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The Hasmonean dynasty was the ruling dynasty of Judea
Judea
Judea or Judæa was the name of the mountainous southern part of the historic Land of Israel from the 8th century BCE to the 2nd century CE, when Roman Judea was renamed Syria Palaestina following the Jewish Bar Kokhba revolt.-Etymology:The...

 and surrounding regions during classical antiquity
Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

. Between c. 140 and c. 116 BCE, the dynasty ruled semi-autonomously from the Seleucids in the region of Judea
Judea
Judea or Judæa was the name of the mountainous southern part of the historic Land of Israel from the 8th century BCE to the 2nd century CE, when Roman Judea was renamed Syria Palaestina following the Jewish Bar Kokhba revolt.-Etymology:The...

. From 110 BCE, with the Seleucid empire
Seleucid Empire
The Seleucid Empire was a Greek-Macedonian state that was created out of the eastern conquests of Alexander the Great. At the height of its power, it included central Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, today's Turkmenistan, Pamir and parts of Pakistan.The Seleucid Empire was a major centre...

 disintegrating, the dynasty became fully independent, expanded in to the neighbouring regions of Galilee
Galilee
Galilee , is a large region in northern Israel which overlaps with much of the administrative North District of the country. Traditionally divided into Upper Galilee , Lower Galilee , and Western Galilee , extending from Dan to the north, at the base of Mount Hermon, along Mount Lebanon to the...

, Iturea
Iturea
Iturea is the Greek name of a region in the Levant during the Late Hellenistic and early Roman periods. It is mentioned only once in the Christian Bible, while in historical sources the name of the people, the Itureans , occurs...

, Perea, Idumea and Samaria
Samaria
Samaria, or the Shomron is a term used for a mountainous region roughly corresponding to the northern part of the West Bank.- Etymology :...

, and took the title "basileus
Basileus
Basileus is a Greek term and title that has signified various types of monarchs in history. It is perhaps best known in English as a title used by the Byzantine Emperors, but also has a longer history of use for persons of authority and sovereigns in ancient Greece, as well as for the kings of...

". Some modern scholars refer to this period as an independent kingdom of Israel
Land of Israel
The Land of Israel is the Biblical name for the territory roughly corresponding to the area encompassed by the Southern Levant, also known as Canaan and Palestine, Promised Land and Holy Land. The belief that the area is a God-given homeland of the Jewish people is based on the narrative of the...

. In 63 BCE, the kingdom was conquered by the Roman Republic
Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...

, broken up and set up as a Roman client state
Client state
Client state is one of several terms used to describe the economic, political and/or military subordination of one state to a more powerful state in international affairs...

. The Kingdom had survived for 103 years before yielding to the Herodian Dynasty
Herodian Dynasty
The Herodian Dynasty was a Jewish dynasty of Idumean descent, client Kings of Roman Judaea Province between 37 BCE and 92 CE.- Origin :During the time of the Hasmonean ruler John Hyrcanus 134-104 BCE, Israel conquered Edom and forced the Edomites to convert to Judaism.The Edomites were integrated...

 in 37 BCE. Even then, Herod the Great
Herod the Great
Herod , also known as Herod the Great , was a Roman client king of Judea. His epithet of "the Great" is widely disputed as he is described as "a madman who murdered his own family and a great many rabbis." He is also known for his colossal building projects in Jerusalem and elsewhere, including his...

 tried to bolster the legitimacy of his reign by marrying a Hasmonean princess, Mariamne, and planning to drown the last male Hasmonean heir at his Jericho
Jericho
Jericho ; is a city located near the Jordan River in the West Bank of the Palestinian territories. It is the capital of the Jericho Governorate and has a population of more than 20,000. Situated well below sea level on an east-west route north of the Dead Sea, Jericho is the lowest permanently...

 palace.

The dynasty was established under the leadership of Simon Maccabaeus
Simon Maccabaeus
Simon Thassi was the second son of Mattathias and thus a member of the Hasmonean family. The name "Thassi" has an uncertain meaning...

, two decades after his brother Judas the Maccabee
Judas Maccabeus
Judah Maccabee was a Kohen and a son of the Jewish priest Mattathias...

 ("Hammer") defeated the Seleucid army
Seleucid army
The Seleucid army was the army of the Seleucid Empire, one of the numerous Hellenistic states that emerged after the death of Alexander the Great....

 during the Maccabean Revolt. According to historical sources, including 1 Maccabees
1 Maccabees
The First book of Maccabees is a book written in Hebrew by a Jewish author after the restoration of an independent Jewish kingdom, about the latter part of the 2nd century BC. The original Hebrew is lost and the most important surviving version is the Greek translation contained in the Septuagint...

 and 2 Maccabees
2 Maccabees
2 Maccabees is a deuterocanonical book of the Bible, which focuses on the Jews' revolt against Antiochus IV Epiphanes and concludes with the defeat of the Syrian general Nicanor in 161 BC by Judas Maccabeus, the hero of the work....

 and the first book of The Wars of the Jews
The Wars of the Jews
The Jewish War , in full Flavius Josephus's Books of the History of the Jewish War against the Romans , also referred to in English as The Wars of the Jews and The History of the Destruction of Jerusalem, is a book written by the 1st century Jewish historian Josephus.It is a description of Jewish...

by Jewish historian Josephus
Josephus
Titus Flavius Josephus , also called Joseph ben Matityahu , was a 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian and hagiographer of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century AD and the First Jewish–Roman War, which resulted in the Destruction of...

 (37
37
Year 37 was a common year starting on Tuesday of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Proculus and Pontius...

–c. 100
100
Year 100 was a leap year starting on Wednesday of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Traianus and Frontinus...

 CE), after Antiochus IV's successful invasion of Ptolemaic Egypt
Ptolemaic Egypt
Ptolemaic Egypt began when Ptolemy I Soter invaded Egypt and declared himself Pharaoh of Egypt in 305 BC and ended with the death of queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt and the Roman conquest in 30 BC. The Ptolemaic Kingdom was a powerful Hellenistic state, extending from southern Syria in the east, to...

 was turned back by the intervention of the Roman Republic
Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...

, Antiochus instead moved to assert strict control over Israel, sacking Jerusalem and its Temple
Second Temple
The Jewish Second Temple was an important shrine which stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem between 516 BCE and 70 CE. It replaced the First Temple which was destroyed in 586 BCE, when the Jewish nation was exiled to Babylon...

, suppressing Jewish religious and cultural observances, and imposing Hellenistic
Hellenization
Hellenization is a term used to describe the spread of ancient Greek culture, and, to a lesser extent, language. It is mainly used to describe the spread of Hellenistic civilization during the Hellenistic period following the campaigns of Alexander the Great of Macedon...

 practices. The ensuing revolt by the Jews (167 BCE) began a twenty-five-year period of Jewish independence potentiated by the steady collapse of the Seleucid Empire under attacks from the rising powers of the Roman Republic
Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...

 and the Parthian Empire
Parthian Empire
The Parthian Empire , also known as the Arsacid Empire , was a major Iranian political and cultural power in ancient Persia...

. However, the same power vacuum that enabled the Jewish state to be recognized by the Roman Senate
Roman Senate
The Senate of the Roman Republic was a political institution in the ancient Roman Republic, however, it was not an elected body, but one whose members were appointed by the consuls, and later by the censors. After a magistrate served his term in office, it usually was followed with automatic...

 c. 139 BCE was later exploited by the Romans themselves. Hyrcanus II
Hyrcanus II
Hyrcanus II, a member of the Hasmonean dynasty, was the Jewish High Priest and King of Judea in the 1st century BC.-Accession:Hyrcanus was the eldest son of Alexander Jannaeus, King and High Priest, and Alexandra Salome...

 and Aristobulus II
Aristobulus II
Aristobulus II was the Jewish High Priest and King of Judea, 66 BC to 63 BC, from the Hasmonean Dynasty.-Family:Aristobulus was the younger son of Alexander Jannaeus, King and High Priest, and Alexandra Salome. After the death of Alexander in 76 BC, his widow succeeded to the rule of Judea and...

, Simon's great-grandsons, became pawns in a proxy war
Proxy war
A proxy war or proxy warfare is a war that results when opposing powers use third parties as substitutes for fighting each other directly. While powers have sometimes used governments as proxies, violent non-state actors, mercenaries, or other third parties are more often employed...

 between Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

 and Pompey the Great. The deaths of Pompey (48 BCE), Caesar (44 BCE), and the related Roman civil wars
Liberators' civil war
The Liberators' civil war was started by the Second Triumvirate to avenge Julius Caesar's murder. The war was fought by the forces of Mark Antony and Octavian against the forces of Caesar's assassins Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus in 42 BC.-Prelude:After the murder of Caesar,...

 temporarily relaxed Rome's grip on Israel, allowing a very brief Hasmonean resurgence backed by the Parthian Empire
Parthian Empire
The Parthian Empire , also known as the Arsacid Empire , was a major Iranian political and cultural power in ancient Persia...

. This short independence was rapidly crushed by the Romans under Mark Antony
Mark Antony
Marcus Antonius , known in English as Mark Antony, was a Roman politician and general. As a military commander and administrator, he was an important supporter and loyal friend of his mother's cousin Julius Caesar...

 and Octavian. The installation of Herod the Great
Herod the Great
Herod , also known as Herod the Great , was a Roman client king of Judea. His epithet of "the Great" is widely disputed as he is described as "a madman who murdered his own family and a great many rabbis." He is also known for his colossal building projects in Jerusalem and elsewhere, including his...

 (an Idumean) as king in 37 BCE made Israel a Roman client state
Client state
Client state is one of several terms used to describe the economic, political and/or military subordination of one state to a more powerful state in international affairs...

 and marked the end of the Hasmonean dynasty. In 6 CE, Rome joined Judea
Judea
Judea or Judæa was the name of the mountainous southern part of the historic Land of Israel from the 8th century BCE to the 2nd century CE, when Roman Judea was renamed Syria Palaestina following the Jewish Bar Kokhba revolt.-Etymology:The...

 proper, Samaria
Samaria
Samaria, or the Shomron is a term used for a mountainous region roughly corresponding to the northern part of the West Bank.- Etymology :...

 and Idumea (biblical Edom
Edom
Edom or Idumea was a historical region of the Southern Levant located south of Judea and the Dead Sea. It is mentioned in biblical records as a 1st millennium BC Iron Age kingdom of Edom, and in classical antiquity the cognate name Idumea was used to refer to a smaller area in the same region...

) into the Roman province of Iudaea
Judaea (Roman province)
Judaea or Iudaea are terms used by historians to refer to the Roman province that extended over parts of the former regions of the Hasmonean and Herodian kingdoms of Israel...

. In 44 CE, Rome installed the rule of a Roman procurator side by side with the rule of the Herodian kings (specifically Agrippa I
Agrippa I
Agrippa I also known as Herod Agrippa or simply Herod , King of the Jews, was the grandson of Herod the Great, and son of Aristobulus IV and Berenice. His original name was Marcus Julius Agrippa, so named in honour of Roman statesman Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, and he is the king named Herod in the...

 41–44 and Agrippa II
Agrippa II
Agrippa II , son of Agrippa I, and like him originally named Marcus Julius Agrippa, was the seventh and last king of the family of Herod the Great, thus last of the Herodians. He was the brother of Berenice, Mariamne, and Drusilla...

 50–100).

Background



The lands of the former Kingdom of Israel and Kingdom of Judah
Kingdom of Judah
The Kingdom of Judah was a Jewish state established in the Southern Levant during the Iron Age. It is often referred to as the "Southern Kingdom" to distinguish it from the northern Kingdom of Israel....

