Who were the Maccabees?
The Maccabees, also spelled Machabees were a group of Jewish rebel warriors who took control of Judea, which at the time was part of the Seleucid Empire.
They founded the Hasmonean dynasty, which ruled from 167 BCE to 37 BCE, being a fully independent kingdom from about 110 to 63 BCE.
They reasserted the Jewish religion, partly by forced conversion, expanded the boundaries of Judea by conquest and reduced the influence of Hellenism and Hellenistic Judaism.
The name Maccabee is often used as a synonym for the entire Hasmonean dynasty, but the Maccabees proper were Judah Maccabee and his four brothers. The name Maccabee was a personal epithet of Judah, and the later generations were not his direct descendants.
The traditional Jewish explanation is that Maccabee is an acronym for the Torah verse that was the battle-cry of the Maccabees, "Who is like You among the heavenly powers, Lord!".
The scholar and poet Aaron Kaminka argues that the name is a corruption of Machbanai, a leading commando in the army of King David.
The Maccabean story is preserved in the books of the First and Second Maccabees, which describe in detail the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem and the lighting of the menorah.
These books are not part of the Hebrew Bible which came from the Jewish canon; however, they were part of the Alexandrian canon which is also called the Septuagint.