The Full Wiki

Hyrcanus: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


(Redirected to John Hyrcanus article)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

John Hyrcanus (Yohanan Girhan; Yohanan Hyrcanus - יוחנן הרקנוס) (reigned 134 BCE - 104 BCE, died 104 BCE) was a Hasmonean (Maccabeean) leader of the 2nd century BC. Apparently the name "Hyrcanus" was taken by him as a regnal name upon his accession to power.


Life and work

Hyrcanus from "Promptuarii Iconum Insigniorum "

He was the son of Simon Maccabaeus and hence the nephew of Judas Maccabaeus, Jonathan Maccabaeus and their siblings, whose story is told in the deuterocanonical books of 1 Maccabees and 2 Maccabees, in the Talmud, and in Josephus. John was not present at a banquet at which his father and his two brothers were murdered, purportedly by his brother-in-law Ptolemy. He attained to his father's former offices, that of high priest and king (although some Jews never accepted any of the Hasmoneans as being legitimate kings, as they were not lineal descendants of David).

His taking a Greek regnal name - "Hyrcanus" - was a significant political and cultural step away from the intransigent opposition to and rejection of Hellenistic culture which had characterised the Maccabean revolt against Seleucid rule. It reflected a more pragmatic recognition that Judea, once having attained independence, had to maintain its position among a milieu of small and large states which all shared the Hellenistic culture. All subsequent Hasmonean rulers followed suit and adopted Greek names in their turn.

Hasmonean Kingdom under John Hyrcanus
     situation in 134 BC     area conquered

Siege of Jerusalem

During the first year of Hyrcanus’ reign, he faced the most serious challenge to independent Judean rule from the Seleucid Empire. Antiochus VII Sidetes marched into Judea, pillaged the countryside and laid a year long siege on Jerusalem. The prolonged siege caused Hyrcanus to remove any Judean from the city who could not assist with the defense effort (Antiquities 13.240). These refugees were not allowed to pass through Antiochus’ lines. Therefore, these Judeans were literally trapped in the middle of a chaotic siege. With a humanitarian crisis on his hands, Hyrcanus re-admitted his estranged Jerusalemites when the festival of Sukkot arrived. Afterwards, due to massive food shortages in Jerusalem, Hyrcanus negotiated a truce with Antiochus.[1]

The terms of the truce consisted of three thousand talents of silver as payment for Antiochus, breaking down the walls of Jerusalem, Judean participation in the Seleucid war against the Parthians, and once again Judean recognition of Seleucid control (Antiquities 13.245). These terms were a harsh blow to a young ruler. Furthermore, Hyrcanus needed to loot the tomb of David to pay the 3000 talents (The Wars of the Jews I 2:5).

The repercussions of the Seleucid siege were initially a difficult set-back for Hyrcanus. Judea faced tough economic times after the countryside was plundered and Jerusalem was under siege. Economic struggles were greatly magnified by taxes to the Seleucids enforced by Antiochus. Furthermore, Hyrcanus was forced to accompany Antiochus on his eastern campaign in 130 BCE. Hyrcanus probably would have functioned as the military commander of a Jewish company in the campaign.[2] Instead of governing a devastated Judean state, Hyrcanus was in Parthia fighting with Antiochus.

Additionally, the Judean population probably lost support for the inexperienced Hyrcanus.[3] Judeans in the countryside were especially disillusioned with Hyrcanus after Antiochus’ army plundered their land. The fact that Hyrcanus was fighting alongside Antiochus probably caused serious resentment. Furthermore Hyrcanus driving out the non-military population of Jerusalem during the siege also probably caused resentment for his rule in the city. Finally, the action of looting the Tomb of David violated his obligations as High Priest. This would have offended the religious leadership.[4]

Therefore, at a very early point in his thirty-one year reign of Judea, Hyrcanus had lost the support of Judeans in various cultural sectors. The Jerusalemites, countryside Judeans and the religious leadership probably doubted the future of Judea under Hyrcanus. However, Hyrcanus was met with fortune in 128 BCE when Antiochus VII was killed in battle against Parthia. What followed was an era of conquest led by Hyrcanus that marked the high point of Judea as the most significant power in Syria.[5]

Conquests of John Hyrcanus

John Hyrcanus was able to take advantage of unrest in Seleucia to assert Judean independence and conquer new territories. Demetrius III returned from exile to take control of Seleucia. However, transition of power made it difficult for Demetrius to assert control over Judea.[6] Furthermore, the Seleucid Empire itself fell apart into smaller principalities. The Ituraeans of Lebanon, the Ammonites of the Transjordan, and the Arabian Nabateans represented independent principalities that broke away from Seleucid control.[7] Hyrcanus was determined to take advantage of the dissipating Seleucid Empire to increase the Judean State.

