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The Maccabees, also spelled Machabees (Hebrew: מכבים‬ or מקבים‬, Maqabim; Latin: Machabaei or Maccabaei; Greek: Μακκαβαῖοι, Makkabaioi), were a group of Jewish rebel warriors who took control of Judea, which at the time was part of the Seleucid Empire.[1][2] They founded the Hasmonean
Hasmonean
dynasty, which ruled from 167 BCE to 37 BCE, being a fully independent kingdom from about 110 to 63 BCE. They reasserted the Jewish religion, partly by forced conversion, expanded the boundaries of Judea
Judea
by conquest and reduced the influence of Hellenism and Hellenistic Judaism.

Contents

1 Etymology 2 Background 3 The revolt 4 Maccabean rule 5 Mention in the Bible 6 Holy Maccabean martyrs 7 See also 8 References 9 External links

Etymology[edit]

The Holy Maccabees

Wojciech Stattler's "Machabeusze" ("The Maccabees"), 1844

Born 2nd century BCE Judea
Judea
(modern-day Israel)

Died 167–160 BCE Judea

Venerated in Roman Catholic Church Eastern Orthodox Churches

Canonized Pre-Congregation

Feast August 1

The name Maccabee[3] is often used as a synonym for the entire Hasmonean
Hasmonean
dynasty, but the Maccabees
Maccabees
proper were Judah Maccabee
Judah Maccabee
and his four brothers. The name Maccabee was a personal epithet of Judah,[4] and the later generations were not his direct descendants. One explanation of the name's origins is that it derives from the Aramaic
Aramaic
"makkaba", "the hammer", in recognition of Judah's ferocity in battle.[5] The traditional Jewish explanation is that Maccabee (Hebrew: מכבים‎ Machabi, מכבים) is an acronym for the Torah
Torah
verse that was the battle-cry of the Maccabees, "Mi chamocha ba'elim YHWH", "Who is like You among the heavenly powers, Lord!",[6][7] as well as an acronym for "Matityahu haKohen ben Yochanan. The correlating Torah
Torah
verse Exodus 15:11, The song of Moses and the Children of Israel
Israel
by the Sea,[6] makes a reference to Elim, with a mundane notion of natural forces, heavenly might, war and governmental powers. The scholar and poet Aaron Kaminka argues that the name is a corruption of Machbanai, a leading commando in the army of King David.[8] Background[edit] In the 2nd century BCE, Judea
Judea
lay between the Ptolemaic Kingdom
Ptolemaic Kingdom
(based in Egypt) and the Seleucid empire
Seleucid empire
(based in Syria), monarchies which had formed following the death of Alexander the Great (356–323 BCE). Judea
Judea
had initially come under Ptolemaic rule, but fell to the Seleucids
Seleucids
around 200 BCE. Judea
Judea
at that time had been affected by the Hellenization
Hellenization
initiated by Alexander the Great. Some Jews, mainly those of the urban upper class, notably the Tobiad family, wished to dispense with Jewish law and to adopt a Greek lifestyle. According to the historian Victor Tcherikover, the main motive for the Tobiads' Hellenism was economic and political.[9] The Hellenizing Jews built a gymnasium in Jerusalem, competed in international Greek games, "removed their marks of circumcision and repudiated the holy covenant".[10] When Antiochus IV Epiphanes
Antiochus IV Epiphanes
(ca. 215–164 BCE) became ruler of the Seleucid Empire
Seleucid Empire
in 175 BCE, Onias III held the office of High Priest
Priest
in Jerusalem. To Antiochus, the High Priest
Priest
was merely a local governor within his realm, a man whom he could appoint or dismiss at will, while orthodox Jews saw the holder of the High Priesthood as divinely appointed.[11] Jason, the brother of Onias, bribed Antiochus to make him High Priest
Priest
instead of Onias. Jason
Jason
abolished the traditional theocracy and "received from Antiochus permission to convert Jerusalem
Jerusalem
into a Greek polis called Antioch".[9][12] In turn, Menelaus
