TOPARCHY (τοπαρχία), the basic administrative district in Palestine during the major part of the Second Temple period. Under the Ptolemies the division of Palestine was fashioned after that of Egypt, although the names given to each administrative district were not always identical. Thus, whereas in Egypt the largest unit was the nomos (νομός) which was divided into smaller districts called topos (τόπος), the major unit in Palestine under the Ptolemies was the hyparchia, subdivided into smaller units called toparchies (cf., however, I Macc. 10:30; 11:57, where the larger units of Palestine are also called nomos). At times the toparchy was in effect the combined territory of a number of neighboring villages, and each toparchy had a capital city or town which was probably the seat of the local governor, known as strategos toparchos or simply strategos. Under Herod Jewish Palestine was divided into approximately 21 toparchies. As for Judea, two lists are given. Pliny (Natural History 5:70) lists ten toparchies, whereas Josephus enumerates 13 (Wars, 3:54–5), including two toparchies of Idumea. Perea was probably divided into three toparchies and Lower Galilee into four, while Upper Galilee was considered a separate unit.
Schuerer, Gesch, 2 (1907), 229–36; A. Schalit, Ha-Mishtar ha-Roma'i be-Ereẓ Yisrael (1937), 16ff.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.