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Books of the Maccabees

The Books of the Maccabees are books concerned with the Maccabees, the leaders of the Jewish rebellion against the Seleucid dynasty, or related subjects.

The term mostly refers to two deuterocanonical books contained in various canons of the Bible:

  • 1 Maccabees, originally written in Hebrew and surviving in a Greek translation, relates the history of the Maccabees from 175 BC until 134 BC.
  • 2 Maccabees, a Greek abridgment of an earlier history in Hebrew, relating the history of the Maccabees down to 161 BC, focusing on Judas Maccabaeus, talks about praying for the dead, offerings.

The term also commonly refers to two further works:

The term may also refer to:

  • 5 Maccabees, an Arab language history from 186 BC to 6 BC. The same title is also used for a Syriac version of 6th book of Josephus' Jewish War.[1][2]
  • 6 Maccabees, a Syriac poem which possibly shared a lost source with 4 Maccabees.[2]
  • 7 Maccabees, a Syriac work focusing on the speeches of the Maccabean Martyrs and their mother.[2]
  • 8 Maccabees, a brief account of the revolt drawing on Seleucid sources, preserved in the Chronicle of John Malalas (pp. 206–207 in Dindorf).[2][3]
  • Meqabyan, a similar account from Ethiopian sources. They offer a narrative of other Jewish rebels who fight against Antiochius' rule, but make no mention of the famous brothers from Modein. The origin of these accounts are unknown.


  1. ^ a b c 'Maccabees, Books of, 3-5.' International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (via Last accessed: 7 May 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d James R. Davila, 'The More Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Project.' U of St. Andrews. Last accessed: 7 May 2013.
  3. ^ John Malalas. Chronographia. Edited by Ludwig A. Dindorf. Vol. 15 of Corpus Scriptorum Historiae Byzantinae. Bonn: Weber, 1831.