Woman with seven sons

The woman with seven sons was a Jewish martyr described in 2 Maccabees 7 and other sources. Although unnamed in 2 Maccabees, she is known variously as Hannah,[1] Miriam,[2] and Solomonia.[3]

Ciseri, Antonio - Das Martyrium der sieben Makkabäer - 1863
Antonio Ciseri's Martyrdom of the Seven Maccabees (1863), depicting the woman with her dead sons.

2 Maccabees

Shortly before the revolt of Judas Maccabeus (2 Maccabees 8), Antiochus IV Epiphanes arrested a mother and her seven sons, and tried to force them to eat pork. When they refused, he tortured and killed the sons one by one. The narrator mentions that the mother "was the most remarkable of all, and deserves to be remembered with special honour. She watched her seven sons die in the space of a single day, yet she bore it bravely because she put her trust in the Lord."[4] Each of the sons makes a speech as he dies, and the last one says that his brothers are "dead under God's covenant of everlasting life".[5] The narrator ends by saying that the mother died, without saying whether she was executed, or died in some other way.

Tractate Gittin

The Talmud tells a similar story, but with refusal to worship an idol replacing refusal to eat pork. Tractate Gittin 57b cites Rabbi Judah saying that "this refers to the woman and her seven sons" and the unnamed king is referred to as the "Emperor" and "Caesar". The woman commits suicide in this rendition of the story: she "also went up on to a roof and threw herself down and was killed".[6]

Other versions

Other versions of the story are found in 4 Maccabees (which suggests that the woman might have thrown herself into the flames, 17:1) and Josippon (which says she fell dead on her sons' corpses[1]).


Various sources have proposed names for this woman. In Lamentations Rabbah she is called Miriam bat Tanhum,[2] in the Eastern Orthodox tradition she is known as Solomonia,[3] while in the Armenian Apostolic Church she is called Shamuna,[7] and in the Syriac Church she is known as Shmuni.[8] She is called "Hannah" (or "Chana") in Josippon, perhaps as a result of connecting her with Hannah in the Book of Samuel, who says that the "barren woman bears seven," (1 Samuel 2:5). Gerson Cohen notes that this occurs only in the longer Spanish version of Josippon (1510), while the shorter Mantuan version (c. 1480) continues to refer to her anonymously.[1]

150.The Courage of a Mother
The Courage of a Mother, one of Gustave Doré's illustrations for La Grande Bible de Tours, 1866.


The woman with seven sons is remembered with high regard for her religious steadfastness, teaching her sons to keep to their faith, even if it meant execution. The Maccabees story reflects a theme of the book, that "the strength of the Jews lies in the fulfillment of the practical mitzvot".[9]

It is probable that Hilary of Poitiers refers to this woman as a prophet. Hilary says "For all things, as the Prophet says, were made out of nothing,"[10] and, according to Patrick Henry Reardon, he is quoting 2 Maccabees 7:28.[11]

Roman Catholic apologist Jimmy Akin uses this story to defend the Deuterocanonical books. He examines Hebrews 11:35 ("Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, that they might rise again to a better life") and notes that this hope of eternal life after torture is not found anywhere in the Protestant Old Testament, but is found in 2 Maccabees 7.[12]

According to Antiochene Christian tradition, the relics of the mother and sons were interred on the site of a synagogue (later converted into a church) in the Kerateion quarter of Antioch.[1] On the other hand, tombs believed to be those of these martyrs were discovered in San Pietro in Vincoli in 1876.[13] An additional tomb believed to be that of the woman with her seven sons is located in the Jewish cemetery of Safed.

Holy Maccabean Martyrs

The Holy Maccabees
Wojciech Stattler's "Machabeusze" ("The Maccabees"), 1844
Born2nd century BC
Judea (modern-day Israel)
Died167-160 BC
Venerated inCatholic Church
Eastern Orthodox Church[14][15]
Oriental Orthodox Church
FeastAugust 1

Although they are not the same as the Hasmonean rulers called Maccabees, the woman and her sons, along with the Eleazar described in 2 Maccabees 6, are known as the "Holy Machabees" or "Holy Maccabean Martyrs" in the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Koeln st andreas Machabaeerschrein
What is believed to be the Maccabees' relics - kept in the Maccabees Shrine - is venerated in St. Andrew Church, Cologne, Germany.

