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As this little nucleus increased in numbers with the accession of recruits from various quarters, it awoke to a consciousness of itself, and strove once again for national independence and political enfranchisement and sovereignty.

After numerous vicissitudes, and especially owing to internal dissensions within the Seleucid dynasty on the one hand and to the interested support of the pre-Roman Empire, the pre-autocratic Roman Republic on the other, the cause of Jewish independence finally triumphed.

The Cyrus Cylinder, an ancient tablet on which is written a declaration in the name of Cyrus referring to restoration of temples and repatriation of exiled peoples, has often been taken as corroboration of the authenticity of the biblical decrees attributed to Cyrus, Professor Lester L Grabbe asserted that the "alleged decree of Cyrus" regarding Judah, "cannot be considered authentic", but that there was a "general policy of allowing deportees to return and to re-establish cult sites".

He also stated that archaeology suggests that the return was a "trickle" taking place over decades, rather than a single event.

Before the middle of the first century CE, in addition to Judea, Syria and Babylonia, large Jewish communities existed in the Roman provinces of Egypt, Cyrene and Crete and in Rome itself; after the Siege of Jerusalem in 63 BCE, when the Hasmonean kingdom became a protectorate of Rome, emigration intensified.