 (c. 930 BCE–586 BCE), had been occupied in turn by Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

, Babylonia
Babylonia
Babylonia was an ancient cultural region in central-southern Mesopotamia , with Babylon as its capital. Babylonia emerged as a major power when Hammurabi Babylonia was an ancient cultural region in central-southern Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq), with Babylon as its capital. Babylonia emerged as...

, the Achaemenid Empire
Achaemenid Empire
The Achaemenid Empire , sometimes known as First Persian Empire and/or Persian Empire, was founded in the 6th century BCE by Cyrus the Great who overthrew the Median confederation...

, and Alexander the Great's Hellenic Macedonian empire
Macedon
Macedonia or Macedon was an ancient kingdom, centered in the northeastern part of the Greek peninsula, bordered by Epirus to the west, Paeonia to the north, the region of Thrace to the east and Thessaly to the south....

 (c. 330 BCE), although Jewish religious practice and culture had persisted and even flourished during certain periods. The entire region was heavily contested between the successor states of Alexander's empire, the Seleucid Empire
Seleucid Empire
The Seleucid Empire was a Greek-Macedonian state that was created out of the eastern conquests of Alexander the Great. At the height of its power, it included central Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, today's Turkmenistan, Pamir and parts of Pakistan.The Seleucid Empire was a major centre...

 and Ptolemaic Egypt
Ptolemaic Egypt
Ptolemaic Egypt began when Ptolemy I Soter invaded Egypt and declared himself Pharaoh of Egypt in 305 BC and ended with the death of queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt and the Roman conquest in 30 BC. The Ptolemaic Kingdom was a powerful Hellenistic state, extending from southern Syria in the east, to...

, during the six Syrian Wars
Syrian Wars
The Syrian Wars were a series of six wars between the Successor states of the Seleucid Empire and the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt during the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC over the region then called Coele-Syria, one of the few avenues into Egypt...

 of the 3rd–1st centuries BCE: "After two centuries of peace under the Persians, the Hebrew state found itself once more caught in the middle of power struggles between two great empires: the Seleucid state with its capital in Syria
Antioch
Antioch on the Orontes was an ancient city on the eastern side of the Orontes River. It is near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey.Founded near the end of the 4th century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals, Antioch eventually rivaled Alexandria as the chief city of the...

 to the north and the Ptolemaic state, with its capital in Egypt
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

 to the south...Between 319 and 302 BCE, Jerusalem changed hands seven times."

Under Antiochus III the Seleucids wrested control of Israel from the Ptolemies for the final time, defeating Ptolemy V Epiphanes
Ptolemy V Epiphanes
Ptolemy V Epiphanes , son of Ptolemy IV Philopator and Arsinoe III of Egypt, was the fifth ruler of the Ptolemaic dynasty. He became ruler at the age of five, and under a series of regents the kingdom was paralyzed.-Regency infighting:Ptolemy Epiphanes was only a small boy when his father, Ptolemy...

 at the Battle of Panium
Battle of Panium
The Battle of Panium was fought in 200 BC between Seleucid and Ptolemaic forces as part of the Syrian Wars. The Seleucids were led by Antiochus III the Great, while the Ptolemaic army was led by Scopas of Aetolia. The Seleucids won the battle...

 in 198 BCE. Seleucid rule over the Jewish parts of the region then resulted in the rise of Hellenistic cultural and religious practices: "In addition to the turmoil of war, there arose in the Jewish nation pro-Seleucid and pro-Ptolemaic parties; and the schism exercised great influence upon the Judaism of the time. It was in Antioch
Antioch
Antioch on the Orontes was an ancient city on the eastern side of the Orontes River. It is near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey.Founded near the end of the 4th century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals, Antioch eventually rivaled Alexandria as the chief city of the...

 that the Jews first made the acquaintance of Hellenism and of the more corrupt sides of Greek culture; and it was from Antioch that Palestine henceforth was ruled."

Historical sources



The origin of the Hasmonean dynasty is recorded in the books 1 Maccabees
1 Maccabees
The First book of Maccabees is a book written in Hebrew by a Jewish author after the restoration of an independent Jewish kingdom, about the latter part of the 2nd century BC. The original Hebrew is lost and the most important surviving version is the Greek translation contained in the Septuagint...

 and 2 Maccabees
2 Maccabees
2 Maccabees is a deuterocanonical book of the Bible, which focuses on the Jews' revolt against Antiochus IV Epiphanes and concludes with the defeat of the Syrian general Nicanor in 161 BC by Judas Maccabeus, the hero of the work....

, covering the period from 175 to 134 BCE during which time the Hasmonean dynasty became semi-independent from the Seleucid empire
Seleucid Empire
The Seleucid Empire was a Greek-Macedonian state that was created out of the eastern conquests of Alexander the Great. At the height of its power, it included central Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, today's Turkmenistan, Pamir and parts of Pakistan.The Seleucid Empire was a major centre...

 but had not yet expanded far outside of Judea
Judea
Judea or Judæa was the name of the mountainous southern part of the historic Land of Israel from the 8th century BCE to the 2nd century CE, when Roman Judea was renamed Syria Palaestina following the Jewish Bar Kokhba revolt.-Etymology:The...

. The books are considered part of the Biblical canon
Biblical canon
A biblical canon, or canon of scripture, is a list of books considered to be authoritative as scripture by a particular religious community. The term itself was first coined by Christians, but the idea is found in Jewish sources. The internal wording of the text can also be specified, for example...

 by the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches and apocryphal
Biblical apocrypha
The word "apocrypha" is today often used to refer to the collection of ancient books printed in some editions of the Bible in a separate section between the Old and New Testaments...

 by most Protestant Christians; but are not a part of the Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

. The books are written from the point of view that the salvation of the Jewish people in a crisis which came from God through the family of Mattathias, particularly his sons Judas Maccabeus, Jonathan Apphus, and Simon Thassi, and his grandson John Hyrcanus
John Hyrcanus
John Hyrcanus was a Hasmonean leader of the 2nd century BC.-Name:...

. The books include historical and religious material from the Septuagint that was codified by Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians.

The other primary source for the Hasmonean dynasty is the first book of The Wars of the Jews
The Wars of the Jews
The Jewish War , in full Flavius Josephus's Books of the History of the Jewish War against the Romans , also referred to in English as The Wars of the Jews and The History of the Destruction of Jerusalem, is a book written by the 1st century Jewish historian Josephus.It is a description of Jewish...

by the Jewish historian Josephus
Josephus
Titus Flavius Josephus , also called Joseph ben Matityahu , was a 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian and hagiographer of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century AD and the First Jewish–Roman War, which resulted in the Destruction of...

, (37
37
Year 37 was a common year starting on Tuesday of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Proculus and Pontius...

–shortly after 100
100
Year 100 was a leap year starting on Wednesday of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Traianus and Frontinus...

 CE). Josephus' account is the only primary source covering the history of the Hasmonean dynasty during the period of its expansion and independence between 110 to 63 BCE. Notably, Josephus, a Roman citizen
Roman citizenship
Citizenship in ancient Rome was a privileged political and legal status afforded to certain free-born individuals with respect to laws, property, and governance....

 and former general in the Galilee, who survived the Roman-Jewish wars of the 1st century CE, was a Jew who was captured and cooperated with the Romans; writing his books in Rome; leaving some to question his impartiality and credibility as a historian.

The books of Maccabees use the names "Judea" and "Israel" (or cognates) as geographical descriptors throughout for both the land and people over whom the Hasmoneans would rule. The Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

 includes one of the Hasmonean kings under the description "Kings of Israel". Scholars refer to the state as the Hasmonean Kingdom to distinguish it from the previous kingdoms of Israel. The name "Judaea" has also been used to describe the Hasmonean Kingdom although this name reflects the later designation of the region under the Romans at the time of Josephus' writings in the late first century CE.

Hellenization



The Hellenization
Hellenization
Hellenization is a term used to describe the spread of ancient Greek culture, and, to a lesser extent, language. It is mainly used to describe the spread of Hellenistic civilization during the Hellenistic period following the campaigns of Alexander the Great of Macedon...

 of the Jews in the pre-Hasmonean period was not universally resisted. Generally, the Jews accepted foreign rule when they were only required to pay tribute, and otherwise allowed to govern themselves internally. Nevertheless, Jews were divided between those favoring Hellenization and those opposing it, and were divided over allegiance to the Ptolemies or Seleucids. When the High Priest
Kohen Gadol
The High Priest was the chief religious official of Israelite religion and of classical Judaism from the rise of the Israelite nation until the destruction of the Second Temple of Jerusalem...

 Simon II died in 175 BCE, conflict broke out between supporters of his son Onias III
Onias III
Onias III was a Jewish High Priest, the son of Simon II. He is described as a pious man who, unlike the Hellenizers, fought for Judaism. Seleucus Philopator defrayed all the expenses connected with the sanctuary and was friendly to the Jews...

 (who opposed Hellenization, and favored the Ptolemies) and his son Jason
Jason (high priest)
Jason of the Oniad family, brother to Onias III, was a High Priest in the Temple in Jerusalem.Jason became high priest in 175 BCE after the accession of Antiochus Epiphanes to the throne of the Seleucid Empire....

 (who favored Hellenization, and favored the Seleucids). A period of political intrigue followed, with priests such as Menelaus
Menelaus (High Priest)
Menelaus was High Priest in Jerusalem from 171 BC to about 161 BC. He was the successor of Jason, the brother of Onias III.The sources are divided as to his origin...

 bribing the king to win the High Priesthood, and accusations of murder of competing contenders for the title. The result was a brief civil war. The Tobiads
Tobiads
The Tobiads were a Jewish or Ammonite faction at the beginning of the Maccabean period. They were phil-Hellene, in other words supporters of the Hellenistic tendencies in Judaism in the early years of the 2nd century BCE.-Accounts:...

, a philo-Hellenistic party, succeeded in placing Jason into the powerful position of High Priest. He established an arena for public games close by the Temple. Author Lee I. Levine notes, "The 'piece de resistance' of Judaean Hellenization, and the most dramatic of all these developments, occurred in 175 BCE, when the high priest Jason converted Jerusalem into a Greek polis
Polis
Polis , plural poleis , literally means city in Greek. It could also mean citizenship and body of citizens. In modern historiography "polis" is normally used to indicate the ancient Greek city-states, like Classical Athens and its contemporaries, so polis is often translated as "city-state."The...

 replete with gymnasium
Gymnasium (ancient Greece)
The gymnasium in ancient Greece functioned as a training facility for competitors in public games. It was also a place for socializing and engaging in intellectual pursuits. The name comes from the Ancient Greek term gymnós meaning "naked". Athletes competed in the nude, a practice said to...

 and ephebeion (2 Maccabees 4). Whether this step represents the culmination of a 150-year process of Hellenization within Jerusalem in general, or whether it was only the initiative of a small coterie of Jerusalem priests with no wider ramifications, has been debated for decades." Some Jews are known to have engaged in non-surgical foreskin restoration
Foreskin restoration
Foreskin restoration is the process of expanding the residual skin on the penis, via surgical or non-surgical methods. It can be performed for several reasons, among them being a desire to create the appearance of a natural foreskin covering the glans penis, or to increase sexual sensitivity of...

 in order to join the dominant cultural practice of socializing naked in the gymnasium, where their circumcision
Circumcision in the Bible
Religious male circumcision generally occurs shortly after birth, during childhood or around puberty as part of a rite of passage. Circumcision is most prevalent in Muslim countries and Israel, and is most prevalent in the Jewish and Muslim faiths, although also common in the United States, the...

 would have been a social stigma.

