In the cities of the pre-Christian Roman empire, Jewish groups were in general free to pursue their own religious and social practices and, at any rate until Hadrian, they were not persecuted by the Roman government; even the exceptional and provocative demands for worship which came from a tyrannical emperor such as Gaius Caligula do not amount to planned persecution. There is a contrast with the subsequent fate of the early Christians, whose cult was, of course, often suppressed by the emperor and his governors. There is also a contrast with the later plight of the Jews themselves under Christian rule.
Since, at the local level, Jews on the one hand and Greeks and natives on the other were often profoundly hostile to one another, the fact that the central government was on the whole proof against anti-Jewish pressure coming from below is indeed noteworthy. The edict of L. Flaccus as proconsul of Asia, by which in 62/1 B.C. he had confiscated the Jewish Temple contributions collected for export from his province, was never repeated, so far as we know (Cic., Flac. 66–9). Not only that: the Romans appear at times to have chosen to put their influence behind Jewish communities in dispute with their neighbours, as occurred to some extent in the cases which we shall discuss here, and did not cease even after A.D. 70.