In 109 BCE, the Hasmoneans (led by John Hyrcanus, a nephew of Judah the Maccabee) conquered Samaria, the capital city of the Samarian sect. This conquest was significant because it ended some 800 years of Samarian influence in Israel. The Samarians were a schismatic movement, comprised largely of non-Jews who practiced some Jewish traditions. The conquest may have further polarized the Jews into two distinct parties: 1) the Pharisees ("separated ones") because they sought to retain the separation of Jewish culture from the Greek influences of Hellenization, and 2) the Sadducees, Jews who embraced Greek culture.
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