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Mattathias ben Johanan

(died 165 BCE)

Author of the Judean revolt against the Greco-Syrian empire [166 BCE] and patriarch of the Hasmonean dynasty of Judean rulers. By birth Mattathias was a lesser priest of the line of Jehoiarib and the family of Hasmon. A fervent religious conservative, he moved his family to Modein, a village northwest of Jerusalem, to escape Hellenization of the temple cult. After Antiochus IV pillaged the Temple and replaced Judean religious tradition with Greek worship and culture [167 CE], Mattathias led Judeans to rebel against Syrian domination. He died within a year but his revolt was continued by his sons, three of whom — Judah Maccabee, Jonathan and Simon — became de facto rulers of Judea. His descendents (through the offspring of Aristobulus IV) remained prominent in the politics of the Near East until almost 100 CE. He himself was celebrated in later rabbinic Judaism as a champion of religious freedom.

Sources: Into His Own