The Wars of the Maccabees, John D. Grainger

The Wars of the Maccabees, John D. Grainger

The revolt of the Maccabees in 167BC began a process that saw Israel regain its independence after centuries of rule by Persians, Alexander the Great and his warring successors. After an initial collapse the Hasmonean dynasty managed to maintain an independent state that lasted for over a century, taking advantage of the fading power of the Seleucid Empire before eventually succumbing to the Romans.

One of the best features of this book is that unlike many histories of events in the Holy Land the biblical and other Jewish sources (mainly Josephus) aren't taken at face value. Instead the author has put a great deal of effort into comparing their version of events with those from a wide range of other sources, and many achievements claimed for the Maccabees don’t survive that scrutiny - in particular cities that are meant to have be conquered remain in other hands and some reputations don't really survive the process.

Having said that the Hasmonean dynasty did achieve a rare thing - very few revolts were successful in this period, and almost none of them produced successful independent kingdoms. The Maccabee state lasted for a full century despite being located between the Seleucid and Ptolemaic Empires, and did manage to inflict a number of defeats on Seleucid armies (although they tended to suffer heavy defeats against any sizable army). This is a good piece of work on an important topic, made all the more valuable for the author's decision to largely ignore the religious claims of the Maccabees (while retaining material on the religious aspects to make sense of the rest).

Chapters
1 - The Dispute
2 - Terrorism and Guerrilla War
3 - Victories
4 - The Beginnings of Imperialism
5 - Defeat
6 - Achieving Independence
7 - The Defence of Independence
8 - Early Conquests
9 - The Samarian War
10 - Internal Upheavals and the Ptolemaic War
11 - Gadora and Gaza
12 - War in the East
13 - The First Civil War
14 - The Second Eastern War
15 - A War for Damascus
16 - The Second Civil War
17 - The First Roman War
18 - The Second Roman War
19 - The Parthian War - and Herod
20 - Conclusion: a Belligerent Dynasty

Author: John D. Grainger
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 187
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2012


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