(killed 134 BCE)
Fourth leader of the Judean revolt against
the Greco-Syrian empire [166 BCE].
The second and last surviving son of Mattathias of Modein aided and consolidated the gains of his younger brothers, Judah
Maccabee and Jonathan.
After rallying dispirited Jews to defeat the Syrian general
who had killed Jonathan [142 BCE], he persuaded Demetrius II
to exempt Jews from taxation or tribute. He then eliminated
the last vestige of Syrian control of Judea by capturing the citadel in Jerusalem.
His military and diplomatic successes won him renewal of the
alliances that his brothers had negotiated with Rome and Sparta. Judean coins proclaimed him "High Priest, General
and Ruler of the Jews." He may be the legendary "Simon
the Just" of later rabbinic tradition. Yet, the price of
his diplomatic triumphs was renewed Hellenization of Judea. As the only son of Mattathias who produced male heirs, he was the real founder of the Hasmonean dynasty. But he was assassinated by his own son-in-law, Ptolemy,
who hoped to succeed him.