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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
(MACCABAE'US), a title (usually in the plural οἱ Μακκαβαῖοι, '"the Maccabees"), which was originally the surname of Judas, one of the sons of Mattathias (see below, § 3), but was afterwards extended to the heroic family of which he was one of the noblest representatives, and in a still wider sense to the Palestinian martyrs in the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes, (See MACCABEES 4,) a and even to the Alexandrine Jews who suffered for their faith at an earlier time. (See 3 MACCABEES). In the following account of the Maccabaean family and revolution we shall endeavor to fill up this interesting interval of inspiration.
I. The Name. — The original term Maccabee (ὁ Μακκαβαῖος ) has been variously derived. Some have maintained that it was derived from the banner of the tribe of Dan, which contained the last letters of the names of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Others imagine that it was formed from the combination of the initial letters of the Hebrew sentence, "Who among the gods is like unto thee, Jehovah?" (Exodus 15:11; Hebrew י, ב, כ, מ ), which is supposed to have been inscribed upon the banner of the patriots; or, again, of the initials of the simply descriptive title, "Mattathias, a priest, the son of Johanan." But, even if the custom of forming such words was in use among the Jews at this early time, it is obvious that such a title would not be an individual title in the first instance, as Maccabee undoubtedly was (1 Maccabees 2:4), and still remains among the Jews (Raphall, Hist. of the Jews, 1:249). Moreover, the orthography of the word in Greek and Syriac (Ewald, Geschichte, 4:352, note) points to the form מקבי, and not מכבי . Another derivation has been proposed, which, although direct evidence is wanting, seems satisfactory. According to this, the word is formed from מִקָּבָה, "a hammer" (like Malachi, Ewald, 4:353, n.), giving a sense not altogether unlike that in which Charles CMartel derived a surname from his favorite weapon, and still more like the Malleus Scotorum and Malleus Haereticorum of the Middle Ages.
Although the name Maccabees has gained the widest currency, that of Asmeonaeans, or Hasmonans, is the proper name of the family. The origin of this name also has been disputed; but the obvious derivation from Chashmon (חִשְׁמָן, Ἀαμωναῖος; comp. Gesenius, Thesaur. page 534 b), great-grandfather of Mattathias, seems certainly correct. How it came to pass that a man, otherwise obscure, gave his name to the family, cannot now be discovered; but no stress can be laid upon this difficulty, nor upon the fact that in Jewish prayers (Herzfeld, Geschichte c. Jud. 1:264) Mattathias himself is called ilashmonai. In Psalms 68:32 we meet with a word חִשְׁמִנַּם, to the supposed singular of which, חִשְׁמָן, the name in question is commonly referred. In this case it might have been given to the priest of the course of Joarib to signify that he was a wealthy or a powerful person. In Joshua 15:27 we find a town in the tribe of Judah called
חֶשְׁמוֹן, from which this name might equally be derived. Herzfeld's proposed derivation from חסם, "to temper steel," is fanciful and groundless. The word in the first instance appears more like a family than a personal name. The later Hebrew form is חשמונאי . See Zipser, Benennung der Makkabaer (in the Ben-Chananjah, 1860). SEE ASMONAEAN.
II. Pedigree. — The connection of the various members of the Maccabsean family will be seen from the table given below.
III. History of the War of Independence, involving that of the Individuals of the Family. —
1. The first of this family who attained distinction was the aged priest MATTATHIAS, who dwelt at Modin, a city west of Jerusalem and near the sea, of which the site has yet been but partly identified by modern research. He was the son of John, the son of Simon, the son of Asamonneus, as Josephus tells us, and was himself the father of five sons — John, otherwise called Gaddis; Simon, called Thassi; Judas, called Maccabaeus; Eleazar, called Avaran; and Jonathan, surnamed Apphus. Ewald remarks that Simon and John were favorite names in this family. After the expulsion of Antiochus Epiphanes from Egypt by the Romans, that monarch proceeded to vent his rage and indignation on the Jews. B.C. 168. (See ANTIOCHIUS).
