Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Revolt of the Maccabees

caption=The Hasmonean Kingdom
date=167 BCE-160 BCE
place=The Land of Israel
casus=Antiochus' decrees forbidding Jewish religious practices
territory=Jews regained control over the Land of Israel
result=Establishment of the Hasmonean kingdom
combatant1=Jews of Judea
combatant2=Seleucid Empire
commander1=Mattathias, Judah Maccabee, Jonathan Maccabeus
commander2=Antiochus IV Epiphanes

The Maccabees (Hebrew: מכבים or מקבים, "Makabim" or Maqabim; Greek Μακκαβαῖοι, /makav'εï/) were a Jewish national liberation movement that fought for and won independence from Antiochus IV Epiphanes of the Hellenistic Seleucid dynasty, who was succeeded by his infant son Antiochus V Eupator. The Maccabees founded the Hasmonean royal dynasty and established Jewish independence in the Land of Israel for about one hundred years, from 164 BCE to 63 BCE.


In 167 BCE, after Antiochus issued decrees in Judea forbidding Jewish religious practice, a rural Jewish priest from Modiin, Mattathias the Hasmonean, sparked the revolt against the Seleucid empire by refusing to worship the Greek gods. Mattathias together with his five sons fled to the wilderness of Judea after he slew a Hellenistic Jew who stepped forward to offer a sacrifice to an idol in Mattathias' place. After Mattathias' death about one year later, his son Judah Maccabee led an army of Jewish dissidents to victory over the Seleucid dynasty.

The revolt itself involved many individual battles, in which the Maccabean forces gained infamy among the Syrian army for their use of guerrilla tactics. After the victory, the Maccabees entered Jerusalem in triumph and ritually cleansed the Temple, reestablishing traditional Jewish worship there and installing Jonathan Maccabee as High Priest. A large Syrian army was sent to quash the revolt, but returned to Syria on the death of Antiochus IV. Its commander Lysias, preoccupied with internal Syrian affairs, agreed to a political compromise that provided religious freedom.

Following the re-dedication of the temple, the supporters of the Maccabees were divided over the question of whether to continue fighting. 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 Maccabees realized how successful they had been many wanted to continue the revolt as a war of national self-determination. This conflict led to the exacerbation of the divide between the Pharisees and Sadducees under later Hasmonean monarchs such as Alexander Jannaeus. ["From the Maccabees to the Mishnah" Second Edition. Cohen, Shaye J.D. Westminster John Knox Press, 2006.]

Those who sought the continuation of the war of national identity 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 among those who desired religious freedom over political power. On Jonathan's death in 142 BCE, Simon Maccabee, the last remaining son of Mattathias, took power. That same year, Demetrius II, king of Syria, granted the Jews complete political independence and Simon, great high priest and commander of the Jews, went on to found the Hasmonean dynasty. Jewish autonomy lasted until 63 BCE, when the Roman general Pompey captured Jerusalem and subjected Judea to Roman rule, while the Hasmonean dynasty itself ended in 37 BCE when the Idumean Herod the Great became de-facto king of Jerusalem.

Every year Jews celebrate Hanukkah in commemoration of Judah Maccabee's victory over the Seleucids and subsequent miracles.

Mention in Deuterocanon

The story of the Maccabees can be found in the Catholic and Orthodox Bibles in the deuterocanonical books of 1 Maccabees and 2 Maccabees. The books of 3 Maccabees and 4 Maccabees are not directly related to the Maccabees.

Origin of name

The name Maccabee [Latin: "Maccabaeus", Greek: "Makkabaios", from Hebrew "maqqeb et", hammer ("Oxford English Dictionary").] is sometimes seen used as synonym for the entire Hasmonean Dynasty, but the Maccabees proper were Judah Maccabee and his four brothers. The name Maccabee was a personal epithet of Judah, and the later generations were not his descendants. Although there is no definitive explanation of what the term means, one suggestion is that the name derives from the Aramaic maqqaba, "the hammer", in recognition of his ferocity in battle. [CathEncy|wstitle=The Machabees] It is also possible that the name Maccabee is an acronym for the Torah verse "Mi chamocha ba'elim YHWH", "Who is like unto thee among the mighty, O Lord!" [Exodus 15:11]

Holy Maccabean Martyrs

Infobox Saint
name=The Holy Maccabees
birth_date=2nd century BC
death_date=167 BC-160 BC
feast_day=August 1
venerated_in=Roman Catholic Church
Eastern Orthodox Churches

caption=Wojciech Stattler's "Machabeusze" ("The Maccabees"), 1844
birth_place=Judea (modern-day Israel)

Although they were said not to be of the family of the Maccabees, seven Jewish brothers and their mother, described as martyred for their faith in 2 and 4 Maccabees, have been known in Christianity as the "Holy Maccabean Martyrs" or "Holy Maccabees", from the title of the book where their martydom is described: bibleverse|2|Maccabees|7.

The Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates the "Holy Maccabean Martyrs" on August 1, the first day of the Dormition Fast.

The Roman Catholic Church includes them in its official list of saints, assigning them 1 August as their feast day. From the time of the Tridentine Calendar until 1960, they were mentioned through a commemoration within the feast of St. Peter ad Vincula. When, among other second feasts of a single saint, Pope John XXIII suppressed this feast of Saint Peter, the Maccabees continued to be only commemorated, but this time within the Mass of the feria. Some continue to use this calendar of John XXIII, or indeed an older one, but the General Roman Calendar officially in force since 1969 has omitted this commemoration. ["Calendarium Romanum" (Libreria Editrice Vatican, 1969), p. 132] The Holy Maccabees are still recognized as saints and martyrs. ["Martyrologium Romanum" (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2001 ISBN 88-209-7210-7)] and as such may be venerated by all Catholics everywhere on their feast and at other times.

Maccabees in Culture

The Yeshiva University Athletic teams are nicknamed the "Maccabees". [ [ Yeshiva University: Athletics Department ] ]

In the French language, the word "macchabée", sometimes shortened as "macchab" or "macab", is a slang term for a dead body. [fr"Petit Robert 1", 2nd edition, 1978]


ee also

*Judah Maccabeus
*Jonathan Maccabaeus
*Simon Maccabeus
*"My Glorious Brothers", novel by Howard Fast
*Alexander Jannaeus
*John Hyrcanus
*Salome Alexandra
*Hyrcanus II
*Aristobulus II

External links

* [ Jewish Encyclopedia: Maccabees, The]
* [ Catholic Encyclopedia: Jerusalem (Before A.D. 71)]
* [ 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica: Maccabees]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Maccabées — (Livre des) nom de quatre livres de l Ancien Testament. Seuls les deux premiers font partie de la Bible cathol. Le deuxième relate l histoire de sept frères (les sept Maccabées) martyrisés avec leur mère pour leur fidélité à la loi de Moïse, sous …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Maccabees — Mac ca*bees, n. pl. 1. The name given in later times to the Asmon[ae]ans, a family of Jewish patriots, who headed a religious revolt in the reign of Antiochus IV., 168 161 b. c., which led to a period of freedom for Israel. Schaff Herzog. [1913… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Maccabees — late 14c., from L.L. Maccabæus, surname given to Judas, third son of Mattathias the Hasmonean, leader of the religious revolt against Antiochus IV, 175 166 B.C.E. Usually connected with Heb. maqqabh hammer, but Klein thinks it an inexact… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Maccabees — [mak′ə bēz΄] n. [LL(Ec) Machabaei, pl. of Machabaeus, surname of Judas < Gr(Ec) Makkabaios < ? Aram maqqābā, hammer: hence, lit., the hammerer] 1. family of Jewish patriots who, under Judas Maccabaeus, headed a successful revolt against the …   English World dictionary

  • Maccabées — Les Maccabées, Macabées ou Macchabées (מכבים ou מקבים, Makabim en hébreu) sont une famille juive qui mena la résistance contre la politique d’hellénisation forcée pratiquée par les Séleucides au IIe siècle av. J.‑C.. Ils fondèrent la… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Maccabees — /mak euh beez /, n. 1. (used with a pl. v.) the members of the Hasmonean family of Jewish leaders and rulers comprising the sons of Mattathias and their descendants and reigning in Judea from 167? to 37 B.C., esp. Judas Maccabaeus and his… …   Universalium

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  • Maccabees — Mac•ca•bees [[t]ˈmæk əˌbiz[/t]] n. 1) anh jud (used with a plural v.) a priestly Jewish family who ruled Judea in the 1st and 2nd centuries b.c., esp. Judas Maccabaeus and his brothers, who defeated the Syrians in 165? and rededicated the Temple… …   From formal English to slang

  • Maccabees — /ˈmækəbiz/ (say makuhbeez) plural noun 1. a family of heroes, deliverers of Judea during the Syrian persecutions of 175–164 BC. 2. either of two books of this name included in the Old Testament in some versions of the Bible, recording the… …   Australian English dictionary

  • Maccabees — (in full Books of the Maccabees) four books of Jewish history and theology, of which the first and second are in the Apocrypha. Derivatives: Maccabean adj. Etymology: the name of a Jewish family that led a revolt c.170 BC under Judas… …   Useful english dictionary

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