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Judea or Judaea (יהודה "Praise", Standard Hebrew Yəhuda, Tiberian Hebrew Yəhûḏāh) is a term used for the mountainous Southern part of the West Bank. In modern times, the name "Yehudah" is most often used by Zionists. Others prefer to use the collective name introduced by Jordan in 1948 "West Bank", rather than "Judea and Samaria".

Major cities in this region include Beitar Illit, Bethlehem, Efrat Gush Etzion and Hebron. Samaria was taken by Israeli forces during the 1967 Six-Day War from Jordan, which in turn took it over during 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

Judea is also the ancient name of the area surrounding Jerusalem (today, parts of Israel and the West Bank). It was the territory of the ancient Kingdom of Judah, and later by the Kingdom of Judea. Judea lost its autonomy to the Romans in the 1st century BC, by becoming first a client kingdom, then a province, of the Roman Empire.

The first interference of Rome in the region dates from 63 BCE, following the end of the Third Mithridatic war. After the defeat of Mithridates VI of Pontus, general Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (Pompey the Great) remained back, to secure the area. Judea at the time was not a peaceful place. Queen Alexandra had recently died and her sons, Hyrcanus and Aristobulus , were scourging the country in a power struggle. In 63 BCE, Aristobulus was besieged in Jerusalem by his brother's armies. He sent an envoy to Marcus Aemilius Scaurus, Pompey's representative in the area. Aristobulus offered a massive bribe to be rescued that Pompey promptly accepted. Afterwards, Aristobulus accused Scaurus of extortion. Since Scaurus was Pompey's brother in law and protégée, the general retaliated by putting Hyrcanus in charge of the kingdom as prince and high priest. Judea and Galilee became client kingdoms of Rome, which meant that, although independent, they had a subservient position towards the Republic.

When Pompey was defeated by Julius Caesar, Hyrcanus was succeeded by his courtier Antipater. Both Caesar and Antipater were killed in 44 BCE, and Herod (Antipater's son) was appointed as governor (tetrarch) by Rome 41 BCE. He became the outright ruler (basileus) of Judea in 37 BCE and was later known as King Herod the Great. During his reign the great port of Caesarea Maritima was built. He died in 4 BCE, and his kingdom was divided among his sons. One, Herod Archelaus, ruled Judea so badly that he was dismissed in 6 CE by the Roman emperor Augustus Caesar, after an appeal from his own population.

The kingdom of Judea now became part of a larger Roman province, also called Judea. This was one of the few governed by a knight of the equestrian order, not a former consul or praetor of senatorial rank, because its revenue was of little importance to the Roman treasury and the region was pacified. Pontius Pilate was one of these procurators.

Between 41 and 44 CE Judea regained its relative autonomy, when Herod Agrippa was made king by the emperor Claudius. Following Agrippa's death, the province returned to Roman control for a short period. Judea was returned piecemeal to Agrippa's son Marcus Julius Agrippa in 48. There was, however, an imperial procurator in the area, responsible for keeping peace and tax raising. When he died, about 100, the area returned to exclusive Roman Empire control.

Judea was also the stage of three major rebellions against the Romans. They were (see Judea rebellions for the full account):

Following the suppression of Bar Kokhba's revolt, the emperor Hadrian changed the name of the province to Syria Palaestina and Jerusalem became Aelia Capitolina in order to humiliate the Jewish population by attempting to erase the nation's historical ties to the region.


External Links

The subjugation of Judea Judaea 6-66 CE