The Orthodox Church celebrates the Holy Maccabean Martyrs on August 1. The Catholic Church also includes them in its official list of saints that have August 1 as their feast day. From before the time of the Tridentine Calendar, the Holy Maccabees had a commemoration in the Roman Rite liturgy within the feast of Saint Peter in Chains. This commemoration remained within the weekday liturgy when in 1960 Pope John XXIII suppressed this particular feast of Saint Peter. Nine years later, 1 August became the feast of Saint Alphonsus Maria de' Liguori and the mention of the Maccabee martyrs was omitted from the General Roman Calendar, since in its 1969 revision it no longer admitted commemorations.[16] Since they are among the saints and martyrs recognized in the Roman Martyrology,[17] they may be venerated by all Catholics everywhere.

According to Eastern Orthodox tradition, the sons are called Abim, Antonius, Gurias, Eleazar, Eusebonus, Alimus and Marcellus,[3] though the names differ slightly among different authorities.[18]

According to the Syriac Maronite Fenqitho (book of festal offices), the name of the mother is Shmooni while her sons are Habroun, Hebsoun, Bakhous, Adai, Tarsai, Maqbai and Yawnothon.[19]

The three Ethiopian books of Meqabyan (canonical in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, but distinct works from the other four books of Maccabees) refer to an unrelated group of "Maccabean Martyrs," five brothers including 'Abya, Seela, and Pantos, sons of a Benjamite named Maccabeus, who were captured and martyred for leading a guerilla war against Antiochus Epiphanes.[20]

Various mystery plays in the Middle Ages portrayed the Maccabean martyrs, and depictions of their martyrdom possibly gave rise to the term "macabre", perhaps derived from the Latin Machabaeorum.[21]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Gerson D. Cohen, Hannah and Her Seven Sons at Jewish Virtual Library
  2. ^ a b Tal Ilan, "Hannah, Mother of Seven," at the Jewish Women's Archive
  3. ^ a b c Seven Holy Maccabee Martyrs, at the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America website.
  4. ^ 2 Maccabees 7:20, New English Bible.
  5. ^ 2 Maccabees 7:36, Authorised Version. George Bull says of this verse, "I scarce know where to find an instance of greater faith" (in the resurrection and immortality) "and fortitude in any of our Christian martyrologies than here." Sermon VIII, cited in The Old Testament According to the Authorised Version With Brief Commentary by Various Authors. The Apocryphal Books: Esdras to Maccabees (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1902).
  6. ^ Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Gittin Folio 57.
  7. ^ Armenian Church Liturgical Calendar July 2008
  8. ^ The Women's Bible Commentary. Westminster John Knox Press. 1998. p. 324.
  9. ^ Yehoshua M. Grintz, Maccabees, Second Book of at Jewish Virtual Library
  10. ^ Hilary of Poitiers. On the Trinity. Book IV, 16.
  11. ^ Patrick Henry Reardon. Creation and the Patriarchal Histories: Orthodox Christian Reflections on the Book of Genesis. Conciliar Press, 2008. pp.34-35.
  12. ^ James Akin, Defending the Deuterocanonicals
  13. ^ Taylor Marshall, The Crucified Rabbi: Judaism and the Origins of the Catholic Christianity (Saint John Press, 2009), p. 170.
  14. ^ Great Synaxaristes: ‹See Tfd›(in Greek) Οἱ Ἅγιοι Ἑπτὰ Μακαβαίοι. 1 Αυγούστου. ΜΕΓΑΣ ΣΥΝΑΞΑΡΙΣΤΗΣ.
  15. ^ 7 Holy Maccabee Martyrs. OCA - Feasts and Saints.
  16. ^ "Calendarium Romanum" (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1969), p. 132
  17. ^ "Martyrologium Romanum" (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2001 ISBN 88-209-7210-7)
  18. ^ The website of Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church in Baltimore lists them as "Habim, Antonin, Guriah, Eleazar, Eusebon, Hadim (Halim) and Marcellus." The Seven Holy Maccabean Martyrs
  19. ^ Maronite Church, Fenqitho, v. 1, Lilyo of the Feast of Shmooni and Her Seven Sons
  20. ^ https://books.google.com/books?id=0P6CDwAAQBAJ
  21. ^ The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (Fifth edition; 2002) states that the origin of "macabre" perhaps has reference to "a miracle play containing the slaughter of the Maccabees." Volume 1, p. 1659.

7 (seven) is the natural number following 6 and preceding 8.


