I. John, a Jewish high priest, died in 106 (or according to some in 105) B. C. He succeeded his father Simon Maccabaeus in the high priesthood as one of the Asmo-nean rulers of Judea, 135 B. C. In that year Antiochus Sidetes besieged Jerusalem, and obliged the inhabitants to dismantle its fortifications and pay a tribute; but after the defeat and death of Antiochus in 130, Hyrcanus reestablished his independence and extended his dominion. He razed the city of Samaria, took several other cities from the Syrian kingdom, and not only conquered the Idumaeans, but compelled them to submit to the Mosaic ritual. He also formed an alliance with the Romans. In the latter part of his reign he abandoned the sect of the Pharisees for that of the Sadducees, thereby incurring much odium. He was succeeded by his son Aristo-bulus, who took the title of king of Judea. II. Hyrcanus II., grandson of the preceding, born about 109 B. C, beheaded in 30. He was the eldest son of Alexander Jannaeus and his wife Alexandra, daughter of John Hyrcanus. On his mother's death (71) he succeeded to the kingdom, but the power was soon wrested from him by his younger brother Aristobulus. When Pompey made himself master of Jerusalem in 63, he reinstated Hyrcanus in the government as a tributary prince.

Dissensions again deprived him of power, but when Caesar reconstructed the state he was once more restored as high priest, Antipater having civil authority as procurator. Herod, the younger son of Antipater, succeeded his father as procurator, and betrothed himself to Mariamne, the granddaughter of Hyrcanus. In a new attack by Antigonus, the only surviving son of Aristobulus, who was aided by the Parthians, Hyrcanus was taken prisoner; his ears were cut off to render him incapable of holding the office of high priest, and he was banished to Babylonia, where the Parthian monarch and oriental Jews treated him with distinction. After some years he returned to Jerusalem, where Herod had now established himself in the sovereignty and had married Mariamne. Becoming jealous of his claims to the throne, Herod caused him to be put to death.