Antiochus IV against Jerusalem


The Hellenistic trends in Jewish society were, however, inadequate protection against Antiochus. In 168 BCE, after successfully invading the Ptolemaic kingdom of Egypt (apparently without Jewish support), Antiochus IV was pressured by the Roman Republic
Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...

 to withdraw. According to Livy
Livy
Titus Livius — known as Livy in English — was a Roman historian who wrote a monumental history of Rome and the Roman people. Ab Urbe Condita Libri, "Chapters from the Foundation of the City," covering the period from the earliest legends of Rome well before the traditional foundation in 753 BC...

, "Popilius...placed in [Antiochus'] hand the tablets on which was written the decree of the senate [to withdraw]...[and] drew a circle round the king with the stick he was carrying and said, 'Before you step out of that circle give me a reply to lay before the senate.'" Returning toward Antioch, the troops of Antiochus sacked Jerusalem and removed the sacred objects from the Jerusalem Temple
Temple in Jerusalem
The Temple in Jerusalem or Holy Temple , refers to one of a series of structures which were historically located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, the current site of the Dome of the Rock. Historically, these successive temples stood at this location and functioned as the centre of...

, slaughtering an unknown, but large, number of Jews:
"And after that Antiochus had smitten Egypt, he returned again in the hundred forty and third year, and went up against Israel
and Jerusalem with a great multitude,
And entered proudly into the sanctuary, and took away the golden altar, and the candlestick of light, and all the vessels thereof...
And when he had taken all away, he went into his own land, having made a great massacre, and spoken very proudly.
Therefore there was a great mourning in Israel, in every place where they were."(1 Maccabees 1:20–25)

He then imposed a tax and established a fortress in Jerusalem. Antiochus tried to suppress public observance of Jewish laws, apparently in an attempt to secure control over the Jews. His government set up an idol
Idolatry
Idolatry is a pejorative term for the worship of an idol, a physical object such as a cult image, as a god, or practices believed to verge on worship, such as giving undue honour and regard to created forms other than God. In all the Abrahamic religions idolatry is strongly forbidden, although...

 of Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

 on the Temple Mount
Temple Mount
The Temple Mount, known in Hebrew as , and in Arabic as the Haram Ash-Sharif , is one of the most important religious sites in the Old City of Jerusalem. It has been used as a religious site for thousands of years...

, which Jews considered to be desecration of the Mount; it also forbade both circumcision and possession of Jewish scriptures, on pain of death. According to Josephus,
"Now Antiochus was not satisfied either with his unexpected taking the city, or with its pillage, or with the great slaughter he had made there; but being overcome with his violent passions, and remembering what he had suffered during the siege, he compelled the Jews to dissolve the laws of their country, and to keep their infants uncircumcised, and to sacrifice swine's flesh upon the altar."
He also outlawed observance of the Sabbath
Shabbat
Shabbat is the seventh day of the Jewish week and a day of rest in Judaism. Shabbat is observed from a few minutes before sunset on Friday evening until a few minutes after when one would expect to be able to see three stars in the sky on Saturday night. The exact times, therefore, differ from...

 and the offering of sacrifices at the Jerusalem Temple and required Jewish leaders to sacrifice to idols; punitive executions were also instituted. Possession of Jewish scriptures was made a capital offence. The motives of Antiochus are unclear. He may have been incensed at the overthrow of his appointee, Menelaus, he may have been responding to an orthodox Jewish revolt that had drawn on the Temple and the Torah
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

 for its strength, or he may have been encouraged by a group of radical Hellenizers among the Jews.

See also Antinomianism in the Books of the Maccabees.

Maccabean Revolt


The author of the First Book of Maccabees regarded the Maccabean revolt as a rising of pious Jews against the Seleucid king who had tried to eradicate their religion and against the Jews who supported him. The author of the Second Book of Maccabees presented the conflict as a struggle between "Judaism" and "Hellenism", words that he was the first to use. Modern scholarship tends to the second view.

Most modern scholars argue that the king was intervening in a civil war
Civil war
A civil war is a war between organized groups within the same nation state or republic, or, less commonly, between two countries created from a formerly-united nation state....

 between traditionalist Jews in the countryside and Hellenized Jews in Jerusalem. According to Joseph P. Schultz, modern scholarship "considers the Maccabean revolt less as an uprising against foreign oppression than as a civil war between the orthodox and reformist parties in the Jewish camp." In the conflict over the office of High Priest, traditionalists with Hebrew/Aramaic names like Onias
Onias III
Onias III was a Jewish High Priest, the son of Simon II. He is described as a pious man who, unlike the Hellenizers, fought for Judaism. Seleucus Philopator defrayed all the expenses connected with the sanctuary and was friendly to the Jews...

 contested with Hellenizers with Greek names like Jason
Jason
Jason was a late ancient Greek mythological hero from the late 10th Century BC, famous as the leader of the Argonauts and their quest for the Golden Fleece. He was the son of Aeson, the rightful king of Iolcus...

 and Menelaus
Menelaus
Menelaus may refer to;*Menelaus, one of the two most known Atrides, a king of Sparta and son of Atreus and Aerope*Menelaus on the Moon, named after Menelaus of Alexandria.*Menelaus , brother of Ptolemy I Soter...

. Other authors point to social and economic factors in the conflict. What began as a civil war took on the character of an invasion when the Hellenistic kingdom of Syria sided with the Hellenizing Jews
Hellenistic Judaism
Hellenistic Judaism was a movement which existed in the Jewish diaspora that sought to establish a Hebraic-Jewish religious tradition within the culture and language of Hellenism...

 against the traditionalists. As the conflict escalated, Antiochus prohibited the practices of the traditionalists, thereby, in a departure from usual Seleucid practice, banning the religion of an entire people. Other scholars argue that while the rising began as a religious rebellion, it was gradually transformed into a war of national liberation.

The two most prominent 20th century scholars of the Maccabean revolt, Elias Bickermann and Victor Tcherikover
Victor Tcherikover
-Biography:Born in Russia, he settled in Palestine in 1925. He was one of the first teachers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and headed the departments of general history and classical studies...

, each have very different views for the cause of the revolt, focused on the policies of the Jewish leaders and not Antiochus IV:
"Bickermann saw the origin of the problem in the attempt of "Hellenized" Jews to reform the "antiquated" and "outdated" religion practiced in Jerusalem, and to rid it of superstitious elements. They were the ones who egged on Antiochus IV and instituted the religious reform in Jerusalem. One suspects that [Bickermann] may have been influenced in his view by an antipathy to Reform Judaism in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Germany. Tcherikover, perhaps influenced by socialist concerns, saw the uprising as one of the rural peasants against the rich elite.


According to I and II Maccabees, the priestly family of Mattathias
Mattathias
Mattathias ben Johanan was a Jewish priest whose role in the Jewish revolt against the Syrian Greeks is related in the Books of the Maccabees...

 (Mattisyahu/Mattitiyahu in Hebrew), which came to be known as the Maccabees called the people forth to holy war against the Seleucids. Mattathias' sons Judah
Judas Maccabeus
Judah Maccabee was a Kohen and a son of the Jewish priest Mattathias...

 (Yehuda), Jonathan
Jonathan Maccabaeus
Jonathan Apphus was leader of the Hasmonean Dynasty of Judea from 161 to 143 BCE. The name Apphus could mean = "the dissembler", "the Wary", or "the diplomat", in allusion to a trait prominent in him -Leader of the Jews:...

 (Yonoson/ Yonatan), and Simon (Shimon) began a military campaign, initially with disastrous results: one thousand Jewish men, women, and children were killed by Seleucid troops because they refused to fight, even in self-defense, on the Sabbath
Shabbat
Shabbat is the seventh day of the Jewish week and a day of rest in Judaism. Shabbat is observed from a few minutes before sunset on Friday evening until a few minutes after when one would expect to be able to see three stars in the sky on Saturday night. The exact times, therefore, differ from...

. Other Jews then reasoned that they must fight when attacked, even on the Sabbath. The institution of guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare and refers to conflicts in which a small group of combatants including, but not limited to, armed civilians use military tactics, such as ambushes, sabotage, raids, the element of surprise, and extraordinary mobility to harass a larger and...

 practices by Judah over several years led to victory against the Seleucids:
"It was now, in the fall of 165, that Judah's successes began to disturb the central government. He appears to have controlled the road from Jaffa to Jerusalem, and thus to have cut off the royal party in Acra from direct communication with the sea and thus with the government. It is significant that this time the Syrian troops, under the leadership of the governor-general Lysias, took the southerly route, by way of Idumea."


In 164 BCE Judah captured Jerusalem and the Temple in Jerusalem was freed and reconsecrated: "After having recovered Jerusalem, Judah ordered the Temple to be cleansed, a new altar to be built in place of the Desecrated one, and new holy vessels to be made." The celebratory festival of Hanukkah
Hanukkah
Hanukkah , also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd century BCE...

 is instituted: "When the fire had been kindled anew upon the altar and the lamps of the candlestick lit, the dedication of the altar was celebrated for eight days amid sacrifices and songs."

Antiochus IV died that same year, and was ultimately succeeded by Demetrius I Soter
Demetrius I Soter
Demetrius I , surnamed Soter , was a ruler of the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire....

, the nephew whose throne he had usurped. Demetrius sent the general Bacchides to Israel with a large army, in order to install Alcimus
Alcimus
Alcimus , also called Jacimus, or Joachim , was a High Priest of Israel for three years, 162 BCE-159 BCE, who espoused the Syrian cause....

 with the office of high priest (I Macc. 7:8, 9); Bacchides subdued Jerusalem and returned to his King. (ib. 7:19, 20).

Judah and Jonathan


After five years of war and raids, Judah sought an alliance with the Roman Republic to remove the Greeks: "In the year 161 BCE he sent Eupolemus the son of Johanan and Jason the son of Eleazar
Eleazar Maccabeus
Eleazar Avaran, also known as Eleazar Maccabeus, Eleazar Hachorani/Choran was the fourth son of Mattathias and the younger brother of Judas Maccabeus. He was killed at the Battle of Beth-zechariah during the Maccabean revolt. Eleazar Avaran, also known as Eleazar Maccabeus, Eleazar...

, 'to make a league of amity and confederacy with the Romans.'"

A Seleucid army under General Nicanor was defeated by Judah (ib. 7:26–50) at the Battle of Adasa
Battle of Adasa
The Battle of Adasa was fought in 13th of the month Adar, 161 BC at Adasa , near Beth-horon, between the Maccabees of Judas Maccabeus and the Seleucid Army, whose army was led by Nicanor. Maccabeus won this battle, while Nicanor was killed. For a few years this day was celebrated as the "Day of...

, with Nicanor himself killed in action. Next, Bacchides was sent with Alcimus and an army of twenty thousand infantry and two thousand cavalry, and met Judah at the Battle of Elasa
Battle of Elasa
The Battle of Elasa was fought between Jewish and Seleucid armies during the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire.-Background:In 160 BC, the Seleucid King Demetrius, on campaign in the east, left his general Bacchides to govern the western portion of the empire...

 (Laisa), where this time it was the Hasmonean commander who was killed. (161
161 BC
Year 161 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Messalla and Strabo...

/160 BCE). Bacchides now established the Hellenists as rulers in Israel; and upon Judah's death, the persecuted patriots, under Jonathan, brother of Judah, fled beyond the Jordan River.(ib. 9:25–27) They set camp near a morass by the name of Asphar, and remained, after several engagements with the Seleucids, in the swamp
Swamp
A swamp is a wetland with some flooding of large areas of land by shallow bodies of water. A swamp generally has a large number of hammocks, or dry-land protrusions, covered by aquatic vegetation, or vegetation that tolerates periodical inundation. The two main types of swamp are "true" or swamp...

 in the country east of the Jordan.

