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Everything we wanted to know about the Hasmoneans and were ashamed to ask - 1: We prayed to this hero?!

First chapter in a new series that will cover the Maccabean and Hasmonean period from 167 BC to the XNUMXs

Judah the Maccabee prays for the dead after his victory. Painting by Rubens. From Wikipedia
Judah the Maccabee prays for the dead after his victory. Painting by Rubens. From Wikipedia

We are starting a new series that will cover the period of the Maccabees and the Hasmoneans from 167 BC to the forties of the first century BC. I will try to show how Matthias calls for a religious/cultural rebellion, when behind it is hidden a personal, somewhat political motive, and how his sons and grandsons gradually ignored his ideological slogans and finally became, unbelievably, the Hellenistic kings for almost everything.

One of my first articles in "Hidan" dealt with the somewhat piratical character of Judah the Maccabee (December 3.12.2002, XNUMX). Even though Hanukkah is behind us, I would like to bring some details, something "noisy" and damning about the Maccabees/Hashmonites, and not that these details are confidential and unknown to all researchers of the period from then until..., but that...

The problematic problem regarding these details is concentrated in the absence of parallel and independent documentary materials, which may shed reliable light on the subject under discussion, and we have no choice but to refer to the written sources, which are obviously unknown, with an unbiased eye. Rather, these are the documentary materials that stand before our eyes and unfortunately we will be content with them.

It is worth emphasizing from the outset that, similar to what was cooked in the Zionist bakery for figures such as Ben Kuseva/Bar Kochba, biblical figures, especially from the Second Temple period onwards, became an idealistic model of the Jewish national movement, i.e. Zionism. And over time, and with a deliberate intention, these underwent mutations, somewhat Zhdanovist, to serve the Zionist goals, from then until today, when time makes them what-is-believable. Zionism, as we know, grew in Europe at the end of the 19th century, and like its predecessors in Europe, such as the German, Italian, or Austro-Hungarian national movements, it too looked for ancient heroes in order to turn them into a model for imitation and admiration, and it transformed-and transformed in them until they fit to its destinations. And this, among other things, through the educational and propaganda system, and learning to such an extent that the public is not ready to accept any other ideology beyond its Dinkota version.

I will present to you on the tip of the fork phenomena and events that our Maccabean/Hashmonean "heroes" tied themselves to and were launched through the pages of history straight to the gallery of admiration of the tribal campfire.


Matthias, as is known to everyone who was asked, was the priest who performed the miracle of the revolt in the Greeks, in the Greeks and in the Mediterranean. First, we are not talking about the Greeks and Greeks, but the Hellenists and Hellenism, which are quite far from classical Hellenism, and are nothing more than an enclave of Hellenism and ancient Middle Eastern cultures, but this is not the time and place to delve into that.

Second, and for our purposes, it is more correct, an internal rebellion initiated by Matthias, which is in terms of a real earthquake, which I asked to prove in one of the episodes of the series "The Priesthood as You Didn't Know". Matthew, a member of the Hasmon family, which belonged to the Yehoirib priestly guard, sought to destroy the honorable, sanctified status of the Zadok family, which was at the head of the priesthood, and to convert his own family. We were a veritable usurpation, with the populist cover for it being the anti-Greek/Greek rebellion (Hidden, clerical revolution, September 13.9.2008, XNUMX).

Wait, wait, the detractors will say, the sources speak of a real war with a foreign culture, call it Hellenistic or by another name. Fine, he says: but a different picture emerges from the sources - the majority of the public, for various, mainly pragmatic reasons, accepted the foreign culture, and mainly against the background of the fact that Greekization, or whatever we call it, was mostly external and not immanent.
This is therefore a fanatical, extremist group, one that arose throughout history, which imposed its views, its principles, on the general public.

And in general, regarding the decrees, the annihilation decrees of Antiochus IV, this was also the reaction of the majority of the population, namely the acceptance of the decrees, also from the basic assumption that their ability to be enforced was weak.

Matthew eliminated/murdered that Jew who was willing to make a sacrifice for a pagan vocation in Modiim and sacrificed him on the stage erected in honor of the sacrifice of the Syrian-Hellenistic king. And this in terms of human sacrifice and perhaps a kind of closing of the circle from the days of Abraham. And we ask: What is your name?!

