From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [1]

HERCULES is mentioned by this name only in 2Ma 4:19-20 , where Jason, the head of the Hellenizing party in Jerus. (b.c. 174), sent 300 silver drachmas (about £12, 10s.) to Tyre as an offering in honour of Hercules, the tutelary deity of that city. Hercules was worshipped at Tyre from very early times, and his temple in that place was, according to Herod, ii. 44, as old as the city itself, 2300 years before his own time. As a personification of the sun he afforded an example of the nature-worship so common among the Phœn., Egyp., and other nations of antiquity.

Webster's Dictionary [2]

(1): ( n.) A constellation in the northern hemisphere, near Lyra.

(2): ( n.) A hero, fabled to have been the son of Jupiter and Alcmena, and celebrated for great strength, esp. for the accomplishment of his twelve great tasks or "labors."

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [3]

( ῾Ηρακλῆς ) is mentioned in  2 Maccabees 4:19 as the Tyrian god to whom the Jewish high-priest Jason sent a religious embassy ( Θεωροί ), with the offering of 300 drachmae of silver. That this Tyrian Hercules (Herod. ii, 44) is the same as the Tyrian Baal is evident from a bilingual Phoenician inscription found at Malta (described by Gesenius, Monum. Ling. Phaen. 1, 96), in which the Phoenician words, "To our Lord, to Melkarth, the Baal of Tyre," are represented by the Greek ῾Ηρακλεῖ Ἀρχηγέτει . Moreover, Herakles and Astarte are mentioned together by Josephus (Anf. 8, 5, 3), just in the same manner as Baal and Ashtoreth are in the Old Testament. The further identity of this Tyrian Baal with the Baal whom the idolatrous Israelites worshipped is evinced by the following arguments, as stated chiefly by Movers (Die Phonicier, 1, 178). The worship of Baal, which prevailed in the time of the Judges, was put down by Samuel ( 1 Samuel 7:4), and the effects of that suppression appear to have lasted through the next few centuries, as Baal is not enumerated among the idols of Solomon ( 1 Kings 11:5-8;  2 Kings 23:13),. nor among those worshipped in Judah ( 2 Kings 23:12), or in Samaria, where we only read of the golden calves of Jeroboam ( 1 Kings 12:28;  1 Kings 15:26). That worship of Baal which prevailed in the reign of Ahab cannot, therefore, be regarded as a mere continuation or revival of the old Canaanitish idolatry (although there is no reason to doubt the essential identity of both Baals), but was introduced directly from Phoenicia by Ahab's marriage with the Sidonian princess Jezebel ( 1 Kings 16:31). In like manner, the establishment of this idolatry in Judah is ascribed to the marriage of the king with a daughter of Jezebel (comp. Josephus, Ant. 8, 13, 1; 9:6, 6).

The power of nature, which was worshipped under the form of the Tyrian Hercules, Melkarth, Baal, Adonis, Moloch, and whatever his other names are, was that which originates, sustains, and destroys life. These functions of the Deity, according to the Phoenicians, were represented, although not exclusively, by the sun, the influence of which both animates vegetation by its genial warmth, and scorches it up by its fervor (see Davis, Carthage, p. 276-9).

Almost all that we know of the worship of the Tyrian Hercules is preserved by the classical writers, and relates chiefly to the Phoenician colonies, and not to the mother state. The eagle, the lion, and the thunny-fish were sacred to him, and are often found on Phoenician coins. Pliny expressly testifies that human sacrifices were offered up every year to the Carthaginian Hercules (Hist. Nat. 36, 5, 12), which coincides with what is stated of Baal in  Jeremiah 19:5, and with the acknowledged worship of Moloch. Mention is made of public embassies sent from the colonies to the mother state to honor the national god (Arrian, Alex. 2, 24; Q. Curt. 4:2; Polyb. 31:20), and this fact places in a clearer light the offence of Jason in sending envoys to his festival ( 2 Maccabees 4:19).

Movers endeavors to show that Herakles and Hercules are not merely Greek and Latin synonymes for this god, but that they are actually derived from his true Phoenician name. This original name he supposes to have consisted of the syllables אר (as found in ארי , Lion, and in other words), meaning Strong, and כל , from יכל , To Conquer; so that the compound means Arconquers. This harmonizes with what he conceives to be the idea represented by Hercules as the destroyer of Typhonic monsters (1. C. p. 430). Melkarth, the Μελίκαρθος of Sanchoniathon, occurs on coins only in the form מלקרת . We must in this case assume that a Kaph has been absorbed, and resolve the word into קרתא מלךְ , King Of The City, Πολιοῦχος . The bilingual inscription renders it by Ἀρχηγέτης ; and it is a title of the god as the patron of the city. (See Baal).

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [4]

The typical hero of the Greeks, son of Zeus and Alkmene, and the tried therefore of Hera, who persecuted him from his cradle, sending two serpents to devour him as he lay there, but which he strangled with his arms; grown into manhood, and distinguished for his stature and strength, was doomed by the artifice of Hera to a series of perilous adventures before he could claim his rights as a son of his father; these are known as the "Twelve Labours of Hercules": the first the throttling of the Nemean lion; the second, the killing of the Lernean hydra; the third, the hunt and capture of the hind of Diana, with its hoofs of brass; the fourth, the taking alive of the boar of Erymanthus; the fifth, the cleansing of the stables of Augeas; the sixth, the destruction of the Stymphalian birds; the seventh, the capture of the Cretan bull; the eighth, the capture of the mares of Diomedes of Thrace; the ninth, the seizure of the girdle of the queen of the Amazons; the tenth, the killing of Geryon and capture of his oxen; the eleventh, fetching of the golden apples from the garden of the Hesperides; the twelfth, dragging Cerberus to the light of day. These were the twelve, but in addition, he strangled the giant Antæus, slew the robber Cacus, delivered Hesione, unchained Prometheus from the rocks of Caucasus, and smote the centaur Nessus, the last proving the cause of his death. See Nessus .

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [5]

hûr´kū̇ - lēz ( Ἡρακλῆς , Hēraklḗs ): The process of Hellenizing the Jews which began at an earlier date was greatly promoted under Antiochus Epiphanes (175-164 bc). Jason, who supplanted his brother Onias in the office of high priest by promising Antiochus an increase of tribute, aided the movement by setting up under the king's authority a Greek palaestra for the training of youth in Greek exercises, and by registering the inhabitants of Jerusalem as citizens of Antioch (  2 Maccabees 4:8 f). Certain of these Antiochians of Jerusalem Jason sent to Tyre, where games were held every five years in honor of Hercules, that is, the national Tyrian deity Melcart, identified with Baal of Old Testament history. According to Josephus ( Ant. , VII, v, 3) Hiram, king of Tyre in the days of Solomon, built the temple of Hercules and also of Astarte. Jason s deputies carried 300 drachmas of silver for the sacrifice of Hercules, but they were so ashamed of their commission that they "thought it not right to use the money for any sacrifice" and "on account of present circumstances it went to the equipment of the galleys" (  2 Maccabees 4:18-20 ).