Following the death of his puppet governor
Puppet state
A puppet state is a nominal sovereign of a state who is de facto controlled by a foreign power. The term refers to a government controlled by the government of another country like a puppeteer controls the strings of a marionette...

 Alcimus
Alcimus
Alcimus , also called Jacimus, or Joachim , was a High Priest of Israel for three years, 162 BCE-159 BCE, who espoused the Syrian cause....

, High Priest of Jerusalem, Bacchides felt secure enough to leave the country, but two years after the departure of Bacchides from Israel, the City of Acre felt sufficiently threatened by Maccabee incursions to contact Demetrius and request the return of Bacchides to their territory. Jonathan and Simeon, now more experienced in guerilla warfare, thought it well to retreat farther, and accordingly fortified in the desert a place called Beth-hogla; there they were besieged
Siege
A siege is a military blockade of a city or fortress with the intent of conquering by attrition or assault. The term derives from sedere, Latin for "to sit". Generally speaking, siege warfare is a form of constant, low intensity conflict characterized by one party holding a strong, static...

 several days by Bacchides. Jonathan offered the rival general a peace treaty
Peace treaty
A peace treaty is an agreement between two or more hostile parties, usually countries or governments, that formally ends a state of war between the parties...

 and exchange of prisoners of war
Prisoner of war
A prisoner of war or enemy prisoner of war is a person, whether civilian or combatant, who is held in custody by an enemy power during or immediately after an armed conflict...

. Bacchides readily consented and even took an oath
Oath
An oath is either a statement of fact or a promise calling upon something or someone that the oath maker considers sacred, usually God, as a witness to the binding nature of the promise or the truth of the statement of fact. To swear is to take an oath, to make a solemn vow...

 of nevermore making war upon Jonathan. He and his forces then vacated Israel. The victorious Jonathan now took up his residence in the old city of Michmash
Michmash
Michmash - "Laid Up [that is, concealed] Place"; a town of Benjamin, east of Bethel and south of Migron, on the road to Jerusalem.-Location:...

. From there he endeavored to clear the land of "the godless
Atheism
Atheism is, in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities. In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities...

 and the apostate
Apostasy
Apostasy , 'a defection or revolt', from ἀπό, apo, 'away, apart', στάσις, stasis, 'stand, 'standing') is the formal disaffiliation from or abandonment or renunciation of a religion by a person. One who commits apostasy is known as an apostate. These terms have a pejorative implication in everyday...

". The chief source, 1 Maccabees, says that with this "the sword ceased in Israel", and in fact nothing is reported for the five following years (158–153 BCE).

Seleucid civil conflict


An important external event brought the design of the Maccabeans to fruition. Demetrius I Soter
Demetrius I Soter
Demetrius I , surnamed Soter , was a ruler of the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire....

's relations with Attalus II Philadelphus
Attalus II Philadelphus
Attalus II Philadelphus was a King of Pergamon and the founder of modern-day Turkish city Antalya...

 of Pergamon
Pergamon
Pergamon , or Pergamum, was an ancient Greek city in modern-day Turkey, in Mysia, today located from the Aegean Sea on a promontory on the north side of the river Caicus , that became the capital of the Kingdom of Pergamon during the Hellenistic period, under the Attalid dynasty, 281–133 BC...

 (reigned 159–138 BCE), Ptolemy VI of Egypt (reigned 163–145 BCE), and Ptolemy's co-ruler Cleopatra II of Egypt
Cleopatra II of Egypt
Cleopatra II was a queen of Ptolemaic Egypt.-Family:Cleopatra II was the daughter of Ptolemy V and likely Cleopatra I. She was the sister of Ptolemy VI and Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II Tryphon. She would eventually marry both of her brothers.Her first marriage was with her brother Ptolemy VI in ca....

 were deteriorating, and they supported a rival claimant to the Seleucid throne: Alexander Balas
Alexander Balas
Alexander Balas , ruler of the Greek Seleucid kingdom 150-146 BC, was a native of Smyrna of humble origin, but gave himself out to be the son of Antiochus IV Epiphanes and Laodice IV and heir to the Seleucid throne...

, who purported to be the son of Antiochus IV Epiphanes
Antiochus IV Epiphanes
Antiochus IV Epiphanes ruled the Seleucid Empire from 175 BC until his death in 164 BC. He was a son of King Antiochus III the Great. His original name was Mithridates; he assumed the name Antiochus after he ascended the throne....

 and a first cousin of Demetrius. Demetrius was forced to recall the garrisons of Judea, except those in the City of Acre and at Beth-zur, to bolster his strength. Furthermore, he made a bid for the loyalty of Jonathan, permitting him to recruit an army and to reclaim the hostages kept in the City of Acre. Jonathan gladly accepted these terms, took up residence at Jerusalem in 153 BCE, and began fortifying the city.

Alexander Balas offered Jonathan even more favorable terms, including official appointment as High Priest in Jerusalem, and despite a second letter from Demetrius promising prerogatives that were almost impossible to guarantee, Jonathan declared allegiance to Alexander. Jonathan became the official leader of his people, and officiated at the Feast of Tabernacles
Sukkot
Sukkot is a Biblical holiday celebrated on the 15th day of the month of Tishrei . It is one of the three biblically mandated festivals Shalosh regalim on which Hebrews were commanded to make a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem.The holiday lasts seven days...

 of 153 BCE wearing the High Priest's garments. The Hellenistic party could no longer attack him without severe consequences.

Soon, Demetrius lost both his throne and his life, in 150 BCE. The victorious Alexander Balas was given the further honor of marriage to Cleopatra Thea
Cleopatra Thea
Cleopatra Thea surnamed Eueteria was the ruler of the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire. She ruled Syria from 125 BC after the death of Demetrius II Nicator...

, daughter of his allies Ptolemy VI and Cleopatra II. Jonathan was invited to Ptolemais for the ceremony, appearing with presents for both kings, and was permitted to sit between them as their equal; Balas even clothed him with his own royal garment and otherwise accorded him high honor. Balas appointed Jonathan as strategos
Strategos
Strategos, plural strategoi, is used in Greek to mean "general". In the Hellenistic and Byzantine Empires the term was also used to describe a military governor...

 and "meridarch" (i.e., civil governor of a province; details not found in Josephus), sent him back with honors to Jerusalem, and refused to listen to the Hellenistic party's complaints against Jonathan.

Hasmoneans under Balas and Demetrius II


In 147 BCE, Demetrius II Nicator
Demetrius II Nicator
For the similarly named Macedonian ruler, see Demetrius II of Macedon. For the Macedonian prince, see Demetrius the Fair.Demetrius II , called Nicator , was one of the sons of Demetrius I Soter, brother of Antiochus VII Sidetes and his mother could have been Laodice V...

, a son of Demetrius I Soter, claimed Balas' throne. The governor of Coele-Syria
Coele-Syria
Coele-Syria , or Cœle-Syria or Celesyria, traditionally given the meaning 'hollow' Syria, was the region of southern Syria disputed between the Seleucid dynasty and the Ptolemaic dynasty. Rather than limiting the Greek term to the Beqaa Valley of Lebanon, it is often used to cover the entire area...

, Apollonius Taos, used the opportunity to challenge Jonathan to battle, saying that the Jews might for once leave the mountain
Mountain
Image:Himalaya_annotated.jpg|thumb|right|The Himalayan mountain range with Mount Everestrect 58 14 160 49 Chomo Lonzorect 200 28 335 52 Makalurect 378 24 566 45 Mount Everestrect 188 581 920 656 Tibetan Plateaurect 250 406 340 427 Rong River...

s and venture out into the plain
Plain
In geography, a plain is land with relatively low relief, that is flat or gently rolling. Prairies and steppes are types of plains, and the archetype for a plain is often thought of as a grassland, but plains in their natural state may also be covered in shrublands, woodland and forest, or...

. Jonathan and Simeon led a force of 10,000 men against Apollonius' forces in Jaffa
Jaffa
Jaffa is an ancient port city believed to be one of the oldest in the world. Jaffa was incorporated with Tel Aviv creating the city of Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel. Jaffa is famous for its association with the biblical story of the prophet Jonah.-Etymology:...

, which was unprepared for the rapid attack and opened the gates in surrender to the Jewish forces. Apollonius received reinforcements from Azotus
Azotus
Azotus , a Greek name for an ancient Philistine city, is identified by different authorities with either:*Gaza, now the largest city within the Gaza Strip, part of the Palestinian Territories...

 and appeared in the plain in charge of 3,000 men including superior cavalry forces. Jonathan assaulted, captured and burned Azotus along with the resident temple of Dagon
Dagon
Dagon was originally an Assyro-Babylonian fertility god who evolved into a major northwest Semitic god, reportedly of grain and fish and/or fishing...

 and the surrounding village
Village
A village is a clustered human settlement or community, larger than a hamlet with the population ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand , Though often located in rural areas, the term urban village is also applied to certain urban neighbourhoods, such as the West Village in Manhattan, New...

s.

Alexander Balas honored the victorious High Priest by giving him the city of Ekron
Ekron
The city of Ekron , was one of the five cities of the famed Philistine pentapolis, located in southwestern Canaan. Ekron lies 35 kilometers west of Jerusalem, and 18 kilometers north of ancient Gath, on the eastern edge of Israel's coastal plain.-History:...

 along with its outlying territory. The people of Azotus complained to King Ptolemy VI, who had come to make war upon his son-in-law, but Jonathan met Ptolemy at Jaffa in peace and accompanied him as far as the River Eleutherus. Jonathan then returned to Jerusalem, maintaining peace with the King of Egypt despite their support for different contenders for the Seleucid throne.

Hasmoneans under Demetrius and Diodotus


In 145 BCE, the Battle of Antioch resulted in the final defeat of Alexander Balas by the forces of his father-in-law Ptolemy VI. Ptolemy himself, however, was among the casualties of the battle. Demetrius II Nicator remained sole ruler of the Seleucid Empire and became the second husband of Cleopatra Thea
Cleopatra Thea
Cleopatra Thea surnamed Eueteria was the ruler of the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire. She ruled Syria from 125 BC after the death of Demetrius II Nicator...

.

Jonathan owed no allegiance to the new King and took this opportunity to lay siege to the Acra, the Seleucid fortress in Jerusalem and the symbol of Seleucid control over Judea. It was heavily garrisoned by a Seleucid force and offered asylum to Jewish Hellenists. Demetrius was greatly incensed; he appeared with an army at Ptolemais and ordered Jonathan to come before him. Without raising the siege, Jonathan, accompanied by the elders and priests, went to the king and pacified him with presents, so that the king not only confirmed him in his office of high priest, but gave to him the three Samaritan
Samaritan
The Samaritans are an ethnoreligious group of the Levant. Religiously, they are the adherents to Samaritanism, an Abrahamic religion closely related to Judaism...

 toparchies of Mount Ephraim
Mount Ephraim
Mount Ephraim , or alternately Mount of Ephraim, was the historical name for the central mountainous district of Israel once occupied by the tribe of Ephraim , extending from Bethel to the plain of Jezreel. In Joshua's time , approximately sometime between the 18th century BCE and the 13th century...

, Lod
Lod
Lod is a city located on the Sharon Plain southeast of Tel Aviv in the Center District of Israel. At the end of 2010, it had a population of 70,000, roughly 75 percent Jewish and 25 percent Arab.The name is derived from the Biblical city of Lod...

, and Ramathaim-Zophim
Ramathaim-Zophim
Ramathaim-Zophim , also called Ramah and Ramatha in the Douay-Rheims, is a town that has been identified with the modern Neby Samwil , about 4 or 5 miles north-west of Jerusalem...

