The term Maccabees derives from the Jewish rebel leader Judah Maccabee (Judah “the hammer”) who led the successful insurrection against the Seleucid monarch Antiochus IV and his policy of stamping out Jewish practices and installing an alien cult in the Temple in Jerusalem. Judah succeeded in recapturing and cleansing the Temple in 164, thus laying the basis for the Hanukkah celebration that signified rededication. The victories, however, came at the expense not only of the Seleucid forces but also of other communities and peoples in Palestine and indeed of other Jewish factions hostile to the Maccabees. They allowed Judah to build the foundation of a continuing dynasty, subsequently called the Hasmoneans after a forefather, that retained power for a century thereafter. Our principal sources for Maccabean history are 1 and 2 Maccabees, both included among the so-called Apocrypha (i.e. non-canonical works) in the Septuagint, and the works of the 1st-century ce historian Josephus.
John Hyrcanus was a member of the Hasmonean dynasty, a priestly family that ruled Judea from 152 to 63 bce. He became high priest in 135 bce and succeeded, after Antiochus VII Sidete’s death, in establishing an independent Judean state thanks to the growing dissensions among the members of the Seleucid dynasty. In the last years of his rule, between 111 and 105 bce, he enlarged Judea’s borders through a series of military campaigns in Idumea, Samaria, and the Transjordan area. He destroyed the Samaritan temple on Mount Gerizim and imposed Jewish laws and circumcision upon the Idumeans. Josephus’s work and rabbinic writings convey a generally positive record of his rule.John Hyrcanus was a member of the Hasmonean dynasty, a priestly family that ruled Judea from 152 to 63bce—from 63 to 37bce they remained in charge to some extent, but under Roman supervision.1 John Hyrcanus was the son of Simon, the nephew of Judas Maccabeus, and the grandson of Mattathias, who started the “Maccabean revolt” against the Seleucid king .
Alexander Jannaeus was a member of the Hasmonean dynasty, a priestly family that ruled Judea from 152 to 63 bce. He became high priest and king in 104/3 bce and waged numerous wars that were both defensive and meant to enlarge Judea’s borders. It was under his rule that Judea’s territory reached its maximum extension. Yet both Josephus’s works and rabbinic writings convey a rather negative record of his rule, mainly because of the violent suppression of his Judean opponents. He ruled for roughly twenty-eight years (from 104 to 76 bce) and left his kingdom to his wife, Salome Alexandra, who became the first Judean queen.Alexander Jannaeus was a member of the Hasmonean dynasty, a priestly family that ruled Judea from 152 to 63bce—from 63 to 37bce they remained in charge to some extent, but under Roman supervision.1 Jannaeus was the son of John Hyrcanus.