Biblical Archaeology Review 40:2, March/April 2014

Modi’in: Hometown of the Maccabees

By Shlomit Weksler-BdolahAlexander Onn

I think we have found Modi’in—not for sure, but very probably.

Modi’in is famous as the home of the Maccabee family—Mattathias and his five sons, who led the Jewish revolt against Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the Seleucid ruler of Judea, in the 160s B.C.E. When Antiochus desecrated the Temple and forbade circumcision and Sabbath observance, the Maccabees led a successful revolt. Their victory is still celebrated in the annual Jewish festival of Hanukkah.

The most imposing monument in their little town of Modi’in was the tomb of the Maccabees with its seven pyramids—two for the mother and father and one for each of their five sons.a The first-century Jewish historian Josephus describes the tomb as “a very large monument” of “polished white stone” that “soared to a great height” and could be seen “for a long way off.”1 But not a stone of this monument has yet been found.

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