He massacred vast numbers of them in Jerusalem on the Sabbath, took the women captives, and built a fortress on Mount Zion, which he used as a central position for harassing the people around. He ordered one Athenaeus to instruct, the inhabitants of Judaea and Samaria in the rites of the Grecian religion, with a view to abolishing all vestiges of the Jewish worship. Having succeeded in bringing the Samaritans to renounce their religion, he further went to Jerusalem, where he prohibited the observance of all Jewish ceremonies, obliged the people to eat swine's flesh and profane the Sabbath, and forbade circumcision. The Temple was dedicated to Olympian Jove, and his altar erected upon the altar of burnt-offering, which the first book of Maccabees, apparently quoting Daniel, calls the setting up of the abomination of desolation. When, therefore, Apelles, the king's officer (Josephus, Ant. 12:6, 2), came to Modin to put in force the royal edict against the national religion, he made splendid offers to Mattathias if he would comply. The old man, however, not only refused, but publicly declared his determination to live and die in the religion of his fathers; and when a certain Jew came forward openly to sacrifice in obedience to the edict, he slew him upon the altar. He slew, moreover, the king's commissioner, and destroyed the altar. Then, offering himself as a rallying-point for all who were zealous for the law, he fled to the mountains. Many others, with their wives and children, followed his example, and fled. They were pursued, however, by the officers of Antiochus, and, refusing even to defend themselves on the Sabbath day, were slain to the number of 1000. On this occasion the greatness of Mattathias displayed itself in the wise counsel he gave his companions and countrymen, which passed subsequently into the ordinary custom, that they should not forbear to fight upon the Sabbath day in so far as to defend themselves. While in this position, he was joined by the more austere of the two parties which had sprung up among the Jews after the return from the captivity, viz. the Assidseans, 1. the Hasidim, or pious, (See CHASIDIM); and the Puritans, who subsequently became the Pharisees. They not only observed the written law, but superadded the constitutions and traditions of the elders, and other rigorous observances. The other party were called the Tsaddikim, or righteous, who contented themselves with that only which was written in the Mosaic law. Thus strengthened, Mattathias and his comrades carried on a sort of guerrilla warfare, and exerted themselves as far as possible to maintain and enforce the observance of the national religion. Feeling, however, that his advancing age rendered him unfit for a life so arduous, while it warned him of his approaching end, he gathered his sons together like the patriarchs of old, exhorted them to valor in a speech of great piety and faithfulness, and having recommended Simon to the office of counselor or father, and Judas to that of captain and leader, died in the year 166, and was buried in the sepulcher of his fathers at Modin. The speech which he is said to have addressed to his sons before his death is remarkable as containing the first distinct allusion to the contents of Daniel, a book which seems to have exercised the most powerful influence on the Maccabean conflict (1 Maccabees 2:60; comp. Josephus, Ant. 12:6, 3).
2. Mattathias himself named JUDAS, apparently his third son, as his successor in directing the war of independence (1 Maccabees 2:66). The energy and skill of "THE MACCABEE" (ὁ Μακκαβαῖος ), as Judas is often called in 2 Macc., fully justified his father's preference. It appears that he had already taken a prominent part in the first secession to the mountains (2 Maccabees 5:27, where Mattathias is not mentioned), and on receiving the chief command he devoted himself to the task of combining for common action those who were still faithful to the religion of their fathers (2 Maccabees 8:1). His first enterprises were night-attacks and sudden surprises, which were best suited to the troops at his disposal (2 Maccabees 8:6-7), and, when his men were encouraged by these means, he ventured on more important operations, and met Apollonitus (1 Maccabees 3:10-12), the king's general, who had gathered a large army at Samaria, of which place he was governor, in the open field. He totally defeated his army, and slew him. He then divided the spoils, and took the sword of Apollonius for a trophy, which he used all his life afterwards in battle.
