History from Babylon to Rome

The Babylonian Exile
587 BCE-538 BCE

The Babylonian Exile lasted less than fifty years. We know very little about what happened during that half century. This has not prevented historians from speculating at great length about this misty period. Our major sources are two books of contemporary prophets, Ezekiel and Second Isaiah.

Upon arriving in Babylonia around 587 BCE the 4,600 (give or take a couple thousand) cream-of-the-crop Judeans did a double-take Babylonia was one of the most opulent civilizations which the world had ever seen. The provincial Hebrews from the small state of Judah must have been astounded by the wealth which they saw.

They were given their own settlement areas, allowed to enter businesses and agriculture. Within ten or fifteen years (if not sooner) the vast majority of the Hebrews had assimilated into the Babylonian culture and intended to continue there as part of the over-all population. It is not clear what Israelite rituals they retained.

There was, however, a core group of Judeans who remembered their land and Temple and cult with great longing. Weeping along the banks of the Euphrates River, they tried to maintain the religion their ancestors had covenanted with their God. We have no idea how they did this. For the first couple of years in exile, these core Hebrews were in a state of shock. They had always believed. That they were God's chosen people, ruled by the anointed and chosen House of David. They assumed guaranteed happiness, success, and eventual world rule because of their special relationship with God.

Now they found themselves captives, banished from their country and their God, whose address was the Temple in Jerusalem. They had even seen the Temple, God's house, the site where God showed presence on earth, destroyed. How could this have happened?

The first and most obvious answer back in those days was that the gods of the Babylonians were stronger than the Hebrew God. The strength of their gods enabled the Babylonians to conquer the Hebrews.

The second possible answer (which was so revolutionary that it took a while to develop) was that the Hebrew God, angered by the sins of the people, had punished them by using the Babylonians to capture and exile them. This became the accepted answer of our core group of nationalist Hebrews. This God-of-History concept was quickly joined by another revolutionary idea: God wasn't simply concerned with His chosen people within the confines of their small country. He was the Universal God, using the entire world and its peoples to direct the fate and destiny of both His chosen people and the other nations of the world.

In addition, if the captives repented and returned to the covenant of their God, He would forgive them and would return them to their country. There, they would have the same relationship and good favor which they had enjoyed before the exile. This concept of Redemption and Return also developed during the Exile.

Another concept developed that "in the end of days," when the world as we know it would come to an end, all of the nations in the world would follow the Hebrew God. There would be peace and plenty, and even the violence of nations would be removed. This ideal period would be introduced by one of God's anointed, obviously from the House of David (whom else had God ever anointed?). This selected person was not viewed as super-human, simply the Hebrew king who would signal the New Age of peace and prosperity for Israel, just like King David.

Finally, the revolutionary concept was introduced that individuals were held responsible for their actions and could repent individually; the concept of communal guilt was challenged.

These four concepts were enunciated by Ezekiel and the anonymous writer of what biblical scholars call Second Isaiah. It is not clear whether any of the Hebrews were paying any attention to these two visionaries, but we assume that some of them accepted these messages.

We do not know anything else about what was going on among the Hebrews in Babylonia. Everything else is speculation and conjecture. We don't know how they worshiped. We don't know if they worshiped. We don't know if they had any specific texts. We don't know how they retained their sense of identity and communal identification during the Babylonian Exile.

That hasn't stopped historians from writing about these issues. Some believe the Torah was developed during that time. Some believe that a form of prayer-worship service developed. There is no indication that either of these theories is true. All we really know is that a group of (wealthier) Hebrews went into Babylonian "captivity" in 587 BCE. A much smaller group came out in 538 BCE (give or take a year), and we really have no idea what happened to them.

The Return to Judah and the Beginning of the Second Temple Period

In the high 530's BCE the Persians defeated the Babylonians. The Persian policy was to let vassal states rule themselves under their own religious leadership with Persian overseers (and some troops) to make sure that everything ran smoothly. The Persian king Cyrus accordingly permitted the Jews to return to their homeland led by Sheshbazzar (obviously a Persian overseer).

For the nationalist Jews in Persia (formerly Babylonia), this was the sign that the time of the Redemption was at hand. The universal reign of Judah and the Jews was now possible. Eagerly this small group returned to their homeland to rebuild the Temple. Most of the ex-captives remained in Persia; they had long-since assimilated into the culture.