Hyrcanus also raised a new mercenary army that strongly contrasted with the Judean forces that were defeated by Antiochus VII (Ant.13.257). The Jewish population was probably still recovering from the attack of Antiochus, and therefore could not provide enough able men for a Hyrcanus-led army.[8] Hyrcanus’ army was able financially to support by the Judean State once again by funds that Hyrcanus removed from the Tomb of David.[9]

Hyrcanus’ first conquest was an invasion of the Transjordan. Hyrcanus’ mercenary army laid siege to the city of Medeba and took it after a six-month siege. After these victories, Hyrcanus went north towards Schechem and Mount Gerizim. The city of Schechem was reduced to a village and the Samaritan Temple on Mount Gerizim was destroyed. This military action against Schechem has been dated archaeologically around 111-110 BCE.[10] Destroying the Samaritan Temple on Mount Gerizim helped ameliorate Hyrcanus’ status among religious elite and common Jews who detested any Jewish temple outside of Jerusalem.

Hyrcanus also initiated a military campaign against the Idumeans in the Negev near Eilat. During this campaign Hyrcanus conquered Adora, Marisa and other Idumean towns (Ant.13.257). Hyrcanus then instituted forced conversions on the Idumeans.[11] This was an unprecedented move for a Judean ruler.

Beginning in 113 BCE, Hyrcanus began an extensive military campaign against Samaria. Hyrcanus placed his sons Antigonus and Aristobulus in charge of the siege of Samaria. The Samarians called for help and eventually received 6000 troops from Antiochus IX Cyzicenus. Although the siege lasted for a long, difficult year, Hyrcanus was unwilling to give up his siege. Ultimately, Samaria was overrun and totally destroyed. Cyzicenus’ mercenary army was defeated and the city of Scythopolis seems to have been occupied by Hyrcanus as well.[12] The inhabitants of Samaria where then put into slavery. These slaves were not Israelites or worshippers of YHWH. Instead, the Samarians sent into slavery were reported to be Macedonian settlers.

At the end of his reign, John Hyrcanus had built a kingdom that rivaled the size of Israel under King Solomon.

Economy, Foreign Relations, and Religion

After the siege of Jerusalem, Hyrcanus faced a serious economic crisis in Judea. We can assume that the economic difficulties subsided after the death of Antiochus VII. Hyrcanus no longer had to pay taxes or tributes to a weaker Seleucia.[13] The economic situation eventually improved enough for Hyrcanus to issue his own coinage (see below). On top of that, Hyrcanus initiated vital building projects in Judea. Hyrcanus re-built the walls destroyed by Antiochus. He also built a fortress north of the Temple called the Baris and possibly also the fortress Hyrcania.[14]

Moreover, Hyrcanus sought for good relations with the surrounding Gentile powers, especially the growing Roman Empire. Two decrees were passed in the Roman Senate that established a treaty of friendship with Judea.[15] Although it is difficult to specifically date these resolutions, they represent efforts made between Hyrcanus and Rome to maintain stable relations. Also, an embassy sent by Hyrcanus received Roman confirmation of Hasmonean independence.[16] Hyrcanus was an excellent case of a ruler backed by Roman support.