. In consideration of a present of 300 talent
Talent (weight)
The "talent" was one of several ancient units of mass, as well as corresponding units of value equivalent to these masses of a precious metal. It was approximately the mass of water required to fill an amphora. A Greek, or Attic talent, was , a Roman talent was , an Egyptian talent was , and a...

s the entire country was exempted from tax
Tax
To tax is to impose a financial charge or other levy upon a taxpayer by a state or the functional equivalent of a state such that failure to pay is punishable by law. Taxes are also imposed by many subnational entities...

es, the exemption being confirmed in writing. Jonathan in return lifted the siege of the Acra and left it in Seleucid hands.

Soon, however, a new claimant to the Seleucid throne appeared in the person of the young Antiochus VI Dionysus
Antiochus VI Dionysus
Antiochus VI Dionysus , king of the Hellenistic Seleucid kingdom, was the son of Alexander Balas and Cleopatra Thea, daughter of Ptolemy VI of Egypt....

, son of Alexander Balas and Cleopatra Thea. He was three years old at most, but general Diodotus Tryphon
Diodotus Tryphon
Diodotus Tryphon was king of the Hellenistic Seleucid kingdom. As a general of the army, he promoted the claims of Antiochus VI Dionysus, the infant son of Alexander Balas, in Antioch after Alexander's death, but then in 142 deposed the child and himself seized power in Coele-Syria where Demetrius...

 used him to advance his own designs on the throne. In the face of this new enemy, Demetrius not only promised to withdraw the garrison from the City of Acre, but also called Jonathan his ally and requested him to send troops. The 3,000 men of Jonathan protected Demetrius in his capital, Antioch
Antioch
Antioch on the Orontes was an ancient city on the eastern side of the Orontes River. It is near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey.Founded near the end of the 4th century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals, Antioch eventually rivaled Alexandria as the chief city of the...

, against his own subjects.

As Demetrius II did not keep his promise, Jonathan thought it better to support the new king when Diodotus Tryphon and Antiochus VI seized the capital, especially as the latter confirmed all his rights and appointed his brother Simon (Simeon) strategos
Strategos
Strategos, plural strategoi, is used in Greek to mean "general". In the Hellenistic and Byzantine Empires the term was also used to describe a military governor...

 of the seacoast, from the "Ladder of Tyre" to the frontier of Egypt
Ptolemaic Egypt
Ptolemaic Egypt began when Ptolemy I Soter invaded Egypt and declared himself Pharaoh of Egypt in 305 BC and ended with the death of queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt and the Roman conquest in 30 BC. The Ptolemaic Kingdom was a powerful Hellenistic state, extending from southern Syria in the east, to...

.

Jonathan and Simon were now entitled to make conquests; Ashkelon
Ashkelon
Ashkelon is a coastal city in the South District of Israel on the Mediterranean coast, south of Tel Aviv, and north of the border with the Gaza Strip. The ancient seaport of Ashkelon dates back to the Neolithic Age...

 submitted voluntarily while Gaza was forcibly taken. Jonathan vanquished even the strategoi of Demetrius II far to the north, in the plain of Hazar, while Simon at the same time took the strong fortress of Beth-zur on the pretext that it harbored supporters of Demetrius.

Like Judah in former years, Jonathan sought alliances with foreign peoples. He renewed the treaty with the Roman Republic and exchanged friendly messages with Sparta
Sparta
Sparta or Lacedaemon, was a prominent city-state in ancient Greece, situated on the banks of the River Eurotas in Laconia, in south-eastern Peloponnese. It emerged as a political entity around the 10th century BC, when the invading Dorians subjugated the local, non-Dorian population. From c...

 and other places. However, one should note that the documents referring to those diplomatic events are of questionable authenticity.

Diodotus Tryphon went with an army to Judea and invited Jonathan to Scythopolis
Bet She'an
is a city in the North District of Israel which has played an important role historically due to its geographical location at the junction of the Jordan River Valley and Jezreel Valley...

 for a friendly conference, where he persuaded him to dismiss his army of 40,000 men, promising to give him Ptolemais and other fortresses. Jonathan fell into the trap; he took with him to Ptolemais 1,000 men, all of whom were slain; he himself was taken prisoner.

Simon assumes leadership


When Diodotus Tryphon was about to enter Judea at Hadid, he was confronted by the new Jewish leader, Simon, ready for battle. Trypho, avoiding an engagement, demanded one hundred talents and Jonathan's two sons as hostages, in return for which he promised to liberate Jonathan. Although Simon did not trust Diodotus Tryphon, he complied with the request so that he might not be accused of the death of his brother. But Diodotus Tryphon did not liberate his prisoner; angry that Simon blocked his way everywhere and that he could accomplish nothing, he executed Jonathan at Baskama, in the country east of the Jordan. Jonathan was buried by Simeon at Modin. Nothing is known of his two captive sons. One of his daughters was an ancestor of Josephus.

Simon assumed the leadership (142 BCE), receiving the double office of High Priest and prince of Israel. The leadership of the Hasmoneans was established by a resolution, adopted in 141 BCE, at a large assembly "of the priests and the people and of the elders of the land, to the effect that Simon should be their leader and High Priest forever, until there should arise a faithful prophet
Messiah
A messiah is a redeemer figure expected or foretold in one form or another by a religion. Slightly more widely, a messiah is any redeemer figure. Messianic beliefs or theories generally relate to eschatological improvement of the state of humanity or the world, in other words the World to...

" (1 Macc. 14:41). Ironically, the election was performed in Hellenistic fashion.

Simon, having made the Jewish people semi-independent of the Seleucid Greeks, reigned from 142 BCE-135 BCE and formed the Hasmonean dynasty. The Roman Senate
Roman Senate
The Senate of the Roman Republic was a political institution in the ancient Roman Republic, however, it was not an elected body, but one whose members were appointed by the consuls, and later by the censors. After a magistrate served his term in office, it usually was followed with automatic...

 accorded the new dynasty recognition by the Romans
Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...

 c. 139 BCE, when the delegation of Simon was in Rome.

Simon led the people in peace and prosperity, until in February 135 BCE, he was assassinated
Assassination
To carry out an assassination is "to murder by a sudden and/or secret attack, often for political reasons." Alternatively, assassination may be defined as "the act of deliberately killing someone, especially a public figure, usually for hire or for political reasons."An assassination may be...

 at the instigation of his son-in-law Ptolemy
Ptolemy (son of Abubus)
Ptolemy was the son of Abubus.-History:He was appointed governor of the Jericho region of Israel by the Seleucid king, Antiochus VII Sidetes, and married a daughter of Simon Maccabaeus, military commander of the Maccabees and founder of Israel's Hasmonean dynasty. He held a banquet for...

, son of Abubus
Abubus
Abubus, also spelt Abobus or Abobi, was the father of Ptolemy. He is mentioned only in the first book of the Maccabees and , wherein Ptolemy invites Simon Maccabaeus and his two sons, Mattathias and Judas, to a banquet, subsequently killing them....

 (also spelled Abobus or Abobi), who had been named governor of the region by the Seleucids. Simon's eldest sons, Mattathias and Judah, were also murdered.

Hasmonean expansion and civil war



In c.135 BCE, John Hyrcanus, Simon's third son, assumed the leadership and ruled as high priest (Kohen Gadol
Kohen Gadol
The High Priest was the chief religious official of Israelite religion and of classical Judaism from the rise of the Israelite nation until the destruction of the Second Temple of Jerusalem...

) and took a Greek "regnal name
Regnal name
A regnal name, or reign name, is a formal name used by some monarchs and popes during their reigns. Since medieval times, monarchs have frequently chosen to use a name different from their own personal name when they inherit a throne....

" (see Hyrcania
Hyrcania
Hyrcania was the name of a satrapy located in the territories of present day Gilan, Golestan, Mazandaran and part of Turkmenistan, lands south of the Caspian Sea. To the Greeks, the Caspian Sea was the "Hyrcanian Sea".-Etymology:...

) in an acceptance of the Hellenistic culture of his Seleucid suzerains. Within a year of the death of Simon, Seleucid King Antiochus VII Sidetes
Antiochus VII Sidetes
Antiochus VII Euergetes, nicknamed Sidetes , ruler of the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire, reigned from 138 to 129 BC. He was the last Seleucid king of any stature....

 attacked Jerusalem. According to Josephus
Josephus
Titus Flavius Josephus , also called Joseph ben Matityahu , was a 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian and hagiographer of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century AD and the First Jewish–Roman War, which resulted in the Destruction of...

, John Hyrcanus
John Hyrcanus
John Hyrcanus was a Hasmonean leader of the 2nd century BC.-Name:...

 opened King David
David
David was the second king of the united Kingdom of Israel according to the Hebrew Bible and, according to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, an ancestor of Jesus Christ through both Saint Joseph and Mary...

's sepulchre and removed three thousand talents which he paid as tribute
Tribute
A tribute is wealth, often in kind, that one party gives to another as a sign of respect or, as was often the case in historical contexts, of submission or allegiance. Various ancient states, which could be called suzerains, exacted tribute from areas they had conquered or threatened to conquer...

 to spare the city. He remained as governor as a Seleucid vassal
Vassal
A vassal or feudatory is a person who has entered into a mutual obligation to a lord or monarch in the context of the feudal system in medieval Europe. The obligations often included military support and mutual protection, in exchange for certain privileges, usually including the grant of land held...

. For the next two decades of his reign, Hyrcanus continued, like his father, to rule semi-autonomously from the Seleucids.

The Seleucid empire had been disintegrating in the face of the Seleucid–Parthian wars
Seleucid–Parthian wars
The Seleucid–Parthian wars were a series of conflicts between the Seleucid Empire and Parthia which resulted in the ultimate expulsion of the Seleucids from Persia and the establishment of the Parthian Empire...

 and in 129 BCE Antiochus VII Sidetes
Antiochus VII Sidetes
Antiochus VII Euergetes, nicknamed Sidetes , ruler of the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire, reigned from 138 to 129 BC. He was the last Seleucid king of any stature....

 was killed in Media by the forces of Phraates II of Parthia
Phraates II of Parthia
Phraates II of Parthia, son of Mithridates I of Parthia , the conqueror of Babylon, ruled the Parthian Empire from 138 BC to 128 BC. He was attacked in 130 BC by Antiochus VII Sidetes , ruler of the Seleucid Empire...

, permanently ending Seleucid rule east of the Euphrates
Euphrates
The Euphrates is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia...

. In 116 BCE, a civil war between Seleucid half-brothers Antiochus VIII Grypus
Antiochus VIII Grypus
Antiochus VIII Epiphanes/Callinicus/Philometor, nicknamed Grypus , was crowned as ruler of the Greek Seleucid kingdom in 125 BC. He was the son of Demetrius II Nicator and Cleopatra Thea.-Biography:...

 and Antiochus IX Cyzicenus
Antiochus IX Cyzicenus
Antiochus IX Eusebes, ruler of the Greek Seleucid kingdom, was the son of Antiochus VII Sidetes and Cleopatra Thea. Upon the death of his father in Parthia and his uncle Demetrius II Nicator's return to power , his mother sent him to Cyzicus on the Bosporus, thus giving him his nickname...

 broke out, resulting in a further breakup of the already significantly reduced kingdom.

