In pre-Hellenistic times, as long as the barren land was unable to support their livelihoods with agriculture and grazing,
the inhabitants of Judea and Samaria hired themselves out as soldiers and guards to protect trade caravans. Soon they also became traders over short or long distances. This led to the establishment of Jewish trade settlements in many Middle Eastern cities.
Jerusalem resembled other ancient oriental cities in Syria with a similar economic structure, such as Palmyra, described by M. Rostovtzeff in his book Caravan Cities (Oxford 1932).