Exasperated at the defeat of Apollonius, Seron (1 Maccabees 3:13-24), who was general of the army of Coele-Syria, got together a force, partly composed of Jews, and came against Judas as far as Bethhoron, where he pitched his camps This place, which had been rendered memorable many centuries before as the site of Joshua's great victory over the allied forces of the Canaanites, was destined now to witness a victory scarcely less glorious, wrought by a small band of Jews, spent and hungry, against the disciplined troops of Syria. Seron was completely overthrown, and his army scattered. Antiochus, though greatly enraged at this dishonor to his arms, was nevertheless compelled, by the condition of his treasury, to undertake an expedition to Armenia and Persia, with a view to recruiting his exhausted finances (1 Maccabees 3:27-31).
He therefore left Lysias, one of his highest lieutenants, to take charge of his kingdom, from the River Euphrates to the confines of Egypt, and having etrusted his son Antiochus to his care, and enjoined Lysias to conquer Judaea and destroy the nation of the Jews, he went into Persia. The success of Judas called for immediate attention. The governor of Jerusalem was urgent in his entreaties for assistance; Lysias therefore sent an army of 20,000 men, under the command of Nicanor and Gorgias, into Judaea. It was followed by another of the same number, with an addition of 7000 horse, under Ptolemy Macron, the son of Dorymcnes, as commander-in- chief. The united forces encamped in the plains of Emmaus. To oppose this formidable host Judas could only muster 6000 men at Mizpeh. Here, as Samuel had done a thousand years before at a like period of national calamity, he fasted and prayed, and, in compliance with the Mosaic injunction, advised those who were newly married, or had built houses, and the like, to return to their homes. This reduced his number to one half. The heroic spirit of Judas, however, rose against every difficulty, and he marched towards Emmaus. B.C. 166.
Having heard that Gorgias had been dispatched with a force of 6000 men to surprise him in the passes by night, he instantly resolved to attack the enemies' camp. He rushed upon them unexpectedly, and completely routed them; so that when Gorgias returned, baffled and weary, he was dismayed at finding his camp in flames. In the brief struggle which ensued the Jews were victorious, and took much spoil. The year following, Lysias gathered together an army of 60,000 chosen men, with 5000 horse, went up in person to the hill-country of Judaea, and pitched his camp at a place called Bethsura, the Bethzur of the Old Test. Here Judas met him with 10,000 men, attacked his vanguard, and slew 5000 of them, whereupon Lysias retreated with the remainder of his army to Antioch. After this series of triumphs Judas proceeded to Jerusalem. There he found the sanctuary desolate, shrubs growing in the courts of it, and the chambers of the priests thrown down; so he set to work at once to purify the holy places and restore the worship of God (1 Maccabees 4:36; 1 Maccabees 4:41-53) on the 25th of Kislev, exactly three years after its profanation (1 Mace. 1:59; Grimm on 1 Maccabees 4:59). In commemoration of this cleansing of the Temple, the Jews afterwards kept for eight days annually a festival which was called Lights, and was known as the Feast of Dedication (John 10:22). (See DEDICATION, FEAST OF).
Judas, having strongly fortified the citadel of Mount Zion, and placed a garrison at Bethsura, made an expedition into Idumaea. The Syrians meanwhile, frustrated in their efforts against Judaea, turned their attention to Galilee and the provinces beyond Jordan. A large army from Tyre and Ptolemais attacked the north, and Timotheus laid waste Gilead, whereupon Judas determined to divide his army into three. He himself, with Jonathan, led 8000 men across the Jordan into Gilead; his brother Simon he sent with 3000 into Galilee; and the rest he left behind, under the command of Joseph, the son of Zacharias, and Azarias, for the protection of Judaea, with strict injunctions to act only on the defensive. These orders, however, they imprudently violated by an attack upon the sea-port Jamnia, where they met with a signal repulse. But the Maccabees in Gilead and Galilee were triumphant as usual, and added to their renown.
