Alexander the Great, in his conquests, spared Jerusalem and much favoured the Jews; and, when he founded Alexandria in 332, many Jews settled there. These Egyptian Jews developed a high culture of their own and gradually became contented with Ptolemaic and Roman rule. But the Palestinians were stauncher; and when, in 175 B. C., Antiochus Epiphanes endeavoured to precipitate their hellenization, the Maccabean rebellion enabled the Jews to recover their independence and become independent for a couple of centuries. To this period the latter part of Zechariah refers. The Diaspora, who had emigrated, will be brought back again out of Egypt and Assyria into the land of Gilead and Lebanon.
Yet, even in its most prosperous time, Palestine was peopled by only a minority of the Jews. Most of them spread into Galilee, Syria, Egypt, and beyond the seas, so that in the second century B. C. the Jewish Sibyl says of the Diaspora, 'Every land is full of thee and every sea', and Strabo, Philo, Seneca, and the author of the Acts of the Apostles prove that the Jewish race was disseminated in their time over the whole of the civilized world. Philo says that in Egypt alone there were a million Jews, an eighth of the population.
The Maccabeans preserved the independence of Palestine, in spite of the growing imperialism of Rome, until Pompey took Jerusalem in B. C. 63. After this date the local rulers of the Idumaean dynasty (established by Herod in 37 B. C.) were always in the position of 'client-kings' under the Roman government. Judaea itself became under Augustus a 'second-class' Roman province. Internal dissensions produced the insurrection which ended with the destruction of the Temple in 70 A. D.). Under Hadrian, A. D. 130, the Jews again rebelled. Jerusalem was destroyed and rebuilt by the Emperor as a Roman colony under the name Aelia Capitolina. No Jews were allowed to reside in it. Thus all hopes of Jewish independence were for the time destroyed.
- Zech. x. 10.