Defining the Maccabees
Saint Judas Maccabaeus Basic Facts
Defining the Maccabees
Description: Basic term for a Jewish rebel against Greek Occupation
Definition: Hebrew word for Hammer
Origin: Nickname given to Judas, the third son of Mattathias the Hasmonean
History: Successful Jewish rebellion against the Greek Empire
Location: Judea, Central Israel
Timeline: 167 B.C. to 160 B.C.
Leader: Judas Maccabaeus
Lineage: Hasmonean Royal Dynasty (164 B.C. to 63 B.C.)
Saints: Five Sons of St. Matthathias, Seven Sons of St. Solomonia (Hannah)
Religion: Temple Judaism
Holy Book: Old Testament
Scripture: Book of the Maccabees I. and II.
Literature: Book of the Maccabees III. through V.
Symbol: The Temple Menorah
Legacy: Monotheism, Sexual Morality, Male Circumcision
Supernatural: Menorah oil burned for 8 days straight, a miracle of God
Holiday: Hanukkah, meaning Dedication in Hebrew
Family of St. Judas Maccabaeus, the Hammer of God
Father: Mattathias the Hasmonean
Family Name: Judas ‘the Hammer’ Hasmonean
Brothers: John, Simon, Eleazar, Jonathan
Names in Hebrew and English
I. St. John Gaddi - John, the Treasure
II. St. Simon Thassi - Simon, the Zealous Guide
III. St. Judas Maccabeus - Judas, the Hammer
IV. St. Eleazar Avaran - Eleazar, the Piercer
V. St. Jonathan Apphus - Jonathan, the Wary
The Seven Holy Martyrs
St. Solomonia (Hannah) and her Seven Sons:
I. St. Abim
II. St. Antonius
III. St. Gurias,
IV. St. Eleazar
V. St. Eusebonus
VI. St. Alimus,
VII. St. Marcellus
May the LORD God bless you in the name of St. Judas Maccabaeus.
The Maccabee Introduction Page
A Concise History of the Maccabees
The Maccabee saga represents one of the most unique chapters in the history of Israel, the Jews, and the religion of Judaism. It begins in the year 333 B.C., when Alexander the Great, the Greek Emperor, assumed political rule over the Judea after defeating the Persians and taking direct control over their former territories including the city of Jerusalem and the surrounding area. Greek colonization and cultural Hellenization of the lands populated by the Jews then commenced and slowly accelerated over time. Throughout the course of several decades, the Greek polytheistic, state-sponsored religion based upon the worship of the 12 gods of Mt. Olympus eventually started to clash with the traditional monotheistic religion of Judaism which was founded upon a direct, supernatural encounter with the LORD God upon Mt. Sinai. Due to a number of different factors, Jewish adherence to the Laws of God then faltered under the philosophical and polytheistic Greek onslaught, while interest in their amoral religion among the Jewish ruling-classes slowly began to increase. Then, in the year 175 B.C., a ruthless tyrant named Antiochus Epiphanes, seized control over Judea. Right around the same time, a growing number of Hellenized Jews, who now actively opposed the practice of traditional Judaism, decided to form an alliance with Antiochus and his polytheistic religion. After unrelenting legal persecution, the religion of Judaism is outlawed by the Greek government, while the Temple of Jerusalem is invaded, desecrated, and looted by the Greek military in the year 168 B.C.
During the following year, a naked statue of Zeus, the Greek king of gods, featuring an erect penis, is then deliberately placed upon the altar within the Temple of Jerusalem. The Bible refers to this particular idol as the 'Abomination of Desolation.' In 167 B.C., sacrificial offerings of swine, public torture and execution of dissidents, along with ritual orgies which included young child-slaves as participants, were openly practiced by the sexually perverted Jews and Greeks who now controlled the Temple precincts. Outraged by such clearly evil, Pagan behavior, a priest from the Seven Watchtowers of Joarib, known as Mattathias the Hasmonean, then instigated an armed rebellion against the Greek occupational government starting from the town of Modein. By 166 B.C., the initial rebel leader Mattathias had died, but was succeeded by his five sons which included: John Gaddis, Simon Thassi, Judas Maccabaeus, Eleazar Avaran, and Jonathan Apphus. On the advice of their father, and because of his proven military skill, courage, and leadership, Judas Maccabaeus was then chosen as the leader and military commander of the Maccabees. Judas, nicknamed the Hammer of God, then carried on the God-fearing Jewish rebellion against the Greeks, which in many ways was also a religious rebellion against the degenerate gods of Mt. Olympus, the official deities of the Greek Empire.
Although the Jews who joined the Revolt of the Maccabees against the Greeks were badly outnumbered, poorly trained, and intensely afraid for the safety of their families, Judas Maccabaeus somehow managed to lead them in a series of miraculous victories that culminated in a successful assault upon the desecrated Temple of Jerusalem in 165 B.C. After a thorough process of cleansing and purification, traditional Jewish animal sacrifices of sheep, goat, pigeon-dove, and cattle once again began to take place in accordance with the ancient laws of the Old Testament. With unrestrained happiness and celebration, Judas Maccabaeus then decides to establish an 8-day holiday scheduled to begin exactly three years after the initial Greek corruption of the Temple manifested itself. This holiday, known as a festival of lights, is officially called Hanukkah, meaning Dedication in Hebrew. In the years that follow, the Maccabee brothers continued to wage war against the Greek enemy along with their Pagan allies still found throughout the regions surrounding Judea. Once again, Judaism is declared the official religion throughout the Holy Lands.
