view from Tel Arad eastward toward Ein Gedi & Masada on the Dead Sea


Hebrew: Edom

Region south of Judea originally inhabited by the reputed descendents of Jacob's brother Esau. Edom was periodically subjected to Judea [under David & Solomon (10th c. BCE) & the Maccabees (2nd c. BCE)].  Homeland of the house of Herod. There were no natural boundaries between Idumea & Judea, so the borders were always in flux. The distinction between Edomites & Jews was blurred by Johanan Hyrcanus' forced conversion of Idumea to Judaism (ca. 130 BCE).  During the 1st c. CE pressure by the Arab Nabateans pushed the territory of the Edomites to within 15 miles of Jerusalem. The region was bounded by the city state of Gaza on the west & the Dead Sea on the east. Herod's wilderness fortress of Masada that served as the final base of Jewish resistance to Roman rule lay within its borders. After 70 CE Idumea was detached from Judea until it was occupied by modern Israel in the 6 days war (1968).


road to oasis of Ein Gedi where David hid from Saul (left:); 
bathing in upper pool (right)

For further information about archaeological & historical evidence, see:

  • Buttrick, G. A., ed. Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible. vol. 2 (NY/Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1962) p. 678.

Other resources on line:

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