Menelaus
then bribed Antiochus and was appointed High Priest
Priest
in place of Jason. Menelaus
Menelaus
had Onias assassinated. Menelaus' brother Lysimachus stole holy vessels from the Temple; the resulting riots led to the death of Lysimachus. Menelaus
Menelaus
was arrested for Onias' murder, and was arraigned before Antiochus, but he bribed his way out of trouble. Jason
Jason
subsequently drove out Menelaus
Menelaus
and became High Priest again. Antiochus pillaged the Temple, attacked Jerusalem
Jerusalem
and "led captive the women and children"[13] (168 BCE). From this point onwards, Antiochus pursued a zealous Hellenizing policy in the Seleucid satrapies of Coele Syria
Coele Syria
and Phoenicia.[14] The author of the First Book of Maccabees
First Book of Maccabees
regarded the Maccabean revolt as a rising of pious Jews against the Seleucid king (who had tried to eradicate their religion) and against the Jews who supported him. The author of the Second Book of Maccabees
Second Book of Maccabees
presented the conflict as a struggle between "Judaism" and "Hellenism", concepts which he coined.[15] Most modern scholars argue that King Antiochus reacted to a civil war between traditionalist Jews in the Judean countryside and Hellenized Jews in Jerusalem,[16][17] though the king's response of persecuting the religious traditionalists was unusual in antiquity, and was the immediate provocation for the revolt.[18] According to Joseph P. Schultz, modern scholarship "considers the Maccabean revolt less as an uprising against foreign oppression than as a civil war between the orthodox and reformist parties in the Jewish camp",[19] while John J. Collins writes that while the civil war between Jewish leaders led to the king's new policies, it is wrong to see the revolt as simply a conflict between Hellenism and Judaism, since "[t]he revolt was not provoked by the introduction of Greek customs (typified by the building of a gymnasium) but by the persecution of people who observed the Torah
Torah
by having their children circumcised and refusing to eat pork."[18] In the conflict over the office of High Priest, traditionalists with Hebrew/ Aramaic
Aramaic
names like Onias contested with Hellenizers with Greek names like Jason
Jason
and Menelaus.[20] Some scholars point to social and economic factors in the conflict.[9][21] What began as a civil war took on the character of an invasion when the Hellenistic kingdom of Syria sided with the Hellenizing Jews against the traditionalists.[22] As the conflict escalated, Antiochus prohibited the practices of the traditionalists, thereby, in a departure from usual Seleucid practice, banning the religion of an entire people.[9] The motives of Antiochus remain unclear: he may have been incensed at the overthrow of his appointee, Menelaus,[11] or - encouraged by a group of radical Hellenizers among the Jews,[15] he may have been responding to an orthodox Jewish revolt that drew on the Temple and the Torah
Torah
for its strength.[9] Other scholars argue that, while the rising began as a religious rebellion, it was gradually transformed into a war of national liberation.[23] According to 1 Maccabees, Antiochus banned many traditional Jewish and Samaritan[14] religious practices: he made possession of the Torah
Torah
a capital offense and burned the copies he could find;[24] sabbaths and feasts were banned; circumcision was outlawed, and mothers who circumcised their babies were killed along with their families;[25] and ritual sacrifice was forbidden. It is said that an idol of Olympian Zeus
Zeus
was placed on the altar of the Temple and that Israelites set up altars to Greek gods
Greek gods
and sacrificed "unclean" animals on them.[26] The revolt[edit] Main article: Maccabean Revolt

