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ITURAEA

ITURAEA (Ἰτουραία), a district in the NE. of Palestine (Strab. xvi. p.755 ; Plin. Nat. 5.19), which, with Trachonitis, belonged to the tetrarchy of Philip. (St. Luke, 3.1; comp. J. AJ 15.10.1.) The name is so loosely applied by the ancient writers that it is difficult to fix its boundaries with precision, but it may be said roughly to be traversed by a line drawn from the Lake of Tiberias to Damascus. It was a mountainous district, and full of caverns (Strab. l.c.): the inhabitants, a wild race (Cic.Phil.2.24), favoured by the natural features of the country, were in the habit of robbing the traders from Damascus (Strab. xvi. p.756), and were famed as archers. (Verg. G. 2.448 ; Lucan 7.230, 514.) At an early period it was occupied by the tribe of Jetur (1 Chron. 5.19; Τ̓ουραῖοι, LXX.), whose name is connected with that of Jetur, a son of Ishmael. (1 Chron. 1.31.) The Ituraeans--either the descendants of the original possessor, or, as is more probable, of new comers, who had occupied this district after the exile, and assumed the original name--were eventually subdued by king Aristobulus, B.C. 100, who compelled them to be circumcised, and incorporated them in his dominions. (J. AJ 13.11.3.) The mountain district was in the hands of Ptolemaeus, tetrarch of Chalcis (Strab. xvi. p.753); but when Pompeius came into Syria, Ituraea was ceded to the Romans (Appian. Mithr. 106), though probably it retained a certain amount of independence under native vassal princes: M. Antonius imposed a heavy tribute upon it. (Appian, App. BC 5.7.) Finally, under Claudius, it became part of the province of Syria. (Tac. Ann. 12.23; D. C. 59.12.) The district El-Djedûr, to the E. of Hermon (Djebel-esh-Scheikh), and lying W. of the Hadj road, which according to Burckhardt (Trav. p. 286) now contains only twenty inhabited villages, comprehended the whole or the greater part of ancient Ituraea. (Münter, de Reb. Ituraeor. Havn. 1824; comp. Winer, Realwörterbuch, s. v.; Ritter, Erdkunde, vol. xv. pt. ii. pp. 354--357, 899.)

[E.B.J]

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