In addition to Rome, Hyrcanus was able to maintain steady relations with Ptolemaic Egypt. This was probably made possible due to various Jews living in Egypt who had connections with the Ptolemaic Court (Ant. 13.284-287). Finally, the cities of Athens and Pergamum even showed honor to Hyrcanus in an effort to appease Rome.[17]

Furthermore, the minting of coins by Hyrcanus demonstrates Hyrcanus’ willingness to delegate power. Sixty-three coins found near Bethlehem bear the inscription, “Yohanan the High Priest.” The reserve side of the coins contains the phrase, “The Assembly of the Jews.” This seems to suggest that during his reign, Hyrcanus was not an absolute ruler. Instead, Hyrcanus had to submit at times to an assembly of Jews that had a certain amount of minority power.[18] The coins lack any depictions of animals or humans. This suggests that Hyrcanus strictly followed the Jewish prohibition against graven images. The coins also seem to suggest that Hyrcanus considered himself to be primarily the High Priest of Judea, and his rule of Judea was shared with the Assembly.[19]

In Judea, religious issues were a core aspect of domestic policy. Josephus only reports one specific conflict between the Pharisees and Hyrcanus (Ant. 13.288-296). Essentially, criticism of Hyrcanus’ roles as High Priest and ethnarch by the Pharisees led to a falling out. [20] Thus, this conflict between Hyrcanus and the Pharisees elevated the status of the Sadducees.

There is, however, good reason to doubt this account by Josephus. First of all, Josephus reports elsewhere that the Pharisees did not grow to power until the reign of Queen Salome Alexandra (JW.1.110) The coins minted under Hyrcanus suggest that Hyrcanus did not have complete secular authority. Furthermore, this account may represent a piece of Pharisaic apologetics due to Josephus’ Pharisaic background.[21] Therefore, this account might represent a historical creation meant to elevate the status of the Pharisees during the height of the Hasmonean Dynasty.

There were probably tensions because of the religious and secular leadership roles held by Hyrcanus. However, it is difficult to assume that this account by Josephus is an accurate re-telling of the relationship between Hyrcanus, the Pharisees and the Sadducees at that time.

Ultimately, one of the final acts of Hyrcanus’ life was an act that solved any kind of dispute over his role as High Priest and ethnarch. In the will of Hyrcanus, he provisioned for the division of the high priesthood from secular authority. Hyrcanus’ wife was given control of civil authority after his death, and his son Judas Aristobulus was given the role of High Priest. This action represented Hyrcanus’ willingness to compromise over the issue of secular and religious authority.[22]


  1. ^ H. Jagersma. A History of Israel from Alexander the Great to Bar Kochba. (Minneapolis.: Fortress Press, 1986), 83.
  2. ^ Joseph Sievers , and Jacob Neusner, ed. The Hasmoneans and Their Supporters: From Matthias to the Death of John Hyrcanus I. (Atlanta.: Scholars Press, 1990), 140.
  3. ^ Sievers, 139
  4. ^ Jagersma, 89
  5. ^ Elias Bickerman. The Maccabees. (New York.: Schocken Books, 1947), 150
  6. ^ Sievers, 141
  7. ^ Gaalyahu Cornfled. Daniel to Paul: Jews In Conflict with Graeco-Roman Civilization. (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1962), 50
  8. ^ Sievers, 141
  9. ^ Bickerman, 149-150
  10. ^ Sievers, 142
  11. ^ George W. E. Nickelsburg. Jewish Literature Between The Bible And The Mishnah, with CD-ROM, Second Edition. (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2005), 93
  12. ^ Jagersma, 83
  13. ^ Sievers, 157
  14. ^ W. D. Davies. The Cambridge History of Judaism, Vol. 2: The Hellenistic Age. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 331-332
  15. ^ Jagersma, 84
  16. ^ David Noel Freedman. The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary, H-J: Volume 3. (New Haven: Yale University Press), 1992
  17. ^ Davies, 332
  18. ^ Cornfeld, 52
  19. ^ Sievers, 153-154
  20. ^ Nickelsburg, 93
  21. ^ Sievers, 155
  22. ^ Gaalyahu, 55

Modern commemoration

Tel Aviv has a Yochanan Hyrcanus Street (רחוב יוחנן הורקנוס), as do several other cities in contemporary Israel. In the early decades of the 20th century, the Zionist historical perception of the Jewish past tended to approve of and revere strong warrior kings of both Biblical and later periods, and Hyrcanus' exploits earned him a place in that pantheon.

