During the time of the Babylonian exile, when they defeated the Jews in Jerusalem in 587
B.C., the Jews did not lose faith in their God and strongly believed they would be
delivered by God’s emissary on earth, an Anointed Messiah who would restore the Jews to their rightful home in Israel. Not all Jews chose to return to Israel after the Babylonians were conquered by Cyrus the Persian and Babylonia continued to have a vibrant Jewish culture for several centuries. The Persian Empire was overthrown by Alexander the Great in 332 B.C. and gave the Jews greater freedom of movement and they settled in Palestine, Syria, Egypt and Asia Minor.
This gave rise to a diluted form of Judaism, especially among the Maccabees in Greek society. However, even the Hellenized Maccabees had their limits on departure from God’s Law and they revolted against the Syrian rulers in 166 B.C.. For the Jews, the ruler Antiochus pushed too hard to change Jewish culture. The revolt continued until 142 B.C. with the Jews ultimately prevailing. The revolt was a ferocious display of Jewish commitment to worship according to their laws and forever colored affairs between Jews and Greeks. During the last century B.C. the Maccabees amassed a far-reaching kingdom of oppressed Gentiles. (Frend 18, 19). The Gentiles were as uncomfortable with Jewish rule as the Jews had been under Antiochus and were easily befriended by the Romans during their expansion into Galilee (Frend 19). During the Maccabean Wars, Rome and Jews had a combined enemy in the Selucides and even treated with the Romans in 161 B.C., thus were early allies (Frend 19, 20). Though the Jewish state continued to exist after the Roman general Pompey progressed against Jerusalem, their territory was much reduced. With the coming of the Romans, actual authority over the Jewish state was in fact Roman and a collateral of politics in the East (Frend 20). Herod, not much loved by the Jews, was appointed by the Roman Senate to be governor of Galilee and faced fierce opposition by the Jews. He was eventually appointed king of Jewish Judea and Samaria and operated as a client ruler under Roman authority (Frend 21). 3. The Herodian Jews were largely present in Jerusalem and other major centers. They tended to be wealthier and more Hellenized than their neighbors and had been described as “godless jews” in earlier times (Frend 22). Though they had only vague influence on Christian development, the Greek element was quite pronounced during Jesus’ time. The Sadducees were also wealthier Jews but embodied a strong patriotism of the Jewish state. The priestly class was drawn from the Sadducees and they were strict observers of the Law of the Torah (Frend 23). So strict was their belief that they resented Herod’s rule and believed themselves to be accountable for maintaining Jewish law, even at the expense of other Jews. According to Frend at 23, “Rebellion could not be tolerated and messianic enthusiasm was dangerous aberration.” The scribes and Pharisees were viewed as the keepers and interpreters of Jewish Law, embodied in the Torah (Frend 13). They represented the populous in leadership of the Palestinian Jews. It