THE ROMAN GOVERNMENT OF PALESTINE
(The Legati of Syria and the Procurators of Judaea)
Romans fail in Palestine . -- The Roman rule in Palestine is one of the tragedies of history, the more so because the Romans had no natural antipathy to the Jews and upon the whole showed a disposition to treat them fairly. In the end the complete antagonism between the Western conception of order and Oriental fanaticism manifested itself in one of the most ruthless wars in human history and in consequences which are operative to the present day.
Rapid decline of the Asmonaeans . -- During the revolt against Antiochus Epiphanes and his successors, the Asmonaean family, by their determined resistance on behalf of the laws and customs of Israel, consolidated the nation and founded a veritable empire in miniature. But the princes of the dynasty rapidly degenerated from the lofty patriotism of Judas the Maccabee to the rapacity of a brutal adventurer of the type of Alexander Jannaeus. The Jewish conquests were characterised by forced conversions of Greek and Syrian cities and the destruction and massacre of those whose inhabitants refused to accept circumcision. In this way the Asmonaean rule had become odious to the great majority of the people of Palestine. After the deaths of Alexander Jannaeus and his prudent wife Alexandra, the ruling family became hopelessly divided; and, on the appearance of Pompey the Great in 63 B.C., the Roman power had to endeavour to appease the dissensions of a distracted country.
Pompey's Eastern policy . -- Pompey's idea was not so much to annex the East, as to compose and civilise