Antiochus Epiphanes, meanwhile, had died in his Persian expedition, B.C. 164, and Lysias immediately proclaimed his son, Antiochus Eupator, king, the true heir, Demetrius, the son of Seleucus, being a hostage at Rome. One of the first acts of Lysias was directed against the Jews. He assembled an enormous army of 100,000 men and 32 elephants, and proceeded to invest Bethsura. The city defended itself gallantly. Judas marched from Jerusalem to relieve it, and slew about 5000 of the Syrians. It was upon this occasion that his brother Eleazar sacrificed himself by rushing under an elephant which he supposed carried the young king, and stabbing it in the belly, so that it fell upon him. The Jews, however, were compelled to retreat to Jerusalem, whereupon Bethsura surrendered, and the royal army advanced to besiege the capital. Here the siege was resisted with vigor, but the defenders of the city suffered from straitness of provisions, because of its being the sabbatical year. They would therefore have had to surrender; but Lysias was recalled to Antioch by reports of an insurrection under Philip, who, at the death of Antiochus, had been appointed guardian of the young king. He was consequently glad to make proposals of peace, which were as readily accepted by the Jews. He had no sooner, however, effected an entrance into the city than he violated his engagements by destroying the fortifications, and immediately set out with all haste for the north. There Demetrius Soter, the lawful heir to the Syrian throne, encountered him, and, after a struggle, Antiochus and Lysias were slain, leaving Demetrius in undisputed possession of the kingdom.
Menelaus, the high-priest at this time, had purchased his elevation to that rank by selling the sacred vessels of the Temple. Hoping to serve his own ends, he joined himself to the army of Lysias, but was slain by command of Antiochus. Onias, the son of the high-priest whom Menelaus had supplanted, fled into Egypt, and Alcimuls or Jacimus, not of the high- priestly family, was raised to the dignity of high-priest. By taking this man under his protection, Demetrius hoped to weaken the power of the Jews. He dispatched Bacchides with Alcimus to Jerusalem, with orders to slay the Maccabees and their followers. Jerusalem yielded to one who came with the authority of the high-priest, but Alcimus murdered sixty of the elders as soon as he got them into his power. Bacchides also committed sundry atrocities in other parts. No sooner, however, had he left Judaea than Maccabaeus again rose against Alcimus, and drove him to Antioch, where he endeavored as far as possible to injure Judas with the king. Upon this Demetrius sent Nicanor with a large army to reinstate Alcimus, and when he came to Jerusalem, which was still held by the Syrians. he endeavored to get Judas into his power by stratagem, but the plot being discovered, he was compelled to meet him in the field.
They joined battle at Capharsalama, and Nicanor lost about 5000 men; the rest fled to the stronghold of Zion. Here he revenged himself with great cruelty, and threatened yet further barbarities unless Judas was delivered up. As the people refused to betray their champion, Nicanor was again compelled to fight. He pitched his camp ominously enough in Bethhoron; his troops were completely routed, and he himself slain. The next act of Judas was to make an alliance with the Romans, who entered into it eagerly; but no sooner was it contracted than the king made one more determined effort for the subjugation of Palestine, sending Alcimus ad Bacchides, with all the flower of his army, to a place called Berea or Bethzetho, apparently near Jerusalem. The Roman alliance seems to have alienated many of the extreme Jewish party from Judas (Midr. Hhanuka, quoted by Raphall, Hist. of Jews, 1:325). Moreover, the terror inspired by this host was such that Judas found himself deserted by all but 800 followers, who would fain have dissuaded him from encountering the enemy. His reply was worthy of him: "If our time be come, let us die manfully for our brethren, and let us not stain our honor." He fought with such valor that the right wing, commanded by Bacchides, was repulsed and driven to a hill called Azotus or Aza, but the left wing doubled upon the pursuers from behind, so that they were shut in, as it were, between two armies. The battle lasted from morning till night. Judas was killed, and his followers, overborne by numbers, were dispersed. His brothers Jonathan and Simon received his body by a treaty from the enemy, and buried it in the sepulcher of his fathers at Modin, B.C. 161. Thus fell the greatest of the Maccabees, a hero worthy of being ranked with the noblest of his country, and conspicuous among all, in any age or clime, who have drawn the sword of liberty in defense of their dearest and most sacred rights.
