Early Roman Period / Herodian Period / Second Temple Period
63 BCE – 70 CE
The conquest of the Land by Alexander the Great in 332 BCE marks a turning point in the history of the ancient world: the beginning of the Hellenistic Period and the fusion of East and West that gave birth to Western civilization. The period saw the introduction of the Greek language as well as Greek cultural, social, and political traditions into the fabric of local life. Alexander laid the foundations for the Hellenistic worldview, which advocated freedom of religion and made it possible for the Jews of the Land to continue worshiping according to their beliefs.
In the 3rd–2nd century BCE, the Land was ruled by Alexander’s successors: first the Ptolemies, then the Seleucids. In the mid-2nd century BCE, the Hasmoneans (Maccabees) rebelled against Seleucid rule and established an independent Jewish kingdom. Political independence lasted eighty years, until the Romans conquered the region in the mid-1st century BCE and placed Herod the Great (37–4 BCE) on the throne. Herod’s rule ushered in the Herodian Period, also called the Second Temple Period, during which time Jewish society was sharply divided on matters of ideology and the atmosphere was charged with messianic fervor. The birth of Christianity and the emergence of rabbinic Judaism should be seen against the backdrop of this time. Ultimately, the longing for freedom from the yoke of Rome led to the outbreak of the Great Revolt, culminating in the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple in 70 CE.