Jordan, and Galilee (Baba Bathra 3:2; Ketuboth 13:10). This being the case, Jews from Galilee could reach Judea, where Jerusalem was, without passing through Samaria, which lay between Galilee and Judea on the W bank. A Jew could thus avoid setting his foot on “unholy ground” during his three annual pilgrimages (provided, i.e., that the Decapolis was not considered separate from Perea). Josephus’ boundaries, however, seem to exclude the Decapolis since the N boundary was S of Pella—a city to which Christians fled during the Jewish uprising against Rome (Jos. Wars III. iii. 3). Thus Perea and Galilee would not be contiguous. The southern boundary of Perea was Machaerus, a Herodian fortress halfway down the E shore of the Dead Sea. According to Josephus (Jos. Antiq. XVIII. v. 2), Herod beheaded a.d. 100. After that, it was sometimes ruled from Damascus and sometimes from Kerak. Today Perea is included in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, but the term “Perea” has been in disuse for centuries.at Machaerus. Jews from Perea joined in the unsuccessful rebellion against Rome (Jos. Wars, IV. vii. 4-6). Herod , under Emperor Nero, ruled Perea until his death in
NT commentators speak of Christ’s Perean ministry. It began with His departure from Galilee (
The Bethany of
G. Dalman, Sacred Sites and Ways (1935), 233-239.