"Matityahu" redirects here. For the Israeli settlement, see Matityahu, Mateh Binyamin.
Tomb of Mattathias ben Johanan, Israel
Mattathias from Guillaume Rouillé's Promptuarii Iconum Insigniorum

Mattathias ben Johanan (Hebrew: מתתיהו בן יוחנן הכהן‎‎, Matityahu ben Yoḥanan HaKohen) (died 165 BC)[1] was a Jewish priest whose role in the Jewish revolt against the Syrian Greeks is related in the Books of the Maccabees. Mattathias is accorded a central role in the story of Hanukkah and, as a result, is named in the Al Hanissim prayer Jews add to Grace after meals and the Amidah during the festival's eight days.



The father of Judah and the other Maccabee leaders, Mattathias was from a rural priestly family from Modi'in. Like all fit priests, he served in the Temple in Jerusalem. He was a son of Yohannan, grandson of Simeon, the Hasmonean, and great-grandson of Asmon or Hasmonaeus, a Levite of the lineage of Joarib for being the 5th grandson of Idaiah, son of Joarib and grandson of Jachin, in turn a descendant of Phinehas, 3rd High Priest of Israel, according to Mattathias' own words in I Maccabees.[2][3]

After the Seleucid persecutions began, Mattathias returned to Modi'in. In 167 BC, when asked by a Seleucid Greek government representative under King Antiochus IV to offer sacrifice to the Greek gods, he not only refused to do so, but slew with his own hand the Jew who had stepped forward to do so. He then attacked the government official that required the act.[4]

Let everyone who has zeal for the Torah and who stands by the covenant follow me!

Mattathias, after killing the greek government official, who was forcing him to sacrifice, Septuagint, 1st Maccabees 2:27.

Upon the edict for his arrest, he took refuge in the wilderness of Judea with his five sons, and called upon all Jews to follow him. Many eventually responded to his call.


Judea after the start of Maccabean revolt

This was the first step in the war of the Maccabees against the Seleucid Greeks, the result of which was Jewish independence, which had not been enjoyed for 400 years. The events of the war of the Maccabees form the basis for the holiday of Hanukkah, which is celebrated by Jews on the 25th of Kislev (on the Hebrew calendar, corresponding to Mid-November to Late-December on the Gregorian Calendar).

In literature and liturgy

The story of the Maccabees can be found in the deuterocanonical books of 1 Maccabees and 2 Maccabees, in Josephus, and in Talmudic references (Shabbat 21b, Shabbat 23a - related to the candles).

The "Al Hanisim" prayer, added into the Amidah and Grace after meals on Chanukah, refers to the story of the Maccabees and to Mattathias by name.

Two persons named "Mattathias," one apparently from around the same time as this Mattathias, appears in the Gospel of Luke's account of the genealogy of Jesus. However, the son of Luke's Mattathias was named Joseph, and the historical Mattathias never had any known son by that name.

See also


  • Weir, William. 50 Battles That Changed the World: The Conflicts That Most Influenced the Course of History. Savage, Md: Barnes and Noble Books. ISBN 0-7607-6609-6. 

External links

New title Leader of the Maccabees
c. 167 BC – 166 BC
Succeeded by
Judas Maccabeus

This article incorporates text from the public domain 1907 edition of The Nuttall Encyclopædia.

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  • Mattathias — (hellenisierte Form des Namens, bedeutet „Gabe Gottes“, auch Matthias, hebr.: מתתיהו בן יוחנן הכהן, Mattitjahu ben Joḥanan; † 166 v. Chr., beigesetzt in Modeïn) war ein jüdischer Priester und Widerstandskämpfer aus aaronitischem… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • Mattathīas — Mattathīas, Priester aus dem Geschlecht Jojarib, in der Stadt Modin bei Diospolis, Stammvater der Makkabäer, st. 166 v. Chr …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

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  • Mattathias — Mattathias,   jüdischer Priester aus Modin, ✝ 166 v. Chr.; Stammvater der Makkabäer; begann 167 den Freiheitskampf der Juden gegen die Seleukiden.   …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Mattathias — La Judée, au temps de Mattathias Mattathias (hébreu : מתתיהו בן יוחנן הכהן Matityahou ben Yohanan HaCohen) est un dirigeant politico religieux juif du IIe siècle avant l ère commune, et le fondateur de la dynastie des Hasmonéens …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Mattathias — /mat euh thuy euhs/, n. died 167? B.C., Jewish priest in Judea (father of Judas Maccabaeus). * * * ▪ Jewish priest died c. 166 BC       Jewish priest and landowner of Modein, near Jerusalem, who in 167 defied the decree of Antiochus IV Epiphanes… …   Universalium

  • MATTATHIAS BEN SIMEON — MATTATHIAS BEN SIMEON, son of simeon the hasmonean . During the winter of 135 B.C.E., Mattathias, together with his mother and brother Judah, was seized at a banquet given in Simeon s honor by his son in law ptolemy , who was governor of Jericho …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

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