THE FAMILY OF THE ASMONEANS, OR MACCABEES
The name "Maccabee," probably derived from a Hebrew
word signifying a "Hammer," was originally given to
and afterwards extended to his four brothers. They came
of a priestly family, belonging to the first and
noblest of the twenty-four "courses," taking its name
from a certain Asmon or Chasmon, great-grandfather of
Mattathias, father of Judas. The five heroic brothers
all met with a violent death.
That of Judas and Eleazar has been already described.
John, the eldest, was killed in a skirmish, shortly
after the death of Judas.
Jonathan maintained himself in power by a clever policy
of leaning on Rome, and taking part with various
claimants to the Syrian crown. He became High-priest at
some time after the year 153, and perished in 144 by
the treachery of a certain Tryphon, who usurped for a
time the throne of Syria.
Simon succeeded to the High-priesthood, and governed
the Jewish people for a period of eight years with
success. In B.C. 143 he obtained from the Syrian king a
formal recognition of the independence of the Jews, and
in the following year he got possession of the fortress
in Jerusalem occupied by the Syrian faction. In 135 he
was treacherously murdered by his son-in-law,
Simon, who had maintained the alliance with Rome, was
succeeded by his son John Hyrcanus, who followed the
policy, and he again by his son Aristobulus, who
assumed the title of King in 107.
Mariamne, the unhappy wife of Herod the Great, belonged
to the Maccabean House. With the death of her two sons
it became extinct.
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