views updated May 11 2018

Maccabees Prominent Jewish family that ruled Judaea from 164–63 bc. In 168 bc the Seleucid ruler Antiochus IV invaded Jerusalem and in the following year rededicated the Temple to Zeus and eradicated Jewish religious practices. Mattathias, a high priest, and his five sons fled to the mountains and organized a rebellion. After Mattathias' death in 166 bc his son Judas took command and recaptured Jerusalem in 164 bc. This event is celebrated annually as Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights. Judas Maccabees was succeeded by his brother Jonathan (r.160–143). The family controlled Judaea until 63 bc, when Pompey conquered it.