Maccabees (Hammer, in Hebrew)

views updated

MACCABEES (Hammer, in Hebrew)

Name of the Jewish family, founders of the Hasmonean dynasty, that led the uprising of the Jews against the Seleucid kings (175–135 B.C.E.), who wanted to impose Greek culture upon them. Mattityahu and his five sons, fighting to rid ancient Palestine of Hellenism, succeeded in restoring the sacrificial altar to the Temple. This event is celebrated during the Jewish holiday Hanukkah. According to legend, during the rededication of the Temple the lamps stayed lit for eight nights, although there was only enough oil for one night's light—a miracle commemorated by the lighting of the menorah.

SEE ALSO Hanukkah.