Sunday, December 14, 2014

Rough Timeline of the Maccabean and Hasmonean Eras

All dates are BC; many dates are approximate.

323 Death of Alexander the Great. The empire is divided; Antigonus takes Greece, Ptolemy takes Egypt, and Seleucus takes Syria.

220 Simon the Righteous (Sirach 50:1-21) becomes High Priest.

218 Hannibal crosses the Alps in Italy.

217 Battle of Raphia (3 Macc. 1; Daniel 11:11?): Ptolemy IV Philopator defeats Antiochus III, ending the Fourth Syrian War between Ptolemaic Egypt and Seleucid Syria.

211 Hannibal begins his march on Rome.

207 Rome manages to turn back Hannibal at Metaurus River.

202 End of Second Punic War when Scipio defeats Hannibal at Zama.

198 Judea becomes part of the Seleucid kingdom in the Fifth Syrian War. Onias III (2 Macc. 3:1-40), son of Simon the Righteous, becomes High Priest.

196 The city of Smyrna, threatened by Antiochus III, appeals to Rome for aid.

191 Rome and its allies defeat Antiochus III at Thermopylae and Corycus.

176 Antiochus IV Epiphanes ascends to the throne.

174 Jason, brother of Onias, attempts to become High Priest by bribing Antiochus (2 Macc. 4:1-7).

171 Menelaus offers a bigger bribe to Antiochus in order to become High Priest (2 Macc. 4:23-26); Jason flees.

170 Onias murdered through the machinations of Menelaus (2 Macc. 4:30-38). Antiochus IV initiates the Sixth Syrian War.

168 Antiochus IV is turned back in his invasion of Egypt by the ultimatum of Rome. A rumor spreads that he has died, and Jason attempts to overthrow Menelaus. Antiochus discovers this when returning and interprets it as a revolt (2 Macc. 5:11-14). He begins a crackdown on non-Hellenizing Jews (2 Macc. 6:1-12).

167 Abomination of Desolation (Daniel 11:31): Antiochus Epiphanes sets up an idol in the Temple. Jews begin to rally behind the family of Mattathias (1 Macc. 2:27ff.). The Maccabean revolt begins. Mithridates of Parthia takes advantage of the Seleucid confusion to seize the strategic city of Herat; Antiochus leaves the handling of the Maccabees to Lysias and goes to war against the Parthians himself.

Antiochus dies of illness while on (successful) campaign against Parthia. Rededication of the Temple under Judah Maccabee.

163 Lysias comes against the Maccabees with a vast army and elephants; Eleazar Maccabee dies in heroic attack (1 Macc. 6:42-46). Lysias lays siege to Jerusalem, but on hearing that one of his rivals is attempting to take advantage of Lysias's absence, Lysias offers Judah Maccabee peace terms: persecution of Jews for their faith and practice will end as long as they remain politically loyal to the Seleucids. Judah accepts. A split begins to develop between Hellenizing and Hebraic Jews, leading to civil war.

161 Antiochus V Eupator overthrown by Demetrius I Soter.

162 Alcimus is made High Priest by Demetrius I Soter.

160 Judah Maccabee killed in battle by combined forces of Hellenizing Jews and Selucid reinforcements sent by Demetrius I Soter. Hebraic remnant begins to rally around Jonathan Maccabee.

152 Civil war develops in the Seleucid kingdom between Demetrius II and Alexander Balas (later Alexander Epiphanes). Both sides seek an ally in Jonathan Maccabee; Jonathan temporizes, developing relations with both sides. Jonathan Maccabee appointed High Priest by Alexander Epiphanes (1 Macc. 10:15-20).

146 Rome destroys Carthage.

143 Jonathan Maccabee seized by the Seleucids. Simon Maccabee takes control of the rebel factions and the rebel army and the Seleucid army set to face off. A snowstorm intervenes, forcing the Seleucids to retreat; they execute Jonathan.

142 Civil war breaks out in the Seleucid kingdom again; both sides again attempt to get the help of the Jewish rebels. Simon Maccabee negotiates the independence of the Jewish people and the Hasmonean realm of Judea begins (1 Macc. 14:41).

135 Simon Maccabee is murdered through the machinations of his son-in-law; his son John Hyrcanus becomes High Priest and ruler of the Hasmonean realm, but only by cutting deals with the Seleucid kingdom that effectively make the Hasmonean realm a puppet state.

128 Antiochus VII dies, and the Hasmonean realm again achieves independence. As it consolidates and expands, we see also the rise of the Pharisees.

104 Aristobulus, son of John Hyrcanus, begins to call himself king. Tensions between the Hasmonean Dynasty and the Pharisees begin to mount.

103 Alexander Jannaeus becomes king.

100 Julius Caesar born.

94 Alexander Jannaeus, in contempt of the Pharisees, pours a water offering to himself rather than God; observers begin to riot, leading to their massacre. The Hasmonean Kingdom undergoes civil war between supporters of the Pharisees and supporters of the Sadducees. The Pharisees win and, believing they have made their point, let Alexander take the throne again. He throws a banquet in honor of the Pharisees; 800 come. When they are drunk, he seizes them and crucifies them, killing their families as well.

Alexander Jannaeus dies. His pro-Pharisee wife, Salome Alexandra, becomes queen.

67 Salome Alexandra dies. Her sons, Hyrcanus II (with the support of the Pharisees) and Aristobulus II (with the support of the Sadducees) both claim the throne. Aristobulus II manages by good luck to surprise Hyrcanus II in a way that forces him to concede. Hostilities between the two soon break out again, however.

63 Rome gets involved. Pompey rules in favor of Hyrcanus II. When Aristobulus II refuses to concede, the combined forces of Hyrcanus II and Rome overwhelm him. Despite intensive fighting, Rome wins; Judea becomes a province of Rome, Hyrcanus II is made High Priest, and his ally Antipater (father of Herod the Great) is put in charge of the province.

57 Antigonus son of Aristobulus escapes from Rome and returns to Judea.

40 Antigonus declared king by Parthia. Herod appeals to Rome, and is recognized as king of Judea by the Roman Senate.

37 With the help of Rome, Herod recaptures Jerusalem and executes Antigonus. The Hasmonean Dynasty ends, the Herodian Dynasty begins.


  1. My favorite part about the Maccabean/Hasmonean period, which I will certainly re-read alongside you, is that you can write this:

    "Antiochus VII dies again..."

    and I do not even bat an eye. It wouldn't even be the most remarkable entry in that timeline. ;-)

  2. branemrys7:54 AM

    Whoops! Fixed. But you're right that there are so many surprises in the period that it doesn't even stand out all that much.


Please understand that this weblog runs on a third-party comment system, not on Blogger's comment system. If you have come by way of a mobile device and can see this message, you may have landed on the Blogger comment page, or the third party commenting system has not yet completely loaded; your comments will only be shown on this page and not on the page most people will see, and it is much more likely that your comment will be missed.