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Jonathan Apphus

(killed 142 BCE)


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Third leader of the Judean revolt against the Greco-Syrian empire [166 BCE]. Jonathan was the youngest son of Mattathias of Modein and chief lieutenant of his elder brother, Judah Maccabee. He reorganized Judean resistance to Syrian forces after his brother's death [160 BCE]. He not only eluded capture by the Syrian general who garrisoned Judea, but shrewdly bargained with rival claimants to the Syrian throne. He was awarded the Judean high-priesthood by Alexander Balas [152 BCE] and later rewarded with full control of Judean territory after he defeated Demetrius II [147 BCE]. After Balas' death [145 BCE], Jonathan gained a foothold in Samaria by allying himself with Demetrius.

When Demetrius was overthrown, Jonathan courted more gentile allies and tried to take control of more territory. He invaded southern Galilee, but was captured and killed by treachery at Ptolemaïs [Akko]. Despite spectacular external political gains, Jonathan's policies created religious discord among conservative Jews, many of whom viewed his claim to the high-priesthood illegitimate. He left no male heirs, but the Jewish historian Josephus claimed descent from an unnamed daughter. He was succeeded by his older brother Simon, whose descendents became the Hasmonean dynasty of Judean rulers.


Sources: Into His Own

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