The next step after the declaration of the rebellion - the escape from the known areas to the mountains and the establishment of militia forces against the decrees of King Antiochus IV Epiphanes by Mattathias and his supporters, and a massive attack on those families who did not marry their sons and actually carry out the words of the sons, whether it was in the spirit of those families or not No, because the scripture says: "And they circumcised the boys who were not circumcised, whom they found on the border of Israel by force" (45 Maccabees XNUMX:XNUMX).

As the days of Matthew drew near to death, he gathered his sons and handed them his will, his legacy, and among other things, he cites examples from the First Book of how characters such as Phinehas and Elijah committed acts of killing (and perhaps even murder), and as a reward received from God "great honor and eternal name" (ibid. 50). Phinehas won the "covenant of eternal priesthood" (ibid. 53) and Elijah was "raised to heaven" (ibid. 57). And in general, by doing so, Matthias strengthened the connection between Pinchas and Elijah and the Maccabean rebellion, colored it with the sign of Jewish fanaticism and thereby gave legitimacy to every move the rebels would make, whether it was moral or not.

Judas Maccabee

Below is a somewhat unknown and unknown text from the book of Maccabees 27 and its language - "And Judah, also known as Maccabee, was the tenth (along with nine of his friends). And he fled into the desert, as the animals in the mountains lived, he and those who were with him, and the grass was their food all the time so that they would have no part in the impurity" (XNUMX:XNUMX).

According to the chronology of XNUMX Maccabees, this event occurred before Antiochus imposed the decrees. That is, no one forced Judah, as well as the residents of Jerusalem and its surroundings, to be fed non-kosher foods. So why does Yehuda leave together with a small group to the desert? Does he see in front of him a sort of recycling of a desert generation towards the settlement in Canaan, oh perhaps, what is more apparent to the eye, to resemble Elijah in his time, that is to say, to put on the role of a prophet, of a fanatic, and develop a high ideological motivation towards the rebellion. And perhaps, what may explain the giving of Matthew's inheritance specifically to him and not to Simon who preceded him.

Imbued with the above-mentioned motivation, Judah the Maccabee goes out to fight his enemies - the Hellenistic government and its decrees (niha), but also and perhaps even mainly the moderates whom he calls by the name of criminals and wicked people who must be excommunicated from the world, and he does indeed act this way - "and kill the people who violated the laws of the ancestors" (Yosef ben Matatiyo, Antiquities of the Jews, 286, XNUMX, XNUMX). at trial? Even in a field tribunal? no and no. And those wicked criminals, many priests and respected among the elders of the people, left the temple to Nicanor - one of the honorable ministers and soldiers of Antiochus IV, to show him that not all the people were hostile and rebellious. And they pointed in front of him to the Olam that they would sacrifice in the temple to the Hellenistic king. Apparently this is foreign work, since only public sacrifices and individual Jewish sacrifices were offered in the Temple. But this is an old and ancient practice, which was accepted among many peoples, as an integral part of the expression of servitude to another people. And the Mishnah and Yosef ben Matatiyo point out that in the temple, apart from the regular sacrifices, two sacrifices were offered every day for the safety of the Roman emperor and the safety of the city of Rome (and perhaps to the Goddess Roma, Dea Roma), and no one saw this as a terrible pagan expression. That is, things you see from here you don't see from there.

And Judah the Maccabee continues in his wars - "And Judah fought with the sons of Esau in Edom the scorpion... and he remembered the evil of the sons of Baon, they were a minister to the people and a mine to ambush them on the roads. And they shall be shut up by him in the towers, and he shall have mercy on them, and shall confiscate them, and shall burn the towers with fire, together with all that is in them" (Hebrews 5:3-XNUMX). That is, on all their inhabitants.
Later Yehuda attacks the inhabitants of the city of Basra and kills every male by the sword. He also laments the males in the city of Mitzpe. He burns the temple with horns with all its occupants in it. So how does his behavior differ from that attributed to the evil legions that Antiochus placed in Jerusalem?

