Judea (Roman province)

The Roman province of Judea (; Hebrew: יהודה‎, Standard Yəhūda Tiberian Yehūḏā; Greek: Ἰουδαία Ioudaia; Latin: Iūdaea), sometimes spelled in its original Latin forms of Iudæa or Iudaea to distinguish it from the geographical region of Judea, incorporated the regions of Judea, Samaria and Idumea, and extended over parts of the former regions of the Hasmonean and Herodian kingdoms of Judea. It was named after Herod Archelaus's Tetrarchy of Judea, but the Roman province encompassed a much larger territory. The name "Judea" was derived from the Kingdom of Judah of the 6th century BCE.

Following the deposition of Herod Archelaus in 6 CE, Judea came under direct Roman rule,[1] during which time the Roman procurator was given authority to punish by execution. The general population also began to be taxed by Rome.[2] The province of Judea was the scene of unrest at its founding in 6 CE during the Census of Quirinius, the crucifixion of Jesus circa 30–33 CE, and several wars, known as the Jewish–Roman wars, were fought during its existence. The Second Temple of Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE near the end of the First Jewish–Roman War, and the Fiscus Judaicus was instituted. After the Bar Kokhba revolt (132–135), the Roman Emperor Hadrian changed the name of the province to Syria Palaestina and the name of the city of Jerusalem to Aelia Capitolina, which certain scholars conclude was an attempt to disconnect the Jewish people from their homeland.[3][4]

The first intervention of Rome in the region dates from 63 BCE, following the end of the Third Mithridatic War, when Rome established the province of Syria. After the defeat of Mithridates VI of Pontus, Pompey sacked Jerusalem and installed Hasmonean prince Hyrcanus II as Ethnarch and High Priest but not as king. Some years later Julius Caesar appointed Antipater the Idumaean, also known as Antipas, as the first Roman Procurator. Antipater's son Herod was designated "King of the Jews" by the Roman Senate in 40 BCE[5] but he did not gain military control until 37 BCE. During his reign the last representatives of the Hasmoneans were eliminated, and the huge port of Caesarea Maritima was built.[6]

Herod died in 4 BCE, and his kingdom was divided among three of his sons, two of whom (Philip and Herod Antipas) became tetrarchs ('rulers of a quarter part'). The third son, Archelaus, became an ethnarch and ruled over half of his father's kingdom.[7] One of these principalities was Judea, corresponding to the territory of the historic Judea, plus Samaria and Idumea.

Archelaus ruled Judea so badly that he was dismissed in 6 CE by the Roman emperor Augustus, after an appeal from his own population. Herod Antipas, ruler of Galilee and Perea from 4 BCE was in 39 CE dismissed by Emperor Caligula. Herod's son Philip ruled the northeastern part of his father's kingdom.[8]

In 6 CE Archelaus' tetrachy (Judea, plus Samaria and Idumea)[9] came under direct Roman administration. The Judean province did not initially include Galilee, Gaulanitis (today's Golan), nor Peraea or the Decapolis. Its revenue was of little importance to the Roman treasury, but it controlled the land and coastal sea routes to the "bread basket" of Egypt and was a buffer against the Parthian Empire. The capital was at Caesarea Maritima,[10] not Jerusalem. Quirinius became Legate (Governor) of Syria and conducted the first Roman tax census of Syria and Judea, which was opposed by the Zealots.[11] Judea was not a senatorial province, nor an imperial province, but instead was a "satellite of Syria"[12] governed by a prefect who was a knight of the Equestrian Order (as was that of Roman Egypt), not a former consul or praetor of senatorial rank.[13]

Still, Jews living in the province maintained some form of independence and could judge offenders by their own laws, including capital offenses, until c. 28 CE.[14] Judea in the early Roman period was divided into five administrative districts with centers in Jerusalem, Gadara, Amathus, Jericho, and Sepphoris.[15]

The 'Crisis under Caligula' (37–41) has been proposed as the first open break between Rome and the Jews.[16]

Between 41 and 44 CE, Judea regained its nominal autonomy, when Herod Agrippa was made King of the Jews by the emperor Claudius, thus in a sense restoring the Herodian dynasty, although there is no indication that Judea ceased to be a Roman province simply because it no longer had a prefect. Claudius had decided to allow, across the empire, procurators, who had been personal agents to the Emperor often serving as provincial tax and finance ministers, to be elevated to governing magistrates with full state authority to keep the peace. He may have elevated Judea's procurator to imperial governing status because the imperial legate of Syria was not sympathetic to the Judeans.[17]

Following Agrippa's death in 44, the province returned to direct Roman control, incorporating Agrippa's personal territories of Galilee and Peraea, under a row of procurators. Nevertheless, Agrippa's son, Agrippa II was designated King of the Jews in 48. He was the seventh and last of the Herodians.

From 70 until 135 Judea's rebelliousness required a governing Roman legate capable of commanding legions. Because Agrippa II maintained loyalty to the Empire, the Kingdom was retained until he died, either in 93/94 or 100, when the area returned to complete, undivided Roman control.

Under Diocletian (284–305) the region was divided into three provinces:[22]