chapter  1
6 Pages

CONSTRUCTING THE WORLD OF ROMAN PALESTINE

An introduction
ByDouglas R. Edwards

Pompey’s conquest of the Near East in 63 BCE made it official. Rome controlled Palestine for the next 350 years with periodic interruptions (Millar 1993). The region had military import situated as it was between Egypt, Rome’s breadbasket, and Syria/Mesopotamia. At times those from the region even played an inordinate role in Roman history. In Egypt Julius Caesar received last minute support in his battle for power from a Jewish contingent led by Antipater, father of Herod the Great (Jos. Ant. XIV. 127-136). Caesar and his adopted son, Octavian, rewarded such allegiance with unique privileges to Jews that were to play an important part in Jewish participation in the Roman Empire for the next three centuries (Jos. Ant. XIV. 200-212; XVI. 161-166, 171; XIX. 282-283, 289, 302, 318). The Flavians, notably Vespasian and Titus, drew on their victory over the Jews in the first Jewish revolt, using images of the victory to bolster their power and prestige. Hadrian did as well after the second Jewish revolt in 132-135 CE and gave the official Roman imprimatur of Palestine to the region previously known to Josephus as Palestine and Judaea. But Palestine was generally off the world stage, simply one more territory, albeit at times troublesome, controlled by the Romans or those affiliated with them.