Province properly an outlying portion of an extended empire, such as the Persian or Roman. It is not intended here to do more than indicate the points of contact which this word presents with Biblical history and literature.
1. (מדַינָה, medinah; Sept. χώρα; Vulg. provincia.) In the Old Test. this term first appears in connection with the wars between Ahab and Ben- hadad (1Ki 20:14-15,19). The victory of the former was gained chiefly "by the young men of the princes of the provinces," i.e. probably of the chiefs of tribes in the Gilead country, recognising the supremacy of Ahab, and having a common interest with the Israelites in resisting the attacks of Syria. They are specially distinguished in ver. 15 from "the children of Israel." Not the hosts of Ahab. but the younglest warriors ("armor-bearers," Keil, ad loc.) of the land of Jephthah and Elijah, fighting with a fearless faith, were to carry off the glory of the battle (comp. Ewald, Gesch. 3, 492).
More commonly the word is used of the divisions of the Chaldaean (Da 2:49; Da 3:1,30) and the Persian kingdom (Ezr 2:1; Ne 7:6; Es 1:1,22; Es 2:3, etc.). The occurrence of the word in Ec 2:8; Ec 5:8, has been noted as an indication of the later date now frequently ascribed to that book. The facts as to the administration of the Persian provinces which come within our view in these passages are chiefly these: Each province had its own governor, who communicated more or less regularly with the central authority for instructions (Ezr 4; Ezr 5). Thus Tatnai, governor of the provinces on the right bank of the Euphrates, applied to Darius to know how he was to act as to the conflicting claims of the Apharsachites and the Jews (Ezra 5). Each province had its own system of finance, subject to the king's direction (Herodotus 3, 89). The "treasurer" was ordered to spend a given amount upon the Israelites (Ezr 7:22), and to exempt them from all taxes (Ezr 7:24). SEE TAX. The total number of the provinces is given at 127 (Es 1:1; Es 8:9). Through the whole extent of the kingdom there was carried something like a postal system. The king's couriers (βιβλιόφοροι, the ἄγγαροι of Herod. 8:98) conveyed his letters or decrees (Es 1:22; Es 3:13). From all provinces concubines were collected for his harem (Es 2:3). Horses, mules, or dromedaries were employed on this service (Es 8:10). (Comp. Herod. 8:98; Xenoph. Cyrop. 8:6; Heeren's Persians, ch. 2.) The word is used, it must be remembered, of the smaller sections of a satrapy rather than of the satrapy itself. While the provinces are 127, the satrapies are only 20 (Herod. iii, 89). The Jews who returned from Babylon are described as "children of the province" (Ezr 2:1; Ne 7:6), and had a separate governor [SEE TIRSHATHA] of their own race (Ezr 2:63; Ne 5:14; Ne 8:9); while they were subject to the satrap (פִּחִת) of the whole province west of the Euphrates (Ezr 5:7; Ezr 6:6).
2. (Ε᾿παρχία) In the New Test. we are brought into contact with the administration of the provinces of the Roman empire. The classification given by Strabo (17, p. 840) of provinces (ἐπαρχίαι) supposed to need military control, and therefore placed under the immediate government of the Caesar, and those still belonging theoretically to the republic, and administered by the senate, and of the latter again into proconsular (ὑπατικαί) and praetorian (στρατηγικαί), is recognised, more or less distinctly, in the Gospels and the Acts. SEE PROCURATOR. Cyrenius (Quirinus) was the ἡγεμών of Syria (Lu 2:2), the word being in this case used for prteses or proconsul. Pilate was the ἡγεμών of the sub- province of Judsea (Lu 3:1; Mt 27:2, etc.), as procurator with the power of a legatus; and the same title is given to his successors, Felix and Festus (Ac 23:24; Ac 25:1; Ac 26:30). The governors of the senatorial provinces of Cyprus, Achaia, and Asia, on the other hand, are rightly described as ἀνθύπατοι, proconsuls (Ac 13:7; Ac 18:12; Ac 19:38). In the two former cases the province had been originally an imperial one, but had been transferred-Cyprus by Augustus (Dio Cass. liv, 4), Achaia by Claudius (Sueton. Claud. 25)-to the senate. The στρατηγοί of Ac 16:22 (A.V. "magistrates"), on the other hand, were the duumviri, or praetors, of a Roman colony. The duty of the legati and other provincial governors to report special cases to the emperor is recognised in Ac 25:26, and furnished the groundwork for the spurious Acta Pilati. SEE PILATE. The right of any Roman citizen to appeal from a provincial governor to the emperor meets us as asserted by Paul (Ac 25:11). In the council (συμβούλιον) of Ac 25:12 we recognise the assessors who were appointed to take part in the judicial functions of the governor. The authority of the legatus, proconsul, or procurator, extended, it need hardly be said, to capital punishment (subject, in the case of Roman citizens, to the right of appeal), and, in most cases, the power of inflicting it belonged to him exclusively. It was necessary for the Sanhedrim to gain Pilate's consent to the execution of our Lord (Joh 18:31). The strict letter of the law forbade governors of provinces to take their wives with them, but the cases of Pilate's wife (Mt 27:19) and Drusilla (Ac 24:24) show that it had fallen into disuse. Tacitus (Ann. 3, 33, 34) records an unsuccessful attempt to revive the old practice. SEE PROCONSUL.
PROVINCE is, in ecclesiastical language, the jurisdiction of an archbishop. SEE DIOCESE.