Maccabees revolt and Hasmonean Kingdom

Herod Becomes King Of Palestine  

-A. Ralph Johnson


Greek Empire established by Alexander the Great conquest of Persia around 300 B.C.. (map)

After Alexander's death it was divided into four parts under Cassander (Greece), Lysimachus (Asia Minor), Ptolemy Lagus (Egypt) and Seleucus Nicator (Syria).

Daniel, chapters 8 and 11, prophesy of the struggle, primarily between Syria and Egypt to the time of Antiochus Epiphanes around 200 B.C.



Antiochus IV, Epiphanes (“The manifest god”) Selucid ruler in the Syrian part of the Greek empire c. 175 BC. tried to destroy the Jewish religion. He plundered the temple, desecrated it with a pig sacrificed on the altar and put in it an idol of himself. 

Antiochus died. His successor carried on the struggle. 

Mattathias, a priest with several sons rebelled and fled.  He soon died.




Judas "Maccabeus" (“The hammer”), Matthias's son, took the leadership and defeated the army of Antiochus.  Judas was killed in battle.



Jonathan Maccabeus, his brother, replaced Judas.

Demetrius of Syria Granted political freedom in 142 BC

Simon Maccabeus, a third brother, was made High Priest for life. 

Antiochus VII broke the pact

Judah and Jonathan, Simon’s sons, defeated Antiochus.


135 BC, Simon and two of his sons were murdered by Ptolemy, king of Egypt.

Civil war in Syria followed the death of Antiochus VII.

John Hyrcanus I (135-104 BC), another son of Simon, defeated Ptolemy.  He conquered Edom, Samaria and lands east of the Jordan.



John Hyrcanus I  founded the Hasmonean dynasty (135 to 104 BC)

-Truce between Syria and Israel

-Hellenist (Greek) party in Israel discredited and become the Sadducees

-Hasidim party became the Pharisees

-John Hyrcanus I captured Edom and forced them to become Jews

-John Hyrcanus I became High Priest and head of State.

-Insult to his mother by Pharisee caused him to become a Sadducee


Judah Aristobulus, Son of John Hyrcanus I, reigned one year

-Imprisoned his mother and two brothers to take power

-Called himself, “king”

-His widow, Salome Alexandra, married his surviving brother, Alexander Jannaeus


Alexander Jannaeus (Jonathan -Surviving brother of Aristobulus I) king from 120-76 BC

-Rebellion of Pharisees when he poured out holy water at his feet

-Syrians forced him to flee after he killed hundreds

-Thousands deserted the Syrians and Jannaeus was restored

-800 Pharisees crucified by Jannaeus at banquet for Sadducees


Alexandra (former wife of both Aristobulus and Alexander Jannaeus)

-Her brother, Simeon ben Shetah was leader of Pharisees

-Pharisees gained power and avenged against Sadducees


Two sons of Alexandra

Hyrcanus II (High Priest)

-Became King when his mother died

-Surrendered everything to Aristobulus II.

-Fled to Antipater in Idumea

Aristobulus II (Military commander) 

-Supported by Sadducees

-Besieged his brother

-Became king and High Priest

-Alexander, his son, married Hyrcanus II’s only daughter


Antipater, the Idumean, besieged Aristobulus II in Jerusalem


Pompey, the Roman Emperor, helped Hyrcanus II by conquering Jerusalem


Hyrcanus II of Judea restored as High Priest and became the Roman Ethnarch of Judea


Julius Caesar of Rome defeated Pompey in civil war (49 BC) and became Emperor for life. Hyrcanus II supported Caesar and was rewarded as king of the Jewish nation


Antipater of Judea was granted Roman Citizenship and became the real power behind the throne.  He appointed his own son, Phasael, perfect of Jerusalem and his other son, Herod, as perfect of Galilee.

Antipater became king of Judea on death of Hyrcanus II.  He founded the Herodian dynasty.


Brutus of Rome assassinated Caesar.


Mark Antony of Rome defeated Brutus and took power. 


Herod the Great and Phasael were appointed co-rulers of Judea by Antony.


Antigonus III, son of Aristobulus II made king and high priest by the Parthians in 41 B.C.


Herod the Great, son of Antipator fled to Rome and was made “King of the Jews” 37 BC.


Parthians driven out and Antigonus III,  removed,.


Herod the Great married Mariamne, a Hasmonean descendent thus his descendents became Jews by birth.


Hananiel, of Babylon, made High Priest by Herod.


Alexandra, mother of Mariamne, through Cleopatra, last Pharoah of Egypt, persuaded Anthony to pressure Herod to remove Hananiel of Babylon and make Aristobulus III, her son (and grandson of Hyrcanus II), High Priest.  


Herod had Aristobulus drowned.


Anthony called Herod to account but Herod talked his way out of being executed


29 BC the Roman Senate declared war on Antony and Cleopatra.  Antony sent Herod on a campaign into Arabia.  After Antony and Cleopatra lost the naval battle of Actium, Herod made peace with Octavian of Rome who confirmed him as King of Judea


Herod had Mariamne, his wife, executed.


Alexandra conspired to put her grandsons, Alexander and Aristobulus III, on the throne.  Herod learns of the plot and had her destroyed.


One of Herod’s greatest works was rebuilding the aging temple.


In 23 B.C. Herod married another wife named Mariamne, daughter of Simon, son of Boethus, a priest.  She persuaded him to remove the high priest and gave Simon his office.  The people rejected him as legitimate and four years later when the two sons of Mariamne I returned from being educated in Rome they were acclaimed by the people as the true successors.  Antipater accused them to Herod as aspiring to the throne and ultimately they were executed.  


Antipater sought to hasten the death of Herod, his father, and was also executed.


Agustus, Caesar of Rome, remarked that he would rather be Herod’s hog than his son.


Herod The Great died, April 1, 4 BC.


Caesar, in accordance with Herod’s will, distributed the territories to his sons:

Archelaus was confirmed as Ethnarch of Judea, Samaria, and Idumea.

Antipas became Tetrarch of Galilee and Perea.

Philip was made Tetrarch of Atanea, Trachonitis, and Auranitis, north of the Sea of Galilee on the east side of the Jordan.