This provided opportunity for semi-independent Seleucid client states such as Judea to revolt. In 110 BCE John Hyrcanus
John Hyrcanus
John Hyrcanus was a Hasmonean leader of the 2nd century BC.-Name:...

 carried out the first military conquests of the newly independent Hasmonean kingdom, raising a mercenary army to capture Madaba
Madaba
Madaba , is the capital city of Madaba Governorate of Jordan, which has a population of about 60,000. Madaba is the fifth most populous town in Jordan. It is best known for its Byzantine and Umayyad mosaics, especially a large Byzantine-era mosaic map of The Holy Land...

 and Schechem, significantly increasing his regional influence

Hyrcanus annexed Trans-Jordan
Transjordan
The Emirate of Transjordan was a former Ottoman territory in the Southern Levant that was part of the British Mandate of Palestine...

, Samaria
Samaria
Samaria, or the Shomron is a term used for a mountainous region roughly corresponding to the northern part of the West Bank.- Etymology :...

, Galilee
Galilee
Galilee , is a large region in northern Israel which overlaps with much of the administrative North District of the country. Traditionally divided into Upper Galilee , Lower Galilee , and Western Galilee , extending from Dan to the north, at the base of Mount Hermon, along Mount Lebanon to the...

, and Idumea (also known as Edom
Edom
Edom or Idumea was a historical region of the Southern Levant located south of Judea and the Dead Sea. It is mentioned in biblical records as a 1st millennium BC Iron Age kingdom of Edom, and in classical antiquity the cognate name Idumea was used to refer to a smaller area in the same region...

), and forced Idumeans to convert to Judaism:
"Hyrcanus...subdued all the Idumeans; and permitted them to stay in that country, if they would circumcise their genitals, and make use of the laws of the Jews; and they were so desirous of living in the country of their forefathers, that they submitted to the use of circumcision, (25) and of the rest of the Jewish ways of living; at which time therefore this befell them, that they were hereafter no other than Jews."


He desired that his wife succeed him as head of the government, with his eldest of five sons, Aristobulus I, becoming only the high-priest. Aristobulus was the first Hasmonean to take the title basilieus, asserting the new-found independence of the state.

Pharisee and Sadducee factions


It is difficult to state at what time the Pharisees
Pharisees
The Pharisees were at various times a political party, a social movement, and a school of thought among Jews during the Second Temple period beginning under the Hasmonean dynasty in the wake of...

, as a party, arose. Josephus first mentions them in connection with Jonathan, the successor of Judas Maccabeus ("Ant." xiii. 5, § 9). One of the factors that distinguished the Pharisees from other groups prior to the destruction of the Temple was their belief that all Jews had to observe the purity laws (which applied to the Temple service) outside the Temple. The major difference, however, was the continued adherence of the Pharisees to the laws and traditions of the Jewish people in the face of assimilation. As Josephus noted, the Pharisees were considered the most expert and accurate expositors of Jewish law.

During the Hasmonean period, the Sadducees
Sadducees
The Sadducees were a sect or group of Jews that were active in Ancient Israel during the Second Temple period, starting from the second century BC through the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. The sect was identified by Josephus with the upper social and economic echelon of Judean society...

 and Pharisees functioned primarily as political parties. Although the Pharisees had opposed the wars of expansion of the Hasmoneans and the forced conversions of the Idumeans, the political rift between them became wider when Pharisees demanded that the Hasmonean king Alexander Jannaeus
Alexander Jannaeus
Alexander Jannaeus was king of Judea from 103 BC to 76 BC. The son of John Hyrcanus, he inherited the throne from his brother Aristobulus I, and appears to have married his brother's widow, Shlomtzion or "Shelomit", also known as Salome Alexandra, according to the Biblical law of Yibbum...

 choose between being king and being High Priest. In response, the king openly sided with the Sadducees by adopting their rites in the Temple. His actions caused a riot in the Temple and led to a brief civil war that ended with a bloody repression of the Pharisees, although at his deathbed the king called for a reconciliation between the two parties. Alexander was succeeded by his widow, Salome Alexandra
Salome Alexandra
Salome Alexandra or Alexandra of Jerusalem , was the only Jewish regnant queen, with the exception of her own husband's mother whom he had prevented from ruling as his dying father had wished, and of the much earlier usurper Athaliah...

, whose brother was Shimon ben Shetach, a leading Pharisee. Upon her death her elder son, Hyrcanus, sought Pharisee support, and her younger son, Aristobulus, sought the support of the Sadducees. The conflict between Hyrcanus and Aristobulus culminated in a civil war that ended when the Roman general Pompey captured Jerusalem in 63 BCE and inaugurated the Roman period of Jewish history.

Josephus attests that Salome Alexandra was very favorably inclined toward the Pharisees and that their political influence grew tremendously under her reign, especially in the institution known as the Sanhedrin
Sanhedrin
The Sanhedrin was an assembly of twenty-three judges appointed in every city in the Biblical Land of Israel.The Great Sanhedrin was the supreme court of ancient Israel made of 71 members...

. Later texts such as the Mishnah and the Talmud record a host of rulings ascribed to the Pharisees concerning sacrifices and other ritual practices in the Temple, torts, criminal law, and governance. The influence of the Pharisees over the lives of the common people remained strong, and their rulings on Jewish law were deemed authoritative by many. Although these texts were written long after these periods, many scholars believe that they are a fairly reliable account of history during the Second Temple era.

Upon Hyrcanus' death, however, Aristobulus jailed his mother and three brothers, including Alexander Jannaeus, and allowed her to starve there. By this means he came into possession of the throne, but died one year later after a painful illness in 103 BCE.

Aristobulus' brothers were freed from prison by his widow; Alexander reigned from 103–76 BCE, and died during the siege of the fortress Ragaba. In c.87 BCE, according to Josephus, following a six-year civil war involving Seleucid king Demetrius III Eucaerus
Demetrius III Eucaerus
Demetrius III , called Eucaerus and Philopator, was a ruler of the Seleucid kingdom, the son of Antiochus VIII Grypus and his wife Tryphaena.By the assistance of Ptolemy IX Lathyros, king of Egypt, he recovered part of his father's Syrian dominions ca 95 BC, and...

, Hasmonean ruler Alexander Jannaeus crucified 800 Jewish rebels in Jerusalem.

Alexander was followed by his wife, Salome Alexandra
Salome Alexandra
Salome Alexandra or Alexandra of Jerusalem , was the only Jewish regnant queen, with the exception of her own husband's mother whom he had prevented from ruling as his dying father had wished, and of the much earlier usurper Athaliah...

, who reigned from 76–67 BCE. She was the only regnant Jewish Queen. During her reign, her son Hyrcanus II
Hyrcanus II
Hyrcanus II, a member of the Hasmonean dynasty, was the Jewish High Priest and King of Judea in the 1st century BC.-Accession:Hyrcanus was the eldest son of Alexander Jannaeus, King and High Priest, and Alexandra Salome...

 held the office of High Priest and was named her successor.

Civil war


Alexander Jannaeus' son, Hyrcanus II, had scarcely reigned three months when his younger brother, Aristobulus II
Aristobulus II
Aristobulus II was the Jewish High Priest and King of Judea, 66 BC to 63 BC, from the Hasmonean Dynasty.-Family:Aristobulus was the younger son of Alexander Jannaeus, King and High Priest, and Alexandra Salome. After the death of Alexander in 76 BC, his widow succeeded to the rule of Judea and...

, rose in rebellion, whereupon Hyrcanus advanced against him at the head of an army of mercenaries and his Pharisee followers: "NOW Hyrcanus was heir to the kingdom, and to him did his mother commit it before she died; but Aristobulus was superior to him in power and magnanimity; and when there was a battle between them, to decide the dispute about the kingdom, near Jericho, the greatest part deserted Hyrcanus, and went over to Aristobulus."

Hyrcanus took refuge in the citadel of Jerusalem, but the capture of the Temple by Aristobulus II compelled Hyrcanus to surrender. A peace was then concluded, according to the terms of which Hyrcanus was to renounce the throne and the office of high priest (comp. Schürer
Schürer
Schürer is surname of:* Emil Schürer , a German Protestant theologian* Franz de Paula Schürer , Austrian liberal politician , German politician Schürer is surname of:* Emil Schürer (1844, Augsburg - 1910), a German Protestant theologian* Franz de Paula Schürer (1822–1886), Austrian liberal...

, "Gesch." i. 291, note 2), but was to enjoy the revenues of the latter office: "but Hyrcanus, with those of his party who stayed with him, fled to Antonia, and got into his power the hostages (which were Aristobulus's wife, with her children) that he might perservere; but the parties came to an agreement before things should come to extremes, that Aristobulus should be king, and Hyrcanus should resign, but retain all the rest of his dignities, as being the king's brother. Hereupon they were reconciled to each other in the Temple, and embraced one another in a very kind manner, while the people stood round about them; they also changed their houses, while Aristobulus went to the royal palace, and Hyrcanus retired to the house of Aristobulus." Aristobulus ruled from 67–63 BCE).

From 63–40 BCE the government was in the hands of Hyrcanus II as High Priest and Ethnarch
Ethnarch
Ethnarch, pronounced , the anglicized form of ethnarches refers generally to political leadership over a common ethnic group or homogeneous kingdom. The word is derived from the Greek words and ....

, although effective power was in the hands of his adviser Antipater the Idumaean
Antipater the Idumaean
Antipater I the Idumaean was the founder of the Herodian Dynasty and father of Herod the Great. According to Josephus, he was the son of Antipas...

.

Intrigues of Antipater


The struggle would have ended here but for Antipater the Idumean. Antipater saw clearly that it would be easier to reach the object of his ambition, the control of Judea, under the government of the weak Hyrcanus than under the warlike and energetic Aristobulus. He accordingly began to impress upon Hyrcanus' mind that Aristobulus was planning his death, finally persuading him to take refuge with Aretas
Aretas III
Aretas III was king of the Nabataean kingdom from 87 to 62 BCE. Aretas ascended to the throne upon the death of his brother, Obodas I, in 87 BCE. During his reign, he extended his kingdom to cover what now forms the northern area of Jordan, the south of Syria, and part of Saudi Arabia...

, king of the Nabatæans. Aretas, bribed by Antipater, who also promised him the restitution of the Arabian towns taken by the Hasmoneans, readily espoused the cause of Hyrcanus and advanced toward Jerusalem with an army of fifty thousand. During the siege, which lasted several months, the adherents of Hyrcanus were guilty of two acts that greatly incensed the majority of the Jews: they stoned the pious Onias (see Honi ha-Magel) and, instead of a lamb which the besieged had bought of the besiegers for the purpose of the paschal sacrifice, sent a pig. Honi, ordered to curse the besieged, prayed: "Lord of the universe, as the besieged and the besiegers both belong to Thy people, I beseech Thee not to answer the evil prayers of either." The pig incident is derived from rabbinical sources. According to Josephus, the besiegers kept the enormous price of one thousand drachmas they had asked for the lamb.

Pompey the Great



While this civil war was going on the Roman general Marcus Aemilius Scaurus
Marcus Aemilius Scaurus (praetor 56 BC)
Marcus Aemilius Scaurus was a Roman politician of the 1st century BC and son of Marcus Aemilius Scaurus and Caecilia Metella Dalmatica.Scaurus lost his father when he was very young, but his education was insured by several other family friends...

 went to Syria to take possession, in the name of Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, of the kingdom of the Seleucids. The brothers appealed to him, each endeavoring by gifts and promises to win him over to his side. At first Scaurus, moved by a gift of four hundred talents, decided in favor of Aristobulus. Aretas was ordered to withdraw his army from Judea, and while retreating suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of Aristobulus. But when Pompey came to Syria (63 BCE), a different situation arose. Pompey, who had just been awarded the title "Conqueror of Asia" due to his decisive victories in Asia Minor over Pontus
Pontus
Pontus or Pontos is a historical Greek designation for a region on the southern coast of the Black Sea, located in modern-day northeastern Turkey. The name was applied to the coastal region in antiquity by the Greeks who colonized the area, and derived from the Greek name of the Black Sea: Πόντος...

 and the Seleucid Empire, had decided to bring Judea under the rule of the Romans. He took the same view of Hyrcanus' ability, and was moved by much the same motives as Antipater: as a ward of Rome, Hyrcanus would be more acceptable than Aristobulus. When, therefore, the brothers, as well as delegates of the people's party, which, weary of Hasmonean quarrels, desired the extinction of the dynasty, presented themselves before Pompey, he delayed the decision, in spite of Aristobulus' gift of a golden vine valued at five hundred talents. The latter, however, fathomed the designs of Pompey, and entrenched himself in the fortress of Alexandrium
Alexandrium
Alexandrion or Alexandrium, sometimes referred to as Sartaba, was a fort constructed by the Hasmoneans on a mountain between Scythopolis and Jerusalem, near the Jordan Valley...

