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Ruler: Judaea: John Hyrcanus
Reigned: 135 - 104 BC
Denomination: AE Prutah
Obverse: Hebrew legend ="Yonatan (or Yehonatan) the high priest and the community of the Jews" within a wreath.
Reverse: Double cornucopia adorned with ribbons, pomegranate between horns
Reference: Hendin 452
Weight: 1.9 gms
Diameter: 13.2 mm


The Maccabees (whose history is written in the Old Testament) were a family of Jewish rulers prominent in the 2nd and 1st centuries BC, and more correctly known as the Hasmonaeans. The founder was Judas, third son of the priest Mathathias of Modein, who was designated by his dying father as the new leader of the band of guerrilla warriors in year 167 B.C. Shimon (Simon) Thassi, his brother ruled 141-135 B.C.

John Hyrcanus was the grandson of Mattathias and the youngest and only surviving son of Simon Thassi and succeeded his father as high priest in 134 BC. He was thus the fourth Hasmonean to rule Jerusalem. But his reign began with a year-long Syrian siege that forced him agree to tear down the city's fortifications and renew tribute the Greek emperor (133 BC). Within a few years, however, he took advantage of political turmoil in Syria following the death of Antiochus VII in 129 B.C., to reclaim independence and extend Judean control over Palestine and Jordan. On his southern borders he forced Judah's neighbours in Idumea (descendents of the Edomites) to accept Judaism and in the north he destroyed the rival temple at Shechem in Samaria.

His preference for Greek culture made him controversial in Jerusalem. When the Pharisees challenged his right to be high priest, he switched his allegiance to the aristocratic Sadducee (Zadokite) party. However, the Dead Sea Scrolls suggest that other Zadokites probably rejected his leadership and left Jerusalem.

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