The meeting between this group of Jews (numbering less than 1,000) and the Hebrew farmers who had never left Judah, must have been an extraordinary event. Unfortunately, we know almost nothing about it. Our only sources for the period of the Return are the writings of the prophets Zachariah and Haggai and the subsequent books of Ezra and Nehemiah.

According to the Book of Ezra, the returnees began rebuilding the Temple and barred the locals from helping, insisting that they weren't part of the people. The nationalists had expected a great Jewish revival upon their return to Judah. All they found were ruins, poverty, and hostile neighbors (Hebrew and otherwise). The work on the Temple slowed to a standstill while the people focused on scratching out a meager living from the land. Squabbles and fights broke out among the different groups.

In 522 CE the Persian emperor Darius I appointed Zerubbabel governor of Judea. He authorized a large number of deportees, reportedly over 40,000 to return to the province under the leadership of Zerubbabel and Joshua, the priest.

Two prophets, Zachariah and Haggai urged, pushed, and finally succeeded in getting the people to finish building the Temple. The Second Temple, finished in 515 BCE, was in no way as grand as Solomon's Temple, but it was a genuine Jewish/Hebrew structure where the people could worship. It is significant that the prophets made no mention of any group worshiping either other gods or at other sites. The Temple was a unifying rallying point for the returnees.

With the completion of the Temple, the people sat back and waited for the immediate transformation of their poor little country into the great monarchy which King David had. They believed that once the they had the Temple, God would return with all of His power and make Judah the great ruler of the world. It didn't happen. Even with their new Temple, the Hebrew/Jews found themselves poor, divided, and depressed.

According to the books of Zachariah and Haggai, the neighboring groups (including the Samaritans) kept attacking. The upper class returnees recognized that the re-establishment of the Temple also meant re- establishment of the priestly class. This meant higher taxes to pay for the Temple functions. They therefore grabbed more money from the poor just to make sure that they wouldn't be affected by the tax rise. The people continued to intermarry with the locals. The priesthood quickly became corrupt; they cheated on the sacrifices using defective stock and keeping the pure animals for themselves. The people neglected Shabbat.

The rich and prosperous Jews of Persia had no intention of moving to Judah.

The Jews of Elephantine (Egypt) continued their own sacrificial cult at their own Temple. They intermarried freely with the Egyptian population. They gave donations to their Temple in the names of other gods. They gave no indication of being interested in associating with the Second Temple in Judah.

In the 440's BCE the Persian emperor Artaxerxes I appointed his cupbearer (a high counselor in the Persian court) Nehemiah to be governor of Judah. Artaxerxes also appointed a Jewish scribe (another high Persian official post) named Ezra to provide religious order to Judah.

Nehemiah's first concern was for the physical security of both the people and the Temple. The men under Nehemiah finished building a city wall in fifty-two days. The image in the Book of Nehemiah is of workers frantically building while other workers guarded them with swords day and night.

Nehemiah proceeded to clean out bureaucratic corruption (including in the priesthood). He established tax districts which included the rich as well as the poor. He exempted Temple cult workers from taxes (provided they performed the ceremonies honestly). He established a central court. He refused bribes.

Either during this same time, shortly thereafter, (or before; who knows?), Ezra the scribe arrived with the authority to establish religious stability. His first step was quite dramatic. He took one look at all of the intermarriages and ordered that all such relationships had to be dissolved at once. Husbands had to leave wives who weren't Jewish, and an organization was created to make sure that they did. This had a tremendous impact on the community, most of it negative. Even with Persian authority behind him, Ezra was not successful in his endeavor to get rid of intermarriages.

However, Ezra's big success took place in 444 BCE. In front of the whole community, Ezra read a scroll. It was accepted by the people as authoritative. According to many scholars, the scroll which Ezra read was the Torah, the first five books of the Bible:

Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The Torah became the Constitution of the community, the written core of the religion. The Torah was written in Hebrew; the people spoke Aramaic. Therefore, the text was read in Hebrew and translated (orally) into Aramaic so all the people could understand it. (For the description of this event, click here.)

Not much is known about the political situation of the Jewish community after Nehemiah and Ezra. Under Persian rule they had to pay yearly tribute in the new monetary system called coins. The Persians were the first to stamp coins and use them for money; before this, all transactions were based on the weight of the metal. We know that there was ongoing tension between the Jews and the Samaritans.

