Maccabees, books of

Four books recording the struggle of loyalist Jews against the forces of Hellenist absorption in the 2nd cent. BCE. Of these 1 and 2 Macc. (there is considerable overlap in telling the history) exist only in the Greek of the LXX, but were incorporated into the Vulgate and are reckoned by the Roman Catholic Church to be deuterocanonical and having the authority of scripture. They are placed in the Apocrypha by Reformed Churches.
The Greek OT includes 3 Macc., which is inappropriately named, since it is not concerned with the Maccabees but is a fictitious work compiled by a Jew in Alexandria at about the turn of the eras concerning the triumphs of Jews over their enemies about 220 BCE.
Also written about the time of Jesus, 4 Macc. is attached to the LXX as an appendix and enlarges on the sufferings of the Jews in the Maccabean period.
Access to historical records in Jerusalem about its political fortunes seems to be shown in 2 Macc., but only 1 Macc. contains reliable history of the Jewish opposition to the attempt by the kings of Syria to bring about religious unity in their empire by imposing Hellenistic religion and culture. The story begins in 167 BCE when Mattathias and his sons, who were members of a priestly family in the village of Modein, raised the flag of insurrection. The military leadership soon passed to the son Judas, who had the surname ‘Maccabaeus[[➝ Maccabees, books of]], meaning a ‘hammer’, who launched a guerrilla campaign, recaptured Jerusalem, and rededicated the Temple (164 BCE), which the Syrians had defiled. After Judas was killed, the war was continued by his brothers Jonathan and Simon. The latter obtained some recognition by the Syrians but was murdered in 134 BCE, to be succeeded by his son, John Hyrcanus, who survived for twenty years and was both ruler and high priest. Under him the Hasmonean [[➝ Hasmoneans]] state (Hasmonean was the name of the Maccabean dynasty) flourished and expanded.
The purpose of 1 Macc. seems to be to justify the military adventures on the ground that political freedom was essential for Jewish religious freedom. There is no reference to a future life after death, but importance is attached to human values of courage and wisdom as displayed by the heroes of Mattathias' family. The purpose of 2 Macc. is to assert the importance of the Temple and the Law. Advice is given in 3 Macc. to Jews in the Dispersion [[➝ dispersion]] when they are persecuted (3:3), but 4 Macc. extols the sufferings of Jewish martyrs as being atoning sacrifices for the whole nation (6:28–9). Cf. Heb. 12:1–2.

Dictionary of the Bible.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • MACCABEES, BOOKS OF —    two books of the Apocrypha which give, the first, an account of the heroic struggle which the Maccabees maintained from 175 to 135 B.C. against the kings of Syria, and the second, of an intercalary period of Jewish history from 175 to 160 B.C …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Maccabees, Books of the —    There were originally five books of the Maccabees. The first contains a history of the war of independence, commencing (B.C. 175) in a series of patriotic struggles against the tyranny of Antiochus Epiphanes, and terminating B.C. 135. It… …   Easton's Bible Dictionary

  • Maccabees, The Books of the — ▪ biblical literature Introduction Maccabees also spelled  Machabees        four books, none of which is in the Hebrew Bible but all of which appear in some manuscripts of the Septuagint. The first two books only are part of canonical scripture… …   Universalium

  • MACCABEES, SECOND BOOK OF — (II Maccabees), known in Greek as Τά Μακκαβαïκά, that is, the narratives about (Judah called) the Maccabee. It was this title which gave the title to the other books of the apocrypha bearing the same name. It is an abridgment of a larger work of… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • MACCABEES, FIRST BOOK OF — (I Maccabees), a historical work extant in Greek, covering the period of 40 years from the accession of Antiochus Epiphanes (175 B.C.E.) to the death of Simeon the Hasmonean (135 B.C.E.). Its name in the Septuagint and in the writings of the… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Books of the Bible — are listed differently in the canons of Jews, and Catholic, Protestant, Greek Orthodox, Slavonic Orthodox, Georgian, Armenian Apostolic, Syriac and Ethiopian Churches, although there is substantial overlap. A table comparing the canons of some of …   Wikipedia

  • MACCABEES, THIRD BOOK OF — (III Maccabees), apocryphal book, included in the septuagint , probably dating from the first century B.C.E. It has nothing to do with the Maccabees, but relates a legend to explain why the Jews in Egypt have a Purim like festival in the summer… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Maccabees (disambiguation) — Maccabees may refer to:*Maccabees, Jewish rebels against Hellenization in the 2nd Century BCE *Books of the Maccabees, deuterocanonical books *Knights of the Maccabees, fraternal organization *The Maccabees, British band * The Makkabees, a band… …   Wikipedia

  • MACCABEES, FOURTH BOOK OF — (IV Maccabees), apocryphal book, included in the Septuagint. It presumably dates from the first century C.E., and is erroneously ascribed by Christian tradition to josephus . It does not deal with the warriors of the Maccabean revolt, but with… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Maccabees — Mac ca*bees, n. pl. 1. The name given in later times to the Asmon[ae]ans, a family of Jewish patriots, who headed a religious revolt in the reign of Antiochus IV., 168 161 b. c., which led to a period of freedom for Israel. Schaff Herzog. [1913… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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