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The Roman Empire

            The history of the Roman Empire covers a extensive span of time. Throughout its existence, the Romans came into contact with many distinct cultures and peoples. Many groups assimilated or incorporated the Roman culture into their own, which greatly affected their cultures. Very few peoples managed to keep their own identity while living under Roman rule. One group that was able to resist Roman ideas and maintain their own unique culture was the Jews. However, a blow felt by the Jews was to their national pride. They believed that God had chosen them to be his special people. They looked forward to the day when the nations of the world would come to worship God in Jerusalem. Instead, the Romans and their rulers ruined their holy places, and attempted to wipe out their laws and customs.
             During the reign of the Emperor Tiberius, the independence of the Jewish people was lost, and Israel was turned into the roman province of Judea. From the year 6 CE until the outbreak of the first Jewish war, the Romans placed a series of Roman governors over the Jewish province of Judea. Pontius Pilate, the governor of Judea during the time of the reign of Tiberius outraged the Jewish people by several insulting actions. He used Temple funds to build an aqueduct and offended the Jewish religious traditions by introducing military standards with the Emperors image into Jerusalem. Tiberius died in 37 CE, and Caligula was his successor.
             Caligula recalled Pontius Pilate to Rome and gave Herod Agrippa all of Judea. After Caligula died, the new Emperor Claudius confirmed Herod Agrippa's authority over Judea and also gave him Samaria. Herod, also known as "Herod the Great" built a temple to Augustus in Caesarea. Inside it were statues of the emperor depicted as a god; statues the Jews considered idolatrous. Herod also built theatres and ampitheaters within Jerusalem, in which naked competitions were held. The competitions offended the Jews, as did the religious customs linked with the games.

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