Judea (Roman province)

The Roman province of Judea, 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.
According to the historian Josephus, immediately following the deposition of Herod Archelaus in 6 CE, Judea was turned into a Roman province, during which time the Roman procurator was given authority to punish by execution. The general population also began to be taxed by Rome. 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, 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.


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 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.
Herod died in 4 BCE, and his kingdom was divided among three of his sons, two of whom became tetrarchs. The third son, Archelaus, became an ethnarch and ruled over half of his father's kingdom. 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.

Judea as Roman province(s)

Under a prefect (6–41)

In 6 CE Archelaus' tetrachy came under direct Roman administration. The Judean province did not initially include Galilee, Gaulanitis, 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, not Jerusalem. Quirinius became Legate of Syria and conducted the first Roman tax census of Syria and Judea, which was opposed by the Zealots. Judea was not a senatorial province, nor an imperial province, but instead was a "satellite of Syria" governed by a prefect who was a knight of the Equestrian Order, not a former consul or praetor of senatorial rank.
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. The Province during the late Hellenistic period and early Roman period was divided into five conclaves, or administrative districts: Jerusalem, Gadara, Amathus, Jericho, and Sepphoris.
The 'Crisis under Caligula' has been proposed as the first open break between Rome and the Jews.

Autonomy under Herod Agrippa (41–44)

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.

Under a procurator (44–66)

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.
Between the years 66-70 follows the Great Revolt.

Under a legate (70–132)

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.
Judaea was the stage of two, possibly three, major Jewish–Roman wars:
132–135 – Bar Kokhba's revolt; 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 which Hayim Hillel Ben-Sasson states was done to erase the historical ties of the Jewish people to the region. However, this did not prevent the Jewish people from referring to the country in their writings as either "Yehudah" or "The Land of Israel".
Between 132-135 follows the Bar Kokhba revolt.

Division into three provinces (135)

Under Diocletian the region was divided into three provinces:
NameReignLength of ruleCategory
Coponius6–93Roman Prefect
Marcus Ambivulus9–123Roman Prefect
Annius Rufus12–153Roman Prefect
Valerius Gratus15–26 11Roman Prefect
Pontius Pilate26–36 10Roman Prefect
Marcellus36–371Roman Prefect or caretaker
Marullus37–414Roman Prefect
Agrippa I 41–443King of Judaea
Cuspius Fadus44–462Roman Procurator
Tiberius Julius Alexander46–482Roman Procurator
Ventidius Cumanus48–524Roman Procurator
Marcus Antonius Felix52–608Roman Procurator
Porcius Festus60–622Roman Procurator
Lucceius Albinus62–642Roman Procurator
Gessius Florus64–662Roman Procurator
Marcus Antonius Julianus66–70 4Roman Procurator
Sextus Vettulenus Cerialis70–711Roman Legate
Sextus Lucilius Bassus71–721Roman Legate
Lucius Flavius Silva72–819Roman Legate
M. Salvidenus80–855Roman Legate
Gnaeus Pompeius Longinusc.861Roman Legate
Sextus Hermentidius Campanusc.931Roman Legate
Tiberius Claudius Atticus Herodes99–1023Roman Legate
Gaius Julius Quadratus Bassus102–1042Roman Legate
Quintus Pompeius Falco105–1072Roman Legate
Tiberianus114–1173Roman Legate
Lusius Quietus117–1203Roman Legate
Gargilius Antiquusc. 124–?1Roman Prefect
Quintus Tineius Rufus130–132/33Roman Legate
Sextus Julius Severusc. 133/4–1351Roman Legate