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Judaea (sometimes Judea, particularly in US English) is a form of the name Judah ('Yehuda' in Hebrew), the fourth son of Jacob and Leah, and the founder of one of the twelve tribes of Israel. (Judaea is simply the anglicized spelling of the Latin Ivdaea (and Greek, Ἰουδαία) writings of the Hebrew.) The name in one or other form has denoted several geographicla/political entities.

  • After the death of King Solomon, the kingdom of Israel was divided. The southern part, including Jerusalem, was the territory of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. This was known as 'the kingdom of Judah'. Between 589 and 586 BCE, the kingdom of Judah was destroyed and its territory devastated by Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon. This was the start of the Babylonian captivity, which ended when the Persians captured Babylon (539 BCE) and allowed the Jews to return.
  • In 164 BCE, the Maccabees, led co-incidentally by Judah Maccabee, reconquered the territory of Judah. It achieved independence as the Hasmonean kingdom of Judah in 165, and was recognized as such by the Roman Senate in 160.
  • It became a province of the Roman Empire in 63 BC, subsequently amalgamated with Palestine.
  • At the turn of the millennium, Judaea was a tetrarchy ruled over by Archelaus, son of Herod the Great, from 4 BCE to 6 CE.
  • After Archelaus, Judaea formed the southernmost part of the Roman province of Syria, ruled by a Roman prefect or procurator residing in Antioch.

One of the most distinguishing features of the geography of Judaea is that it has contained the city of Jerusalem in each of its incarnations, and consequently has been the guardian of the Temple, and the goal of pilgrimage for Jews. Politicians in the current state of Israel often use the word 'Judaea' in a rhetorical appeal to the historical identity of Judaism.

You may also want to see Judaean - Judean - Judaeo - Judeo - Judaeo-Christian.