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Who Were The Hasmoneans
and What Is A Maccabee?

Everyone knows that Judah was called 'Judah Hamaccabee' (the Maccabee), and eventually the Hasmoneans came to be known as “Maccabees.” but who were The Hasmoneans and what does Maccabee mean?
Hasmoneans There are many interpretations presented for the origin of the word “Hasmonean.” In Maoz Tzur the author calls them "Hashmanim" from the word “noble or distinguished” (found in Psalms 68:32), and may have been a title of honor given to a family of Kohanim, to denote their high priestly standing. In the Talmud, Tractate Shabbos, 21b, and also Bava Basra 3b, they are referred to as "Bait Hasmonean,” (the house or family of Hasmoneans), possibly the family’s ancestral name. Alternatively, it has been suggested that “Chashmonai” may indicate the family’s origins in a town called Cheshmon in Judea.
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What Is A Maccabee?

Maccabee   One explanation for the origin of the word “Maccabee,” is that it is a word composed from the first letters of the words in the verse in Parshat Bshalach, (Exodus 15:11), Mi Kamocha Baelim Hashem (Who is like You among the mighty, Hashem?”) which was inscribed on the banners of the Hasmonean family. That verse was a constant refrain of Judah and his men to prevent them from falling under the delusion that their victories were coming as a result of their own human might.

Some suggest that Maccabee represents an acrostic of the final letters of the Patriarchal (forefathers) names AbrahaM, IsaaC and JacoB.

Another explanation given is that it is from the initial letters of the name Mattityahu Kohen Ben Yochanaan (Mattathius the High Priest, son of Yochanan.")


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