AFTER the death of Alexander the Great, Jerusalem was ruled by the Ptolemies of Egypt. The city was prosperous under their reign until Antiochus Epiphanes gained possession of it, and became so tyrannical that the people rose under the Macabees and regained their independence remaining thus until the land of Judea became a Roman province.

During this time, the Greek language became common in Judea, and the first five books of the Bible, written by Moses and often called the Pentateuch, were translated into that language under the direction of Ptolemy Philadelphus.

The Jews were severely oppressed by the Romans, yet they exerted quite an influence in the empire, as brokers, exchangers, and merchants.

At the birth of Christ, Herod the Great was king of the land of Judea. In the early part of his reign, the city of Jerusalem was greatly improved, and the temple was richly embellished, much more so than at any time since the destruction of Solomon's temple.

At the birth of the Saviour, it was announced that a king was born in Israel. 

When Herod heard this report, he feared that if it were true he would in due time lose his kingdom and throne; and, through jealousy of the infant king, he sent forth a decree that all male children, two years old and under in the land of Judea, the birthplace of the Saviour, should be put to death. 

When this cruel decree was executed, God preserved our Saviour by warning his parents to flee into Egypt. This cruel Herod died in the second year of the Christian era.

The Jews never became submissive subjects to those nations, which ruled over them, and because of this were often severely punished. Although on account of their wealth they gained some influence in the empire, on the whole they were odious to the Romans, and were despised by them.

The last national punishment, which the Jews received was at the hands of the Romans when Jerusalem was destroyed, A. D. 70. At this time Nero was emperor of Rome. He sent against Jerusalem the Roman army under Vespasian, who commanded during the first of the siege; but who finally retired to Rome, leaving his son Titus to terminate the war. No pen can describe the destruction, destitution, want, and suffering which the Jews endured during this war. According to Josephus, 1,100,000 persons perished during the siege, and about 100,000 were taken prisoners, while the city and the venerable temple sunk to ruins and ashes.

The remnant of the Jewish nation, as foretold by the sure word of prophecy, was dispersed into every civilized nation on the globe; but notwithstanding this, they have preserved their national characteristics to a very remarkable degree.