In 419 BCE, a Judean official to the Elephantine Jewish community instructing them (with the authority of the Persian Emperor) to keep Passover correctly. In the early 400's (some scholars believe 411 BCE) the Egyptian priests bribed Egyptian officials to look the other way as they destroyed the Elephantine Temple. The Jewish colony there mourned its loss. They then asked for help from Judea to rebuild it; there was no answer.

The High Priest in Jerusalem slowly became the major authority in Judah. Not only were the priests responsible for running the Temple cult; they became the tax collectors, the judges, the governing administrators, and, in many cases, the teachers of the Torah.

The Torah text frequently had to be interpreted and explained; laws which were contrary to popular custom had to be adapted. It is possible that, along with the priests, new groups of teachers and scribes developed, but we don't know very much about them.

Jews were influenced by both Persian culture and the new fad of the 4th century, Hellenism. This was the period of the Wisdom Literature: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job were written. The books of Chronicles, an unknown scribe's concept of Hebrew history, were also created during this time. The 4th century under Persian rule was the time (it was believed) when many books of the Bible were edited and redacted. We know very little (we know nothing....) about this process.

There was peace, there was relative prosperity. The situation could have continued in this manner for many more years than it did if it hadn't been for a certain ambitious Macedonian.

Alexander the Great and the Rise of Hellenism

In 336 BCE a young prince from Macedonia decided that he would conquer the world and bring to every country Greek culture. Historians would have called him Alexander the Ambitious, except for the fact that he came awfully close to succeeding. They therefore called him Alexander the Great.

The Persian Empire fell in 334 BCE, and the Jews found themselves under Macedonian rule. The most immediate influence that Alexander the Great's conquering had on the Jews was to get rid of their pesky neighbors, the Samaritans. Apparently the Samaritans fought against Alexander and, in retaliation, he destroyed their city of Samaria. He exiled the people and sent in Greeks to take over their land.

The Jews around Jerusalem welcomed Alexander in 332 BCE, and he treated them fairly. Besides conquering, Alexander was skilled at keeping his newly-conquered territories peaceful. He permitted them to maintain their own style of government and their own religion. However, he provided tax breaks to those cities which adopted the Greek style of government.

Alexander the Great would have been much greater than he was if he hadn't had two very human traits:

1.He didn't believe that he was going to die.
2. He died.

Because Alexander didn't believe that he was ever going to die, he left no will and made no provisions for the control and rule of his Empire after this death. This left the way open for struggle, intrigue, and subterfuge by his generals after his death in 323 BCE.

The kingdom was divided into three parts:Macedonia, Egypt (under the rule of Ptolemy), and Syria-Mesopotamia (under the rule of the Seleucids). There was almost constant friction between the Seleucids and the Ptolemys after Alexander's death, and Judea, between the two powers, suffered for it.

In 301 BCE the country was finally conquered by Ptolemy I, the ruler of Egypt, and remained part of the Ptolemaic kingdom until 200 BCE. An extensive Greek settlement took place, Greek military colonies were established, and the character of the ancient cities underwent a change. In fact the vast majority of the Hellenistic cities were ancient ones which were now organized according to the politico-social pattern of the Greek cities. Within a short time the members of the upper classes among the local population joined the ranks of the settlers who had come from Greece, particularly prominent in this respect being the Phoenicians who became the standard bearers of Hellenism. Among its most notable centers were Gaza and Ashkelon on the southern coast and Ptolemais (Acre) to the north.

Cities bearing a Hellenistic stamp were also established in the vicinity of the Sea of Galilee and in Transjordan. The Jews were required to teach Greek in their schools (and with it, of course, Greek philosophy). There was a yearly tribute to the Ptolemys, and this tax was always considered too high.

However, the Torah was officially recognized as the binding law of the country. The Jewish High Priest still led the sacrificial cult in Jerusalem, collected the taxes, and basically controlled the government. He was assisted by a council of (wealthy) elders called the gerousia. Under this system, both priestly families and a number of lay families became extremely wealthy. They had both political and social influence and they were quite content with being under Ptolemaic rule. This new upper class was satisfied enough that they gradually assimilated Greek thought and customs, similar to Jews in the United States over the past century.

They changed their names, they set up gymnasia (though not in Jerusalem) where the men played sports; they became involved in Greek art, literature, mathematics, and science.

Most important, they changed the basic financial structure of the people. Until Alexander the Great, the Hebrews lived by a barter system. People exchanged one produce for another, and the process of acquiring was actually taking the object. Under Greek influence, the major form of purchase was with money. The utilization of money encouraged different kinds of trades and increased the benefits of city life. Seeing the financial advantages, more and more Jews moved into cities rather than staying on farms.

