The destruction of the Samaritan temple on Mount Gerizim by John Hyrcanus (ca. 112/111 BCE) is often regarded as the decisive cause of the final breach between Jews and Samaritans. This action is usually interpreted as one of hatred and contempt directed against the Samaritan community as a whole; it has even been maintained that Hyrcanus’s real intention was to exclude the Samaritans from Judaism. Yet comparative analysis of John Hyrcanus’s treatment of the people he subdued may lead to the opposite conclusion. I propose that John Hyrcanus’s policy toward the Samaritans was aimed at forcing their integration into the Hasmonean state, which would lead to their exclusive dedication to the Jerusalem temple and its high priest.
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