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American Tract Society Bible Dictionary


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Or land of the Jews, a name sometimes given to the southern part of the Holy Land; and sometimes, especially by foreigners, to the whole country. In the general division of Canaan among the tribes, the southeast part fell to the lot of the tribe of Judah. With the increasing ascendency of that tribe the name of Judah covered a more extended territory, 2 Samuel 5:5 ; and after the secession of the ten tribes, the kingdom of Judah included the territory of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, with a part of that of Simeon and Dan. Judah thus occupied all the southern portion of Palestine, while the northern part was called Galilee, and the middle Samaria. After the captivity, as most of those who returned were of the kingdom of Judah, the name Judah, or Judea, was applied generally to the whole of Palestine, Haggai 1:1,14 2:2 ; and this use of the word has never wholly ceased. When the whole country fell into the power of the Romans, the former division into Galilee, Samaria, and Judea seems to have again become current, Luke 2:4 John 4:3,4 . Josephus describes Judea in his day as bounded north by Samaria, east by the Jordan, west by the Mediterranean, and south by the territory of the Arabs. These boundaries seem to include a part of Idumaea. Judea in this extent constituted part of the kingdom of Herod the Great, and afterwards belonged to his son Archelaus. When the latter was banished for his cruelties, Judea was reduced to the form of a Roman province, annexed to the proconsulate of Syria, and governed by procurators, until it was at length given as part of his kingdom to Herod Agrippa II. During all this time, the boundaries of the province were often varied, by the addition or abstraction of different towns and cities.

The original territory of the tribe of Judah was an elevated plain, much broken by frequent hills, ravines, and valleys, and sinking into fine plains and pasture-grounds on the west and south, Zechariah 7:7 . It was a healthy, pleasant, and fruitful land. The valleys yielded large crops of grain; and the hills were terraced, watered, covered with vines, Genesis 49:11,12 , and rich in olives, figs, and many other fruits. See Luke 1:39,65 , including Bethlehem, Hebron, etc. "The plain" refers usually to the low ground near the Jordan, 2 Samuel 2:29 2 Kings 25:4,5 .

The "wilderness of Judea," in which John began to preach, and where Christ was tempted, seems to have been in the eastern part of Judah, adjacent to the Dead sea, and stretching towards Jericho, 2 Samuel 15:28 . It is still one of the most dreary and desolate regions of the whole country, Matthew 3:1 4:1 .

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of the topics are from American Tract Society Bible Dictionary published in 1859.

Bibliography Information
Rand, W. W. Entry for 'Judea'. American Tract Society Bible Dictionary. 1859.

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