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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

What Ever Happened to the Apostles? – Saint Simon the Less

It’s been a little while since I posted, but I figured why not. Besides I need to finish this series at some point. With this post, half the Apostles are done. I’ll admit this may be a little shorter than others, both because of the lack of data and I spent less time on it. But hey, it’s another one done 😀

New Testament Data

Matthew 10.4 and Mark 3.18 calls Simon the Cananaean which probably comes the Aramaic word, qan’ānā’, which means ‘zeal’ or ‘zealous.’[1] It is likely why Luke (Lk. 6.15; Acts 1.13) simply calls him the Zealot.[2] In all four of his New Testament references then, Simon, is linked with the Zealots.[3]

This may point to his being a part of the Zealot party.[4] However, it’s uncertain how much of a coherent group of revolutionaries known the Zealots were around during the ministry of Christ. It should be noted that some scholars do see its beginning in 6 AD with Judas the Galilean and his “refusal to tolerate the Roman census.”[5]Others are uncertain, seeing no real clear reference to the group until 66 AD and the event surrounding Jerusalem’s fall.[6]

It therefore may be less about his  being a part of group and more about his political leanings that is “Simon was a zealous nationalist prior to his call to follow Jesus.”[7]

Christ’s choice of Simon is still, nevertheless, interesting when compared with his choice of Matthew, both would have been seen as the “opposite ends of the political spectrum.”[8]

Later Traditions

The truth is, little was written of Simon, not only in the four NT passages, but even among the apocryphal writings.[9]

The apocryphal work, the “Passion of Simon and Jude,” places him these two as ministering and facing martyrdom in Persia.[10]   But most like the Diatessaron, Acts of Thomas, and the Constitutions of the Holy Apostles, simply mention him in a listing among the twelve.

Later legends will make him one of the Shepherds that visited Christ, the Byzantine Church identieid him as Nathanael of Cana (Jn 21.2) while others thought he was one of the brothers (or cousins) of Jesus, along with Judas of James.[11]

Simon was also confused with Simon, son of Clopas (Jn 19.25) the second leader of the Jerusalem Church and this further makes it hard to figure out his later life.


While in the West, he was connected, again to Jude, and both were also associated with Persia and being martyred there.[12]

All of this to say, is that Simon like a few others, is even in tradition little more than a name. While history may have forgotten him, it may still be important to realize that he was a vital part of the early mission of the church, whatever that part was, and that his zeal, came to be a zeal for the gospel.


[1] M.J. Wilkins, “Disciples,” in DJD, 181.

[2] ODCC, s.v. “Simon, St, ‘the less

[3] T.R. Schreiner ISBE, Simon (NT), 4:515

[4] ODCC, s.v. “Simon, St, ‘the less

[5] ISBE, 515.


[7] M.J. Wilkins, “Disciples,” in DJD, 181.

[8] ISBE, 515.

[9] LBD

[10] ODCC, s.v. “Simon, St, ‘the less

[11] The Fate of the Apostles, 246.

[12] LBD

The Angelic Women of Zechariah 5.9-11

In 5.9 of Zechariah, the prophet is confronted with a vision of wickedness (seen as a woman) being removed from the land. In that vision, the prophet also sees two women with wings like storks who do the job of flying wickedness away.

The question is who are these women? Especially as it seems that the prophet knew, after all, he does not ask about them, but modern scholars certainly have.[1]  Are they the agents of Yahweh or rather are they demonic forces who bends to his will?

They are described as having “wind/spirit is in their wings,” and having “wings like the wings of the stork.” The former statement implies that they have wings and they are airborne.[2] The use of the Hebrew term ר֫וּחַ, rûaḥ, also suggests that these figures are God’s servants. The word which can be translated as wind or spirit, could be a sign of God’s spirit “empowering the two,” just as God’s spirit strengthened Zerubbbabel (Zech. 4.6).[3]  God’s rûaḥ worked in creation (Gen. 1.2), opened and shut the Red Sea (Ex. 15.8,10, 2 Sam 22.16), in Ezekiel it brought the dead to life (37.1-14).[4] Thus because of the “words double meaning” it could be translated as “the Spirit was in their wings,” and points that the removal of Wickedness is from God’s hand.[5] The wind can be seen as Yahweh’s agents in several other passages (Gen. 8.1; Ex 15.10; Jer. 10.13; Num. 11.31).[6]