3. After the death of Judas the patriotic party seems to have been for a short time wholly disorganized, and it was only by the pressure of unparalleled sufferings that they were driven to renew the conflict. For this purpose they offered the command to JONATHAN, surnamed Apphus (חִפּוּשׂ, the wary), the youngest son of Mattatthias. The policy of Jonathan shows the greatness of the loss involved in his brother's death. He was glad to see safety from Bacchides among the pools and marshes of the Jordan (1 Maccabees 9:42), whither he was pursued by him. At the same time, also, his brother John was killed by a neighboring Arab tribe. Jonathan took occasion to revenge his brother's death upon a marriage-party, for which he lay in wait, and then repulsed an attack of Bacchides, and slew a thousand of his men. At this point Alcimus died, and Bacchides, after fortifying the strong towns of Judaea, returned to Antioch; but upon Jonathan again emerging from his hiding-place, Bacchides came back with a formidable army, and was for some time exposed to the desultory attacks of Jonathan, till weary of this mode of fighting, or for other reasons, he thought it fit to conclude a peace with him, and returned to his master. B.C. 158.
The Maccabee was thus left in possession of Judaea (1 Maccabees 9:73), and had not long afterwards an opportunity offered him of consolidating his position; for there sprung up one Alexander Balas, who was believed to be a son of Antiochus Epiphanes, and laid claim to the throne of Syria. Demetrius and Alexander mutually competed for the alliance of Jonathan, but Alexander was successful, having offered him the high-priesthood, and sent him a purple robe and a golden crown — the insignia of royalty — and promised him exemption from tribute as well as other advantages. Jonathan thereupon assumed the high-priesthood, and became the friend of Alexander, who forthwith met Demetrius in the field, slew him, usurped his crown, and allied himself (B.C. 150) in marriage with Cleopatra, the daughter of Ptolemy Philometor, king of Egypt. Jonathan was invited to the wedding, and was made much of at court. In return, he attacked and defeated Apollonius, the general of Demetrius Nicator, who aspired to his father's throne, besieged Joppa, captured Azotus, and destroyed the temple of Dagon.
The prosperity, however, of Alexander was of short duration, for Ptolemy, being jealous of his power, marched with a large army against him, and after putting him to flight, seized his crown, and gave his wife to Demetrius. On the other hand, the overthrow of Alexander was speedily followed by the death of Ptolemy, and Demetrius was left in possession of the throne of Syria. Jonathan, meanwhile, besieged Jerusalem, and, leaving it invested, repaired to Antioch. Demetrius not only welcomed, but entered into a treaty with him, upon terms that greatly augmented the power of the Maccabee. After this Demetrius disbanded the greater part of his army and lessened their pay, which being a course contrary to that pursued by former kings of Syria, who kept up large standing armies in time of peace, created great dissatisfaction, so that upon the occasion of Jonathan writing to him to withdraw his soldiers from the strongholds of Judaea, he not only complied, but was glad to ask for the assistance of 3000 men, who were forthwith sent to Antioch. Here they rendered him signal service in rescuing him from an insurrection of his own citizens which his behavior to them had aroused. His friendship for Jonathan, however, was soon at an end, and, contrary to his promises, he threatened to make war upon him unless he paid the tribute which previous kings had exacted. This menace might have been carried out had not a formidable antagonist at home arisen in the person of Trypho, who had formerly been an officer of Alexander Balas, and had espoused the cause of his young son Antiochus Theos.
