In the religious sphere, the Hasmoneans were committed to ridding their territories of all idolatrous practices. Religious purification of the land became a basic policy. Sometimes this meant driving out pagan inhabitants altogether and then purifying the site; at other times, conversion of the populace was required. Entire populations, both urban and rural, were thus brought into the Jewish fold. The two outstanding examples of this policy were the conversion of the Idumeans by John Hyrcanus and the conversion of the Itureans by Aristobulus I.
It is difficult to assess how Jewish society as a whole responded to this new reality. Did the isolated geographical circumstances of Jews (who lived primarily in the more remote hill country of Judea), combined with ethnic and religious differences, create a buffer between them and the outside world? Or were Jews affected by these changes in the same ways as were their pagan counterparts in the coastal cities, albeit at a somewhat slower pace? Unfortunately, our sources cannot answer these questions adequately.