Scholars have also noted that these angelic woman share certain affinities with the cherubim seen in other Old Testament passages. For example, “the wind in their wings” is a similar phrased used of cherubim in 2 Samuel 22.11; Psalm 17.10 “wings of the wind” and in Hosea 4.19 “wind in its wings.”[7] This in itself would seem to indicate that these angelic-like creatures are Yahweh’s agents.[8] (See Above)

Their task in Zechariah 5.9-11 is also similar to the task of the Cherubim in Ezekiel 8-11 and other divine creatures. For example, Ezekiel 11.22-23 the Cherubim remove God’s glory from Jerusalem as the winged women here remove personified wickedness from Judah.[9] One could also note that the winged move in the same space as that of the prophet Ezekiel (Ezek 8.3) and the Angel of the Lord (1 Chr 21.16) another indication they are YHWH’s agents.[10] Their motions also seemed similar to that God’s chariot in Ezekiel’s initial vision.[11]

They are given the task of caring the ephah to Babylonia, but do they do this of their volition or not? As Sals noted, “that they carry unrighteousness away is surely to Israel’s advantage.”[12] Moreover their task, ridding the land of wickedness-sin, is one which only Yahweh can do, and a major theme of Zechariah seems to be of God’s divine actions.[13]

Most scholars agree that these figures should not be seen as female cherubim. These winged women seem the only ones fit to carry the ephah to Shinar, perhaps because, of the Cherubim general proximity to Yahweh, compared to these figures.[14] Or as Peterson noted, “Yahweh could not touch the evil and sin-guilt, but he could provide the power for its removal.”[15]

Their wings are likened to that storks. The majority of scholars think the liking of the wings have some “symbolic significance.”[16]

For some, they look at the negative connotations of the stork, specifically, Leviticus 11.19 and Deuteronomy 14.18 the stork are listed as an unclean animal, and some argue their unclean status would make them “suitable carries of the guilt.”[17] (See Rudman “Zechariah and Priestley Law” and Merrill Zechariah) Others point to the negative image given to it in Exodus 11.13-19.[18] (Conrad Zechariah 120).

Others maintain that it may be positive. For example, the Hebrew word for stork “חֲסִידָה” has its root חָסַד which means “to be kind” or to “show mercy,” perhaps a reflection of how the bird cares for its young.[19] Others point to Jeremiah 8.7 where the stork is seen as a “pious, compassionate, and true to God.”[20] As “This same tender care,” George Klien noted of the Storks, “for the helpless young marks the Lord’s treatment of his “young,” the Israelites.”[21]

It could also be simply that Zechariah was trying to describe the wings of these women as best as he could.[22] Or that the women went north worth, as a stork migrates, and so the writer associated their wings with that.[23]

While there can be no certainty with what these creatures are I think that Tiemeyer concluded correctly that, “the textual evidence in Zech 5:9-11, as well as the comparable biblical and non-biblical material, implies that the two winged women are God’s agents.”[24]


                                [1] Lena-Sofia Tiemeyer, Zechariah and his Vision (New York: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015), 228

                                [2] Ibid., 228.

                                [3] Ibid., 229.

                [4] Joyce G. Baldwin, vol. 28, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi: An Introduction and Commentary, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1972), 128.

                                [5] Ibid., 137

                [6] David L. Peterson, Haggai and Zechariah 1-8 (Old Testament Library), (The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1984) 259.

                                [7] Tiemeyer, 228.

                                [8] Ibid.

                                [9] Ibid.

                                [10] Ibid.

                                [11] Ibid.

                [12] Ulrike Sals, “Reading Zechariah 5.5-11: Prophecy, Gender and (Ap)Perception,” in Athalya Brenner Prophets and Daniel (A Feminist Companion to the Bible. Second Series, (Sheffield Academic Press, New York, 2001), 199.

                [13] George L. Klein, vol. 21B, Zechariah, New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: B & H Publishing Group, 2008), 179.

                [14] Tiemeyer, 228-29.

                [15] Peterson, 259.

                [16] Tiemeyer, 230.

                [17] Tiemeyer, 231.

                [18] Ibid.

                [19] Ibid., 230.

                [20] Ibid., 230-31.

[21] Klien, 179

                [22] Tiemeyer, 232.

                [23] Carol L. Meyers and Eric M. Meyers, Haggai, Zechariah 1-8: A New Translation With Introduction and Commentary, Includes Indexes. (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2008), 306.

                [24] Tiemeyer, 233.

New look ^.^

I figured that I hadn’t changed this blog since it started back in 2008, so I put a new theme and layout up, which I’ll probably be messing with for the next day or two.