City life and farm life were very different, and the rules and regulations created for farm life had to be adapted to meet the realities of city life. The group that began this interpretive, adaptive process within the Jewish world were the Pharisees. Although Greek thought had not become the norm on the Judean farm, by the third century BCE, it had become part of Jewish life.

This was especially clear in Alexandria, where the Jews had become so Hellenized that they needed a Greek translation of the Torah. The Greek version of the Bible known as the Septuagint probably owes its name to a story related in the Letter of Aristeas, according to which 72 scholars, summoned from Jerusalem by Ptolemy II Philadelphus, achieved a perfect Greek translation of the Pentateuch, which was deposited in the Alexandrian library. This story was embellished with time until the 72 interpreters were credited with the translation of the entire Hebrew Bible.

It is widely accepted that what the Letter of Aristeas relates about an official translation of the Pentateuch, made in Alexandria at the beginning of the third century B.C.E., may be taken as valid. However, it is assumed that the project was initiated by the Greek-speaking Jewish community itself, which needed a version of the Torah for worship and instruction. This version, which was undoubtedly a collective undertaking, perhaps based on previous written or oral attempts, was hailed with enthusiasm by the community. It was followed by translations of the other books of the Hebrew Bible.

In the third century Ptolemaic rule in Judea was on the defensive against the Seleucid kingdom which governed Syria and which also laid claim to the Land of Israel. For most of that century the Ptolemies generally kept the upper hand, but the constant fighting within the country took its toll on the people and their lifestyle. In 200 CE Antiochus III and his Seleucid forces gained a notable victory near the sources of the Jordan. The Seleucids took over control of Judea.

Antiochus III didn't change much. The Seleucid king confirmed the existing regime in Judea and even gave its inhabitants additional privileges: the Judean population was exempted from all taxation for three years and thereafter granted a reduction of a third in its taxes. The priests, the freedmen, and the members of the Gerousia were given complete exemption from taxes. Similar relations continued also under Antiochus' son, Seleucus IV (187-175).

This made the Greek-oriented Jewish community very happy. With Seleucid encouragement, some Jews even challenged the need to keep the dietary laws and Shabbat. There was some intermarriage. Many of the wealthy Jews viewed Greek culture as being more sophisticated than traditional Hebrew life. This view was sometimes held by the High Priest himself. Some Jews refused to have their children circumcised

There was a small group of nationalists who struggled to keep the people within the religion of their ancestors, but they were a minority and not very popular.. Jews would have become even more assimilated if it had not been for the reign of Antiochus IV, the king in the Chanukah story.

The Hasmonean Revolt
(The Chanukah Story)

Chanukah celebrates an historical event. In 165 B.C.E., A group of Jews successfully rebelled against the Seleucid King Antiochus.

Although the holiday focuses on the specific victory against King Antiochus's army, the story of Chanukah begins long before that specific event.

In 334 B.C.E., Alexander the Great conquered Judea and brought to it Greek Culture. He didn't force anyone to participate in that culture, but he lowered the taxes for any group willing to accept this way of life.

When Alexander died, his Middle Eastern kingdom divided into two groups: the eastern kingdom (including modern-day Syria, Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon) was called the Seleucid kingdom; the western kingdom (including Egypt) was the Ptolemaic kingdom. These two groups fought one another for political control, and Judea was caught between them.

The Jews of Judea didn't care which group ruled them. They had their Temple, their sacrifices, and their High Priest, who governed the country. It didn't matter to whom they had to pay vassal taxes; the taxes were always too high anyway.

The major political center of Greek life was the polis, the city, and the wealthier Jews succeeded in having Jerusalem recognized as a polis. They changed their dress, their names, and their life-style to those of the Greeks.

In 169 B.C.E. the Seleucid King Antiochus IV attacked the Ptolemies. He lost. Word got back to Jerusalem that Antiochus was dead. A former High Priest, Jason, saw this as an opportunity to wrench the priesthood from Antiochus's lackey, Menelaus. He set up a revolution in Jerusalem.

Antiochus, of course, was still alive. Furious, he slaughtered a large number of Jews, declared martial law, and banned certain practices of Judaism as capital crimes, specifically Shabbat and circumcision. In addition, he profaned the Temple by introducing foreign worship. Antiochus was supported by some Jews.