; but, soon realizing the uselessness of resistance, surrendered at the first summons of the Romans, and undertook to deliver Jerusalem to them. The patriots, however, were not willing to open their gates to the Romans, and a siege
Siege of Jerusalem (63 BC)
-Bibliography:** Josephus, Flavius. William Whiston, A.M., translator . . Auburn and Buffalo, New York: John E. Beardsley. Retrieved 15 July 2010.*****...

 ensued which ended with the capture of the city. Pompey entered the Holy of Holies; this was only the second time that someone had dared to penetrate into this sacred spot. Judaea
Iudaea Province
Judaea or Iudaea are terms used by historians to refer to the Roman province that extended over parts of the former regions of the Hasmonean and Herodian kingdoms of Israel...

 had to pay tribute to Rome and was placed under the supervision of the Roman governor of Syria:
"In 63 BC, Judaea became a protectorate of Rome. Coming under the administration of a governor, Judaea was allowed a king; the governor's business was to regulate trade and maximize tax revenue."


In 57–55 BCE, Aulus Gabinius
Aulus Gabinius
Aulus Gabinius, Roman statesman and general, and supporter of Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, was a prominent figure in the later days of the Roman Republic....

, proconsul of Syria, split the former Hasmonean Kingdom into Galilee, Samaria, and Judea, with five districts of legal and religious councils known as sanhedrin (Greek: συνέδριον, "synedrion"): "And when he had ordained five councils (συνέδρια), he distributed the nation into the same number of parts. So these councils governed the people; the first was at Jerusalem, the second at Gadara
Umm Qais
Umm Qais is a town in Jordan located on the site of the ruined Hellenistic-Roman city of Gadara . The town was also called Antiochia or Antiochia Semiramis and Seleucia...

, the third at Amathus, the fourth at Jericho
Jericho
Jericho ; is a city located near the Jordan River in the West Bank of the Palestinian territories. It is the capital of the Jericho Governorate and has a population of more than 20,000. Situated well below sea level on an east-west route north of the Dead Sea, Jericho is the lowest permanently...

, and the fifth at Sepphoris
Tzippori
Tzippori , also known as Sepphoris, Dioceserea and Saffuriya is located in the central Galilee region, north-northwest of Nazareth, in modern-day Israel...

 in Galilee."

Pompey and Caesar


Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

 initially supported Aristobulus against Hyrcanus and Antipater. Between the weakness of Hyrcanus and the ambition of Aristobulus, Judea lost its independence. Aristobulus was taken to Rome a prisoner, and Hyrcanus was reappointed High Priest, but without political authority. When, in 50 BCE, it appeared that Julius Caesar was interested in using Aristobulus and his family as his clients to take control of Judea from Hyrcanus and Antipater, who were beholden to Pompey, supporters of Pompey had Aristobulus poisoned in Rome and executed Alexander in Antioch
Antioch
Antioch on the Orontes was an ancient city on the eastern side of the Orontes River. It is near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey.Founded near the end of the 4th century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals, Antioch eventually rivaled Alexandria as the chief city of the...

.

However, Pompey's pawns soon had occasion to turn to the other side:
"At the beginning of the civil war between [Caesar] and Pompey, Hyrcanus, at the instance of Antipater, prepared to support the man to whom he owed his position; but when Pompey was murdered, Antipater led the Jewish forces to the help of Caesar, who was hard pressed at Alexandria. His timely help and his influence over the Egyptian Jews recommended him to Caesar's favor, and secured for him an extension of his authority in Palestine, and for Hyrcanus the confirmation of his ethnarchy. Joppa was restored to the Hasmonean domain, Judea was granted freedom from all tribute and taxes to Rome, and the independence of the internal administration was guaranteed."


The timely aid from Antipater and Hyrcanus led the triumphant Caesar to ignore the claims of Aristobulus's younger son, Antigonus the Hasmonean
Antigonus the Hasmonean
Antigonus II Mattathias was the last Hasmonean king of Judea. He was the son of King Aristobulus II of Judea...

, and to confirm Hyrcanus and Antipater in their authority, despite their previous allegiance to Pompey. Josephus noted,
"Antigonus... came to Caesar... and accused Hyrcanus and Antipater, how they had driven him and his brethren entirely out of their native country... and that as to the assistance they had sent [to Caesar] into Egypt, it was not done out of good-will to him, but out of the fear they were in from former quarrels, and in order to gain pardon for their friendship to [his enemy] Pompey."

Hyrcanus' restoration as ethnarch
Ethnarch
Ethnarch, pronounced , the anglicized form of ethnarches refers generally to political leadership over a common ethnic group or homogeneous kingdom. The word is derived from the Greek words and ....

 in 47 BCE coincided with Caesar's appointment of Antipater as the first Roman Procurator, allowing Antipater to promote the interests of his own house: "Caesar appointed Hyrcanus to be high priest, and gave Antipater what principality he himself should choose, leaving the determination to himself; so he made him procurator of Judea."

Antipater appointed his sons to positions of influence: Phasael became Governor of Jerusalem, and Herod Governor of Galilee. This led to increasing tension between Hyrcanus and the family of Antipater, culminating in a trial of Herod for supposed abuses in his governorship, which resulted in Herod's flight into exile in 46 BCE. Herod soon returned, however, and the honors to Antipater's family continued. Hyrcanus' incapacity and weakness were so manifest that, when he defended Herod against the Sanhedrin and before Mark Antony
Mark Antony
Marcus Antonius , known in English as Mark Antony, was a Roman politician and general. As a military commander and administrator, he was an important supporter and loyal friend of his mother's cousin Julius Caesar...

, the latter stripped Hyrcanus of his nominal political authority and his title, bestowing them both upon the accused.

Caesar was assassinated
Assassination of Julius Caesar
The assassination of Julius Caesar was the result of a conspiracy by approximately forty Roman senators who called themselves Liberators. Led by Gaius Cassius Longinus and Marcus Junius Brutus, they stabbed Julius Caesar to death in the Theatre of Pompey on the Ides of March 44 BC...

 in 44 BCE and unrest and confusion spread throughout the Roman world, including Judaea. Antipater the Idumean was assassinated by a rival, Malichus, in 43 BCE, but Antipater's sons managed to kill Malichus and maintain their control over Judea and their father's puppet Hasmonean, Hyrcanus.

Parthian invasion, Antony, Augustus




After Julius Caesar was murdered in 44 BCE, Quintus Labienus
Quintus Labienus
Quintus Labienus , the son of Titus Labienus, was a Roman republican general, later in the service of Parthia.After Julius Caesar was murdered in 44 BC, Labienus took the side of Brutus and Cassius, the latter whom he served in the capacity of an ambassador to the Parthians...

, a Roman republican general and ambassador to the Parthians, sided with Brutus and Cassius in the Liberators' civil war
Liberators' civil war
The Liberators' civil war was started by the Second Triumvirate to avenge Julius Caesar's murder. The war was fought by the forces of Mark Antony and Octavian against the forces of Caesar's assassins Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus in 42 BC.-Prelude:After the murder of Caesar,...

; after their defeat Labienus joined the Parthians and assisted them in invading Roman territories in 40 BCE. The Parthian army crossed the Euphrates and Labienus was able to entice Mark Antony's Roman garrisons around Syria to rally to his cause. The Parthians split their army, and under Pacorus
Pacorus I of Parthia
Pacorus I of Parthia was the son of king Orodes II and queen Laodice of the Parthian Empire. It is possible that he was co-ruler with his father for at least part of his father's reign...

 conquered the Levant from the Phoenician coast through the Land of Israel:
"Antigonus... roused the Parthians to invade Syria and Palestine, [and] the Jews eagerly rose in support of the scion of the Maccabean house, and drove out the hated Idumeans with their puppet Jewish king. The struggle between the people and the Romans had begun in earnest, and though Antigonus, when placed on the throne by the Parthians, proceeded to spoil and harry the Jews, rejoicing at the restoration of the Hasmonean line, thought a new era of independence had come.
When Phasael and Hyrcanus II
Hyrcanus II
Hyrcanus II, a member of the Hasmonean dynasty, was the Jewish High Priest and King of Judea in the 1st century BC.-Accession:Hyrcanus was the eldest son of Alexander Jannaeus, King and High Priest, and Alexandra Salome...

 set out on an embassy to the Parthians, the Parthians instead captured them. Antigonus, who was present, cut off Hyrcanus's ears to make him unsuitable for the High Priesthood, while Phasael was put to death.

Antigonus, whose Hebrew name was Mattathias, bore the double title of king and High Priest for only three years, as he had not disposed of Herod, the most dangerous of his enemies. Herod fled into exile and sought the support of Mark Antony. Herod was designated "King of the Jews" by the Roman Senate
Roman Senate
The Senate of the Roman Republic was a political institution in the ancient Roman Republic, however, it was not an elected body, but one whose members were appointed by the consuls, and later by the censors. After a magistrate served his term in office, it usually was followed with automatic...

 in 40 BCE: Antony
"then resolved to get [Herod] made king of the Jews...[and] told [the Senate] that it was for their advantage in the Parthian
Parthian Empire
The Parthian Empire , also known as the Arsacid Empire , was a major Iranian political and cultural power in ancient Persia...

 war that Herod should be king; so they all gave their votes for it. And when the senate was separated, Antony and Caesar
Augustus
Augustus ;23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) is considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD.The dates of his rule are contemporary dates; Augustus lived under two calendars, the Roman Republican until 45 BC, and the Julian...

 [Augustus] went out, with Herod between them; while the consul and the rest of the magistrates went before them, in order to offer sacrifices [to the Roman gods], and to lay the decree in the Capitol. Antony also made a feast for Herod on the first day of his reign."


The struggle thereafter lasted for some years, as the main Roman forces were occupied with defeating the Parthians and had few additional resources to use to support Herod. After the Parthians' defeat, Herod was victorious over his rival in 37 BCE. Antigonus was delivered to Antony and executed shortly thereafter. The Romans assented to Herod's proclamation as King of the Jews, bringing about the end of the Hasmonean rule over Judea.

Herod and the end of the dynasty


Antigonus was not, however, the last Hasmonean. The fate of the remaining male members of the family under Herod was not a happy one. Aristobulus III, grandson of Aristobulus II through his elder son Alexander, was briefly made high priest, but was soon executed (36 BCE) due to Herod's jealousy. His sister Mariamne was married to Herod, but fell victim to his notorious jealousy. Her sons by Herod, Aristobulus IV
Aristobulus IV
Aristobulus IV was a prince of Judea from the Herodian dynasty, and was married to his cousin, Berenice, daughter of Costobar and Salome...

 and Alexander, were in their adulthood also executed by their father.

