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IDUME'A (id-u-me'a; Gk. "Pertaining to Edom").

This is a term employed by Greeks and Romans for the country of Edom (Mk 3:8). After the fall of Jerusalem (587 BC) the Edomites began to advance northward . By 312 B.C. the Nabataeans, who established themselves in Edom, drove them from Petra. The Edomites were gradually pushed into the southern half of Judea, including the region around Hebron, an area that the Greeks later called Idumea.

Judas Maccabaeus warred against them and a half century later John Hyrcanus completely subdued them, imposed the rite of circumcision, and invoked the old Jewish law of assembly (Deut 23:7-8).

Julius Caesar in 47 BC appointed an Idumean, Antipater, procurator of Judea, Samaria, and Galilee. Herod, son of Antipater, was crowned king of the Jews in 37 BC. When Titus besieged Jerusalem in A.D. 70, the Idumeans joined the Jews in rebellion against Rome. Josephus says that 20,000 Idumeans were admitted as defenders of the Holy City. Once within, they proceeded to rob and kill, but these traitors received the same fate as the few surviving Jews when Rome took over Jerusalem. Idumea, or Edom, ceased to be.