A New Quick Note

I’ve taken down a few of my post due to a concern that has just been made known to me. If I can figure out a way to rework some of them or some way to figure out a solution they may reappear in a different form. Although it is highly likely they’ll remain down. Instead just wait for new posts, at some point, to be posted up.

Review PC Study Bible Version 5


So, this will be my first review of well anything, so please bare with me as I think this little step.  Firstly what I am reviewing exactly is PC Study Bible Version 5: Professional Reference Library.  I had acquired this thanks to my old Hebrew professor at Davis.  I figure I’d give a review just as an exercise to see how well I can review something.

Until having acquired PC Study Bible, my major electronic Bible software which I had used was E-Sword.  Now, for the most part I had enjoyed E-sword, I was able to get most of the Bible translations I preferred and some other decent if a bit outdated commentaries.  To be honest, I mostly preferred many of the user made modules for E-Sword over that of the official ones.  In particular I was often quite annoyed that I had to seek out more modern translations of the apocryphal books, but I digress.  With E-Swords upgrade and change in file format I have long left E-Sword in the dust and have used PC Study Bible more or less.  In many ways I still miss User Made modules, but with the increase in size of the library I don’t really miss them as much.

Things I actually don’t mind:

When on the Bible search pane I’m actually quite grateful that when I type in Tobit 1.t.  Firstly that I can type the “.” between chapter and number and not the “:” since I’ve become quite use to the former.  Secondly that it grays out the translations which don’t offer Tobit.  In the package that I have,  it includes NRSV, Douay-Rheims, KJV, RSV, and the GNB.  This I think is rather useful since I would have normally assumed a version of KJV without the apocrypha.

I’m quite glade the package I have includes the church fathers, now I realize this might not the same for other packages, but as its quite useful for my current journey in Seminary I thought I might mention that.

While I’ll have some misgivings about the original language setup for the program, generally its rather all right.   When I click the Greek/Hebrew button I easily can get into verse I was working on, sadly though its all for the interlinear books they have.  They have pure original documents, so I’m not sure why that’s not a choice in the menu.   In either case, clicking on words in both the interlinear bible and pure language will pop up the word information, giving a basic transliteration and parsing in the lower left hand corner.  This is kind of nice, great for those who don’t have a strong grasp on the language, and it becomes a tempting cheat to instead of parsing it yourself to just look.  In all honestly I use it to check my paring so eh.  Now double clicking strong’s number in the interlinear does pop up a window which gives a brief definition (Strong’s).  The window is a appreciated, if I could change it to BDB (defaultly) it would be more appreciated.  (I’m not saying you can’t, I just haven’t found how yet, but by clicking on it in the side menu will change it to it, yay).

Greek pronouncing is cool, especially as I don’t know Greek quite yet and every now and again I have to use it for a sermon.   However, why doesn’t the Hebrew text have it?

Things I wish were different:

Probably my biggest complaint with PC Study Bible is that I cannot simply port Hebrew and Greek words into Word.  Here’s an example of what I get when I try to import the first word in Genesis.  בְּרֵאשִׁית


<RTL>=B}ra!ævyt<END HEBREW>


This is extremely frustrating when I want to simply import a word for a paper or sermon manuscript.  Or when I do the various verse translations.  Often I end of going online to find a Hebrew Text, or simply retype the word.  But copying and pasting would be much easier.

While I’m glad that its easy to hide the footnotes, often when I feel the need to look at them, the program seems to be sluggish in popping them out.  To be honest I wish I could highlight the footnote marker and have a small window pop up.

Another thing of complaint is that I wish I could have a window of the Biblical text right next to a commentary or whatever.  Or even two commentaries side by side.  A Church father with a biblical passage and a commentary all on the same window in smaller windows would be nice.  Now, don’t get me wrong you can have all that information up, it just appears in separate tabs.  So at least I can’t have , just not how would prefer.

Finally I would have liked two other things, an interlinear LXX and an interlinear Latin Bible.  Simply because I don’t know the base language for those quite yet and I would rather like having these two since it was the Old Testament for many of the faithful.


Well here’s the basic review.  For the most part despite its few let downs I rather enjoy PC Study Bible and do find it of great use.  One may thing there’s always E-Sword, but there is a bit of benefit in having the library which this offers.  Secondly even though I may have some faults with the original language part of the program, it does at least have the languages.  It could be worse, but as it stands now it’s a good tool.  At some point if I’m ever not poor, I would like to add some additional resources.  (In particular I would like to have NAC series and that new Church Fathers Supplemental they have.  Oh desires ^.^)!  In any case I hope this has help someone out there.

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