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The Hammer by  Alfred J. Church


 

 

Back Matter

THE FAMILY OF THE ASMONEANS, OR MACCABEES

The name "Maccabee," probably derived from a Hebrew word signifying a "Hammer," was originally given to Judas, 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 great 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, Ptolemaeus.

Simon, who had maintained the alliance with Rome, was succeeded by his son John Hyrcanus, who followed the same 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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