Judah is a Biblical name shared by many historical figures. In the original Greek texts of the First Testament, the names Judah, Judas, and Jude were all rendered “Ioudas”, making it impossible to differentiate one from another. Later English translations use “Judas” to represent Judas Iscariot; “Jude” is used for other persons in the New Testament who shared the same name. “Judah” may refer to one of the sons of Jacob, patriarch of the Bible; those people, groups, or places who share the name derive it from this original Judah.
The Bible mentions few people who share the name; however, it was a common name for Jews in Hellenistic times. The name wasn’t just used for people – whole areas were named using a variation of Judah. They include:
- The Tribe of Judah, who claim direct descent from Judah;
- Judea, formerly the Kingdom of Judah after the overthrow in 586 BC;
- Iudaea Province of Rome (Latin spelling shown);
- Jew, a word derived from the Hebrew word for “Judean”;
- Judea and Samaria, the ancient Biblical phrase for the area now known as the West Bank;
- Judah Maccabee, leader of the revolt against the hated Seleucid Empire.