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Of all the Hasmonean rulers who reestablished and strengthened the independence of Judea, Johanan Hyrcanus was the most successful. Son of Simon the Maccabee, Hyrcanus ruled from 135 to 104 B.C.E. His defeat of the allied Samaritans and Syrians and conquest of their cities ended forever the threat of Syrian rule and extended the borders of Judea to the west and north. Hyrcanus turned next to the south and conquered the Edomites, forcing them to accept Judaism. During his thirty-year rule, the Second Jewish Commonwealth attained its greatest independence and power. At the end of his rule, he came into conflict with the Pharisees, one of the two political parties that had developed in Judea. The Pharisees wanted to deprive him of his position as high priest, but this group paid heavily for their opposition to Hyrcanus, who drew closer to their opponents, the Sadducees.

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