This man attacked Demetrius, defeated him in battle, captured his city, drove him into exile, and placed his crown on the head of Antiochus, B.C. 144. One of the first acts of the new king was to ingratiate himself with Jonathan; he therefore confirmed him in the highpriesthood, and appointed him governor over Judaea and its provinces, besides showing him other marks of favor. His brother Simon he appointed to be general over the king's forces from what was called the Ladder of Tyre, viz., a mountain lying on the sea-coast between Tyre and Ptolemais, even to the borders of Egypt. Jonathan, in return, rendered good service to Antiochus, and twice defeated the armies of Demetrius. He then proceeded to establish his own power by renewing the treaty with Rome, entering into one also with Lacedamon, and strengthening the fortifications in Judaea. He was destined, however, to fall by treachery, for Trypho, having persuaded him to dismiss a large army he had assembled to support Antiochus, decoyed him into the city of Ptolemais, and then took him prisoner. The Jews immediately raised Simon to the command, and paid a large sum to ransom Jonathan. Trypho, however, took the money, but, instead of releasing Jonathan, put him to death, and then, thinking that the main hinderance to his own ambitious designs was removed, caused Antiochus to be treated in the same manner. Thus fell the third of the illustrious Maccabaean race, who distinguished himself nobly in the defense of his country, B.C. 143. When Simon heard of his brother's death he fetched his bones from Bascama, where he had been buried, and had them interred at Modin. Here he erected to his memory a famous monument of a great height, built of white marble, elaborately wrought, near which he placed seven pyramids, for his father and mother and their five sons, the whole being surrounded with a stately portico. For many years afterwards this monument served the purpose of a beacon for sailors, and it was standing in the time of Eusebius. (See MODIN).
4. The last remaining brother of the Maccabee family was thus SIMON, surnamed "Thassi" (Θασσί, Θασσίς ; the meaning of the title is uncertain. Michaelis [Grimm, on 1 Maccabees 2] thinks that it represents the Chaldee תִּדְשַׁי ). As above related, when he heard of the detention of Jonathan in Ptolemais by Trypho, he placed himself at the head of the patriot party, who were already beginning to despond, and effectually opposed the progress of the Syrians. His skill in war had been proved in the lifetime of Judas (1 Maccabees 5:17-23), and he had taken an active share in the campaigns of Jonathan, when he was entrusted with a distinct command (1 Maccabees 11:59). He was soon enabled to consummate the object for which his family had fought gloriously, but ill vain. When Trypho, after having put Jonathan to death, murdered Antiochus, and seized the throne, Simon made overtures to Demetrius II (B.C. 143) against Trypho. He was consequently confirmed in his position of sovereign high-priest. He then turned his attention to establishing the internal peace and security of his kingdom. He fortified Bethsura, Jamnia, Joppa, and Gaza, and garrisoned them with Jewish soldiers. The Lacedaemonians sent him a flattering embassy, desiring to renew their treaty; to Rome also he sent a shield of gold of immense value, and ratified his league with that nation. See SPARTAN. He moreover took the citadel of Jerusalem by siege, which up to this time had always been occupied by the Syrian faction; and, besides pulling it down, even levelled the hill on which it was built, with immense labor, that so the Temple might not be exposed to attacks from it. Under the wise government of this member of the Asmonaean family Judaea seems to have attained the greatest height of prosperity and freedom she had known for centuries, or even knew afterwards. The writer of the first book of the Maccabees evidently rejoices to remember and record it. "The ancient men," he says, "sat all in the streets communing together of good things, and the young men put on glorious and warlike apparel. He made peace in the land, and Israel rejoiced with great joy. For every man sat under his vine and his fig-tree, and there was none to fray them" (1 Maccabees 14:9; 1 Maccabees 14:11-12). This time of quiet repose Simon employed in administering justice and restoring the operation of the law. He also beautified the sanctuary, and refurnished it with sacred vessels.
