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MACBETH—MACCABEES

alike; the lustreless white eggs are laid in hollow trees, usually two at a time. The birds are gregarious but apparently monogamous.  (A. N.) 


MACBETH, king of Scotland (d. 1058), was the son of Findlaech, mormaer or hereditary ruler of Moreb (Moray and Ross), who had been murdered by his nephews in 1020. He probably became mormaer on the death of Malcolm, one of the murderers, in 1029, and he may have been one of the chiefs (the Maclbaethe of the Saxon Chronicle) who submitted to Canute in 1031. Marianus records that in 1040 Duncan, the grandson and successor of Malcolm king of Scotland, was slain by Macbeth. Duncan had shortly before suffered a severe defeat at the hands of Thorfinn, the Norwegian earl of Orkney and Caithness, and it was perhaps this event which tempted Macbeth to seize the throne. As far as is known he had no claim to the crown except through his wife Gruach, who appears to have been a member of the royal family. Macbeth was apparently a generous benefactor to the Church, and is said to have made a pilgrimage to Rome in 1050. According to S. Berchan his reign was a time of prosperity for Scotland. The records of the period, however, are extremely meagre, and much obscurity prevails, especially as to his relations with the powerful earl Thorfinn. More than one attempt was made by members of the Scottish royal family to recover the throne; in 1045 by Crinan, the lay abbot of Dunkeld, son-in-law of Malcolm II., and in 1054 by Duncan’s son Malcolm with the assistance of Siward the powerful earl of Northumbria, himself a connexion of the ousted dynasty. Three years later in 1057 Malcolm and Siward again invaded Scotland and the campaign ended with the defeat and death of Macbeth, who was slain at Lumphanan. Macbeth is, of course, chiefly famous as the central figure of Shakespeare’s great tragedy.

See W. F. Skene, Chronicles of the Picts and Scots (1867) and Celtic Scotland (1876); Sir John Rhys, Celtic Britain (1904).


MACCABEES, the name (in the plural) of a distinguished Jewish family dominant in Jerusalem in the 2nd century B.C. According to 1 Macc. ii. 4, the name Maccabaeus (Gr. Μακκαβῖος–? Heb. מקבי) was originally the distinctive surname of Judas, third son of the Jewish priest Mattathias, who struck the first blow for religious liberty during the persecution under Antiochus IV. (Epiphanes). Subsequently, however, it obtained a wider significance, having been applied first to the kinsmen of Judas, then to his adherents, and ultimately to all champions of religion in the Greek period. Thus the mother of the seven brethren, whose martyrdom is related in 2 Macc. vi., vii., is called by early Christian writers “the mother of the Maccabees.” The name is used still more loosely in the titles of the so-called Third, Fourth and Fifth Books of Maccabees. It is now customary to apply it only to the sons and descendants of Mattathias. As, however, according to Josephus (Ant. xii. 6. 1), this brave priest’s great-great-grandfather was called Ḥasmon (i.e. “rich” = magnate; cf. Ps. lxviii. 31 [32]), the family is more correctly designated by the name of Hasmonaeans or Asmoneans (q.v.). This name Jewish authors naturally prefer to that of Maccabees; they also style 1 and 2 Macc. “Books of the Hasmonaeans.”

If Maccabee (maqqābi) is the original form of the name, the most probable derivation is from the Aramaic maqqābā (Heb. מקבת, Judg. iv. 21, &c.) = “hammer.” The surname “hammerer” might have been applied to Judas either as a distinctive title pure and simple or symbolically as in the parallel case of Edward I., “Scotorum malleus.” Even if māqqāba does denote the ordinary workman’s hammer, and not the great smith’s hammer which would more fitly symbolize the impetuosity of Judas, this is not a fatal objection. The doubled k of the Greek form is decisive against (1) the theory that the name Maccabee was made up of the initials of the opening words of Exod. xv. ii; (2) the derivation from מכבי = “extinguisher” (cf. Isa. xliii. 17), based by Curtiss (The Name Machabee, Leipzig, 1876) on the Latin spelling Machabaeus = Μακκαβῖος, which Jerome probably adopted in accordance with the usage of the times.

