SIMEON THE HASMONEAN


SIMEON THE HASMONEAN (called Thassis; d. 134 B.C.E.), the second son of *Mattathias. The origin of the name Thassis is obscure, and many conjectures have been put forward. Some think it is to be connected with the Hebrew toses (תּוֹסֵס, "vigorous") or tashush (תָּשׁוּשׁ, "weakling"), while others regard it as a variant of the Hebrew name Assi or the Syrian Tarsi.

On his deathbed, Mattathias recommended Simeon as counselor for Judah, who was military commander against the Syrians. Under Judah he played an independent role as commander of the expedition that went to the aid of the Jews of Galilee. According to II Maccabees (14:17) he attacked *Nicanor and was defeated by him. When Judah died, Simeon and his brother Jonathan buried him in the family sepulcher in *Modi'in. Simeon was Jonathan's right-hand man in the wars with the hellenizers and the Syrians. He distinguished himself, among other things, by relieving the city of Bathbasi which had been besieged by *Bacchides. He also took part with Jonathan in the war against Apollonius. At the time of Tryphon's rule in Syria, with Jonathan's rule at its zenith (145–143 B.C.E.), Simeon was appointed military governor of the whole coastal region of Israel from the Ladder of Tyre to the Egyptian border. During Jonathan's campaigns in Galilee, Simeon remained in authority in Judea, during which time he conquered Beth-Zur and fortified Adittha. On Jonathan's treacherous capture by Tryphon in 143 B.C.E., the leadership passed inevitably to Simeon, now the sole survivor of the Hasmonean brothers. He fortified Jerusalem, strengthened his hold on Jaffa, and prepared to face Tryphon, all the time endeavoring, but in vain, to ransom his brother from him. Tryphon's efforts to penetrate Judea were repelled by Simeon and he was forced to withdraw, but put Jonathan to death. Simeon buried Jonathan at Modi'in, where he erected a splendid monument in his memory. In the dispute over the throne in Syria Simeon supported *Demetrius II, who recognized his rule and waived his claim to tribute. The year 142 B.C.E. was regarded as the beginning of Judean independence and the years of Simeon's rule were reckoned from that date. Simeon also conquered Gazara (Gezer) and Judaized it, driving out the Syrian garrison from the citadel.

For a while after this Judea enjoyed a period of peace. The ties with Sparta and Rome were renewed. In the year 140, Simeon's position was confirmed by the nation. He and his children after him were appointed by a public assembly to the position of high priest, ethnarch, and commander of the army, thus establishing the Hasmonean dynasty. A copy of the resolution was engraved upon tablets which were set up in the Temple court. During the latter half of Simeon's rule the danger to Judean independence was renewed. Antiochus VII Sidetes became ruler of Syria, and endeavored to revive the shattered Seleucid Empire. Syrian relations with Simeon deteriorated and Cendebaeus was sent against Judea, but Simeon's sons defeated him. Soon after, during a tour of the country, Simeon was murdered in Jericho by his son-in-law *Ptolemy b. Abubus, who may have conspired with the Syrians. Simeon was succeeded by his son John *Hyrcanus.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Schuerer, Hist, index S.V. Simeon the Maccabee; Meyer, Ursp, 2 (1921), 260–7; Klausner, Bayit Sheni, index S.V. Shimon b. Matityahu.

[Uriel Rappaport]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.