The Mountain of Judah
and the Shephelah

74. Lot of Judah

Judah, fourth son of Jacob and Leah. The biblical explanation of the name Judah connects it with "thanksgiving" and "praise" (Hebrew hdva, odeh; Gen. 29:35). However, if one compares the names Judith (Gen. 26:34) and Jahdai (I Chron. 2:47) it is clear that this explanation is a popular etymology. Apart from the sons of Rachel (Joseph and Benjamin), Judah is one of the few of Jacob's children about whom the traditions of the patriarchal period speak in detail. They tell first and foremost of his marriage to the daughter of a Canaanite named Shua who bore him three sons (Gen. 38). Although they reached adolescence, two of his sons (see Onan, Er) had no descendants, while the third, Shelah, had many children and grandchildren (I Chron. 4:21ff.). In connection with the childless marriages of Judah's older sons, tradition recounts the affair of Tamar who bore Judah Perez and Zerah, the main ancestors of the tribe of Judah. In the Joseph stories an important role is ascribed to Judah as spokesman for the sons of Jacob (Gen. 37:26; 43:3-5, 8-10; 44:16-34). In the first census in the wilderness (Num. 1:27; 2:4), the tribe numbered 74,600 and had the largest population of the tribes of Israel. In the second census the tribe numbered five families of 76,500 souls (26:19-22), and was again the largest. In the camping and marching arrangements,"the standard [or division] of the camp of Judah," comprising Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun, camped on the eastern side of the Tabernacle and marched at the head of the host (Num. 2:1-9; 10:14-16).
The territory of the tribe is delineated in Joshua 15:1-12. The southern boundary passed from the southern end of the Dead Sea in the Arabah by way of the ascent of Akrabbim, skirted the oasis of Kadesh-Barnea, and ran with the Wadi of Egypt to the Mediterranean Sea. This line corresponds to the southern boundary of the land of Canaan (cf. Num. 34:3-5). The eastern boundary ran along the shore of the Dead Sea from its southern tip to the mouth of the Jordan. The northern boundary was so drawn as to include within Judah Beth-Hoglah and Beth-Arabah in the western plain of the Jordan. From here it ascended by way of the valley of Achor and the ascent of Adummim to En-Rogel, passed through the valley of Ben-Hinnom up to the northern extremity of the valley of Rephaim, and, progressing by way of the waters of Nephtoah, extended through Kiriath-Je'arim, Chislon, and Beth-Shemesh to Timnah through the Wadi Sorek, continuing along the southern edge of the wadi until it emptied into the Mediterranean Sea. The western border was the seashore between Wadi Sorek (Wadi Rubin) and the Brook of Egypt (Wadi el-Arish). From the enumeration of the Judahite towns (Josh. 15:21-61), which follows the delineation of the boundaries, it would seem that the list was drawn up in the reign of King Jehoshaphat and expanded in the wake of the conquests of King Uzziah (Azariah). The last verse (Josh. 15:63) appears to be a gloss by a later editor made to correlate the record before him with the situation at the time of the Judges. This list of cities comprises only ten compact groups, if verses 45 to 47 are excluded. These verses are exceptional in that they do not give a complete enumeration of towns, but merely indicate city-territories (in Philistia), and the usual total at the end is missing. In the enumeration of the towns of Benjamin (Josh. 18:21-28), on the other hand, we have two further compact groups of towns (18:21-24, 25-28). Clearly these combined compact enumerations of Judahite and Benjamite towns are simply an exact marking of the twelve administrative divisions of the kingdom of Judah which included the territories of the tribes of Judah, Simeon (cf. Josh. 19:3-7 with 15:27-32), and Benjamin.

Encyclopaedia Judaica, ad v. "Judah" (extract)

Leah Di Segni ("The Onomastikon of Eusebius and the Madaba Map", in The Madaba Map Centenary, Jerusalem 1999, 118)
When we follow the third side of the triangle, from Eleutheropolis northeastward to Jerusalem, along the Roman road that was the main route between the Holy City and the southern coast, we are somewhat surprised by the discovery that the whole territory of Eleutheropolis between the Eleutheropolis-Nicopolis and the Jerusalem-Hebron roads - a region thoroughly familiar to Eusebius and full of biblical memories - has completely disappeared. The only remainder is Socho, the double village of Sochoth on the ninth milestone from Eleutheropolis on the road to Jerusalem, traditional place of the battle between David and Goliath according to Peter the Deacon, probably quoting Egeria. The foreshortening of the perspective in this area is so sharp that Socho is misplaced next to Rama, near Bethlehem. However, even if we could bring ourselves to consider the mention of Socho as a symbolic reminder of the important thoroughfare on which this village was located, the omission of almost the entire Eleutheropolis region seriously challenges the belief that Eusebius could have been the source of the map for this part of the country. And the foreshortened perspective is not a real reason, for there was space enough to include at least some token memories of this well known and well populated area. Instead, the artist chose to fill the vacuum with the large caption IOUDA.(See also the complete article)

José M. Blázquez ("The Presence of Nature in the Madaba Mosaic Map", in The Madaba Map Centenary, Jerusalem 1999, 250)
Mountains of Judea and Samaria. The Madaba Map depicts the mountains of Judea and Samaria in the same way: bare treeless mountain ranges, with dark colors strongly contrasting with light ones. Such mountain ranges were a frequent artistic motif in Roman mosaics. For example, rocky terrain with birds perched on the peaks and a few genista decorate the upper part of a mosaic from Tabarka, dating from the end of the fourth century or the beginning of the third century.3 This same type of low hills can be found in the mosaic of the Great Hunt of Piazza Armerina, dated 310-330;4 there some trees grow in the hills, which also show a few small buildings.
The mountain ranges of the Madaba Map are realistic. This artistic tradition in Roman and Greek mosaics of representing mountain ranges, hills and rocks, is found as well in the nilotic mosaic of Preneste and the Alexandrian painting from the end of the Ptolemaic period, and survives in Roman mosaics up to the last years of the Empire. (See also the complete article)

Map Section 6 Place Sources

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