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.
We may now turn to the city wall of the Persian period restored by the returning exiles. As we have seen, the minimalists (including such eminent archaeologists and scholars as the late Michael Avi-Yonah, Yoram Tsafrir of Hebrew University, Hugh Williamson of Oxford University, Hanan Eshel of Bar-Ilan University and Ephraim Stern of Hebrew University) limit the wall of Persian period Jerusalem to the City of David.
There is no doubt that the walls of the city were partly (but not completely) destroyed when the Babylonians conquered the city in 586 BCE (see, for example, Nehemiah 1:3; 2:3, 17). They also destroyed Solomon’s Temple along with much of the rest of the city and deported its citizens to Babylonia. In Jerusalem, “Only the poorest people in the land were left” (2 Kings 24:14).