Judea
Judea
under Judah Maccabee

Jonathan's conquests

Simon's conquests

In the narrative of I Maccabees, after Antiochus issued his decrees forbidding Jewish religious practice, a rural Jewish priest from Modiin, Mattathias
Mattathias
the Hasmonean, sparked the revolt against the Seleucid Empire
Seleucid Empire
by refusing to worship the Greek gods. Mattathias killed a Hellenistic Jew who stepped forward to offer a sacrifice to an idol in Mattathias' place. He and his five sons fled to the wilderness of Judah. After Mattathias' death about one year later in 166 BCE, his son Judas Maccabee
Judas Maccabee
led an army of Jewish dissidents to victory over the Seleucid dynasty in guerrilla warfare, which at first was directed against Hellenizing Jews, of whom there were many. The Maccabees
Maccabees
destroyed pagan altars in the villages, circumcised boys and forced Jews into outlawry.[15] The term Maccabees
Maccabees
as used to describe the Jewish army is taken from the Hebrew word for "hammer".[27] The revolt involved many battles, in which the Maccabean forces gained notoriety among the Seleucid army for their use of guerrilla tactics. After the victory, the Maccabees
Maccabees
entered Jerusalem
Jerusalem
in triumph and ritually cleansed the Temple, reestablishing traditional Jewish worship there and installing Jonathan Maccabee
Jonathan Maccabee
as high priest. A large Seleucid army was sent to quash the revolt, but returned to Syria on the death of Antiochus IV. Its commander Lysias, preoccupied with internal Seleucid affairs, agreed to a political compromise that restored religious freedom. The Jewish festival of Hanukkah
Hanukkah
celebrates the re-dedication of the Temple following Judah Maccabee's victory over the Seleucids. According to Rabbinic tradition, the victorious Maccabees
Maccabees
could only find a small jug of oil that had remained uncontaminated by virtue of a seal, and although it only contained enough oil to sustain the Menorah for one day, it miraculously lasted for eight days, by which time further oil could be procured.[28] Maccabean rule[edit] Main article: Hasmonean
Hasmonean
dynasty Following the re-dedication of the temple, the supporters of the Maccabees
Maccabees
were divided over the question of whether to continue fighting or not. When the revolt began under the leadership of Mattathias, it was seen as a war for religious freedom to end the oppression of the Seleucids. However, as the Maccabees
Maccabees
realized how successful they had been, many wanted to continue the revolt and conquer other lands with Jewish populations or to convert their peoples. This policy exacerbated the divide between the Pharisees
Pharisees
and Sadducees
Sadducees
under later Hasmonean
Hasmonean
monarchs such as Alexander Jannaeus.[29] Those who sought the continuation of the war were led by Judah Maccabee. On his death in battle in 160 BCE, Judah was succeeded as army commander by his younger brother, Jonathan, who was already High Priest. Jonathan made treaties with various foreign states, causing further dissent between those who merely desired religious freedom and those who sought greater power. In 142 BCE, Jonathan was assassinated by Diodotus Tryphon, a pretender to the Seleucid throne, and was succeeded by Simon Maccabee, the last remaining son of Mattathias. Simon gave support to Demetrius II Nicator, the Seleucid king, and in return Demetrius exempted the Maccabees
Maccabees
from tribute. Simon conquered the port of Joppa, where the Gentile population were 'forcibly removed',[30] and the fortress of Gezer. He expelled the garrison from the Acra in Jerusalem. In 140 BCE, he was recognised by an assembly of the priests, leaders and elders as high priest, military commander and ruler of Israel. Their decree became the basis of the Hasmonean
Hasmonean
kingdom. Shortly after, the Roman senate
Roman senate
renewed its alliance with the Hasmonean
Hasmonean
kingdom and commanded its allies in the eastern Mediterranean to do so also.[31] Although the Maccabees
Maccabees
won autonomy, the region remained a province of the Seleucid Empire
Seleucid Empire
and Simon was required to provide troops to Antiochus VII Sidetes, the brother of Demetrius II. When Simon refused to give up the territory he had conquered, Antiochus took them by force. Simon was murdered in 134 BCE by his son-in-law Ptolemy, and was succeeded as high priest and king by his son John Hyrcanus
John Hyrcanus
I. Antiochus conquered the entire district of Judea, but refrained from attacking the Temple or interfering with Jewish observances. Judea
Judea
was freed from Seleucid rule on the death of Antiochus in 129 BCE.[15] Independent Hasmonean
Hasmonean
rule lasted until 63 BCE, when the Roman general Pompeus intervened in Hasmonean
Hasmonean
civil war, making it a client kingdom of Rome. The Hasmonean dynasty
Hasmonean dynasty
ended in 37 BCE when the Idumean
Idumean
Herod the Great
Herod the Great
became king of Israel,[11] designated "King of the Jews" by the Roman Senate,[15][32] effectively transforming the Hasmonean
Hasmonean
Kingdom into Herodian Kingdom
Herodian Kingdom
– a client kingdom of Rome. Mention in the Bible[edit] The Maccabean story is preserved in the books of the First and Second Maccabees, which describe in detail the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem
Jerusalem
and the lighting of the menorah. These books are not part of the Tanakh
Tanakh
(Hebrew Bible) which came from the Palestinian canon; however, they were part of the Alexandrian canon which is also called the Septuagint
Septuagint
(sometimes abbreviated LXX).[33] Both books are included in the Old Testament
Old Testament
used by the Catholic and Orthodox Churches,[34] since those churches consider the books deuterocanonical. They are not included in the Old Testament
Old Testament
books in most Protestant
Protestant
Bibles since most Protestants consider the books apocryphal. Multiple references to Hanukkah
Hanukkah
are also made in the Mishna
Mishna
(Bikkurim 1:6, Rosh HaShanah 1:3, Taanit 2:10, Megillah 3:4 and 3:6, Moed Katan 3:9, and Bava Kama 6:6), though specific laws are not described. The miracle of the one-day supply of oil miraculously lasting eight days is first described in the Talmud, committed to writing about 600 years after the events described in the books of Maccabees.[35] Holy Maccabean martyrs[edit]

