|Cities of Ancient Israel|
C11 on the Map
Region. Judea was the Greek and Latin form of 'Judah', 1 Macc. 6:12; 1 Macc. 10:38; thus we have the Hasmonean kingdom of which Judah was the nucleus, and the kingdom of Herod the Great, Luke 1:5; but also, geographically, the land of Judah (southern Israel), Matt. 2:1. Upon the death of Herod, Judea (with Samaria) became kingdom of Archelaus, 4 BC-AD 6 Matt. 2:22, after which it was placed under Roman administration through procurators (Luke 3:1).
Judea was the name of the southernmost Roman division of Palestine. Judea is very small, apart from the Shephelah and the plain, Judea was 55 miles long, from Bethlehem to Beersheba, and from 25 to 30 miles wide, about 1,350 square miles, and nearly one-half was desert. On the E was the Jordan and its valley, and on the W, the desert, then the "hill country," then the Shephelah (or low hills), and, finally, the maritime plain. On the N Judea was bounded by Samaria and on the S by the desert.
Authorities say that the three features of Judea's geography that are most significant in her history are "her pastoral character, her neighborhood to the desert, her singular unsuitableness for the growth of a great city" (Smith).
Although physically the most barren and awkward, Judea was morally the most famous and powerful of the provinces of Syria. Her character and history are thus summed up: "At all times in which the powers of spiritual initiative or expansion were needed, she was lacking, and so in the end came her shame. But when the times required concentration, indifference to the world, loyalty to the past, and passionate patriotism, then Judea took the lead, or stood alone in Israel, and these virtues even rendered brilliant the hopeless, insane struggles of her end. Judea was the seat of the one enduring dynasty of Israel, the site of their temple, the platform of their chief prophets. After their great exile they rallied round her capital, and centuries later they expended upon her fortresses the last efforts of their freedom. It is, therefore, not wonderful that they should have won from it the name which is now more frequent than either their ancestral designation of Hebrews or their sacred title of Israel" (Smith, Hist. Geog., pp. 259-60).
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