Johanan [John] Hyrcanus

(d. 104 BCE)


Grandson of Mattathias of Modein and chief architect of Judean dominance of Palestine. The youngest and only surviving son of Simon Thassi succeeded his father as high priest in 134 BCE. He was the fourth Hasmonean to rule Jerusalem. But his tenure began with a year-long Syrian siege that forced him agree to tear down the city's fortifications and renew tribute the Greek emperor [133 BCE]. Within a few years, however, he took advantage of political turmoil in Syria following the death of Antiochus VII [129 BCE] to rebuild his forces, reclaim independence and extend Judean control over Palestine and Jordan. On the southern front he forced Judah's neighbors in Idumea [descendents of the Edomites] to accept Judaism and on the northern front he destroyed the rival temple at Shechem in Samaria. Such triumphs made him the probable subject of messianic tributes by his fellow Judeans. But his own preference for Greek culture made him controversial in Jerusalem. When Pharisees challenged his right to be high priest, he switched his allegiance to the aristocratic Sadducee [Zadokite] party. Still, the Dead Sea Scrolls suggest that other Zadokites probably rejected his leadership and left Jerusalem, labeling him the "wicked priest," who persecuted the priest whom they regarded as the "Teacher of Righteousness."


Source: Into His Own