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Perea or Peraea (Greek: Περαία, "the country beyond"), was the portion of the kingdom of Herod the Great occupying the eastern side of the Jordan River valley, from about one third the way down from the Sea of Galilee to about one third the way down the eastern shore of the Dead Sea; it did not extend too far to the east. Herod the Great's kingdom was bequeathed to four heirs, of which Herod Antipas received both Perea and Galilee. Attested mostly in Josephus' books, the term was in rarer use in the late Roman period.
Perea was the area inhabited by the Israelite Tribes Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh. New Testament commentators speak of Jesus' "Perean Ministry", beginning with his departure from Galilee (Matt 19:1; Mark 10:1) and ending with the anointing by Mary in Bethany (Matt 26) or his journey towards Jerusalem commencing from Mark 10:32.
Pliny the Elder & Josephus
['Greater Judea' or 'Provincia Iudaea', incorporates Samaria and Idumea into an expanded territory.] The part of Judaea adjoining Syria is called Galilee, and that next to Arabia and Egypt Peraea. Peraea is covered with rugged mountains, and is separated from the other parts of Judaea by the river Jordan (in the original Latin: "Supra Idumaeam et Samariam Iudaea longe lateque funditur. pars eius Syriae iuncta Galilaea vocatur, Arabiae vero et Aegypto proxima Peraea, asperis dispersa montibus et a ceteris Iudaeis Iordane amne discreta.")
Peraea ...much larger indeed [than Galilee], is generally desert and rugged, and too wild for the growth of delicate fruits. In some parts, however the soil is loamy and prolific, and trees of various kinds cover the plains ; but the olive-tree, the vine, and the palm tree, are those principally cultivated. It is also sufficiently irrigated by mountain streams ; and (should these in the dog-days fail) by ever flowing springs. In length, it extends from Machaerus to Pella : in breadth, from Philadelphia to the Jordan : its northern districts being bounded, as we have already said, by Pella ; and those on the west, by the river. The land of Moab forms its southern limit ; while Arabia and Silbonitis, with Philadelphia and Gerasa, constitute its eastern boundary.
Other Sites Named Perea
The Christian Armenians who were deported from Armenia and forcibly settled in the New Julfa/Isfahan region of Iran named a major village "Perea" in honor of the important significance of Perea as the resting place of John the Baptist.
Hasmonean Kingdom Established 167 BCE (Judas Maccabeus)
Hasmonean Kingdom Collapse 67 BCE (Hyrcanus II)
- "PLINY'S NATURAL HISTORY - Book V". masseiana.org. masseiana.org. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
- Gaius Plinius Secundus; Sillig, Julius (1831). Naturalis historia. Teubner. p. 339.
Image of p. 339 at Google Books
- Pliny, NH, V
- Flavius Josephus (1851). "BOOK III. CHAPTER 3". The Jewish War of Flavius Josephus: A New Translation 2. Houlston and Stoneman. p. 9.
(Image of p. 9 at Google Books)
- Silbonitis is a textual error for Sebonitis, i.e. Heshbon. (Emil Schürer D.D. M.A.; Aeterna Press. A History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ: Two Divisions in Five Volumes. Aeterna Press. p. 1513.)
- Perea entry in historical sourcebook by Mahlon H. Smith
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