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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [1]

( ῾Υρκανός , (See Hircanus)), the name of two of the high priests and kings of the Maccabwnn line of the Jews. (See Maccabees).

1. John Hyrcanus the son of Simon Maccabaeus, who sent him with his brother Judas to repel Cendebmus, the general of Antiochus Vii, BC 137. On the assassination of his father and two brothers, John ascended the throne, B.C. 135. During the first year of his reign Jerusalem was besieged by Antiochus Sidetes, and at length Hyrcanus was obliged to submit. The walls of Jerusalem were destroyed, and a tribute imposed upon the city. Hyrcanus afterwards accompanied Antiochus in his expedition against the Parthians, but returned to Jerusalem before the defeat of the Syrian army. After the defeat and death of Antiochus, B.C. 130, Hyrcanus took several cities belonging to the Syrian kingdom, and completely established his own independence. He strengthened his power by an alliance with the Romans, and extended his dominions by the conquest of the Idumaeans, whom he compelled to submit to circumcision and to observe the Mosaic law; and also by taking Samaria, which he leveled to the ground, and flooded the spot on which it had stood. The latter part of his reign was troubled by disputes between the Pharisees and Sadducees. Hyrcanus had originally belonged to the Pharisees, but had quitted their party in consequence of an insult he received at an entertainment from Eleazar, a person of importance among the Pharisees. By uniting himself to the Sadducees, Hyrcanus, notwithstanding the benefits he had conferred upon his country by his wise and vigorous government, became very unpopular with the common people, who were mostly attached to the Pharisees. Hyrcanus died B.C. 106, and was succeeded by his son Aristobulus (Joseph. Ant. 13, 7 sq.; War, 1, 2; 1 Maccabees 15, 16; Justin, 26, 1; Diodorus, Exc. Haesch. 34, 1; Plut. Apophth. p. 184 sq.; Eusebius, Chronicles Arm. p. 94, 167). See Smith, Dict. of Classical Biography, s.v. (See Antiochus).

2. Hyrcanus Ii son of Alexander Janumeus, and grandson of the preceding. On the death of his father (B.C. 78) he was appointed high priest by his mother Alexandra, who ruled Judea herself for the next nine years. After her death (B.C. 69), his younger brother, Aristobulus, a braver and more energetic man, seized the government, and forced Hyrcanus to withdraw into private life. Induced by the Idlumsean Antipater, and aided by Aretas, king of Arabia Petraea, he endeavored to win back his dominions, but was not successful until Pompey began to favor his cause. After some years of tumultuous fighting, Aristobulus was poisoned by the partisans of Ptolemy (B.C. 49), and Hyrcanus, who had for some time possessed, if he had not enjoyed, the dignity of high-priest and ethnarch, was now deprived of the latter of these offices, for which, in truth, he was wholly incompetent. Caesar (B.C. 47), on account of the services rendered to him by Antipater, made the latter procurator of Judaea, and thus left in his hands all the real power, Hyrcanus busying himself only with the affairs of the priesthood and Temple. Troubles, however, were in store for him. Antipater was assassinated, and Antigonus, son of Aristobulus, with the help of the Parthian king, Orodes I, invaded the land, captured Hyrcanus by treachery, cut off his ears, and thus disqualified him for the office of high-priest, and carried him off to Seleucia, on the Tigris. Some years later, Herod, son of his old friend Antipater, obtained supreme power in Judea, and invited the aged Hyrcanus home to Jerusalem. He was allowed to depart, and for some time lived in ease and comfort, but, falling under suspicion of intriguing against Herod, he was put to death (B.C. 30) (Josephus, Ant. 13, 16; 14, 1-13; War, 1, 511; Dio Cass. 37, 15, 16; 48, 26; Diod. 11, Ex. Vet. p. 128; Oros. 6:6; Euseb. Chronicles Arm. p. 94). See Smith, Dict. of Class. Biog. s.v. (See Herod).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [2]

hẽr - kā´nus ( Ὑρκανός , Hurkanós ): "Son of Tobias, a man of great dignity," who had a large sum of money deposited in the Temple of Jerusalem when Heliodorus was sent to confiscate it in 187 bc (  2 Maccabees 3:11 ff). Opinions differ as to the identity of this Hyrcanus. with the grandson of Tobias whose birth and history are related at considerable length by Josephus ( Ant. , Xii , iv, 6ff), or with another of the same name mentioned in Ant , Xiii , viii, 4. See Asmoneans; Maccabaeus .