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The Wars of the Maccabees (Paperback)

Ancient History Military

By John D Grainger
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 208
Illustrations: 19 colour & black and white illustrations & 4 black and white maps
ISBN: 9781526782267
Published: 13th August 2020

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By the early second century BC, Israel had long been under the rule of the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire. But the policy of deliberate Hellenization and suppression of Jewish religious practices by Antiochus IV, sparked a revolt in 167 BC which was led initially by Judah Maccabee and later by his brothers and their descendants. Relying on guerrilla tactics the growing insurrection repeatedly took on the sophisticated might of the Seleucid army with mixed, but generally successful, results, establishing the Maccabees as the Hasmonean Dynasty of rulers over a once-more independent Israel. (It is Judah Maccabee's ritual cleansing of the Temple after his victories over the Seleucids that is celebrated by Jews every year at Hannukah). Internal disputes weakened the revived state, however, and it eventually fell victim to the Romans who replaced the Seleucids as the local superpower.

John D Grainger explains the causes of the revolt and traces the course of the various campaigns of the Maccabees, first against the Seleucids and then the Romans who captured Jerusalem in 63BC and partitioned the kingdom. The last chapters consider the continued Jewish resistance to Roman rule and factional fighting, until the crowning of Herod, marked the end of the Hasmonean dynasty

By writing this book, John Grainger took on an almost impossible challenge. This is to summarize 130 years of wars and political conflicts between the Jews themselves and between the Jews and all their neighbours from BC 167 to BC 37 within a single volume in the Pen and Sword collection.

Israel Book Review

This is an excellent account of a series of very hard fought battles that helped prepare the way for the British re-conquest of Burma, and that was one of the first major land defeats suffered by the Japanese.

History of War Website

About John D Grainger

John D Grainger is a former teacher and historian of great experience with a particular interest in Classical and Hellenistic Greek history. His many previous works include the following for Pen & Sword: Hellenistic and Roman Naval Wars (2011); The Wars of the Maccabees (2012); Roman Conquests: Egypt and Judaea (2013); a three-part history of the Seleukid Empire (2014-16), King’s and Kingship in the Hellenistic World 350-30 BC (2017), Antipater’s Dynasty (2018), Ancient Dynasties (2019), The Roman Imperial Succession (March 2020) and The Galatians (August 2020). He lives in Evesham, Worcestershire.

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