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Hasmonean Surnames


A Brief look at the Mattathias and his sons and the surnames or titles that have been recorded for us.

Mattathias the Hasmonean

  • Or Matiṯyāhu ben Hasmonay
  • Patriarch of the Family, of the Joarib lineage.
  • Started the revolt in 167 BC
  • Died 167 of Old Age
  • Surname
    • Meaning Unknown
    • Josephus mentions it comes from a Family Patriarch named Asmoneus or Asamoneus (Hebrew – Hasmonay)
      • Perhaps a corruption of Mattathias’ grandfather Simeon (The Simeon or Ha-Shimon)
    • Perhaps it came from the village Heshbon (Johusa 15.27)

Judas Maccabeus (The Middle Child)

  • Or Judah/Yehuda Maccabeus
  • The Middle or Third Born Son of Mattathias
  • Lead Revolt from 167-160 BC
  • Defeated in the Battle of Elasa by General Bacchides
  • Surname Maccabeus
  • Most Likely Suggestion is that it is perhaps from Hebrew מַקָּבָה or maqqaba “hammer”
    • Could speak of his valor in battle and so Hammerer
    • Or perhaps it speaks of physical appearance and so Mallet-headed
  • Others suggest כָּבָה or chabab “to extinguish or quench” so “Extinguisher” or “Quencher”
    • Speaking of Judah’s quenching the spirit of Hellenism.
  • Perhaps it is stands for innitials for the phrase “Who are like unto Thee, O Lord, among the gods,” which was inscribed upon Judah’s banners.

John Gaddi

  • Or Johanan/Yohanan Gaddi
  • The Eldest son of Mattathias
  • Killed in 160 BC by the sons of Jambri while seeking refuge with the Nabeteans
  • Surname Gaddi
  • Maybe Shorten from of Gaddiel (Numbers 13.10) or the Name Gaddi (13.11)
    • The Name Gaddiel means “God is my Fortune”
    • The Name Gaddi means “my fortune”
  • From Hebrew or Aramaic גָּד gad which means “(good) fortune”
    • So “Fortunate” or “Lucky”
  • Another suggestion is that its related to “round grain,”
    • And so “round headed,” like that of Judah

Eleazar Avaran

  • Or El‘azar Charbon
  • The Fourth Son of Mattathias
  • Died c. 162 in the Battle of Beth-zechariah when slaying a War Elephant
  • Surname Avaran
  • עוּר or ˓wr, ‘ur = “Awake”
    • Perhaps given because he was not a soundly sleeping baby
  • חור Or ḥwr = “to be pale” or “pale(face).”
    • Perhaps he was lighter skin or had a skin disease
  • Perhaps from Arabic havar “to pierce”
    • “The Piercer,” i.e. his killing of the Elephant

Jonathan Apphus (The Youngest)

  • Or Yehonatan Apphus
  • The Youngest Son of Mattathias
  • Lead Revolt from 160-142 BC
    • High Priest from 153-142 BC
  • Treacherously killed by Diodotus Tryphon.
  • Surname Apphus
  • הפץ Or hpṣ, “to seek, search,”
  • חפץ or ḥpṣ, chaphets “to desire.”
    • “Favorite, Beloved, or Desired”
    • This may speak of a child’s nickname, i.e. he was the favorite son.
  • Syraic Version reads Ḥappūs, which points to “the dissembler” or “the cunning”

Simon Thassi

  • Or Simeon/Shimon Tharsi
  • The Second Born of Mattathias
  • High Priest from 142-134 BC
  • Murdered by Son-in-Law Ptolemy son of Abubus, Governor of Jericho
  • Surname Thassi
  • No convincing explanation, could be Tharsi, Thatis, or even Thadsi
  • Thassi could mean “Burning or Zealot”
  • Syria version has Tharsi could mean “The Guide”
    • Fits with 2.65 of him being a “man of counsel”
  • Perhaps from Thassis which would point to “weakling” – weak child?

John Hyrcanus (Son of Simon Thassi)

  • Or Yōḥānān Hurqanōs
  • Youngest of Simon Thassi’s sons
  • Often labeled in Rabbinic Literature as Yoḥanan Cohen Gadol = Johanan the High Priest
  • High Priest from 134-104 BC
  • Gave Sadducees a Prominence Near End of Reign
  • Died of Old Age after a rule of Thirty Years
  • Gave Civil Rule to his wife and religious rule to his son
  • Surname
    • Hyrcanus means “One from Hyrcania,” a reigion on the Black Sea
      • Perhaps because Ancestors were of Hyrcanian descent, known exilic group there.
    • Ancient Writers such as Eusebius and Jerome saw the title stemming from his conquests of the Hyrcanians
      • John did participate in Antiochus VII campaign against the Parthians
    • Herqanosh (1QapGenar) is suggested to equal Hyrcanus

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