Eleazar ben Mattathias
ELEAZAR BEN MATTATHIAS
ELEAZAR BEN MATTATHIAS (2nd century b.c.e.), Hasmonean; the fourth of *Mattathias' sons (i Macc. 2:2–5). He was nicknamed Auran (Αυραν; ibid. 2:5) which in the original source may have been written with a ḥ – i.e., Ḥauran (as in Syriac) – or with an ayin – i.e., Auran. Some see his nickname as derived from ḥor ("a hole"), with reference to his piercing the body of an elephant (see below), overlooking the fact that the name was accorded him during his lifetime. Other suggestions are equally unsatisfactory. Little is known of his role in the war of the Hasmoneans. In ii Maccabees 8:23 it is stated that Judah appointed Eleazar to command part of the army, but the reading there should perhaps be Ezra instead of Eleazar. During the Syrian attack in the battle of Bet Zekharyah in 163 b.c.e., Eleazar broke through the Syrian ranks to reach an elephant on which he thought the king was riding. Thrusting his spear into its belly, he killed the beast, which fell on him and crushed him to death (i Macc. 6:43–46).