The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







The Maccabees were a Jewish family who fought against the rule of Antiochus IV Epiphanes of the Hellenistic Seleucid dynasty, who was succeeded by his infant son Antiochus V Eupator. The Maccabees founded the Hasmonean royal line and established Jewish independence in the land of Israel for about 100 years (from 165 BC to 63 BC).

In 165 BC, Judas Maccabaeus started the revolt against the Seleucid overlords of Judea. After defeating them militarily, he entered Jerusalem in triumph and cleansed the Temple, reestablishing traditional Jewish worship there.

Independence was achieved gradually. It was not until 140 that Simon had himself crowned king (in, ironically, a Hellenistic ceremony). Jewish historians have said that Simon's claiming of kingship is what led to the downfall of the state, since no one who did not belong to the Davidic line was supposed to hold that title. In any case, the Maccabee kings ruled in manner similar that of the Seleucids, save for allowing Jews to practice their religion. Their bureaucracy was filled with men with Greek names.

Judas Maccabeus' victory over the Seleucids is celebrated each year at Hanukkah.

The story of the Maccabees can be found in the deuterocanonical books of 1 Maccabees and 2 Maccabees.

Last updated: 05-07-2005 04:30:17
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04