Ituraea

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Ituraea

(ĭtyo͝orē`ə), ancient country on the northern border of Palestine. According to tradition, Jetur, the son of Ishmael, was its founder. Ancient geographers are not agreed as to the exact limits of the country. The inhabitants were Arabs with their capital at Chalchis and their religious center at Heliopolis (BaalbekBaalbek
, ancient city, now in Lebanon, 35 mi (56 km) NW of Damascus, in the Al Biqa (Bekaa) valley. Originally it was probably devoted to the worship of Baal or Bel, the Phoenician sun god, although no traces of an early Phoenician settlement have survived.
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). Ituraea was conquered in 105 B.C. by Aristobulus, king of Judaea, who annexed it to Judaea and converted many of the inhabitants to Judaism. Later, after a brief period of independence, the country was subdued by Pompey. It remained thereafter chiefly in Roman hands, being united (c.A.D. 50) to the Roman province of Syria. Many Ituraeans served in the armies of Rome and were renowned for their skill as horsemen and archers.