In 63 BCE, the Roman Empire took over Syria and Judaea, the ancient home of the Jewish people. Many Jews still lived in Judaea at that time.
Owing to past conquests and exiles, Jews also lived all over the Roman Empire. Rome was home to thousands of Jews. Syria and Egypt had large Jewish populations. The Jews were unlike most of Rome’s conquered peoples in one main way: Jews believed in one God. They would not worship Roman gods. They did not try to stop others from worshipping Roman gods. So the Romans let them practice Judaism in peace for many years. As time passed, religious tensions grew between the Jews and the Roman government.