See also

External links

John Hyrcanus
Died: 104 BC
Preceded by
Simon Maccabeus
Prince of Judaea
134 BC – 104 BC
Succeeded by
Aristobulus I
High Priest of Judaea
134 BC – 104 BC

Redirecting to John Hyrcanus

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

HYRCANUS ('Tprcavos), a Greek surname, of unknown origin, borne by several Jews of the Maccabaean period.

John Hyrcanus I., high priest of the Jews from 135 to 105 B.C., was the youngest son of Simon Maccabaeus. In 137 B.C. he, along with his brother Judas, commanded the force which repelled the invasion of Judaea led by Cendebeus, the general of Antiochus VII. Sidetes. On the assassination of his father and two elder brothers by Ptolemy, governor of Jericho, his brother-in-law, in February 135, he succeeded to the high priesthood and the supreme authority in Judaea. While still engaged in the struggle with Ptolemy, he was attacked by Antiochus with a large army (134), and compelled to shut himself up in Jerusalem; after a severe siege peace was at last secured only on condition of a Jewish disarmament, and the payment of an indemnity and an annual tribute, for which hostages were taken. In 129 he accompanied Antiochus as a vassal prince on his illfated Parthian expedition; returning, however, to Judaea before winter, he escaped the final disaster. By the judicious mission of an embassy to Rome he now obtained confirmation of the alliance which his father had previously made with the growing western power; at the same time he availed himself of the weakened state of the Syrian monarchy under Demetrius II. to overrun Samaria, and also to invade Idumaea, which he completely subdued, compelling its inhabitants to receive circumcision and accept the Jewish faith. After a long period of rest he directed his arms against the town of Samaria, which, in spite of the intervention of Antiochus, his sons Antigonus and Aristobulus ultimately took, and by his orders razed to the ground (c. 109 B.C.). He died in 105, and was succeeded by Aristobulus, the eldest of his five sons. The external policy of Hyrcanus was marked by considerable energy and tact, and, aided as it was by favouring circumstances, was so successful as to leave the Jewish nation in a position of independence and of influence such as it had not known since the days of Solomon. During its later years his reign was much distrubed, however, by the contentions for ascendancy which arose between the Pharisees and Sadducees, the two rival sects or parties which then for the first time (under those names at least) came into prominence. Josephus has related the curious circumstances under which he ultimately transferred his personal support from the former to the latter.

John Hyrcanus Ii., high priest from 78 to 40 B.C., was the eldest son of Alexander Jannaeus by his wife Alexandra, and was thus a grandson of the preceding. When his father died in 78, he was by his mother forthwith appointed high priest, and on her death in 69 he claimed the succession to the supreme civil authority also; but, after a brief and troubled reign of three months, he was compelled to abdicate both kingly and priestly dignities in favour of his more energetic and ambitious younger brother Aristobulus II. In 63 it suited the policy of Pompey that he should be restored to the high priesthood, with some semblance of supreme command, but of much of this semblance even he was soon again deprived by the arrangement of the pro-consul Gabinius, according to which Palestine was in 57 B.C. divided into five separate circles (auv060c, vvv&3pca). For services rendered to Caesar after the battle of Pharsalia, he was again rewarded with the sovereignty (Iwo-Tao-la Tou EBvovs, Jos. Ant. xx. 10) in 47 B.C., Antipater of Idumaea, however, being at the same time made procurator of Judaea. In 41 B.C. he was practically superseded by Antony's appointment of Herod and Phasael to be tetrarchs of Judaea; and in the following year he was taken prisoner by the Parthians, deprived of his ears that he might be permanently disqualified for priestly office, and carried to Babylon. He was permitted in 33 B.C. to return to Jerusalem, where on a charge of treasonable correspondence with Malchus, king of Arabia, he was put to death in 30 B.C.

See Josephus (Ant. xiii. 8 -10; xiv. 5 -13; Bell. Jud. i. 2; i. 8-13). Also MACCABEES, History. (J. H. A. H.)