After achieving another series of miraculous military victories, the Maccabee brothers and their descendants are appointed by popular consent the new royal family of leaders in a greatly-expanded Jewish nation. This family dynasty, known as the Hasmoneans, continued to rule the independent kingdom of Israel from 164 B.C. to 63 B.C. Then, after an increasing amount of internal squabbles and corruption among the political and religious leadership in Jerusalem, Roman occupation suddenly puts an end to Jewish independence which continues until the time of Joshua ben Joseph (Jesus Christ) and beyond. Centuries later, the growing Church established in His name proceeds to canonize the Maccabees as official Saints of the religion of Christianity. Two separate historical texts describing this time period, commonly known as the Book of the Maccabees I and II are then included as official books in the Old Testament of the Holy Bible.
Even today, Judas Maccabaeus continues to be seen as one of the greatest warriors ever known in the history of mankind
The Maccabee Temple Timeline
168 B.C. Antiochus outlaws Judaism. Jewish sacrifices at the Temple are abolished.
167 B.C. The Abomination of Desolation (Zeus/Jupiter) is placed upon the altar in the Temple. Mattathias the Hasmonean begins the Maccabee Rebellion.
165 B.C. Judas Maccabaeus takes back Jerusalem, obliterating the Abomination of Desolation, purging the Temple and then rededicating it to the LORD God of Israel. Jewish sacrifices begin again less than three years after the original desecration.
This lighting took place in 165 B.C.E. Exactly three years before, on the same day, Antiochus Epiphanes had a pagan altar erected in the Temple, upon which sacrifices were offered (I Macc. I, 41-64). Apart from the Talmudic reason stated here, Judas Maccabeus chose 25th of Kislew as the anniversary of the Temple's defilement, and the dedication of the new altar was celebrated with lights for eight days, similarly to the Feast of Tabernacles, which lasted eight days and was celebrated by illuminations (I Maccabees 4:36, II Maccabees 10:6. Actually the revolt was against the Syrians, of whom Antiochus Epiphanes was king, but the term 'Greeks' is used loosely, because the Seleucid Empire was part of the older Empire founded by Alexander the Great of Macedon, and because it was a reaction against the attempted Hellenization of Judea. The historic data are contained in the First Book of the Maccabees. - Notes to Shabbath, Soncino Edition
Maccabee High Priest Timeline
High Priesthood of the Temple of Jerusalem
290-275 B.C. - Simon I
275-260 B.C. - Eleazar
260-245 B.C. - Manasseh
245-220 B.C. - Onias II
220-198 B.C. - Simon II 'The Righteous'
198-174 B.C. - Onias III
174-171 B.C. - Jason
171-161 B.C. - Menelaus
161-159 B.C. - Alcimus
159-152 B.C. - No High Priest in Jerusalem
152-142 B.C. - Jonathan Maccabaeus
142-135 B.C. - Simon Maccabaeus
135-104 B.C. - John Hyrcanus
- Rulers in the Hellenistic and Maccabean Eras, by Felix Just, S.J., Ph.D. (http://catholic-resources.org/Bible/History-HellenisticEra.htm)
Maccabee Israel Timeline
516 BC Second Temple is dedicated.
The newly rebuilt Temple of Jerusalem is consecrated for worship, 70 years after the Babylonians had destroyed it in 586 BC.
333 BC Greek rule over land of Israel begins
The Greeks, under the leadership of Alexander the Great, defeat Persian armies in Macedonia in 333 BC. This marks the fall of the Persian Empire and the rise of the Grecian Empire.
250 BC The Old Testament is translated into Greek
A Greek ruler asks the Jews to translate all or part of the Old Testament into the Greek language. The translation is called the Septuagint.
175 BC Greek ruler Antiochus Epiphanes Oppresses the Jews and Judaism
Greek ruler Antiochus Epiphanes rules Syria from about 175 BC to about 164 BC. He reigns over Judea and tries to destroy the Jewish religion by looting and then defiling the Temple.
164 BC to 63 BC Jews regain independence
The Maccabees, a group that fought for Jewish independence, stage a revolt against the Greeks and establish the Hasmonean royal dynasty, as well as political rule over all or part of the land of Israel for about 100 years, from about 164 BC to 63 BC.
150 BC The Founding of the Essenes
The First Essene Community is founded in Judea.
63 BC The Romans take over land of Israel
After the death of Alexander the Great, the empire of the Greeks is divided up and becomes weaker. During this time, the Roman Empire becomes increasingly powerful. The Roman general named Pompey seizes control over the land of Israel.
- Bible History Timeline, Konig.org. (http://www.konig.org/timeline.htm)
198 BCE: Armies of the Seleucid King Antiochus III (Antiochus the Great) oust Ptolemy V from Judea and Samaria.
175 BCE: Antiochus IV Epiphanes ascends the Seleucid throne.
168 BCE: Under the reign of Antiochus IV, the Temple is looted, Jews are massacred, and Judaism is outlawed.
167 BCE: Antiochus orders an altar to Zeus erected in the Temple. Mattathias, and his five sons John, Simon, Eleazar, Jonathan, and Judah lead a rebellion against Antiochus. Judah becomes known as Judah Maccabee (Judah The Hammer).
166 BCE: Mattathias dies, and Judah takes his place as leader. The Hasmonean Jewish Kingdom begins; It lasts until 63 BCE
165 BCE: The Jewish revolt against the Seleucid monarchy is successful. The Temple is liberated and rededicated (Hanukkah).
- Hanukkah, Wikipedia. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanukkah)
May the LORD God bless you in the name of St. Judas Maccabaeus.