The prohibitions established by King Antiohcus were intolerable to a group of Jews called the Hasidim (not related to the modern-day Chasidim). They fought against these decrees, but they needed leadership. They found this leadership in a priestly family, the Hasmoneans.

The head of the Hasmonean clam was Mattathias. We don't know much about him personally. The First Book of Maccabees reveals that he was a priest who moved from Jerusalem more than thirty miles to Modi'in. Therefore, he probably was not part of the big-power priesthood.

When a Seleucid ordered Mattathias to participate in a foreign sacrifice in Modi'in, he refused and slew a Jew who cam forward to obey the command. After slaying a Greek officer as well, Mattathias and his followers fled to the hills, and thus began the Hasmonean revolt. He successfully united the people under his authority.

Judah, called Maccabee, the Hammer, was one of Mattathias's five sons. There is a tradition stating that Judah inscribed on his shield the Hebrew letters mem chaf bet yod, which are the first letters of the words, "Who is like you among the gods, Adonai." By themselves, they form the word Maccabee.

Antiochus sent down an army to wipe out the revolt. Judah and his revolutionaries defeated that army in the mountains surrounding Jerusalem by using guerrilla tactics.

Antiochus sent another, larger army under the famous general Nicanor, but Judah and the revolutionaries defeated his army as well and entered Jerusalem.

After defeating Antiochus's army, the Jews systematically cleaned the defiled Temple in Jerusalem; it apparently took almost a year. Judah declared a great holiday to celebrate the fact that the Temple was again in Jewish hands. In order to make this dedication a big event, the Hasmoneans declared that the ceremony should serve as a reminder of Sukkot, which lasts eight days. The Jews had been unable to celebrate Sukkot for three years because of their guerrilla fighting, so they celebrated Sukkot at the time of the Temple dedication.

The dedication of the Temple took place on the 25th of Kislev and, like Sukkot, lasted for eight days. The Hebrew word for dedication is Chanukah.

Neither the Seleucids (the Greek power in Damascus) nor many Jews accepted the Hasmonean family as the governing priesthood. As a matter of fact, civil war continued in Judea for twenty years after the first Chanukah. Judah's family was finally victorious. Simeon, Judah's brother, was made High Priest, and Chanukah became a yearly celebration of the Hasmonean victory.

The Hasmonean family ruled for a hundred years. During that time, there was a great deal of tension between the Hasmoneans and the sages. As a result, the sages were not particularly interested in maintaining a holiday that commemorated the dedication declared by the Hasmonean family. We find evidence of this power struggle in the traditional legend concerning the eight days of Chanukah.

We find in the Talmud, compiled 700 years after the event, a legend which explained the eight-day holiday as a time when the Temple had been desecrated and there was no sacred oil. Only one small jar marked with the High Priest's seal was found. This oil, enough to burn one day, burned eight days. This miracle (said the sages) resulted in the eight-day celebration of Chanukah.

The Hasmonean Period

Having achieved full peace for Judea by 161 BCE, Judah the Maccabee had to establish a permanent government for the Jews in the new independent state. Although he was an excellent military commander, he wasn't a very good politician; fortunately for Judea, he died a year after he tried taking political office.

It became a tradition (ie, it was enforced by the family) that Mattethias' family would be the new line of High Priests and rulers. Thus, after Judah's death, his youngest brother Jonathan became High Priest. At his death, his older brother Simeon became the High Priest. At his death, Simeon's son John Hyrcanus I became the High Priest and declared himself king.

The people accepted both titles for him, and his reign marked the high point of this dynastic period. The family of Mattethias was called the "Hasmonean" family. The ongoing rule of this family was therefore known as the Hasmonean Period.

The major concern of Jonathan, Simeon, and Hyrcanus was stabilization and territorial conquest. They succeeded in annexing the northern territory of Judea called the Galilee and made it a strong Jewish center. They set up good trade relations with their neighbors and the Nabateans. It looked as though Judea was getting set to become a solid political state.

Once again, however, religious strife and corruption in the ruling class led to trouble. The generations after John Hyrcanus weren't made of the same firm moral fibre as the founding Hasmonean generation. Instead of seeing the job of High Priest-King as an opportunity to strengthen the international position of Judea, to create a strong stable government where the rights of every Jew would be cared for, and to bind the people together in their sacrificial worship to God, the new generation of Hasmoneans saw their post as an opportunity to get rich and have power.