What are believed to be the Maccabees' relics – kept in the Maccabees
Maccabees
Shrine – are venerated in St. Andrew's Church, Cologne, Germany.

Main article: Woman with seven sons 2 Maccabees
2 Maccabees
and 4 Maccabees
Maccabees
recount the martyrdom of seven Jewish brothers, their mother and their teacher. Although these are not said to be of the Maccabee family, they are referred to in Christianity as the Holy Maccabean Martyrs or the Holy Maccabees. According to one tradition, their individual names are Habim, Antonin, Guriah, Eleazar, Eusebon, Hadim (Halim), Marcellus, their mother Solomonia, and their teacher Eleazar.[36] The three Ethiopian books of Meqabyan
Meqabyan
(quite distinct works from the other four books of Maccabees), which are canonical in the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, also refer to the Maccabee martyrs. The first of these books states that their father was a Benjamite named Maccabeus, and that three of the brothers, who are called Abya, Seela, and Fentos, were captured and martyred for leading a guerilla war against Antiochus Epiphanes. From before the time of the Tridentine Calendar, the Holy Maccabees had a commemoration in the Roman Rite
Roman Rite
liturgy within the feast of Saint Peter in Chains. This commemoration remained within the weekday liturgy when in 1960 Pope John XXIII
Pope John XXIII
suppressed this particular feast of Saint Peter. Nine years later, 1 August became the feast of Saint Alphonsus Maria de' Liguori
Alphonsus Maria de' Liguori
and the mention of the Maccabee martyrs was omitted from the General Roman Calendar, since in its 1969 revision it no longer admitted commemorations.[37]

The feast day of these saints is 1 August in both the Eastern Orthodox Church (for which 1 August is also the first day of the Dormition Fast) and the Catholic Church. While comparing the well-known mosaic discovered in Huqoq by Jodi Magness with the books of Maccabees, Nina V. Braginskaya comes to the conclusion that the mosaic reflects the symbolic story of the Maccabees. See also[edit]

Alexander Jannaeus Antinomianism
Antinomianism
in the Books of the Maccabees Aristobulus I Aristobulus II Hanukkah Hasmonean Hellenistic Judaism Hyrcanus II Jewish nationalism

John Gaddi John Hyrcanus Jonathan Apphus Judas Maccabeus Mattathias My Glorious Brothers, novel by Howard Fast Salome Alexandra Simon Thassi Tobiads

References[edit]

