Jonathan  Apphus   [killed 142 BCE]

Third leader of the Judean revolt against the Greco-Syrian empire (166 BCE). Jonathan was the youngest son of Mattathias of Modein & chief lieutenant of his elder brother, Judah Maccabee. He reorganized Judean resistance to Syrian forces after his brother's death (160 BCE). He not only eluded capture by the Syrian general who garrisoned Judea, but shrewdly bargained with rival claimants to the Syrian throne. He was awarded the Judean high-priesthood by Alexander Balas (152 BCE) & later rewarded with full control of Judean territory after he defeated Demetrius II (147 BCE). After Balas' death (145 BCE), Jonathan gained a foothold in Samaria by allying himself with Demetrius. When Demetrius was overthrown, Jonathan courted more gentile allies & tried to take control of more territory. He invaded southern Galilee, but was captured & killed by treachery at Ptolemaļs [Akko]. Despite spectacular external political gains, Jonathan's policies created religious discord among conservative Jews, many of whom viewed his claim to the high-priesthood illegitimate. He left no male heirs, but the Jewish historian Josephus claimed descent from an unnamed daughter. He was succeeded by his older brother Simon, whose descendents became the Hasmonean dynasty of Judean rulers.

References: 1 Maccabees 2:5; 9:19,28 -73; 10:7-21,59-66,74-89
                                       11:3-7,20-74; 12:1-7,24-50.
, Antiquities 12.266, 332-353, 432
                                                        13.5-57, 83-105, 121-212, 228.
                    _____, War 1.48-49.                   

Other resources on line:

  • 1 Maccabees 10 - Jewish account of Jonathan's use of the rivalry between Demetrius I and Alexander Balas to establish his independence  includes quotation of royal correspondence [Good News translation on Bible Gateway].

  • Jonathan Apphus - well researched article in Wikipedia's growing web.

Perspective on the World of Jesus

Copyright © 1999-2019 by Mahlon H. Smith
All rights reserved.

an American Theological Library Association Selected Religion Website
OCLC catalog no.: 62046512