The Romans entered Judean politics, ironically, by invitation of one Jewish faction that was in a power struggle with another. In 76 BCE Alexander Jannaeus, the last great king of the Hasmonean line, died. He was succeeded by his widow Salome Alexandra, who herself died in 67 BCE The royal couple’s two sons, Hyrcanus and Aristobulus, then fought each other for succession to the throne.
The period 200 BC to 200 CE was a time of history-making changes in Jewish culture and religious and political philosophy. It also harbors the beginnings of the development of Christian philosophy, culture and beliefs. For these reasons events of that period still exerts considerable influence on large segments of Western philosophy and culture today. That is what makes it such an interesting period to study.
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.