Yehuda turns towards Efron and asks the residents to allow him to pass. They refuse and Judah attacks the city and exterminates all its male inhabitants. No one probably reminded him at that time that the Horma war (and I am not ashamed to define it as a holocaust) of the people of Israel against Amalek from generation to generation actually began with the refusal of the Amalekites, according to the Torah, to allow the people of Israel to pass through them to the land of Canaan.
Similar acts are committed by Yehuda in Hebron and Aria-Bannatya.
When Judah defeats Nicanor in the battle of Haddah/Beit Huron, he decapitates Nicanor, cuts off his right hand and impales them on the walls of Jerusalem right in front of the Temple and likewise uproots/cuts out Nicanor's tongue and orders it to be thrown when it is cut and cut to the birds of prey. Say - but everyone acted like that?! Maybe, but what about the morality of the Jewish people?! As told, as steeped in tradition?!

On the eve of Judah's last battle against the Hellenistic general at Cykides, the warriors ask him not to fight when the chances of victory are almost nil, but that Judah in his own, six battle gods, bring about the death of all the warriors, including himself.

Matthew did not place himself, so it seems, at the head of the priesthood. This was done by his son Yehuda, when he gathered courage and was motivated following the purification of the temple and the renewal of work in it. (By the way, the holiday that has been celebrated since then is called in the Maccabean literature "the days of the dedication of the altar", while in Josephus ben Matthew the holiday is called the "Holiday of Lights" and in his opinion for no reason "that the right to worship our God appeared without us hoping for it"). The Maccabean literature is somewhat wary of bringing the evidence regarding his ministry, and this is done by Joseph ben Mattheyahoo, who reports that Judah was a high priest, and in an interesting connection to that last battle, Joseph ben Mattheyahoo notes that at his death, Judah's priesthood had completed three years. We were from 164 BC when Judah freed Jerusalem and the temple from Hellenistic control.

And then a new dynasty begins under the leadership of the priesthood, is it the dynasty of the sons of Hasmon to the Yehoirib guard, and thus this summer ended the traditional-mythological family of Zadok. We would expect Yehuda to wait with his self-appointment, at least until he lays down his sword and sits down to pray. And why would he behave this way, after all his father crowned him as his successor, at least the military one, when the reports of the cruel deeds that have already been done, deserve all the praise and admiration for the fact that Judah was a scion of the families of the fanatics.

It is customary to say that one should not criticize Judah's actions, because that is how rulers around him behaved. And it was said to them: After all, we seek to be praised for acts of morality and justice, unlike the other nations, and how can the acts of the Hasmoneans be reconciled with such an empty justification?!

If you peruse and even delve deeper into the literature of the Sages, you will not find a tract called "Hanukkah" nor about the exploits of Matthew, Judah the Maccabee, Jonathan and his brother Shimon. Isn't this a statement of opposition and aversion to the actions of the Maccabees, also so that after the destruction of the Second Temple, zealous elements would seek to renew the days of the Maccabee rebellion, and this in a period that excelled in strengthening relations with the Roman government.

interesting. Yes-yes?!

23 תגובות

  1. This article is nothing short of embarrassing. No historian of value would even consider it an article.
    From its beginning it is tainted with severe anachronism. There is not a trace of academic discussion in it but only the throwing of puzzling accusations at people who died thousands of years ago. The trendiness screams from him until there is no article left to read.

    Embarrassing that scientists publish such a level of writing at all.

  2. "Yehuda turns towards Efron and asks the residents to allow him to pass. They refuse and Judah attacks the city and exterminates all its male inhabitants. No one probably reminded him at that time that the Horma war (and I am not ashamed to define it as a holocaust) of the people of Israel against Amalek from generation to generation actually began with the refusal of the Amalekites, according to the Torah, to allow the people of Israel to pass through them to the land of Canaan." - The author's intention, obviously, is Sihon, the Amorite king.

