Other than the name, do the Hasidim of today have any connection to the Hasidim [Hasideans] of the 2nd century BC , as mentioned in Maccabees?



The Hasadic movement started in the 18th century. It’s goal was to infuse study with joy. (more or less).


Thanks for the reply. I realize that 1Maccabees is not canonical for Jews, but the original text was in Hebrew. I don’t know the Greek, but English translations of the Greek are rendered *Hasideans *or Hasidim, referring to a sect or movement antedating the Maccabean revolt. They allied with the Maccabees against Antiochus IV. Many sources, apparently, connect them to the later Pharisaic movement. The text identifies them as might warriors for the Law.

Do you suppose the modern Hasidic movement could have deliberately adopted the name?

BTW, the question came up in class last night: If 1Maccabees is not canonical, why is the Feast of the Dedication [Hanukkah] celebrated? I don’t see any necessary contradiction, but I find the question intriguing.



I thought that it was the “Zealots” that supported the Macabees. I’ll look into it. We celebrate Hanukah because it is part of our history. The book of Macabees is not part of our “canon” but that doesn’t mean we are unfamilar or disagree with the story. Only that the book doesn’t rise to the level of “holy scripture”. Having said that, it is cosidered a relatively minor holiday. It has gained a lot more attention in the US because it has become a kind of “alternate christmas” in a commercial sense. It is really a holiday celebrating the concept of rededication, but many jews today view it as an occassion to give their children gifts.


encyclopedia.com/doc/1E1-hasidim.html A link to an article on the Hasidm, which describes the term being applied to 3 seperate movements, one of which were the supporters of the Macabees.

The first Hasidim, also called the Assideans or Hasideans, were an ancient Jewish sect that developed between 300 BC and 175 BC They were the most rigid adherents of Judaism in contradistinction to those Jews who were beginning to be affected by Hellenistic influences. The Hasidim led the resistance to the hellenizing campaign of Antiochus IV of Syria, and they figured largely in the early phases of the revolt of the Maccabees .

I really didn’t know this and I don’t know anything about the link. But since the word means pious and lovinging kindness, it is not surprising that more than one movement adopted the name.


Hasidim or Chasidim (Hebrew, “the pious ones”), in ancient Jewish history, especially pious persons. In passages in the books of Maccabees and the Talmud, the term refers to those who distinguished themselves by loyalty to Jewish law and by charitable deeds. Hasidim joined the Maccabeans in opposing the Hellenizing efforts of King Antiochus IV of Syria, often going so far as to suffer death rather than transgress the Jewish law (I Maccabees 2:42-48).


The word has been used several times in Jewish history. There was also a “Hasidic” movement in 12th-century Western Europe.

The word denotes an intense piety and so can be used for historically unrelated groups. Obviously such groups tend to have certain traits in common.



Snapple Hasidim:
A.J. Heschel, an amazing rabbi and champion of social justice who marched with Martin Luther King, Jr., the writer of acclaimed books such as “God in Search of Man” , “Man is Not Alone” and “The Sabbath” (just take my word for it, he was a biggie) – was originally slated to lead the Hasidic movement. He came from a long line of famous Hasidim. Instead, he came to AMerica prior to WWII and did what he did. In Europe, His entire family was wiped out in the Shoah. The Hasidic community was decimated there as well. Heschel has referred to himself as “a brand plucked from the fire.”


The “Zealots” are associated with the rising against Rome that culminated in 70AD with the destruction of Jerusalem. The memory of the Maccabees was degraded by some who were disillusioned and bitter about the whole idea of popular revolts after the disastrous result against the Romans. Some scholars hold that the retro-active ill-feeling against revolutionary folk heroes after 70AD played a role in keeping Maccabees out of the canon.

My Jewish childhood friends observed Hanukkah with reverence and celebration but even then [1960’s] bemoaned its commercialization and growing characterization as “Jewish Christmas.” They knew the story well and spoke of the Maccabees as heroes.



“As Telushkin says, the Maccabees were more noble in opposition than in power. They had grown so accustomed to fighting that they seemed incapable of working with anyone who disagreed with them about anything… A Maccabee, King Alexander Yannai, executed eight hundred Pharisee opponents, after first forcing them to witness the murders of their wives and children. "The Maccabees’ terrible moral and religious decline explains why there is almost no mention of them in the Talmud,” the later rabbinical commentary on Jewish Law.

100 years after the first Maccabean victory, there was a civil war between two Maccabean brothers. The Romans were actually invited to adjudicate and ended up occupying Jerusalem. The original Maccabees had freed the Jews from foreign rule; but their descendants caused the return of the Jews to subjugation under another alien and ruthless power. (See Joseph Telushkin in Jewish Literacy, pp. 115-118, 131).


Aren’t we all!




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