Pompey the Great conquered Jerusalem in 63 BC, and consequently Palestine was under the control of Rome. Thus, Judea became part of the Roman province of Syria during the first century, which was the eighth century of the Roman foundation. Rome tried to preserve the local traditions. It controlled the foreign affairs and the currency and imposed taxes. This region was ruled by a Roman procurator who coexisted with the former Royal Jewish family represented by Herod the Great and his son, Herod Antipas. They ruled as vassal kings from 37 BC to 39 AD.
Palestine was a mix of different cultures in the days of Jesus. Jewish culture was the main one. Jewish people spoke in Aramaic and the most educated ones spoke in Hebrew. There were also Greeks who spoke in a dialect called ‘Koine’. The language Jesus spoke would be the Aramaic Galilee dialect. It is possible that he would also speak in Greek and Hebrew.
Hispania was completely romanised during the first century. Its three provinces –Tarraconensis, Baetica and Lusitania- were benefited from great development and prosperity. The presence of Roman soldiers and traders and the involvement of Hispanic people in the Roman army meant the establishment of important Roman colonies such as Tarraco, Italica, Corduba, Emerita Augusta.
Reconstruction of Jerusalem and Herod’s Temple. James Tissot (1886)
Map of Jerusalem in the days of Christ. (1584)
Model of Herod’s Temple in Jerusalem. (Israel Museum)
Map of Palestine in the days of Jesus. (Places quoted in the Gospels)
Sestertius of Vespasian which commemorates the conquest of Judea (66 AD)
John the Baptist before Herod, Martínez Montañés. (1610-1620) Iglesia de la Anunciación (Seville)