  3. It's hard to ignore the trends in this article... It's a shame that such things find themselves on a site like "Hidan"

  4. It is not clear if Yehuda was appointed a high priest, since Elikom/Elikim the Mathion is remembered as a high priest after him, it also seems to say that his Yehuda was a high priest, surely they would have used this in XNUMX Maccabees to glorify his name and the name of the Hasmoneans.
    Josephus Flavius ​​sees himself as a relative of the Hasmoneans and is proud of his lineage so that his words should not be taken as a criticism of the Hasmoneans.
    To talk about the morality of the past and compare it to today is a distortion, to say about which of the Hasmoneans is a "fanatic" or an "extremist" is an expression of a biased opinion (probably stems from some biased political opinion) and has no place here.
    We know with good probability from the Qumran scrolls that the Hasmoneans were pre-Pharisees, became Sadducees and became Pharisees again.
    We know that the writers of Maccabi XNUMX and XNUMX undoubtedly had an agenda, we can learn about this agenda by studying these books.
    From here to the use of titles - the distance is great, it is equally possible to say of the Maccabees who were "the greatest saviors of Israel in history" in exactly the same way.
    In short, it is possible and even worthwhile to show facts from the historical written sources because these are not fully known to the general public, from this to the use of politically biased titles - the distance is great - the public will know and laugh.

  5. If Bibi becomes prime minister one more time, I will finally understand that there is no God. That our country will be destroyed again, that we are puppets on the strings of American capitalists, that poverty will increase, and that the country cannot be trusted. In short, we will wait and see.

  6. I am waiting for the next article. As I said a plurality of opinions is positive and I want to hear a different point of view than the one we grew up with on the Maccabees. It is allowed to hear different opinions, it is allowed to disagree on them, but the truth is then found somewhere on the way between the new opinion and the point we were at before the article. I am looking for an academic book on Maccabees XNUMX-XNUMX.

  7. In the shadow of these priestly wars was born the Samaritan people? On weight, not exactly the Lancets, not exactly Jews?

  8. Today's politicians are no less cynical! For example, social security has become the treasury of the Ministry of Finance. Welfare is a duty of the state! And not good, which she does to the citizens! Something in the nature of the leadership shows contempt for the public! Sorry for the parallel to our time. But the drama that destroyed the Jewish state can still come back!

  9. I agree with your words. In my opinion, the Hasmonean House preserved Judaism right up to Rabbi Akiva who managed to find an impossible recipe for preserving a religion without a state for 2,000 years. If it weren't for the 100-year independence achieved by the Hasmonean House, we would not have arrived at the Mishnah, and Gemara, and Siddur Tefilah, and the sages, who replaced the priesthood as the guardian of religion, and the offering of sacrifices. The Romans also judged rebels harshly, and the Latin heritage remained the cradle of civilization. The macabres were not only cruel, they achieved a hopeless independence of the very few against the many and very powerful.
    Historians are partly judgmental. I understand Dr. Sorek's judgmental orientation. He tries to challenge the legitimacy of the Hasmoneans.
    I will continue to read his series, and try to challenge my information and check where my equilibrium point is after the appeal. In general, I am against challenging the legitimacy of the Hasmonean House. By the way, according to your claim, I am right,

    True: there is a whole section which tries to a) challenge the correctness of the Bible (Finkelstein by the way supports the historicity of the Bible but with reservations) historically and the existence of Israel before Rabbi Akiva (year 50 AD), then the legitimacy of the Hasmonean House (250? BC) ), then the legitimacy of Zionism (the latter are called the new historians and most of them do not recognize the legitimacy of the State of Israel).
    I learn from all of them, even if I don't agree with what they say. I also read as you see history according to Rabbi Benny Lau who combines religiosity first and foremost with science. I also read Yeshayahu Leibovitz's criticism of the Rambam and Morah Nabukim, as well as books by Dr. Rabbi Goodman on Morah Nabukim and the Khazari, as well as Gemara and more.
    It is possible and right for you to clarify to the general public the general direction of the article here and that this is another opinion among opinions and not absolute truth. And it is true that the series will present facts and be less judgmental. Anyway, I will read it.

  10. The problem is not in the statements, the problem is in the judgments. It is impossible under any circumstances to understand a certain reality through the glasses of another reality, and the most serious is the judgmental approach. The historian gives an overview of the events in the context of the period, the culture, and the being at the time when they occurred. He analyzes the events in the light of the relevant language and starting conditions and not in the light of contemporary conventions, transitory values, changing perceptions new to tomorrow. As soon as you defile your texts with judgment that comes from the depths of your private "I", you are done - at least for those who understand a little interest.