Chana may refer to :

Chana (name), alternate transliteration of Hannah, a Biblical character; sometimes spelled "Chane"

Chana, Illinois, an unincorporated community

Chana District in Songkhla Province, southern Thailand

Chickpea (Hindi: chana), used in dishes like chana masala

Chang'an Motors, also known as Chana, a Chinese automaker

Woman with seven sons, a character in 2 Maccabees, sometimes called Chana

Chillul Hashem

In Judaism, a Chillul Hashem (Hebrew: חילול השם‎) is an act that violates the prohibition in the Torah of desecrating (chillul) the name (Hashem) of God. A Chillul Hashem occurs when a Jew acts immorally while in the presence of others, either Jews or Gentiles. Since Judaism believes that Jews are representatives of God and His moral code, when a Jew acts in a shameful manner, s/he has represented God poorly, thus desecrating His name. Chillul Hashem is the opposite of a Kiddush Hashem ("sanctification of God's name") — the act of bringing honor, respect, and glory to God's name. Kiddush Hashem is often used to mean religious martyrdom. The concept of Chillul Hashem is prevalent in the Bible, and is often referenced by modern-day Jews as a reason to uphold the highest moral standard, especially as it pertains to the State of Israel.

Eleazar (2 Maccabees)

Eleazar was a Jewish man whose story is portrayed in 2 Maccabees 6. Verse 18 describes him as "one of the leading teachers of the law," and "of distinguished bearing." We learn from verse 24 that he was ninety at the time of his death. Under a persecution instigated by Antiochus IV Epiphanes, Eleazar was forced to open his mouth and eat pork, but he spat it out and submitted to flogging. He was then privately permitted to eat meat that he could pretend was pork, but he refused and was flogged to death. The narrator relates that in his death he left "a heroic example and a glorious memory," (verse 31).Along with the woman with seven sons depicted in the following chapter, Eleazar, although not actually a Maccabee, is celebrated as one of the "Holy Maccabean Martyrs" by the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. Their feast day is August 1.

Felicitas of Rome

Felicitas of Rome (c. 101 – 165), also anglicized as Felicity, is a saint numbered among the Christian martyrs. Apart from her name, the only thing known for certain about this martyr is that she was buried in the Cemetery of Maximus, on the Via Salaria on a 23 November. However, a legend presents her as the mother of the seven martyrs whose feast is celebrated on 10 July. The Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates their martyrdom on 25 January.

The legend of Saint Symphorosa is very similar and their acts may have been confused. They may even be the same person. This Felicitas is not the same as the North African Felicitas who was martyred with Perpetua.


Hannah or Hanna may refer to:

Hannah (name), a given name (including a list of persons with the name)

Hannah (surname), a family name (including a list of persons with the name)

Hannah (biblical figure), the mother of Samuel

Woman with seven sons, a Jewish martyr in Maccabees, usually named Hannah

Anna the Prophetess, the prophetess in Gospel of Luke, Hannah in some translations.

Hannah (name)

Hannah (Hebrew: חַנָּה‎) (Arabic: حَنَّة‎), also spelt Hanna, Hana or Chana, is a Hebrew given name. It is derived from the root ḥ-n-n, meaning "favour" or "grace"; A Dictionary of First Names attributes the name to a word meaning 'He (God) has favoured me [with a child]'.

The Hannah spelling of the name was taken up as a given name by the Puritans in the 16th and 17th centuries, and it has always been a common Jewish name. Ann, Anne, Anna derive from Hannah through Latin. The Phoenician (Punic) name Hannibal derives from the same Canaanite root and means "My grace is Baal".In the Books of Samuel, Hannah is the mother of the prophet Samuel. Hannah did not know a man, so at temple she prayed that if God gave her a son, she would give him up to become a priest. After many years of praying, she was blessed with a son and named him Samuel. When the child was weaned (around 3 years old), Hannah gave him to Eli to be raised as a priest. She went on to have 5 more children. Hannah is also sometimes given as the name of the woman with seven sons described in 2 Maccabees.

List of names for the biblical nameless

This list provides names given in history and traditions for people who appear to be unnamed in the Bible.


