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Judas Maccabeus

maccabees scenes brothers temple

Leader of the Jewish revolt against the Seleucid rulers in the second century B.C. , Judas (called “the Hammer”) was a very successful military commander and strategist. Especially acclaimed for his liberation of Jerusalem and rededication of the Temple, which had been profaned by pagan *idols and sacrifices, his rebuilding of the Temple altar is commemorated by the festival of Hanukkah. Although the Macabees did not manage to retain control over the region, Judas’s legacy as a great national hero earned him lasting fame and honor. In the Middle Ages, he was included among the Nine Worthies . Scenes involving Judas Maccabeus and his brothers and sons, the Maccabees, are found primarily in biblical manuscript illustrations for the books of Maccabees (two considered canonical, two apocryphal) and include numerous battle scenes as well as the gruesome tortures and deaths of seven brothers (2 Maccabees 7) who were also venerated as martyrs by both western and Byzantine churches from the early Christian period onward.
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