Relationship between the Romans and Jews

By: Mikaela Billington

The interactions of the Jews in the Roman Empire trace from 27 B.C to AD 476. Their civilizations began to overlap in the centuries right before the Christian Era. They first encountered eachother after the Jewish Diaspora.

Jewish Diaspora

The Jewish Dispersion or "Diaspora" was the exile of Jews from the Kingdom of Judah. Three things began the Diaspora, The ancient conquest in 6th century BCE of the Kingdom of Judah by Babylon, The destruction of the First Temple, and the expulsion of the population. Many Jews stayed in a unified community in Judah, but most others fled. The ones who stayed encountered Rome, when it Judah became a Roman Province in 6 CE.

Judea as a Roman Province

Judea was now a Roman Province that included regions of Judea, Samaria and Idumea, that extended over parts of Israel. Judea was known was a client kingdom, which is a state that is economically, politically or militarily subordinate to another more powerful state in international affair.  Subsequently, the Jewish people were now under the rule of Rome, and in effect rebelled in 66 CE. This is known as the First Jewish-Roman war.

The First Jewish-Roman War. (The Great Revolt)

The first Jewish-Roman War was the first of three major rebellions by the Jews of the Judea province against the Roman Empire. It started in 66 CE, originating in the Greek and Jewish religious tensions. This escalated due to anti-taxation protests and attacks upon Roman citizens. In response, the Roman Empire attacked the Second Jewish Temple, executing more than 6,000 Jews. This caused a full scale rebellion, and rebels overrun the Roman military. Cestius Gallus of Syria had to interfere to order and control the revolt.

Vespasian and controlling the rebellion

Vespasian was given the task of crushing the rebellion in Judea province. His son Titus was appointed as second-in-command. Given four legions, Vespasian invaded Galilee in 67. After many military lures, Vespasian was called to Rome and appointed as Emperor in 69. Because of this, Titus moved to be the center of rebel resistance in Jerusalem in early 70. The first two walls of Jerusalem were breached within three weeks, but a stubborn rebels prevented the Roman Army from breaking the third and thickest wall. After a brutal seven-month siege, during which Zealot infighting resulted in burning of the entire food supplies of the city, the Romans finally weakened Jewish forces in the summer of 70. Following the fall of Jerusalem, Titus left for Rome, finalizing the Roman campaign in Masada in 73–74


Masada was an isolated rock plateau on the edge of the Judean desert overlooking the Dead Sea. After the fall of the Second Temple, the Sicarii escaped and found refuge on Masada. Hundreds of Jews joined the Sicarii on the mountaintop. These men, women, and children, dedicated to the eradication of pagan rule in the Land of Israel, are known as Zealots. Finally, in the early autumn of the year 72, the Roman governor of Judaea, Lucius Flavius Silva, took it upon himself to eliminate the rebels on Masada.The Romans began to build an enormous 375ft high ramp against the western plateau of Masada in order to reach the Jews. When they finally reached them, they found a mass suicide of 960 Jewish rebels and their families hiding. This marked the ending of Roman and Jewish conflict.

Comment Stream