a name given to the Maccabees, the descendants of Mattathias. After the death of Ezra and Nehemiah, the Jews were governed by their high priest, in subjection, however, to the Persian kings, to whom they paid tribute; but with full enjoyment of their liberties, civil and religious. Nearly three centuries of prosperity ensued, until they were cruelly oppressed by Antiochus Epiphanes, king of Syria, when they were compelled to take up arms in their own defence. Under the able conduct of Judas, surnamed Maccabaeus, and his valiant brothers, the Jews maintained a religious war for twenty-six years with five successive kings of Syria; and after destroying upwards of two hundred thousand of their best troops, the Maccabees finally established the independence of their own country, and the aggrandisement of their family. This illustrious house, whose princes united the regal and pontifical dignity in their own persons, administered the affairs of the Jews during a period of a hundred and twenty-six years; until, disputes arising between Hyrcanus II, and his brother Aristobulus, the latter was defeated by the Romans, who captured Jerusalem, and reduced Judea to a military province, B.C. 59.