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HASMONEANS:

The family name of the Hasmonean dynasty originates with the ancestor of the house, ΑΣαμωναῖος (Josephus, "Ant." xii. 6, § 1; xiv. 16, § 4; xvi. 7, § 1) = or (Middot i. 6; Targ. Yer. to I Sam. ii. 4), who, according to Wellhausen ("Pharisäer und Sadducäer," note 94), is said to have been the grandfather of Mattathias. The high-priestly and princely dignity of the Hasmoneans was founded by a resolution, adopted in Sept., 141 B.C., at a large assembly "of the priests and the people and of the elders of the land, to the effect that Simon should be their leader and high priest forever, until there should arise a faithful prophet" (I Macc. xiv. 41).

Recognition of the new dynasty by the Romanswas accorded by the Senate about 139 B.C., when the delegation of Simon was in Rome. Therefore, from a historic point of view, one can speak of a Hasmonean dynasty only as beginning with Simon.

When Jonathan the Maccabee fell into the power of Tryphon, Simon, his brother, assumed the leadership (142), and after the murder of Jonathan took the latter's place. Simon, who had made the Jewish people entirely independent of the Syrians, reigned from 142 to 135. In Feb., 135, he was assassinated at the instigation of his son-in-law Ptolemy.

Simon was followed by his third son, John Hyrcanus, whose two elder brothers, Mattathias and Judah, had been murdered, together with their father. John Hyrcanus ruled from 135 to 104. According to his directions, the government of the country after his death was to be placed in the hands of his wife, and Aristobulus, the eldest of his five sons, was to receive only the high-priesthood. Aristobulus, who was not satisfied with this, cast his mother into prison and allowed her to starve there. By this means he came into the possession of the throne, which, however, he did not long enjoy, as after a year's reign he died of a painful illness (103).

Aristobulus' successor was his eldest brother, Alexander Jannæus, who, together with his two brothers, was freed from prison by the widow of Aristobulus. Alexander reigned from 103 to 76, and died during the siege of the fortress Ragaba.

Alexander was followed by his wife Alexandra, who reigned from 76 to 67.

Against her wishes, she was succeeded by her son Aristobulus II. (67-63), who during the illness of his mother had risen against her, in order to prevent the succession of the elder son, Hyrcanus.

During the reign of Alexandra, Hyrcanus had held the office of high priest, and the rivalry between him and Aristobulus brought about a civil war, which ended with the forfeiture of the freedom of the Jewish people. Palestine had to pay tribute to Rome and was placed under the supervision of the Roman governor of Syria. From 63 to 40 the government was in the hands of Hyrcanus II.

After the capture of Hyrcanus by the Parthians, Antigonus, a son of Aristobulus, became king (40-37). His Hebrew name was Mattathias, and he bore the double title of king and high priest.

After the victory of Herod over Antigonus and the execution in Antioch of the latter by order of Antony, Herod the Great (37-4) became king of the Jews, and the rule of the Hasmonean dynasty was ended.

Bibliography:
  • Meg. Ta'anit;
  • Schürer, Gesch. 3d ed., i. 179-360, and the literature there cited;
  • Josephus, B. J. i. 1-18;
  • idem, Ant. xii. 5 et seq.
G. H. Bl.
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