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    Omitting the hero

    An imaginary depiction of Judas Maccabeus, Promptuarii Iconum Insigniorum (1553)

    Judah the Maccabee is given great credit in the Books of Maccabees as a military strategist and leader.

    His name resounds through Jewish and military history. He made it possible to “deliver the strong into the hands of the weak”.

    In art, music and literature, he is regarded as one of the great heroes of the Bible.

    Yet with all this, he does not actually figure at all in the T’nach (though some Christian denominations included the Apocrypha in their Bible), and we would not have known about his greatness were it not for the Books of Maccabees (and the works of Josephus, based on the same source).

    The rabbinic authors must have had their reasons for suppressing his name; perhaps it was the general antagonism of the sages towards the Hasmonean attempt to be high priests as well as rulers, or the feeling that Judah should not have entered into an alliance with Rome.

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