Around 200 B.C. where it is listed on the Biblical Timeline Chart, the empire of Rome was becoming a dominant force in the ancient world. This Republic was slowly forming into a powerful empire, and it was challenging many established rulers during its time. When the Romans were coming to power, there were other prominent states that were dominating the Earth. There were primarily run by different factions of Greek rulers. The major rulers of the ancient world during this period were the Seleucid and Ptolemy Dynasties. These two empires had a lot of the ancient kingdoms and territories such as Persia, Syria and Judea under their control.
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In 200 B.C., the Judeans was being ruled by the Ptolemy Empire. The Ptolemy and Seleucid empires were constantly at war with one another over territory. Judea wasn’t a great kingdom in terms of their power, but it was unique because of their religious beliefs that caused them a lot of problems with the outside world. Many cultures in that day were polytheistic, and they didn’t understand how one culture could be dedicated to serving only one God.
Most empires considered Judah a worthless province that was good for collecting tribute and nothing else. They knew about their history and their religions, but they were left alone for the most part as long as they paid their rulers tribute. The empires who ruled over Judah would appoint the high priest that the Jews had chosen as their governor. Many Jewish people were also taken from their homelands and resettled into parts of the ancient world.
As the Romans started to become more powerful, they started to expand their empire. Eventually, they were clashing with the Greeks in Asia Minor. The Romans already knew about the Greeks from their cultural, social and political exchanges with this territory, but they eventually started to go to war with them. The Romans were defeating coastal towns where Greeks lived in Asia Minor, and the Seleucid and Ptolemy rulers tried to stop their advances. The Romans defeated the Seleucid armies but they didn’t take over their territories right away, and the same is true for the Ptolemy’s. The most that the Romans did to their defeated foes was to make them pay tribute and to agree to whatever demands they desired.
The province of Judah wasn’t an issue for the Romans in 200 B.C. because it was still under the control of the Ptolemy’s. Rome didn’t have an interest in the territory because it didn’t matter to them at all. They also didn’t have the resources or manpower at their time to station in Judah. They were aware of the Jewish people and what they considered to be a strange form of religion that they worshiped. Rome’s problems with Judah would begin about 140 years later around 64 B.C. after they conquered the province. It was during this period in history that the Romans governed the Judeans, and they started to pay close attention to this supposedly insignificant Jewish state.
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