Judea

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Judea or Judæa (from the Hebrew: יהודה, Standard Yəhuda Tiberian Yəhûḏāh "Tribe of Judah", Greek: Ιουδαία, Ioudaía; Latin: Iudaea) was the name of the mountainous southern part of the historic Land of Israel (Hebrew: ארץ ישראל‎ Eretz Yisrael) from the 8th century BCE (Assyrian rule) to the 2nd century CE, when Roman Judea was renamed Syria Palaestina following the Jewish Bar Kokhba revolt.

Etymology

The name Judea is a Greek and Roman adaptation of the name "Judah", which originally encompassed the territory of the Israelite tribe of that name and later of the ancient Kingdom of Judah. It was the name in use in English throughout history until the Jordanian occupation of the area. Judea was sometimes used as the name for the entire region, including parts beyond Jordan.

Jordan renamed Judea and Samaria ad-difa’a al-gharbiya (translated into English as the "West Bank") after its conquest and occupation of the area in 1948. "Yehuda" is the Hebrew term for this district in modern Israel.

Geography

Judea is a mountainous region, part of which is considered to be a desert. It varies greatly in height, rising to an altitude of 1,020 m (3,346 ft) in the south at Mount Hebron, 30 km (19 miles) southwest of Jerusalem, and descending to as much as 400 m (1,312 ft) below sea level in the east of the region. It also varies in rainfall, starting with about 400–500 millimetres (16–20 in) in the western hills, rising to 600 millimetres (24 in) around western Jerusalem (in central Judea), falling back to 400 millimetres (16 in) in eastern Jerusalem and dropping to around 100mm in the eastern parts, due to a rainshadow effect (this is the Judean desert). The climate, accordingly, moves between Mediterranean in the west and desert climate in the east, with a strip of steppe climate in the middle. Major urban areas in the region include Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Gush Etzion, Jericho and Hebron.

Geographers divide Judea into several distinct regions: the Hebron hills, the Jerusalem saddle, the Bethel hills and the Judean desert east of Jerusalem, which descends in a series of steps to the Dead Sea. The hills are distinct for their anticline structure. In ancient times the hills were forested, and the Bible records agriculture and sheep farming being practiced in the area. Animals are still grazed today, with shepherds moving them between the low ground to the hilltops (which have more rainfall) as summer approaches, while the slopes are still layered with centuries-old stone terracing. The Jewish Revolt against the Romans ended in the devastation of vast areas of the Judaean countryside.