John Hyrcanus

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John Hyrcanus, also called Hyrcanus I, was the son of Simon Maccabeus,[1] high priest of the Jews a century before the birth of Jesus Christ. He succeeded his father as high priest and ruler of the Jews following the wars of the Maccabees, and he ruled an independent state of Judaea as ethnarch and high priest 134–104 B.C., as the founder of the Hasmonean dynasty. He was succeeded by his son Aristobulus I, who was high priest and ethnarch of Judea after him.

Hyrcanus II was the son of Alexander Jannaeus the son of Antigonus the brother of Aristobulus I the son of Hyrcanus I (John Hyrcanus).


Biblical testimony to John is found in the First Book of the Maccabees 13:53–16:24, from the time that Simon his father saw that he had become a man, and made him commander of all the armed forces of the Jews; his actions against the aggression of Trypho's forces, with his defeat and destruction of Trypho's commander-in-chief, Cendebeus; up to the assassination of his father Simon and his brothers Mattathias and Judas at the fortress of Dok by Ptolemy the son of Abubus, and his seizure of the assassins this same Ptolemy had sent against him. The final verses 23-24 state:

The rest of the acts of John and his wars and the brave deeds which he did, and the building of the walls which he built, and his achievements, behold they are written in the chronicles of his high priesthood, from the time that he became high priest after his father.


Josephus relates the history of the Hasmoneans,[2] beginning with Simon and his son John, in The Antiquities of the Jews, Book 13, Chapter 7, section 4 (Ant. 13.7.4), through Chapter 10, section 7 (13.10.7), which continues the account of his high priesthood from where the last chapter of First Maccabees leaves off; and in The Wars of the Jews, Book 1, Chapter 1, sections 1 through 8 (Wars 1.1.1-8), to his death. He was ethnarch, high priest and prophet: "He it was who alone had three of the most desirable things in the world—the government of the nation, and the high priesthood, and the gift of prophesy" (Wars 1.2.8 [68-69]).

A monument to John Hyrcanus in Jerusalem is mentioned by Josephus in Wars 5.6.2 [259].

See also



  1. "Simon called Thassi", 1 Maccabees 2:1-3. Simon was one of the five sons of the priest Mattathias at the time of the persecution under the Syrian Greek king Antiochus IV Epiphanes; see 1 Maccabees 1:10–6:17 ff; 2 Maccabees 5:27–10:9 ff.
  2. The Hasmonean rule ended with the coming of the Roman general Pompey in 63 B.C.

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