One radiant period of peace and tranquility during the Hasmonean dynasty was the ten-year reign of Queen Shlomit Alexander (76-66 BCE). There was political and religious harmony and Torah study and observance flourished. But this would not last into the next generation.

Queen Shlomit had two sons. The older son, Hyrkanus, was meek by nature and the younger son, Aristoblus, was greedy and ambitious. Upon the Queen's death, the populace was divided as to who should be the successor to the throne. Bloody riots ensued, and the country was plunged into civil war. The brothers agreed to involve the Roman general Pompey as a mediator. Pompey chose the docile Hyrkanus to be king, intending to make him a puppet and Judea another province of the expanding Roman Empire.

Many Jews, faithful to Aristobulus, refused to accept Pompey's decision. Fighting broke out in Jerusalem. The Temple became a fortress for the rebellious faction. In 63 BCE, Pompey's troops entered the Holy City and put down the rebellion.

The revolutionaries were executed, and Hyrkanus was installed as the puppet king and High Priest. But the effects in the long-term were monumental. By allowing Pompey to become involved in the internal affairs of the Holy Land, Hyrkanus and Aristobulus had inadvertently given Judea into the hands of the Roman Empire.

Judea was heavily taxed by Rome and a Roman governor of Judea was appointed.