The Romans conquer Israel
Jews in the Roman Empire
Many stayed in Israel, but others moved to Rome or other parts of the Roman Empire. Because they had a different religion and a different way of life, and because they refused to worship the Roman Emperor as a god, the Romans treated the Jews with some suspicion.
Was there freedom of religion?
The Romans, like the Persians, did allow the Jews to keep on practicing their religion. But they also messed with the Jews. The Roman Emperor Caligula had an anti-Jewish policy. In 40 AD, he tried to put his own statue in the great Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.
Jews under Persian rule
Roman emperor Caligula
And then Claudius
Agrippina the Younger
The Romans in Egypt
But the Jews in Alexandria, in Egypt, rioted about this decision. So Caligula’s successor Claudius allowed the Jews to practice their religion, and left the Temple alone. So did Agrippina the Younger and her son Nero.
The First Jewish Revolt
By 66 AD, however, still in the reign of Nero, the Jews decided to revolt against Rome as they had under the Maccabees and try to get their independence back. Thanks to the Jewish writer Josephus, who wrote a history of the revolt, we know a lot about the First Jewish Revolt.
The fortress of Masada
Titus fought the Jews until he won. One of the last holdouts was the fortress of Masada. A last group of Jews held out at Masada until the Romans built a great ramp up to the fortress. Then the Romans broke down the walls. (The old story that all the Jews then killed themselves is not true).
The Arch of Titus
When Titus returned to Rome, his brother Domitian built a great big stone triumphal arch in his honor, and inside it there are carvings showing Titus carrying away the sacred things of the Jews, including a menorah.
Titus destroys the Second Temple
Titus also, in 70 AD, destroyed the Second Temple of the Jews in Jerusalem. This was the temple the Jews built after the Babylonian Captivity. It has still not been rebuilt.