The Maccabaean revolt was caused by the attempt of Antiochus IV. (Epiphanes), king of Syria (175–164 B.C.), to force Hellenism upon Judaea (see Seleucid Dynasty; Hellenism). Ever since the campaigns of Alexander the Great, Greek habits and ideas had been widely adopted in Palestine. Over the higher classes especially Hellenism had cast its spell. This called forth the organized opposition of the Ḥasīdīm (= “the pious”), who constituted themselves champions of the Law. Joshua, who headed the Hellenistic faction, graecized his name into Jason, contrived to have the high-priesthood taken from his brother Onias III., and conferred upon himself, and set up a gymnasium hard by the Temple. After three years’ tenure of office Jason was supplanted by the Benjamite Menelaus, who disowned Judaism entirely. Antiochus punished an outburst of strife between the rivals by plundering the Temple and slaying many of the inhabitants (170 B.C.). Two years later Jerusalem was devastated by his general Apollonius, and a Syrian garrison occupied the citadel (Akra). The Jews were ordered under pain of death to substitute for their own observances the Pagan rites prescribed for the empire generally. In December 168 sacrifice was offered to Zeus upon an idol altar (“the abomination of desolation,” Dan. x. 27) erected over the great altar of burnt-offering. But Antiochus had miscalculated, and by his extreme measures unwittingly saved Judaism from its internal foes. Many hellenizers rallied round those who were minded to die rather than abjure their religion. The issue of an important edict ordaining the erection of heathen altars in every township of Palestine, and the appointment of officers to deal with recusants, brought matters to a crisis. At Modin, Mattathias, an aged priest, not only refused to offer the first sacrifice, but slew an apostate Jew who was about to step into the breach. He also killed the king’s commissioner and pulled down the altar. Having thus given the signal for rebellion, he then with his five sons took to the mountains. In view of the ruthless slaughter of a thousand sabbatarians in the wilderness, Mattathias and his friends decided to resist attack even on the sabbath. Many, including the Ḥasīdīm, thereupon flocked to his standard, and set themselves to revive Jewish rites and to uproot Paganism from the land. In 166 Mattathias died, after charging his sons to give their lives for their ancestral faith, and nominating Judas Maccabaeus as their leader in the holy campaign.

The military genius of Judas made this the most stirring chapter in Israelitish history. In quick succession he overthrew the Syrian generals Apollonius, Seron and Gorgias, and after the regent Lysias had shared the same fate at his hands he restored the Temple worship (165). These exploits dismayed his opponents and kindled the enthusiasm of his friends. When, however, Lysias returned in force to renew the contest, Judas had to fall back upon the Temple mount, and escaped defeat only because the Syrian leader was obliged to hasten back to Antioch in order to prevent a rival from seizing the regency. Under these circumstances Lysias unexpectedly guaranteed to the Jews their religious freedom (162). But though they had thus gained their end, the struggle did not cease; it merely assumed a new phase. The Ḥasīdīm indeed were satisfied, and declined to fight longer, but the Maccabees determined not to desist until their nation was politically as well as religiously free. In 161 Judas defeated Nicanor at Adasa, but within a few weeks thereafter, in a heroic struggle against superior numbers under Bacchides at Elasa, he was himself cut off. Even this, however, did not prove fatal to the cause which Judas had espoused. If in his brother Jonathan it did not possess so brilliant a soldier, it had in him an astute diplomatist who knew how to exploit the internal troubles of Syria. In the contest between Demetrius I. and Alexander Balas for the throne, Jonathan supported the latter, who in 153 nominated him high priest, and conferred on him the order of “King’s Friend,” besides other honours. After the accession of Demetrius II. (145) Jonathan contrived to win his favour, and helped him to crush a rebellion in Antioch on condition that the Syrian garrisons should be withdrawn