The Political and Religious Climate of Israel when Jesus was Born

These sites, in addition to those listed on the “Good Stuff” page linked above, and some general searching on Pharisee, SadduceeEssene, Herod, etc. were helpful to me as I tried to get a better perspective on the Holy Land from 6BC to 1AD.
Keep in mind that it has a Jewish perspective, which may not always mesh well with Christian thinking and teaching, but there’s some good information here.
I don’t appreciate much of the commentary, since it comes from a very rationalist perspective, but the readings from Josephus and other ancient sources are presented in a manner that makes them very accessible, and some of the notes and discussions on the “historical Jesus” are helpful, if you can avoid being overly influenced by the Jesus Seminar’s heretical view of Jesus as just another rabbi, denying his deity and the authenticity of the scriptures.

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