), the name given by Josephus to the country called Ituraea by St. Luke (3.1), as is evident from the fact that, neither in his description of the tetrarchy of Philip, nor elsewhere, does Josephus make any-mention of Ituraea, but substitutes Auranitis. Thus he states that Augustus granted Auranitis, together with Batanaea and Trachon to Herod the Great, on whose death he assigned them to Philip. (Ant.
xv. p. 10.1, 17.13.4; B. J.
It describes the great desert tract south of Damascus, still called the Hauran,
and comprehended by Ptolemy under the names of [p. 1.1032]
Arabia Petraea and Desert. (5.17.19), the Palestina Tertia of the Ecclesiastical annals (Reland, pp. 205. 212). Ptolemy, however, makes Auranitis a district of Babylonia, contiguous to the Euphrates. (Id. 20.)
The district is more correctly described by Strabo, as lying to the south of the two Trachons (δύο λεδόμενοι Τράχωνες
), consisting of inaccessible mountains, inhabited by a mixed people of Ituraeans and Arabs, a wild and predatory race of villains, a terror to the agricultural inhabitants of the plains. They dwelt in deep caves of such extent, that one could hold 4000 men, in their incursions on the Damascenes, and in their ambuscades against the caravans of merchants from Arabia Felix.
But the most formidable band under the noted chief Zenodorus, had been dispersed by the good government of the Romans, and by the security afforded by the garrisons maintained in Syria. (Strabo xvi. p.756
A comparison of this description of Ituraea by the classical geographer, with Josephus's account of Trachonitis and the doings of the robber-chief Zenodorus and his Arabs (Ant.
15.10.1, 2), exhibits many striking points of resemblance; and there is an amusing account given by William of Tyre of these very caves between Adraa and Bozra, into whose narrow mouths the thirsty travellers would let down their water-skins, in the hope of finding a supply of water; but drew back the curtailed rope minus the skins, which had been seized and appropriated by the robbers concealed in the caves. (Hist.
The marauding inhabitants of this wild country at the present day keep up the character of their predecessors; and their daring attacks upon the caravans of pilgrims on the annual Haj, are scarcely repressed by a numerous escort of regular troops.
The extent of the modern Hauran is thus described by Burckhardt: “The Haouran
comprises part of Trachonitis and Ituraea, the whole of Auranitis, and the northern districts of Batanaea. . . .
The flat country, south of Jebel Kessoue,
east of Jebel el Sheikh,
and west of the Hadj
road, as far as Kasem,
is called Djedour.
The greater part of Ituraea appears to be comprised within the limits of Djedour.
” (Travels in Syria.
) The whole district abounds in ruins; and the frequent Greek inscriptions, not only at Bozra, its capital, but in numerous other towns and villages, prove it to have been thickly inhabited in former times, and well garrisoned by Roman soldiers; thereby illustrating and confirming the remark of Strabo above cited, concerning the greater security of the country while under imperial rule. Many of the inscriptions were copied by Burckhardt. (Syria,
pp. 59--118. 215--234.)
The name Hauran (of which Auranitis is only the classical form) is supposed to be derived from the town mentioned by the prophet Ezekiel as in the vicinity of Damascus (47.16. 18), where the LXX. write Αὐρανίτιδος.
The name Ituraea is supposed to be derived from the Ishmaelite patriarch Jetur, or Ittur (1 Chron.
1.31); and the Alexandrine version of the LXX. reads Ἰτουραῖοι,
in I Chron.
5.19, a passage which, as Reland remarks, enables us to fix the position of Ituraea to the east of the land of Israel; for the Hagarites, to whom Jetur belonged, were dispossessed by the Reubenites who “dwelt in their tents throughout all the east of the land of Gilead” (5.10) “unto the entering in of the wilderness from the river Euphrates” (5.9). (Rieland, Palaestina,
p. 106.) Forster (Arabia,
vol. i. pp. 309--311) further identifies the mode name Jedour
with the patriarchal Jetur.