As has been discussed both here and elsewhere, after the victory of Chanukah, the Hasomeans (Maccabees) decided that they had to take the throne themselves, rather than give it over to someone from the Davidic line.

Do we know of anyone at the time who publicly opposed their decision? (Or was everyone so gobsmacked by the victory, or thought "well desperate times call for desperate measures" ...) Were there any specific Davidic individuals who were considered pretenders to the throne at the time? Did they object?

1 Answer 1


From the Gemara (Kiddushin 66a) it actually seems the other way around. Yehudah ben Gedidiah, one of the Sages at a banquet hosted by King Yannai, says:

"!ינאי המלך! רב לך כתר מלכות; הנח כתר כהונה לזרעו של אהרן"

"King Yannai! The crown of royalty ought to be enough for you; leave the crown of Kehunah to the [legitimate] descendants of Aharon!"

- since, as the beraisa goes on to explain, there were rumors that Yannai's mother was disqualified from marrying a kohen, which would make Yannai a chalal. But Yehudah seems to have no objection to Yannai serving as king.

  • Devil's advocate -- there was absolutely no way they could get Yannai to let go of the crown. All they could realistically hope for was that he'd let go of the priesthood.
    – Shalom
    Commented Dec 1, 2010 at 20:23
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    Could be. But on the other hand, realistically, were they going to get him to give up the kehunah gedolah either? It's true that the crisis was precipitated by Yannai publicly putting on the tzitz, but still, we might have expected Yehudah to then combine both objections into one (otherwise he might as well have left well enough alone, as indeed the other Sages did).
    – Alex
    Commented Dec 1, 2010 at 21:41
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    @Shalom this was also argued by Rabbi Alter Hilwitz in his essay מלכות בית חשמונאי לפי ההלכה, in תלפיות ד, p. 663 (can be found on Otzar Hachochmah). He thought this was the sages' way of hinting to the king that his rule was illegitimate.
    – Harel13
    Commented Dec 16, 2023 at 17:26

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