Megillat Antiochus
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Megillat Antiochus

Megillat Antiochus (Hebrew: ‎ - "The Scroll of Antiochus"; also "Megillat HaHashmonaim", "Megillat Benei Hashmonai", "Megillat Hanukkah", or "Megillah Yevanit") recounts the story of Hanukkah and the history of the victory of the Maccabees (or Hasmoneans) over the Seleucid Empire.

It is distinct from the Books of the Maccabees, which describe some of the same events.


Early texts of the work exist in both Aramaic and Hebrew, but the Hebrew version is a literal translation from the Aramaic original. It was written somewhere between the 2nd and 5th centuries, with the greater likelihood of it having being composed in the 2nd century.[1] The Hebrew version dates to the 7th century.[2]

The work is first mentioned by Simeon Kayyara (ca. 743 CE) in Halakhot Gedolot,[3][4] wherein he claims that the scroll was compiled by the "elders of the School of Shammai and the elders of the School of Hillel".[5] Saadia Gaon (882-942 CE) argued that it was composed in the Aramaic language by the Hasmonaeans themselves, and entitled Megillat Beit Hashmonai.[6][1] He translated it into Arabic in the 9th century.[1]

The original Aramaic text can be found in an old Yemenite Baladi-rite Prayer Book from the 17th century.[7] The Hebrew text was first published in 1557 in Mantua, northern Italy.[2] The Hebrew text, together with an English translation, can be found in the Siddur of Philip Birnbaum.[8]

Louis Ginzberg declared it a "spurious work" based on "unhistorical sources," with the exception of its citations taken from certain passages from First Book of the Maccabees.[9]

Use in ritual

Section from the Aramaic Scroll of Antiochus in Babylonian supralinear punctuation, with an Arabic translation

During the Middle Ages, Megillat Antiochus was read in the Italian synagogues on Shabbat Hanukkah.[10] A machzor of the Kaffa rite from the year 1735 gives the instruction to read the Megillat Antiochus in the Mincha service of Shabbat Hanukkah.[10] Yemenite Jews of the Baladi rite had it as a custom to read the scroll after the haftarah reading on Shabbat Hanukkah.[11]

Chronology in Megillat Antiochus

The Scroll of Antiochus equates the 23rd year of the reign of Antiochus Eupator with the 213 year since the building of the Second Temple.[12] According to Josephus,[13] Antiochus Eupator began his reign in the year 149 of the Seleucid Era, corresponding to 162 BCE. making the 23rd year of his reign 139 BCE. Since, according to the Scroll of Antiochus, the Second Temple had by that time been standing 213 years, this would mean that the Second Temple was completed in 352 BCE.

This date matches traditional Jewish sources, which say that the Second Temple stood 420 years,[14] before being destroyed in the 2nd year of the reign of Vespasian, in 68 CE.[15] However, modern scholarship places the building of the Second Temple in 516 BCE, based on chronologies that emerge from the Babylonian Chronicles.[16]


  1. ^ a b c Zvieli, Benjamin. "The Scroll of Antiochus". Archived from the original on 27 June 2019.
  2. ^ a b Rahel (16 December 2006). "The Scroll Of The Hasmoneans". Archived from the original on 28 May 2007.
  3. ^ "My Jewish Learning - Hanukkah Scroll". Retrieved ..
  4. ^ Halakhot Gedoloth (Hilchot Sofrim), Warsaw 1874, p. 282 (Hebrew)
  5. ^ Abraham Harkavy, Zikaron Larishonim, St. Petersburg 1892, pp. 205-209 (Hebrew)
  6. ^ Saadia Gaon, Introduction to Sefer Ha-Iggaron (ed. Abraham Firkovich), Odessa 1868 (Hebrew)
  7. ^ Yehiya Bashiri's Tiklal, the ancient Yemenite Baladi-rite Prayer Book, a microfilm of which is found at the Hebrew University National Library in Jerusalem, Microfilm Dept., Catalogue # 26787 (Hebrew); also in the archives of the Ben-Zvi Institute in Jerusalem, Micrfilm # 1219 (Hebrew); Bashiri (ed. Shalom Qorah), Sefer Ha-Tiklal, Jerusalem 1964, pp. 75b et seq. (Hebrew).
  8. ^ Philip Birnbaum, HaSiddur HaShalem, p. 713ff.
  9. ^  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainLouis Ginsberg (1901-1906). "Scroll Of Antiochus". In Singer, Isidore; et al. (eds.). The Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk & Wagnalls.
  10. ^ a b Guski, Chajm (2014-12-08). "Megillat Antiochos". Jüdische Allgemeine (in German). Retrieved .
  11. ^ " " (in Hebrew).
  12. ^ Megillat Antiochus 1:5
  13. ^ Antiquities of the Jews book 12, chapter 9, section 2
  14. ^ Tosefta Zevahim 13:6; Talmud Yerushalmi Megillah 18a et al.
  15. ^ Maimonides, Questions & Responsa, responsum # 389; in other editions, responsum # 234 (Hebrew). Maimonides states explicitly this tradition, putting the destruction of the Second Temple in the lunar month Av, in the year which preceded anno 380 of the Seleucid era (i.e. 68 CE). See also She'harim la'luah ha'ivry (Gates to the Hebrew Calendar) by Rahamim Sar-Shalom, 1984 (Hebrew)
  16. ^ Richard A. Parker & Waldo H. Dubberstein, Babylonian Chronology 626 BC - AD 75, Providence 1956

External links



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