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Emet m'Tsiyon

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Judea the Roman & Greek Name for Israel -- "palestine" a Later Imperialist Imposition

Judea was the Roman name for the Land of Israel, for all of it, including Samaria, the Galilee, the Golan Heights and the east bank of the Jordan River. This is often forgotten today in the face of the massive propaganda campaign aimed at convincing the world that there was a historical "palestinian people" with an ancient history living in a land that was --supposedly-- always called "palestine." We know the ancient history of the Jews in the Hellenistic and Roman periods not only from Jewish sources --which the Judeophobes prefer to view as suspect-- but also, and even more so, from Roman and Greek sources. These include Hecataeus [Hekataios] of Abdera, Varro, Alexander Polyhistor, Livy, Suetonius, Tacitus, Plutarch, Cicero, Pliny the Elder, Diodorus, Polybius, Strabo, Ptolemy, and so on. Most or nearly all of the extant writings of these authors concerning Jews are conveniently gathered in Menahem Stern's Greek and Latin authors on Jews and Judaism (Jerusalem: Israel Academy of Sciences 1974-). Otherwise, they are also found scattered among many ancient and later manuscripts, print publications and translations. Of course, the falsifiers habitually overlook these writings, while discrediting ancient Jewish writings. After all, it would not do to have non-Jewish authors confirming what the Jews say. So they are overlooked, as said.

We have already presented documentation that the official Roman name of the Land of Israel was Judea. This place name was actually written IVDAEA in Latin and Ioudaia in Greek [as transcribed into the Latin alphabet]. We see this name on coins & military diplomas and in manuscripts, etc. The Roman Empire used the terms Iudaea and Provincia Iudaea until it defeated the Jews in the Bar Kokhba Revolt 132-135 CE. It was only after victory in that war that Emperor Hadrian imposed the name "Syria Palaestina" on the country, replacing the name Judea, as a punishment for the Jews, by renaming their very homeland so that it would no longer seem to be theirs. This may have given a certain psychological satisfaction to some of the Roman imperialists, as if their Jewish enemies had been wiped out with the name of their country.

Of course, despite today's pervasive propaganda in favor of "palestine" and "palestinian", the real scholars are aware of the true historical names in use in ancient times. Elsa Laurenzi, a historian and specialist in classical archeology at the La Sapienza University in Rome, supplies concise definitions of relevant terms. Now we will present her definition of Iudaei; in another post we will present her definition of "palestine":

The name Iudaei identifies the people of Israel in the Latin sources, both literary and legal. It derives from the place name [toponym] of their place of origin, Iudaea, and indicates a double identification, religious and ethnic. Its extensive spread is attested by the very permanence of the term "giudeo" [= Jew] in the Roman dialect [of Italian]. Only starting with the 6th century, with the issue of the Novelle [new laws] of Emperor Justinian, was the synonym Hebraei [Hebrews] established, which remained rare however up to Medieval Latin.

Il nome Iudaei identifica il popolo di Israele nelle fonti latine, tanto letterarie quanto legali; deriva dal toponimo del luogo di provenienza, la Iudaea, ed indica una doppia identificazione, religiosa ed etnica; la sua diffusione e` testimoniata dalla stessa permanenza del termine "giudeo" nel dialetto romanesco. Solo a partire dal VI secolo, con l'emanazione delle Novelle del'Imperatore Giustiniano, si afferma il sinonimo Hebraei, che rimane comunque raro fino al latino medievale. [Elsa Laurenzi, Le Catacombe ebraiche (Roma: Gangemi 2011), p 12]
Elsa Laurenzi points out that in the Roman mind, the Jews were named after their country, Judea. She adds that Emperor Justinian introduced the term Hebrews as the official name for the Jews, although --I would add-- it had been used earlier by Pausanias and others. It is interesting that in both Italian and Russian Hebrew is used today as the proper name for Jew, of course in forms specific to each language: Ebreo in Italian and Yevrey in Russian.

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  • "Ebreo" is in fact the term in Italian to define a Jew since "Giudeo" sounds a bit different. Meaning is maybe the same but Italians prefer avoiding a word that in the past had been used in negative context

    By Blogger andrea, at 12:11 AM  

  • this is great. nice work I'd like to read a bit more concerning this topic. Thanks for sharing such a nice information..

    By Anonymous pay per head, at 6:28 AM  

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