Hyrcanus II
Hyrcanus II
Hyrcanus II, a member of the Hasmonean dynasty, was the Jewish High Priest and King of Judea in the 1st century BC.-Accession:Hyrcanus was the eldest son of Alexander Jannaeus, King and High Priest, and Alexandra Salome...

 had been held by the Parthians since 40 BCE. For four years, until 36 BCE, he lived amid the Babylonian Jews, who paid him every mark of respect. In that year Herod, who feared that Hyrcanus might induce the Parthians to help him regain the throne, invited him to return to Jerusalem. The Babylonian Jews warned him in vain. Herod received him with every mark of respect, assigning him the first place at his table and the presidency of the state council, while awaiting an opportunity to get rid of him. As the last remaining Hasmonean, Hyrcanus was too dangerous a rival for Herod. In the year 30 BCE, charged with plotting with the King of Arabia, Hyrcanus was condemned and executed.

The later Herodian rulers Agrippa I
Agrippa I
Agrippa I also known as Herod Agrippa or simply Herod , King of the Jews, was the grandson of Herod the Great, and son of Aristobulus IV and Berenice. His original name was Marcus Julius Agrippa, so named in honour of Roman statesman Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, and he is the king named Herod in the...

 and Agrippa II
Agrippa II
Agrippa II , son of Agrippa I, and like him originally named Marcus Julius Agrippa, was the seventh and last king of the family of Herod the Great, thus last of the Herodians. He was the brother of Berenice, Mariamne, and Drusilla...

 both had Hasmonean blood, as Agrippa I's father was Aristobulus IV
Aristobulus IV
Aristobulus IV was a prince of Judea from the Herodian dynasty, and was married to his cousin, Berenice, daughter of Costobar and Salome...

, son of Herod by Mariamne I, but they were not direct male descendants, unless Herod was understood as a Hasmonean as per the following synthesis:

According to Josephus, Herod was also of Maccabean descent:
  • Eleazar Maccabeus
    Eleazar Maccabeus
    Eleazar Avaran, also known as Eleazar Maccabeus, Eleazar Hachorani/Choran was the fourth son of Mattathias and the younger brother of Judas Maccabeus. He was killed at the Battle of Beth-zechariah during the Maccabean revolt. Eleazar Avaran, also known as Eleazar Maccabeus, Eleazar...

     called Auran brother of Judas Maccabeus
    Judas Maccabeus
    Judah Maccabee was a Kohen and a son of the Jewish priest Mattathias...

     {Josephus Antiquity of the Jews Book XII/Chapter 9/Section 4}
  • Jason son of Eleazar {Ditto: Book XII/Chapter 10/Section 6}
  • Antipater I son of Jason {Ditto: Book XIII/Chapter 5/Section 8}
  • Antipater II Antipas son of Antipater I {Ditto: Book XIV/Chapter 1/Section 3}
  • Herod

Legacy and scholarship


While the Hasmonean dynasty managed to create an independent Jewish kingdom, its successes were rather short-lived, and the dynasty by and large failed to live up to the nationalistic momentum the Maccabee brothers had gained.

Jewish nationalism


The fall of the Hasmonean Kingdom marked an end to a century of Jewish self-governance, but Jewish nationalism and desire for independence continued under Roman rule, beginning with the Census of Quirinius
Census of Quirinius
The Census of Quirinius refers to the enrollment of the Roman Provinces of Syria and Iudaea for tax purposes taken in the year 6/7 during the reign of Emperor Augustus , when Publius Sulpicius Quirinius was appointed governor of Syria, after the banishment of Herod Archelaus from the Tetrarchy of...

 in 6 and leading to a series of Jewish-Roman wars
Jewish-Roman wars
The Jewish–Roman wars were a series of large-scale revolts by the Jews of Iudaea Province and Eastern Mediterranean against the Roman Empire. Some sources use the term to refer only to the First Jewish–Roman War and Bar Kokhba revolt...

 in the 1st–2nd centuries CE, including the Great Revolt (66
66
Year 66 was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Telesinus and Paullinus...

73
73
Year 73 was a common year starting on Friday of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Domitianus and Catullus...

 CE
Common Era
Common Era ,abbreviated as CE, is an alternative designation for the calendar era originally introduced by Dionysius Exiguus in the 6th century, traditionally identified with Anno Domini .Dates before the year 1 CE are indicated by the usage of BCE, short for Before the Common Era Common Era...

), the Kitos War
Kitos War
The Kitos War , translation: Rebellion of the exile) is the name given to the second of the Jewish–Roman wars. Major revolts by diasporic Jews in Cyrene , Cyprus, Mesopotamia and Aegyptus spiraled out of control resulting in a widespread slaughter of Roman citizens and others by the Jewish rebels...

 (115
115
Year 115 was a common year starting on Monday of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Messalla and Vergilianus...

117
117
Year 117 was a common year starting on Thursday of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Niger and Apronianus...

), and Bar Kokhba's revolt
Bar Kokhba's revolt
The Bar Kokhba revolt 132–136 CE; or mered bar kokhba) against the Roman Empire, was the third major rebellion by the Jews of Judaea Province being the last of the Jewish-Roman Wars. Simon bar Kokhba, the commander of the revolt, was acclaimed as a Messiah, a heroic figure who could restore Israel...

 (132
132
Year 132 was a leap year starting on Monday of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Serius and Sergianus...

135
135
Year 135 was a common year starting on Friday of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Lupercus and Atilianus...

).

During the wars, temporary commonwealths were established, but they ultimately fell to the sustained might of Rome. Roman legion
Roman legion
A Roman legion normally indicates the basic ancient Roman army unit recruited specifically from Roman citizens. The organization of legions varied greatly over time but they were typically composed of perhaps 5,000 soldiers, divided into maniples and later into "cohorts"...

s under Vespasian
Vespasian
Vespasian , was Roman Emperor from 69 AD to 79 AD. Vespasian was the founder of the Flavian dynasty, which ruled the Empire for a quarter century. Vespasian was descended from a family of equestrians, who rose into the senatorial rank under the Emperors of the Julio-Claudian dynasty...

 and Titus
Titus
Titus , was Roman Emperor from 79 to 81. A member of the Flavian dynasty, Titus succeeded his father Vespasian upon his death, thus becoming the first Roman Emperor to come to the throne after his own father....

 besieged and destroyed Jerusalem, looted and burned Herod's Temple (in the year 70) and Jewish strongholds (notably Gamla in 67 and Masada
Masada
Masada is the name for a site of ancient palaces and fortifications in the South District of Israel, on top of an isolated rock plateau, or horst, on the eastern edge of the Judean Desert, overlooking the Dead Sea. Masada is best known for the violence that occurred there in the first century CE...

 in 73), and enslaved
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

 or massacred a large part of the Jewish population. The defeat of the Jewish revolts against the Roman Empire notably contributed to the numbers and geography of the Jewish Diaspora
Jewish diaspora
The Jewish diaspora is the English term used to describe the Galut גלות , or 'exile', of the Jews from the region of the Kingdom of Judah and Roman Iudaea and later emigration from wider Eretz Israel....

, as many Jews were scattered after losing their state or were sold into slavery
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

 throughout the empire.

Jewish religious scholarship


Jewish tradition holds that the claiming of kingship by the later Hasmoneans led to their eventual downfall, since that title was only to be held by descendants of the line of King David
David
David was the second king of the united Kingdom of Israel according to the Hebrew Bible and, according to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, an ancestor of Jesus Christ through both Saint Joseph and Mary...

. The Hasmonean bureaucracy was filled with men with Greek names, and the dynasty eventually became very Hellenized
Hellenization
Hellenization is a term used to describe the spread of ancient Greek culture, and, to a lesser extent, language. It is mainly used to describe the spread of Hellenistic civilization during the Hellenistic period following the campaigns of Alexander the Great of Macedon...

, to the annoyance of many of its more traditionally-minded Jewish subjects. Frequent dynastic quarrels also contributed to the view among Jews of later generations that the latter Hasmoneans were degenerate. One member of this school was Josephus, whose accounts are in many cases our sole source of information about the Hasmoneans.

Maccabees


1. Mattathias
Mattathias
Mattathias ben Johanan was a Jewish priest whose role in the Jewish revolt against the Syrian Greeks is related in the Books of the Maccabees...

, 170–167 BCE

2. Judas Maccabeus
Judas Maccabeus
Judah Maccabee was a Kohen and a son of the Jewish priest Mattathias...

, 167–160 BCE

3. Jonathan Maccabeus, 153–143 BCE (first to hold the title of High Priest)

4. Simon Maccabeus, 142–141 BCE

Ethnarchs and High Priests


5. Simon, 141–135 BCE

6. Hyrcanus I
John Hyrcanus
John Hyrcanus was a Hasmonean leader of the 2nd century BC.-Name:...

, 134–104 BCE

Kings and High Priests


7. Aristobulus I, 104–103 BCE

8. Alexander Jannaeus
Alexander Jannaeus
Alexander Jannaeus was king of Judea from 103 BC to 76 BC. The son of John Hyrcanus, he inherited the throne from his brother Aristobulus I, and appears to have married his brother's widow, Shlomtzion or "Shelomit", also known as Salome Alexandra, according to the Biblical law of Yibbum...

, 103–76 BCE

9. Salome Alexandra
Salome Alexandra
Salome Alexandra or Alexandra of Jerusalem , was the only Jewish regnant queen, with the exception of her own husband's mother whom he had prevented from ruling as his dying father had wished, and of the much earlier usurper Athaliah...

, 76–67 BCE

10. Hyrcanus II
Hyrcanus II
Hyrcanus II, a member of the Hasmonean dynasty, was the Jewish High Priest and King of Judea in the 1st century BC.-Accession:Hyrcanus was the eldest son of Alexander Jannaeus, King and High Priest, and Alexandra Salome...

, 67–66 BCE

11. Aristobulus II
Aristobulus II
Aristobulus II was the Jewish High Priest and King of Judea, 66 BC to 63 BC, from the Hasmonean Dynasty.-Family:Aristobulus was the younger son of Alexander Jannaeus, King and High Priest, and Alexandra Salome. After the death of Alexander in 76 BC, his widow succeeded to the rule of Judea and...

, 66–63 BCE

12. Hyrcanus II
Hyrcanus II
Hyrcanus II, a member of the Hasmonean dynasty, was the Jewish High Priest and King of Judea in the 1st century BC.-Accession:Hyrcanus was the eldest son of Alexander Jannaeus, King and High Priest, and Alexandra Salome...

, 63–40 BCE (restored but demoted to Ethnarch)

13. Antigonus
Antigonus the Hasmonean
Antigonus II Mattathias was the last Hasmonean king of Judea. He was the son of King Aristobulus II of Judea...

, 40–37 BCE

14. Aristobulus III, 36 BCE (only as High Priest)

See also

  • Hasmonean coinage
  • Temple in Jerusalem
    Temple in Jerusalem
    The Temple in Jerusalem or Holy Temple , refers to one of a series of structures which were historically located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, the current site of the Dome of the Rock. Historically, these successive temples stood at this location and functioned as the centre of...

  • List of Hasmonean and Herodian rulers
  • History of ancient Israel and Judah
    History of ancient Israel and Judah
    Israel and Judah were related Iron Age kingdoms of ancient Palestine. The earliest known reference to the name Israel in archaeological records is in the Merneptah stele, an Egyptian record of c. 1209 BCE. By the 9th century BCE the Kingdom of Israel had emerged as an important local power before...

  • Siege of Jerusalem (37 BC)
    Siege of Jerusalem (37 BC)
    Herod the Great's Siege of Jerusalem was the final step in his campaign to secure the throne of Judea. Aided by Roman forces provided by Marcus Antonius , Herod was able to capture the city and depose Antigonus II Mattathias, ending Hasmonean rule...


External links