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Judah Maccabee
Judah from "Promptuarii Iconum Insigniorum"
Born Modiin, Judea
Died March 160 BCE
Elasa, near modern day Ramallah
Allegiance Hasmonean
Service/branch Maccabees
Years of service 167–160 BCE
Battles/wars Maccabean revolt
Relations Father – Mattathias
Brothers – Jonathan, John, Simon, Eleazar

Judah Maccabee was a Jewish priest (kohen) and a son of the priest Mattathias. He led the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire (167–160 BCE).

The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah ("Dedication") commemorates the restoration of Jewish worship at the temple in Jerusalem in 164 BCE, after Judah Maccabeus removed all of the statues depicting Greek gods and goddesses and purified it.

Judah opposed the Seleucid Emperor's attempts to suppress traditional Jewish culture and make the Jewish people more Greek-like, he was regarded as one of the heroes of the Old Testament.

Judah died in combat, but the rebellion that he had led did not stop. The rebellion's success led to the reestablishment of the kingdom of Judah. As warrior hero and national liberator, Judah Maccabee has inspired many writers, and several artists and composers.

Early life

Judah was the third son of Mattathias the Hasmonean, a Jewish priest from the village of Modiin. In 167 BCE Mattathias, together with his sons Judah, Eleazar, Simon, John, and Jonathan, started a revolt against the Seleucid ruler Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who since 175 BCE had issued decrees that forbade Jewish religious practices.

After Mattathias's death in 166 BCE, Judah assumed leadership of the revolt in accordance with the deathbed wishes of his father. The First Book of Maccabees praises Judah's valor and military talent, suggesting that those qualities made Judah a natural choice for the new commander.

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