The Maccabean Period- 165-63 B.C
However, independence proved to be both short-lived and disastrous. As the political dynasty of the Maccabee, also called the Hasmoneans, assumed both the throne and the office of high priest, the nation became beset by infighting. The Sadducees supported Hasmonean rulers as both kings and priest,whereas the Pharisees insisted that a true king could could only be a descendant of David and a priest could only be a descendant Aaron. The founder of the Essenes (the community which preserved for posterity the Dead Sea Scrolls)may also have founded his Qumran community around this time, in reaction against the Hasmoneans. As successive rulers became more and more unpopular (for example, Alexander Janneas was pelted by the Jews at the festival when he attempted to perform his priestly duties- he responded by massacring 6,000 of them) the country became increasingly unstable.
Israelite factions turned to mercernaries and outside nations for support. By the time the growing Roman empire turned its attention toward Israel, the nation was able to offer little resistance. In 63 B.C., Pompey sacked Jerusalem. Soon the Jews were once again under the command of a foreign ruler, in this case an Idumean named Antipater who had been installed by Rome. Antipater’s son, Herod the Great, followed him as king of the Jews, and it was under his rule that Jesus was born-and that all babies in Bethleham were killed.