Ethiopian Maccabees, also referred to as Ethiopic Maccabees or Meqabyan (Amharic: መቃብያን, which is also transliterated as Makabian), are three books found only in the Ethiopian Orthodox Old Testament and Beta Israel Mäṣḥafä Kedus Biblical canon. The language of these books is Geʽez, also called Classical Ethiopic. These books are completely different in content and subject from the more commonly found books of Maccabees in Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Bibles.The account of the "Maccabees" described in these sacred texts are not those of the advent of political dealings of the Hasmonean dynasty of Judea, nor are they an account of the "Five Holy Maccabean Martyrs", or the "woman with seven sons", who were also referred to as "Maccabees" and are revered throughout Orthodoxy as the "Holy Maccabean Martyrs". The Maccabees who are referenced do not correspond to known martyrology and their identity is never full clarified by the ancient author. However, they do assume the familiar moniker of being "a Maccabee", the etymological origins of which remain disputed.Like much of the Orthodox Tewahedo biblical canon, until the 21st century it was only accessible in the Ge'ez or Amharic tongue. There are now two translations available into contemporary English that are accessible to the general public. Despite this, there is still currently no significant academic scholarship available on its authorship or origins.

Miriam (given name)

Miriam (Hebrew: מִרְיָם, Modern: Miryam, Tiberian: Miryām) is a feminine given name recorded in Biblical Hebrew, recorded in the Book of Exodus as the name of the sister of Moses, the prophetess Miriam.

Spelling variants include French Myriam, German Mirjam, Mirijam; hypocoristic forms include Mira, Miri and Mimi (commonly given in Israel).The name's etymology is unclear. Since many Levite names are of Egyptian origin, the name could come from the Egyptian mr "love", as in the Egyptian names mry.t-jmn (Merit-Amun) "beloved of Amun" and mry.t-rꜥ (Merytre) "beloved of Ra".A Judeo-Aramaic variant of this name, Maryām (Μαριάμ) is recorded in the New Testament as the name of several women, including Mary, mother of Jesus and Mary Magdalene.

Variants of this name include Greek and Latin Maria, whence French Marie and English Mary.

Pleiades in folklore and literature

The high visibility of the star cluster Pleiades in the night sky has guaranteed it a special place in many cultures, both ancient and modern. The heliacal rising of Pleiades often marks important calendar points for ancient peoples.


Safed (Hebrew: צְפַת Tsfat, Ashkenazi: Tzfas, Biblical: Ṣǝp̄aṯ; Arabic: صفد‎, Ṣafad) is a city in the Northern District of Israel. Located at an elevation of 900 metres (2,953 ft), Safed is the highest city in the Galilee and in Israel. Due to its high elevation, Safed experiences warm summers and cold, often snowy, winters.Safed has been identified with Sepph, a fortified town in the Upper Galilee mentioned in the writings of the Roman-Jewish historian Josephus. The Jerusalem Talmud mentions it as one of five elevated spots where fires were lit to announce the New Moon and festivals during the Second Temple period. In the 12th century CE Safed was a fortified city in the Crusaders' Kingdom of Jerusalem, known to them as Saphet. The Mamluk Sultan Baibars captured the city in 1266 and appointed a governor to take charge of the fortress. The city also became the administrative centre of Mamlakat Safad, a province in Mamluk Syria whose jurisdiction included the Galilee and the lands up to Jenin. Under the Ottomans, Safed functioned as the capital of the Safad Sanjak, which encompassed much of the Galilee and extended to the Mediterranean coast. Since the 16th century, Safed has been considered one of Judaism's Four Holy Cities, along with Jerusalem, Hebron and Tiberias; since that time the city has remained a centre of Kabbalah and Jewish mysticism. Rabbi Isaac Luria introduced interest in the Kabbalah to the city in the 16th century.Due to its mild climate and scenic views, Safed has become a popular holiday resort frequented by Israelis and by foreign visitors. In 2017 it had a population of 35,276.

Santissimi Sette Fratelli Martiri, Ranica

The church of the Santissimi Sette Fratelli Martiri (Church of the Holy Seven Martyred Brothers) is a Roman Catholic church in Ranica, province of Bergamo, in Lombardy, Italy. Alongside rises also the church of Santa Lucia.

Timeline of antisemitism

This timeline of antisemitism chronicles the facts of antisemitism, hostile actions or discrimination against Jews as a religious or ethnic group. It includes events in the history of antisemitic thought, actions taken to combat or relieve the effects of antisemitism, and events that affected the prevalence of antisemitism in later years. The history of antisemitism can be traced from ancient times to the present day.

Some authors prefer to use the terms anti-Judaism or religious antisemitism for religious sentiment against Judaism before the rise of racial antisemitism in the 19th century. For events specifically pertaining to the expulsion of Jews, see Jewish refugees.

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