^ Cohn, Marc (2007). The Mathematics of the Calendar. p. 60. ISBN 978-1430324966.  ^ Fischer-Lichte, Erika (2005). Theatre, Sacrifice, Ritual: Exploring Forms of Political Theatre. Routledge. p. 195. ISBN 978-0415276757.  ^ Latin: Maccabaeus, Greek: Makkabaios, from Hebrew maqqeb et, hammer (Oxford English Dictionary). ^ See 1 1 Maccabees
1 Maccabees
2:4 ^  Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "The Machabees". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.  ^ a b Scherman, Nosson (ed.) ; contributing editors, Yaakov Blinder, Avie Gold, Meir Zlotowitz ; designed by Sheah Brander (1998). Tanakh
Tanakh
= Tanach : Torah, Neviʼim, Ketuvim : the Torah, Prophets, Writings : the twenty-four books of the Bible, newly translated and annotated (1st student size ed., Stone ed.). Brooklyn, N.Y.: Mesorah Publications. pp. 171–172. ISBN 1578191092.  ^ Exodus 15:11 ^ "What does "Maccabee" mean? – Ask the Rabbi". Oztorah.com. Retrieved 2013-07-29.  ^ a b c d e Tcherikover, Victor Hellenistic Civilization and the Jews, New York: Atheneum, 1975 ^ I Maccabees, i, 15 ^ a b c Oesterley, W.O.E., A History of Israel, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1939. ^ De Lange, Nicholas, Atlas of the Jewish World, Oxford: Andromeda, 1992 ^ I Maccabees, i, 30–32 ^ a b " Maccabean Revolt
Maccabean Revolt
- Biblical Studies - Oxford Bibliographies - obo".  ^ a b c d e Nicholas de Lange (ed.), The Illustrated History of the Jewish People, London, Aurum Press, 1997, ISBN 1-85410-530-2 ^ Telushkin, Joseph (1991). Jewish Literacy: The Most Important Things to Know about the Jewish Religion, Its People, and Its History. W. Morrow. p. 114. ISBN 0-688-08506-7.  ^ Greenberg, Irving (1993). The Jewish Way: Living the Holidays. Simon & Schuster. p. 29. ISBN 0-671-87303-2.  ^ a b Johnston, Sarah Iles (2004). Religions of the Ancient World: A Guide. Harvard University Press. p. 186. ISBN 0-674-01517-7.  ^ Schultz, Joseph P. (1981). Judaism and the Gentile Faiths: Comparative Studies in Religion. Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press. p. 155. ISBN 0-8386-1707-7. Modern scholarship on the other hand considers the Maccabean revolt less as an uprising against foreign oppression than as a civil war between the orthodox and reformist parties in the Jewish camp  ^ Gundry, Robert H. (2003). A Survey of the New Testament. Zondervan. p. 9. ISBN 0-310-23825-0.  ^ Freedman, David Noel; Allen C. Myers; Astrid B. Beck (2000). Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 837. ISBN 0-8028-2400-5.  ^ Wood, Leon James (1986). A Survey of Israel's History. Zondervan. p. 357. ISBN 0-310-34770-X.  ^ Jewish Life and Thought Among Greeks and Romans: Primary Readings, By Louis H. Feldman, Meyer Reinhold, Fortress Press, 1996, p. 147 ^ I Macccabees. 1:57 ^ " 1 Maccabees
1 Maccabees
1:60–61 (New Revised Standard w/ Apocrypha)". biblestudytools.com.  ^ I Maccabees, 1, 41-50 ^ "Jewish Virtual Library". Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved 2013-07-29.  ^ "Talmud, Tractate Shabbat". Jewishvirtuallibrary.org. Retrieved 2013-07-29.  ^ Cohen, Shaye J.D., From the Maccabees
Maccabees
to the Mishnah (Second Edition. Westminster John Knox Press, 2006) ^ Jews in the Mediterranean diaspora: from Alexander to Trajan (323 BCE – 117 CE) John M Barclay University of California press pg 247 ^ Livy, Ab Urbe Condita, xlv.12. ^ Josephus' Jewish War 1.14.4: Mark Antony
Mark Antony
" …then resolved to get him made king of the Jews… told them that it was for their advantage in the Parthian war that Herod should be king; so they all gave their votes for it. And when the senate was separated, Antony and Caesar went out, with Herod between them; while the consul and the rest of the magistrates went before them, in order to offer sacrifices [to the Roman gods], and to lay the decree in the Capitol. Antony also made a feast for Herod on the first day of his reign;" ^ Carson, D. A. (2005). Hermeneutics, Authority, and Canon. Wipf and Stock Publishers. p. 307. ISBN 9781597521185. E. AN ALEXANDRIAN CANON? Some assert that the Greek translation of the Old Testament (called the Septuagint
Septuagint
or LXX) offers evidence that the canon of diaspora Judaism  ^ "The Old Testament".  ^ Dolanksy, Shawna (23 December 2011). "The Truth(s) About Hanukkah". Huffington Post.  ^ "The Seven Holy Maccabean Martyrs". Holytrinityorthodox.com. 2007-05-20. Retrieved 2013-07-29.  ^ "Calendarium Romanum" (Libreria Editrice Vatican, 1969), p. 132

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Maccabees.

Jewish Encyclopedia: Maccabees, The Catholic Encyclopedia: Jerusalem
Jerusalem
(Before A.D. 71) Online Encyclopedia: Maccabees
Maccabees
(original source 1911 EB)

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