Before we make any particular inquiries into the countries mentioned Luke 3:1, it will not be amiss to dip into history a little more generally.
"Augustus Caesar received Herod's sons, Alexander and Aristobulus, upon their arrival at Rome, with all the kindness imaginable, granting a power to Herod to establish the kingdom in which of his sons he pleased: yea, and moreover, gave him the region of Trachonitis, Batanea, and Abranitis." We find Perea (peculiarly so called) not mentioned in this place, when yet it was most assuredly under Herod's jurisdiction: how else could he have built Herodium, which was in the extreme confines of Perea southward, where he himself was buried?
Neither, indeed, doth St. Luke say any thing of Perea, even then when he mentions the tetrarchy of Herod Antipas, under whose jurisdiction, Josephus tells us, were both Perea and Galilee. "Perea and Galilee were both under Antipas."
Why Josephus should not mention Perea, when he is speaking of the father's kingdom, or why St. Luke should omit it, when he instances the tetrarchy of the son, that being so unquestionably within his jurisdiction, I confess is something strange to me; nor could I pass it without some remark.
The same Josephus tells us this of the tetrarchy of Philip: "Batanea, also, and Trachonitis, Auranitis, and some parts of Zeno's house, about Jamnia, yielding the profits of one hundred talents, were under Philip's government." And again, "Then died Philip, in the twentieth year of the reign of Tiberius, when he himself had governed for seven-and-thirty years over Trachonitis, Gaulonitis, and the country of the Bataneans." Here we see Auranitis is not mentioned, but Gaulonitis is; and in St. Luke, neither Batanea, nor Gaulonitis, nor Auranitis; but, instead of them, Iturea. There is a chronological difficulty in these words of Josephus, which is not easily solved; but this is not the business of this treatise.
It is hard to say whether this house of Zenon, have any relation with Zenodorus the robber. Josephus, in the place above quoted, mentions him, saying, that Augustus was the more willing to put Batanea, Trachonitis, and Auranitis, under the government of Herod the Great, that he might the more effectually suppress the thefts and rapines committed by one Zenodorus and the Trachonites. Strabo also speaks of this Zenodorus, telling us, that "there were few robberies committed now; the robbers of Zenodorus' party being cut off."
But if the name should be writ in the mother tongue, Beth Zenun, it might signify a place or region of cold; and so denote some country adjacent to the snows of Lebanon; or some part of the mountain of snow [Hermon]; I rather believe.