The Maccabees were a Jewish family, descendants of Mattathias, though the more accurate term is Asmoneans, derived from Hashmon, the name of the great-grandfather of Mattathias. The latter came to the front during the persecution of the Jews by Antiochus Epiphanes, 167 B.C. The other prominent members of the family were his sons, Judas and Jonathan Maccabseus; his brother Simon, and the latter’s son, John Hyrcanus. The son of the last-named is known in history as Aristobulus.
The history of the Maccabees is contained in five books bearing that name, two of the books being included in the Apocrypha. The Romish Church deem four of the books to be canonical, but the Protestant Church regard none as such.