  11. On the subject of the suppression of the Sadducees and the priesthood by Beit Hillel, and the subject of the suppression of the talmidim of sages and rabbis the priesthood as the elite carrying the flame, the series "Sages" volumes XNUMX-XNUMX by Rabbi Dr. Binyamin Lau.
    The books of Maccabees 70-30 were not included by the Jewish Bible signers who treated them as external books. The translation of the XNUMXth "Christian" into Greek commissioned by one of Ptolemy's kings of Alexandria eventually contained in the Old Testament of the Christians the books of Maccabees in Greek and they consider the House of Hasmoneans (see the drawing here). From there they were translated back into Hebrew, after Judaism recognized the importance of the Hasmonean house. The event of losing the books in the original and copying them from a translated copy also happened to Plato's writings (the state, the laws and the incorporated writings) which were translated from the West, and Aristotle's writings which were translated from Ibn-Roshad into the West. Maimonides favored the combination of Aristotle's wisdom (Teacher of the Perplexed. A controversial book in Judaism) and Maimonides knew it from Arabic. It seems to me that Rambam was also an initiative to boycott him, and only thanks to a Christian pope who cherished Rambam as a great philosopher, the boycott was avoided. A similar thing happened to Masillat Isharim and the writings of Ramchal (Rabbi Moshe Haim Lozato), whose XNUMX books were confiscated and buried and lost, and Masillat Isharim remained. Today it is an essential codex of ultra-orthodox Judaism. There is no prophet in his city, and then the people of that thinker recognize the greatness of his legacy and embrace it back.

  12. It is true, by the way, that later on the House of Hillel prevailed in its perception that rabbis and scholars from Israel and innovation in interpretation are superior to the priesthood, Sadducees as the religious elite. And the legacy left to us by Rabbi Akiva is the 18th prayer in its beginning and the process of editing and signing the Mishnah by Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi and later the Talmud. But here I am a skeptic (as you say) and I recommend to laymen who are interested the series "Sages" volumes XNUMX-XNUMX, by Dr. Rabbi Binyamin Lau.
    Forgive me if what I write down here from my memory from reading books is not accurate, but it seems to me accurate enough to be enriched here: it is true by the way that Judaism underestimated the value of the Maccabian victory and it was not included in the Jewish Bible. Christianity included the books of Maccabees in their Old Testament codex (not including the gospels of the apostles), and one of the Ptolemaic kings who created the 70th translation of the Greek Torah contained the history of the Hasmoneans. In a later period after the events, Judaism re-adopted the Hasmonean house, and the books of Maccabees XNUMX-XNUMX exist in Hebrew today I think from a Greek translation.

    This phenomenon is not unusual. Plato's writings and our knowledge of Socrates - one of the cornerstones of Western culture and philosophy in particular, and also morality, in my opinion were lost in Greek. The Christians copied the lost writings (the state, the laws and more) from the West to the best of my memory and thus were saved from oblivion. reference
    Regarding Aristotle, I am not aware whether there were writings in Latin in the monasteries (such as in the book The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco, Aristotle's book of laughter) in the Middle Ages originally from Greek or translated from the West. According to source Professor Yosef Schwartz translated from the West from Ibn Rushd. In addition Maimonides knew Aristotle's wisdom and describes it in his book "Teacher of Perplexity" and therefore it comes from Arab culture. There was a time when Islam was more enlightened than Christianity.

  13. I agree with everything you say. Now I understand what's bothering you.
    I am open to hearing secular theories, and finding my balance point.
    I don't think that the Maccabees were less important to the history of the people of Israel because they were phantasms.
    As I said in Kabbalah (meaning not in the context of the Maccabees), the sect of priests from Judah led to the spread of monotheism in my amateur view as mentioned above, among 3 billion people and another 12.5 million Jews. Not everything done in the name of religion was bad. Our history today is a mixture of Hellenic sciences and philosophy recorded by the way, from pagan faith, and moral teachings that began in Judaism and continued in philosophy.

