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Like the adjective Ioudaios, the noun Ioudaia comes from the Aramæan Iehûdai (Ezra 4:12). It designates the part of Palestine adjacent to Jerusalem and inhabited by the Jewish community after their return from captivity. Its original limits may be assigned as follows: Bethsûr, on the south; Bethoron, on the north; Emaüs, on the west; the Jordan on the east. The Jews scattered in other parts of the country did not inhabit Judea properly so called. When, in 160 B. C., the Syrian general Bacchides wished to keep Judea in his possession, he built forts at Jericho, Bethoron, Bethel, Tibneh, and Tephon (not Bêt-Nettif), and fortified Bethsûr and Gézer (1 Maccabees 9:50-52). Then, between Nehemias (cf. Nehemiah 3) and the Hasmoneans, the boundaries of the Jewish country underwent few modifications. But the Machabees, through their conquests, pushed the frontiers back; Apherema (Taybeh?), Lydda, Ramathem, (Rentis) (1 Maccabees 11:34), Jaffa (1 Maccabees 12:33), Mâdabâ, Samaria, Scythopolis (Josephus, "Antiq. Jud.", XIII, ix, 1; x, 2) were in succession annexed to the Jewish territory. The Machabean kingdom is sometimes called Judea by Josephus (Antiq. Jud., XIII, xi, 3). Elsewhere, however, the same historian restricts Judea proper to more correct limits. To the north it extended only as far as Anuath-Borkeos ('Ainah-Bergît), less than two miles north of Lubbân; to the south as far as Iardas, on the confines of Arabia, thus taking in what was called Idumea at the time of the Syrian domination. The Jordan was its boundary on the east, the Mediterranean on the west (Bell. Jud., III, iii, 5). The history of this Judea is often confounded with that of Jerusalem. At first a province (medînah) of the Persian Empire, it was administered by a governor who resided at Jerusalem and was assisted by a council of elders. In 332 B. C., Alexander annexed it to the empire which he was then building. His successors long disputed over it. In 320 it was Egyptian; in 198 it was Syrian. The Jewish rising under the Machabees, which began in 167, issued in the independence of Judea, which lasted from 130 to 63 B.C. At the latter date, Pompey made it tributary to the Romans. Under Herod, who became its king in 37 B. C., the Saviour was born at Bethlehem. Archelaus, the son and successor of Herod, having been deposed in the year 6 of our era, the government of Judea was confided to Roman procurators, one of whom, Pontius Pilate, condemned Christ to the cross, and two others, Felix and Porcius Festus, are involved in the history of St. Paul. Administered from A.D. 41 to 44 by Agrippa I, it returned to the procurators until A.D. 66; and in A.D. 70 Judea disappeared as an individual district.

The evangelization of Judea began during the earthly life of Christ, Who journeyed through the land more than once and had friends there. It was one of the first provinces to benefit by the preaching of the Apostles. Judeans had heard the discourse of St. Peter, when he went forth from the upper chamber, and "there came together to Jerusalem a multitude out of the neighbouring cities, bringing sick persons, and such as were troubled with unclean spirits; who were all healed" (Acts 5:16). Philip, one of the most zealous of the first seven deacons, baptizes the eunuch of Ethiopia on the road from Jerusalem to Gaza, in the spring which rises at the foot of Bethsûr. Thence this preacher betakes himself to Azotus ('Esdoud), and from Azotus he goes up to Cæsarea, preaching the Gospel in the towns through which he passes. Lydda and Joppa, where St. Peter was soon to find disciples, lay along St. Philip's itinerary (Acts 8:26 sqq.). The Talmud is perhaps furnishing information on the preaching of the Gospel in Judea when it speaks of James of Kafar Sâmâ, who healed the sick in the name of Jesus. Kafar Sâmâ was probably in the neighbourhood of Hebron (perhaps Semouah). St. Paul again and again speaks of the Churches of Judea as being sorely tried by poverty, dissension, and persecution — Churches to which he was at first unknown, but which afterwards listened to his voice (1 Thessalonians 2:14; Galatians 1:22; Acts 11:29). Christianity was planted in Judea so early that at the Council of Nicæa (325) we meet with bishops of Cæsarea, Ascalon, Nicopolis, Jamnia, Eleutheropolis, Maximianopolis (Hebron?), Jericho Lydda, Azotus, Gaza (Gelzer, "Patrum Nicenorum nomina", Leipzig, 1898). In later lists of bishops we find names to add to these: Joppa, Anthedon, Diocletianopolis, Raphia, etc. (Hierocles, "Synecdemus", Berlin, 1866). From the fourth century to the Arab invasion the monastic life rose to a great height; it is enough to mention the foundations of St. Euthymius, St. Theodosius, and St. Sabas (cf. Génier, "Vie de s. Euthyme le Grand", Paris, 1909).

