From pre-Hellenistic times, Jews were active as long-distance traders and established commercial settlements in Egypt and Mesopotamia. These resulted in a widely-scattered Jewish diaspora long before
the Babylonian captivity, that only affected a few families. The cultural conflict between the Jewish trading nation and local populations sometimes led to social conflicts that had little to do with religion.
The rise of political Judaism began in the 2nd century BC with the Maccabees, who founded a Hellenistic Jewish state and Hellenistic Jewish culture before Roman influence made itself felt a century later.