A family struggle ensued for power. It was as corrupt as any other struggle for a throne, but it looked worse because all of the fighting was among brothers, sons, and mothers. Mothers hired murderers to either kill or mutilate the children they didn't want to reach the throne. (The High Priest had to be unmaimed, unblemished, to serve.) Children had mothers killed to prevent this from happening. Brothers sliced, bribed, and fought their way to power. It was a messy business, and it continued for over a hundred years.

The Nabateans
    Caravan Drivers and Remarkable Architects

While the Hasmoneans were busy establishing their independent kingdom in Judea and the Galilee, another kingdom developed to the east and south. Although the Nabateans had very little influence on Jewish history (and none on Jewish thought), they were a brilliant people who had great influence on the eventual borders of the modern state of Israel.

The Nabateans were not a people (even though everyone writes about them as though they were). They were a social class which established its own empire. The Nabateans were caravan drivers, and they were apparently industrious, ambitious, and ruthless.

During the period of Alexander and right after his death (when everything was unorganized) a group of caravan drivers set up a monopoly on the trade routes going from Syria to Egypt (the two regions at war with one another). This enabled them to establish an independent kingdom east of Israel with its capital at Petra. They became rich and, for obvious reasons, expanded their territory to include the Negev of Israel, thus militarily protecting their trade routes.

To protect their monopoly, the Nabateans set up a series of fortresses through the desert, thus also providing their caravan drivers with rest spots. They built Mamshit (Kurnub), Avdat, Shivta, and Nitzanah. They occupied Madaba. Each of these sites shows wonderful architecture and enormous labor. The treasury at Petra is one of the extraordinary buildings of the period. The decorations cut into the side of the cliff are exquisite. The three-tiered amphitheater is also special.

The exciting part of the story about the Nabateans is the fact that they built their fortresses in what was apparently completely dry desert. How did they live? How did the troops in the fortresses make a living? After the Romans came into Judea, they forbade the Nabateans from trading (the Romans hated monopolies); yet the fortress towns continued to survive. How?

An American archaeologist, the late Dr. Nelson Gleuck, digging in the desert, found the answers. The Nabateans knew their desert home thoroughly. They knew the shape of the land, the times of the seasonal rains, the force of the run-off water, and the direction that the yearly floods flowed. And they knew their architecture. They were able by a series of dams, run-off channels, underground man-made cisterns, hill groovings (to guide the run-off water off the hills in specific courses) to channel, collect, and reserve enough water from the meager rains to create farming communities in the desert.

The fortress garrisons contained farmers miles from the nearest available wells. The complexity and sophistication of the agricultural and architectural achievements of the Nabateans impressed and amazed the archaeologists.

After the Nabateans disappeared in about the third century CE, the land returned to its accustomed state of dry, arid desert and remained that way until modern times.

Rome Takes Over

Rome had been growing and strengthening during the Hasmonean Period. In 161 BCE, near the beginning of the Hasmonean Period, Judah the Maccabee had made a treaty with Rome.

Corruption within the Hasmonean family speeded the fall of the Hasmonean Empire. Aristoboulos, a typical Hasmonean "loving son," declared himself High Priest-King thirty minutes before the death of his mother the queen. His brother, John Hyrcanus, felt his brother hadn't played fair. He revolted against him. By 67 BCE there was civil war in Judea , and the land was ripe for conquest. Rome took advantage of the situation. John Hyrcanus allied himself with Rome under General Pompey. Together, they succeeded in smashing most of Aristobulos' forces in 63 BCE. John and Pompey entered Jerusalem unopposed, but the Temple Mount, with its own fortifications, posed some problems. It took three months to take the Temple, and Rome gained control of Judea.

Confusion ensued. Rome was in a state of flux, with power struggles between Pompey and Julius Caesar; Caesar won. Julius Caesar appointed a governor to keep watch over the country, the son of an Idumean who had been forced to covert to Judaism, a man named Herod. After Caesar's death, Cassius, Mark Antony, and Octavian all struggled for control of the Roman Empire. They all kept Herod in power.

The Hasmonean family wasn't willing to give up, and, with the support of the Parthians (a nation in Asia Minor), there was a mini-revolt which was brutally suppressed.

After putting down the Judean/Parthian revolt against their rule, Rome appointed Herod king of Judea. Herod had complete authority, and he used it ruthlessly. He established an enormous secret police force, brutally killed anyone suspected of plotting against him, and created Roman peace by slaughtering all dissidents. As a result, during Herod's life, there was relative peace in Judea. When he died, the hatreds he created erupted with disastrous consequences.