In the mean time Demetrius had been taken prisoner in an expedition against the Parthians, whereupon his brother Antiochus Sidetes immediately endeavored to overthrow the usurper Trypho. Availing himself of a defection in his troops, he besieged him in Dora, a town upon the sea- coast a little south of Mount Carmel. Simon sent him 2000 chosen men, with arms and money, but Antiochus was not satisfied with this assistance while he remembered the independence of Palestine. He therefore refused to receive them, and, moreover, dispatched Athenobius to demand the restoration of Joppa, Gaza, and the fortress of Jerusalem, or else the payment of a thousand talents of silver; but when the legate saw the magnificence of the high-priest's palace at Jerusalem he was astonished, and as Simon deliberately refused to comply with the terms of the king's message, and offered by way of compensation only a hundred talents for the places in dispute, Athenobius was obliged to return disappointed and enraged. Trypho meanwhile escaped from Dora by ship to Orthosia, a maritime town in Phoenicia, and Antiochus, having deputed Cendebneus to invade Judea, pursued him in person. The king's armies proceeded to Jamnia, and, having seized Cedron and fortified it, Cendebmeus made use of that place as a center from which to annoy the surrounding country. Simon at this time was too old to engage actively in the defense of his native land, and therefore appointed his two eldest sons, Judas and John Hyrcanus, to succeed him in the command of the forces. They forthwith set themselves at the head of 20,000 men, and marched from Modin to meet the king's general: they utterly discomfited and scattered his host, drove him to Cedron, and thence to Azotus, which they set on fire, and afterwards returned in triumph to Jerusalem. But destruction threatened their house from nearer home; for Ptolemy, the son of Abubus, who had married a daughter of Simon, and was governor in the district of Jericho, with plenty of money at his command, aspired to reduce the country under his dominion, and took occasion, upon a visit that Simon paid to that neighborhood, to invite him and two of his sons, with their followers, to a banquet, and then slew them (1 Maccabees 16:11-16). John alone, whose forces were at Gaza, now survived to carry on the line of the Maccabees, and sustain their glory, B.C. 135. He likewise had been included in the treacherous designs of Ptolemy, but found means to elude them. With the death of Simon the narrative of the first book of the Maccabees concludes.
5. We trace now the fortunes of the next member of the family, JOHN HYRCANUS. Having been unanimously proclaimed high-priest and ruler at Jerusalem, his first step was to march against Jericho, and avenge the death of his father and brothers. Ptolemy held there in his power the mother of Hyrcanus and her surviving sons, and, shutting himself up in a fortress near to Jericho — which Josephus calls Dagon, and Ewald Dok he exposed them upon the wall, scourged and tormented them, and threatened to throw them down headlong unless Hyrcanus would desist from the siege. This had the effect of paralyzing the efforts of Hyrcanus, and, in spite of his heroic mother's entreaties to prosecute it with vigor, and disregard her sufferings, caused him to protract it till the approach of the sabbatical year obliged him to raise the siege. Ptolemy, after killing the mother and brethren of Hyrcanus, fled to Philadelphia ("Rabbath, of the children of Ammon"), which is the last we hear of him. It is not easy to see why Milman calls this reason of the sabbatical year, which is the one assigned by Josephus, "improbable." Ewald assigns the approach of that year as a reason for the flight of Ptolemy to Zeno, the tyrant of Philadelphia, because it had already raised the price of provisions, so that it became impossible for him to remain. Antiochus meanwhile, alarmed at the energy displayed by John, invaded Judaea, burning up and desolating the country on his march, and at last besieging him in Jerusalem. He compassed the city with seven encampments and a double ditch, and Hyrcanus was reduced to the last extremities. On the recurrence, however, of the Feast of Tabernacles, Antiochus granted a truce for a week, and supplied the besieged with sacrifices for the occasion, and ended with conceding a peace, on condition that the Jews surrendered their arms, paid tribute for Joppa and other towns, and gave him 500 talents of silver and hostages.
On this occasion Josephus says that Hyrcanus opened the sepulcher of David, and took out of it 3000 talents, which he used for his present needs and the payment of foreign mercenaries. This story is utterly discredited by Prideaux, passed over in silence by Milman, but apparently believed by Ewald. Some time afterwards, having made a league with Attiochus, he marched with him on an expedition to Parthia, to deliver Demetrius Nicator, the king's captive brother. This expedition proved fatal to Antiochus, who was killed in battle. Demetrius, however, made his escape, and succeeded him on the throne of Syria, whereupon Hyrcanus availed himself of the opportunity to shake off the Syrian yoke, and establish the independence of Judaea, which was maintained till the time of the subjugation by the Romans. He took two towns beyond the Jordan, Samega and Medaba, as well as the city of Sichem, and destroyed the hated Samaritan temple on Mount Gerizim, which for 200 years had been an object of abhorrence to the Jews. He then turned his arms towards Ilumsea, where he captured the towns of Dora (Ewald spells it Adora) and Marissa, and forced
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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Maccabee'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/m/maccabee.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.