Considered in the extension given to it by Josephus — i.e. as a great square of territory lying between Aqrabeh, Deir Ballût, and the Nahr el Audjeh, on the north; the Mediterranean, on the west; Bersabee and Tell 'Arad, on the south; the Dead Sea and the Jordan, on the east — Judea presents a sufficiently varied physiognomy. On the west the ancient Philistia, the plains of Shephelah, of the Darôm, and of Saron produce sesame, wheat, and sorghum in abundance, while the orange, citron, palm, and vine grow there freely. In this level region are several important places: Jaffa (23,000 inhabitants), Gaza (16,000 inhabitants), Lydda, and Ramleh. Between the plain and the main group of mountains there is a stretch of well-cultivated hilly country without any important towns. The mountain region of Judea rises to a height of 3280 feet, and is not very fertile, except near the springs. The summits are quite bare; where any earth is to be found on the rocks the fig, the olive, the vine, and barley grow. Of this region the chief centres are Jerusalem (80,000 to 100,000 inhabitants), Bethlehem (7000 inhabitants), Hebron (9000 inhabitants). The eastern. part of Judea, abutting on the Dead Sea and the Jordan, is dotted with little hills, and peopled by nomadic tribes. The south, where Negeb offers a light soil, is not unsuited for cultivation. Water is scarce in Judea. In the mountains the rainfall is collected in cisterns; in the plains deep wells have been dug. There are a few springs, but their output is not very considerable; the principal ones are those of 'Arroub, Umm ed Daraj (Jerusalem), Liftah, Aïn Karim, Kolonieh, Abu Ghôsh, Bireh, and a whole group in the vicinity of Hebron. In the wâdys of the Jordan basin there is water throughout the year, which is not the case with those on the Mediterranean slope. The wâdys Farah, Kelt, Audjeh, Fusail, Far'â, not to mention the important springs of Eliseus, Doûk, Nuwaïmeh, Feshkha, and Engaddi, contribute their waters to the Ghôr and the Dead Sea throughout the entire year.

The Roman roads with which Judea was formerly scored are now impracticable. The only roads fit for wheeled vehicles are those from Jerusalem to Jericho, to Hebron by way of Bethlehem, to St. John in Montana, to Nablus, to Jaffa, and to the Mount of Olives — all of recent construction. There is also a narrow-gauge railroad from Jerusalem to Jaffa, the latter being the chief port of Judea, Gaza being the second.

Judea is above all an agricultural country. There are, however, a few special industries: at Jerusalem, carving in olive wood; at Bethlehem, carving in mother-of-pearl; at Gaza, goat's hair tissue, slippers, and soap; at Hebron, leather and water-bottles, jars and glass trinkets. The Mutessariflik of Jerusalem, which nearly corresponds to the ancient Judea, has an area of 8484 square miles, and comprises 328 cities, towns, villages, and hamlets, with an aggregate population of 350,000, of whom 100,000 are non-Mussulman. There are 27,000 Catholics having for their parishes Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Bêt-Sahur, Bêt-Djâlah, Ramallah, Taybeh, Bir-Zeît, Ramleh, Jaffa and Gaza. Although not a vilayet, this province is directly dependent on the minister of the interior at Constantinople. It has five sub-prefectures: Jaffa, Gaza, Hebron, Bersabee, and (since 1906) Nazareth, which last is geographically within the vilayet of Beirut.


Survey of Western Palestine, Memoirs, III (London, 1883); GUTHE in Realencyklopädie für prot. Theol. und Kirche, IX (Leipzig, 1901); MEYERS, History of the City of Gaza (New York, 1901); ROBINSON, Biblical Researches in Palestine, I (Boston, 1856); DE SAULCY, Voyage autour de la Mer Morte et dans les terres bibliques (Paris, 1853); GUÉRIN, Judée (3 vols., Paris, 1868-69); CUINET, Syrie, Liban, Palestine (Paris, 1896); HÖLSCHER, Die administrative Einteilung des heutigen Syriens in Mitt. des Deutsch. Paläst. Vereins (1907), p. 53.

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APA citation. Abel, F.M. (1910). Judea. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Abel, Félix Marie. "Judea." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 8. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Douglas J. Potter. Dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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