- (used with a plural verb) the members of the Hasmonean family of Jewish leaders and rulers comprising the sons of Mattathias and their descendants and reigning in Judea from 167? to 37 b.c., especially Judas Maccabaeus and his brothers, who defeated the Syrians under Antiochus IV in 165? and rededicated the Temple in Jerusalem.
- (used with a singular verb) either of two books of the Apocrypha, I Maccabees or II Maccabees, that contain the history of the Maccabees.
- a Jewish family of patriots who freed Judaea from Seleucid oppression (168–142 bc)
- any of four books of Jewish history, including the last two of the Apocrypha
late 14c., from Late Latin Maccabæus, surname given to Judas, third son of Mattathias the Hasmonean, leader of the religious revolt against Antiochus IV, 175-166 B.C.E. Usually connected with Hebrew maqqabh “hammer,” but Klein thinks it an inexact transliteration of Hebrew matzbi “general, commander of an army.” Related: Maccabean. According to two books of the Apocrypha, a family of Jewish patriots active in the liberation of Judea from Syrian rule. The Maccabees established a line of priest-kings that lasted until the rule of Herod the Great.