Judah Maccabee (or Judas Maccabeus) was a Jewish priest and a son of the priest Mattathias. He led the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire (167–160 BCE) related in the first and second books of Maccabees.
In the early days of the rebellion, Judah received a surname Maccabee. The name derives from the Aramaic maqqaba ("makebet" in modern Hebrew), "hammer" or "sledgehammer", in recognition of his ferocity in battle. Others believe it is in reference to his weapon of choice.
The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah ("Dedication") commemorates the restoration of Jewish worship at the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 164 BCE, after Judah Maccabeus removed all of the statues depicting Greek gods and goddesses and purified it.