  14. Interesting and instructive
    Some questions and concerns:
    1. Sages represent the Pharisees, while the House of Hasmoneans (mainly the later) represents the Sadducees and those who took the throne illegally (since when can priests become kings?). This is the reason why the Hasmoneans' part and their war was reduced, and in its place the miracle rose to prominence, and sages discuss the issue of the order of lighting the candles and other trifles.
    2. Cruelty? Unfortunately, this is how they fought in ancient times. Even nowadays wars are not really sterile...
    3. Joseph son of Matthieu, both Maccabees I and Maccabees II have their own agenda. Maccabim XNUMX, for example, was written from a very "Jewish-nationalist" point of view. All sources should be examined as non-objective, and try to understand history accordingly
    4. Even if the Maccabean revolt was cruel and "zealous", it is possible that if not for the revolt, Judaism would have been assimilated into the Hellenistic world of that time. Don't know if it's good or bad, but from a religious point of view (Jewish, and even Christian), it's certainly negative

  15. to your question The only subject in which I publish articles is in my field of work and in the scientific press.
    In the other subjects I am an amateur. I don't know what your education is.
    In the issues here, I try to provide a reference and be precise. The statements here from the Gemara are correct, and the statement that the commentary to the Gemara treated the lack of existence of the tractate "Hanukkah" as puzzling is correct.

  16. Do you also publish your works on professional platforms that are exposed to peer review or have you found a site far from the eyes of professional review to publish musings that originate from contemporary political positions that have little connection to real research? I don't know, but your articles have a patronizing smell of someone who comes to teach the drakes what note they should put in the ballot box in light of "past failures". Thanks, but no thanks. not buying

  17. Out of respect for you. It is true that there is no Hanukkah tractate in the Gemara, and in general, fantasia wins. By analogy, the sect of priests from Judah, the weak kingdom compared to the kingdom of Israel, spread the division of the kingdom according to Finkelstein, because what is more correct than saying it was always ours, and won. Judaism, Christianity and Islam are from the same seed of religious fanaticism. That means 3 billion people in the world accepted the words of the priests. Joshua when conquering the land was commanded to exterminate all the peoples of Canaan and only in a later period were the laws documented and there are captive laws and resident laws in which it is commanded to spare one and the other.
    Now for minor updates: it seems to me personally only that you are right, because in later generations the rabbis were required to address the disturbing problem, and they give excellent reasons to the religious, but not to secular historians. Incidentally, I am an unusual combination of a believer in both the Creator and the duty to the supremacy of research and science.
    The Gemara on Shabbat (page XNUMX, XNUMX) says:

    "May Hanukkah Datno Rabnan XNUMX Bakhsaliyo Yomi Dahanukah Tamnia Inon dela for an obituary in the capital. When the Greeks entered the temple, all the oils in the temple were defiled, and when the Hasmonean dynasty increased and became more powerful, they checked and found only one tin of oil that was placed in the house of a high priest, and it was only to be lit for one day. Good at praise and confession."

    The Bariata brought by the Gemara answers the question "Why didn't the Gemara first explain what Hanukah is" instead it brought the laws of Hanukkah first.

    That the bereita brought by the Gemara is not a normal bereita but originates from the scroll of Ta'anit in which all the days on which miracles were performed for Israel in the Second Temple are given which set them as good days. And within those days there were days on which it was forbidden to fast, but it was permissible to say eulogy on them, and there were days that were more severe and it was not even allowed to say eulogy on them. And in Megilat Banit the issue of Hanukkah was brought up, and the laws of Hanukkah with which the Gemara opened refer to the matter of Hanukkah brought up in Megillat Taanit.

  18. I am very far from being a believer, but nevertheless this article is petty and biased. The Zionist Jewish ethos extols the right to be a free Jew in the Land of Israel and this is exactly what Rabbi Kochva and Matthew achieved. Was it right to kill Jews who turned to the Hellenistic religion or should we call the Hellenists Greeks, Greeks or infidels? These are already political questions that are not relevant to the question of whether he was a hero or not and cannot be judged by today's standards by people who did not live at that time. Your review shows more about your political worldview and is not relevant to the matter.

  19. It seems to me that Joseph ben Matitiahu, known in Latin as Josephus Flavius, boasted that he was a scion of the Yehoirib family from the families of the priestly guards in the temple in Jerusalem. Another historian from another time.

  20. Dr. Sorek. Thanks for the interesting series we are looking forward to. I'm a history buff. Is there a book on Maccabi XNUMX-XNUMX with commentary, or a research book on the period. If you prefer to answer me modestly, I have added an email for you.

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