Greek name of a province, derived from the Biblical "Jetur," name of a son of Ishmael (comp. Gen. xxv. 15, 16). The name of the province is mentioned only once (Luke iii. 1), while in historical sources the name of the people, the Itureans (Ἰτουραῖοι, Ἰτυραῖοι), occurs. The latter are first mentioned by Eupolemus—as one of the tribes conquered by David (Eusebius, "Præparatio Evangelica," ix. 30)—and subsequently by Strabo, Pliny, Josephus, and others, some of whom designate the Itureans as Arabs and others as Syrians. They were known to the Romans as a predatory people (Cicero, "Philippics," ii. 112), and were appreciated by them for their great skill in archery (Cæsar, "Bellum Africanum," 20).
The Itureans did not always possess the same land; as a nomadic people they roamed through the country, and when dispossessed of one place settled in another. Thus, according to I Chron. (v. 19-22), the people of Jetur, the Itureans of the Greeks, fell with the Hagarites into the hands of the children of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, who occupied their country. Later, in the time of the Roman conquest, they dwelt in the region of Mount Lebanon.
Many Christian theologians, among them Eusebius ("Onomasticon," ed. Lagarde, pp. 268, 298), taking into consideration the above-cited passage of Luke, place Iturea near Trachonitis; but this seems contrary to all the historical sources. According to Josephus ("Ant." xiii. 11, § 3), the Iturean kingdom lay north of Galilee, and in 105
That Iturea was in the region of Mount Lebanon is confirmed by an inscription of about the year 6
- G. A. Smith, in Hastings, Dict. Bible;
- Winer, B. R.;
- Schürer, Gesch. 3d ed., i. 707 et seq.