The books of Machabees1 are four texts originally written in Hebrew (or Aramaic), authors unknown.

1 Machabees describes the struggle of the Jewish people for political and religious freedom under the leadership of the Machabee family, with Judas Machabeus as the central figure.

2 Machabees provides a history of the Machabean rebellion.

3 Machabees discusses the persecution of the Jews under Ptolemy IV.

4 Machabees is a treatise on the supremacy of pious reason.

For a detailed discussion of the four texts see the excellent Catholic Encyclopedia article entitled The Books of Machabees. Of the four books, only 1 Machabees and 2 Machabees are considered canonical by the Catholic Church.2 3 Machabees and 4 Machabees are considered apocryphal.

1 Rook points out that 'Maccabees' is probably the preferred form, since their sources transliterate the Hebrew root as 'maqqabyahu'. On the other hand, the Catholic Church has been referring to the books for several hundred years as 'Machabees' (short form, 'Mach') -- see the Catholic Encyclopedia article, The Books of Machabees.
2Protestants believe all four books of Machabees to be apocryphal.

Mac"ca*bees (?), n. pl.


The name given in later times to the Asmonæans, a family of Jewish patriots, who headed a religious revolt in the reign of Antiochus IV., 168-161 B. C., which led to a period of freedom for Israel. Schaff-Herzog.


The name of two ancient historical books, which give accounts of Jewish affairs in or about the time of the Maccabean princes, and which are received as canonical books in the Roman Catholic Church, but are included in the Apocrypha by Protestants. Also applied to three books, two of which are found in some MSS. of the Septuagint.


© Webster 1913

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