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Judah, the first ruler of the dynasty, continued the battle to conquer back more territory after reclaiming the Temple, but died on the battlefield in B. His brother Jonathan took the throne until he was assassinated in B. Simon's son-in-law murdered him in B.

The royal burial places have never been found. When Antiochus died in B. The Hasmoneans ruled until becoming a client kingdom of Rome in 63 B. Their dynasty held on until the Roman Senate appointed Herod king in 37 B. About years ago, archaeologists first excavated at the Horbat Ha-Gardi site, suspecting that it might hold the remains of the ancient city of Modi'in. They found a mausoleum built upon huge pillars, supporting slabs that might once have been the floor of a second story.

The discoverers declared that the ruins matched the historical descriptions of the tomb of the Maccabee rulers, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority. That tomb was said to overlook the sea and to bear pyramid-shaped roofs. Soon, though, the French archaeologist Charles Simon Clermont-Ganneau threw a wrench into the narrative. Clermont-Ganneau, who conducted excavations in the Middle East through the s and s, discovered mosaics with crosses on them in the burial vault floors.

He suspected that the structure dated to the early days of Christianity , though it might have been built over the original tomb of the Maccabees to celebrate them, he wrote. Now, the Israel Antiquities Authority is on the hunt for answers. Archaeologists and local volunteers have excavated the old site in recent weeks, according to the authority, and found the same burial vaults and pillars described by 19th-century researchers.

More work, however, will be needed to determine whether the site is the Maccabees' tomb, a later Christian monument to them or something else altogether, Re'em and Shachar said. Original article on Live Science. Live Science.

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Why the Maccabees Aren't in the Bible | My Jewish Learning

Although it is often assumed that the biblical canon was formalized at Jamnia, there is some speculation that the accepted list of books was in existence long before. In other words, perhaps the gathering of rabbis at Jamnia inherited a list of documents already unofficially recognized as canonical and simply formalized this list. If this is true, the relatively late date of the Maccabean revolt would preclude its inclusion in an already accepted previous list.

The Story of the Modern Day Maccabees

This theory, however, is severely weakened through a comparison with the Book of Daniel, since Daniel is included within the biblical canon in spite of the fact that most scholars date the latter book to the time of the Maccabean revolt around B. It has also been suggested that the exclusion of the Books of the Maccabees can be traced to the political rivalry that existed during the late Second Temple Period between the Sadducees and the Pharisees. The Sadducees, a priestly class in charge of the Temple, openly rejected the oral interpretations that the Pharisees, the proto-rabbinic class, openly promoted.

The Maccabees were a priestly family, while the rabbis who may have determined the final form of the biblical canon at Jamnia were descended from the Pharisees. Is it possible that the exclusion of the Books of Maccabees was one of the last salvos in the battle between the Pharisees and Sadducees? Would the rabbis at Jamnia have been inclined to canonize a document that so clearly praised the priestly Hasmonean family?

Several Theories

Perhaps the answer lies more within the realm of pragmatism and politics. A couple of centuries later, Jewish scholars found themselves in Jamnia with the Temple destroyed and Jerusalem lost. Their circumstances were the result of their own failed revolt against the Romans. Perhaps they felt it unwise to promote a text that heralded the successful outcome of a Jewish revolt. It may have posed a threat both internally and externally. The Romans would certainly not look kindly upon the popularization of such a text, since it might very well reintroduce the concept of revolt to a population desperately trying to survive the devastating outcome of its own failed attempts.

Although the Books of Maccabees were not included within the Hebrew Bible, they are still of value.

The Revolt of the Maccabees: The True Story Behind Hanukkah

Yet even this is difficult within a traditional Jewish context, due to another historical layer. First and Second Maccabees were included in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible originally prepared for the Jewish community of Alexandria.

However, the Septuagint became the official version of the Bible for the nascent Christian Church. When this happened, its authoritative nature was rejected by the Jewish community.

Who Were the Maccabees?

Ironically, the Books of Maccabees survived because they became part of the Christian canon, for otherwise they most certainly would have been lost during the centuries. Today there is a renewed interest in these books within the Jewish community. Students of Jewish history and Jewish literature recognize the value of these documents that took such pains to record details, events and personalities of a major period in Jewish history. Falls in the Hebrew month of Kislev, which usually corresponds with December.


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The process and the product of the canonization of the Bible became the basis for a varied tradition of interpretation. We use cookies to improve your experience on our site and bring you ads that might interest you.