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Maccabees

Maccabees, the name of a dynasty of Jewish kings, so called from the surname, Maccabaeus, of Judas, son of Mattathias (d. B.C. 166), who, with his brothers Simon and Jonathan, delivered Judaa from the oppression of the Syrians under Antiochus IV. The three hero-brothers successively held the office of high priest, and Simon was made king. He made an alliance with the Romans, and in B.C. 135 was succeeded by his son, John Hyrcanus, who extended the kingdom. His son, Judas Aristobulus, succeeded in B.C. 105, but died in the next year, when his brother, Alexander Jannasus, became king, and increased the power and glory of the nation. which, however, suffered from the dissensions of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes - sects which arose during Hyrcanus' reign. Alexander died in 78, and on the death of his queen Salome Alexandra, their sons, Hyrcanus and Aristobulus, disputed the succession, with the result that Pompey conquered Judaea, did away with the royal dignity, and established Hyrcanus II. as high priest. Herod, son of Antipater of Idumaea, expelled Aristobulus' son Antigonus, and put to death (B.C. 35) his grandson Aristobulus III., whose sister Mariamne he married. The Maccabees are also called Asmonaeans. The history of the brothers is given in two apocryphal books of the Old Testament, which the Council of Trent adopted as canonical.

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