<< Hyrcania

Hyssop >>


Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies


Main Page
Cladus: Eukaryota
Supergroup: Unikonta
Cladus: Opisthokonta
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Protostomia
Cladus: Ecdysozoa
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Hexapoda
Classis: Insecta
Cladus: Dicondylia
Cladus: Pterygota
Cladus: Metapterygota
Cladus: Neoptera
Cladus: Eumetabola
Cladus: Paraneoptera
Superordo: Condylognatha
Ordo: Hemiptera
Subordo: Heteroptera
Infraordo: Gerromorpha
Superfamilia: Hebroidea
Familia: Hebridae
Subfamilia: Hyrcaninae
Genus: Hyrcanus
Species (10): H. angulatus - H. boukali - H. capitatus - H. chenae - H. dispar - H. draculus - H. reichli - H. saxatilis - H. shepardi - H. varicolor


Hyrcanus Distant, 1910


  • Andersen, N.M. 1981: Semiaquatic bugs: phylogeny and classification of the Hebridae (Heteroptera: Gerromorpha) with revisions of Timasius, Neotimasius and Hyrcanus. Systematic entomology, 6: 377-412.
  • Zettel, H. 1998: [A taxonomic revision of the genus Hyrcanus Distant 1910 (Heteroptera: Hebridae) with the new description of four species from India, Thailand, Laos and China.] Stapfia, 55: 585-606.
  • Zettel, H. 2000: [New and little known Hebridae (Insecta: Heteroptera) from south India, with new description of six species from the genera Hyrcanus Distant, 1910, Timasius Distant, 1909 and Hebrus Curtis, 1833.] Annalen des Naturhistorischen Museums in Wien Serie B Botanik und Zoologie, 102B: 97-110. [1]

Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

Collector of the royal revenues in Egypt; born in Jerusalem about 220 B.C.; died in 175; youngest son of the tax-farmer Joseph ben Tobiah by his second wife, the daughter of his brother Solymius. Displaying from his childhood the most extraordinary abilities and accomplishments, he became the favorite of his father, which predilection made his elder half-brother jealous, andsubsequently became a source of misery to the whole nation. His father, being unable on account of his infirmities to be present at an Egyptian court solemnity, sent Hyrcanus as his representative, the two elder half-brothers refusing to attend for reasons of their own. The occasion of the solemnity is unknown. It could not have been the birth of Ptolemy V., Epiphanes (209 B.C.), as Hyrcanus was then only eleven years old. His half-brothers wrote to their friends at court to put Hyrcanus out of the way.

Hyrcanus, promising his father to be very economical in all expenditures, obtained from the latter a letter of credit to his steward at Alexandria. He soon gained favor at court by his cleverness and by his adroitness of speech. He pleased Ptolemy and his courtiers by his wit and especially by his extravagant presents; and when he left Alexandria he himself was loaded with gifts. He was probably awarded also the office of tax-collector. His half-brothers, who had now still greater reason for jealousy, lay in wait to kill him; and even his father was incensed against him on account of the enormous sums he had spent. A battle ensued in which Hyrcanus and his companions killed two of his half-brothers. Fearing for his safety, Hyrcanus left Jerusalem.

At the death of Joseph the quarrels of the brothers were espoused by the people. The elder sons, out of hatred to Hyrcanus, who probably succeeded his father in office, sided with Antiochus against Egypt, and raised a Seleucidan party, while Hyrcanus and his adherents supported the Ptolemies. At the final triumph of the Seleucids, Hyrcanus took up his abode beyond the Jordan, in territory granted to him by Ptolemy V., and was at war continually with the Arabian and other tribes, which he obliged to pay taxes.

Hyrcanus erected a strong castle of white marble upon a rock near Heshban, and surrounded it with a wide moat of great depth. This castle was called "Tyrus." For seven years Hyrcanus remained in his retreat and accumulated immense wealth, a part of which was deposited in the Temple at Jerusalem (2 Macc 3:11). At the accession of Antiochus Epiphanes the Tobiads renewed their hostilities against Hyrcanus and persuaded the new king to capture him. Hyrcanus, dreading an ignominious death, committed suicide.

Bibliography: Josephus, Ant. xii. 4, §§ 6-11; Grätz, Gesch. ii. 245 et seq.; Adolf Büchler, Die Tobiaden und die Oniaden, passim; Schürer, Gesch. i. 195 et seq.

This entry includes text from the Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906.


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address