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The English word province originated from a combination of two Latin words, pro, meaning before, and vinco, meaning conquer (vinco is also found in such words as invincible, meaning not conquerable, hence invincible has an opposite literal meaning from province). Province literally means that which I have conquered, based on its original usage by the Romans to describe a region that had been reduced to a dominion of Rome, under the command of a governor sent from Rome. Other empires adopted the term, some Biblical, some more modern.

The Roman Empire

"the remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down"

The English word "province" is used by some translations of the Scriptures to translate the Hebrew word (pronounced) med-ee-naw which means a district, or jurisdiction, but with the same imperial application as used by the Roman word province. A "province" is something that an empire creates for itself in a conquered land.

In the time of the Babylonian captivity, the Israelites were reduced to a "province" of conquered people.

"Now these are the children of the province that went up out of the captivity, of those which had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away unto Babylon, and came again unto Jerusalem and Judah, every one unto his city" (Ezra 2:1 KJV)

"And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire" (Nehemiah 1:3 KJV)

Even by the time of their return when Jerusalem was being rebuilt, it was still "the province of Judea," while the people in Babylon were still regarded as "the province of Babylon," the conquered people of Judah in Babylon.

"Be it known unto the king, that we went into the province of Judea, to the house of the great God, which is builded with great stones, and timber is laid in the walls, and this work goeth fast on, and prospereth in their hands."

"And all the silver and gold that thou canst find in all the province of Babylon, with the freewill offering of the people, and of the priests, offering willingly for the house of their God which is in Jerusalem" (Ezra 7:16 KJV)

The usage of "province" (or rather the original Hebrew word meaning the same thing) to refer to a conquered land was continued by the Persians in the time of Esther:

"Ahasuerus which reigned, from India even unto Ethiopia, over an hundred and seven and twenty provinces ... In the third year of his reign, he made a feast unto all his princes and his servants; the power of Persia and Media, the nobles and princes of the provinces, being before him" (Esther 1:1,3 KJV)

The apostle Paul was born in the Roman province of Cilicia (in what is today southern Turkey), while the land of Israel was itself another Roman province.

"Who, when they came to Caesarea, and delivered the epistle to the governor, presented Paul also before him. And when the governor had read the letter, he asked of what province he was. And when he understood that he was of Cilicia" (Acts 23:33-34 KJV)

"Now when Festus was come into the province, after three days he ascended from Caesarea to Jerusalem"

Fact Finder: What empires of Bible History rendered the land of Israel into a "province" of their empire?
See Ancient Empires - Assyria, Ancient Empires - Babylon, Ancient Empires - Persia, Ancient Empires - Greece and Ancient Empires - Rome

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