The second son of Mattathias (who with his sons played a leading role in the revolt against Antiochus IV Epiphanes), Simon is lauded as a man of “wise counsel” in 1 Maccabees 2.3. [See Antiochus IV Ephiphanes.] Under his brother, Judah the Maccabee, Simon led the successful military expedition into Galilee (1 Mc. 5.17, 5.20–23, 5.55) and after the death of Judah supported his brother Jonathan (1 Mc. 9.33–42, 10.74, 10.82). [See Jonathan (Hasmonean).] Simon took over the leadership of the Jews after Jonathan was murdered by the Seleucid pretender Trypho in 143/142 bce (1 Mc. 13.1–30). [See Seleucids.] Simon finally succeeded in driving the Syrian garrison out of Jerusalem (1 Mc. 13.49–53), thus making Judea independent of the Seleucids. In 140 bce Simon was made high priest and ruler by a national referendum “until a trustworthy prophet should arise” (1 Mc. 14.41–49). Simon was thus the true founder of the Hasmonean dynasty because it was his descendants who succeeded him. Since Simon supplanted both the high priestly family of the Zadokites and the old Davidic dynasty, there was likely some opposition to his rule (cf. 1 Mc. 14.44–45), but Simon ruled peaceably until 135 bce. [See Zadok, Sons of.] His end, however, was violent; he was murdered, along with two of his sons, by his son-in-law Ptolemy in the fortress of Dok on the way to Jericho (1 Mc. 16.11–17). Simon was succeeded by his surviving son John Hyrcanus I.

Simon's importance for the study of the Dead Sea Scrolls lies in his possible identification as the Wicked Priest, one of the enemies of the Qumran sect (cf. Pesher Habakkuk, 1QpHab; Pesher Psalmsa, 4Q171.) [See Pesher Habakkuk; Pesher Psalms.] The champion of this identification is F. M. Cross (1995), who suggests that the Teacher of Righteousness, as the leader of the dissident Zadokite priests, would have been opposed to the usurpation of the Zadokite high priesthood by both Jonathan and Simon. [See Teacher of Righteousness.] Therefore, either Simon or Jonathan is a good candidate for the identity of the Wicked Priest, and the material in Pesher Habakkuk can refer to either one equally well. However, Cross argues that it is the de jure elevation of Simon to the high priesthood by national referendum, rather than the de facto appointment of Jonathan by the Seleucids, that is the death knell of the Zadokite hopes.

Further, Cross turns to a passage in Testimonia (4Q175) that appears to refer to an enemy of the sect. [See Testimonia.] The entire passage is a quotation from another Qumran manuscript, Apocryphon of Joshuab (4Q379 22.7–14). The passage consists of a quotation of Joshua 6.26, followed by an interpretation:

"‘Cursed before the Lord be the man that rises up and rebuilds this city. At the cost of his first born shall he lay its foundation, and at the cost of his youngest son shall he set up its gates.’ And behold cursed is the man of Belial who comes to power to be a trapper's snare to his people and ruin to all his neighbors. … and he rose to power and [his sons] … [with him], the two of them becoming violent instruments, and they rebuilt again the [city?] … and set up a wall and towers for it to make a stronghold of wickedness … horrors in Ephraim and Judah … [and they] committed sacrilege in the land … [bl]ood like water [shall flow?] on the battlements of the daughter of Zion and in the district of Jerusalem." (Translation by Cross, 1995)

The city referred to by Joshua is Jericho. The crucial line is the one concerning the sons, which Cross interprets to mean that the cursed man has associated his two sons with him in his rule. All three meet a violent end. Cross argues that the only historical circumstances that this scenario fits is the violent demise of Simon and his two sons at Jericho. While he makes a persuasive case that Simon is the figure referred to in the Testimonia passage, that figure is not identified by the author of the text as the Wicked Priest. Therefore, the identification of Simon as the Wicked Priest, while a possibility, is still uncertain.

[See also Hasmoneans; Wicked Priest.]


  • Allegro, John M. “Testimonia.” In Qumrân Cave 4:1 (4Q158–4Q186), edited by John M. Allegro, pp. 57–60, pl. XXI. Discoveries in the Judaean Desert, 5. Oxford, 1968.
  • Cross, Frank Moore. The Ancient Library of Qumran. 3d ed. Sheffield, 1995.
  • Newsom, Carol. “Apocryphon of Joshua.” In Qumran Cave 4, XVII Parabiblical Texts, Part 3, edited by George Brooke et al. in consultation with James VanderKam, pp. 237–288, pl. XVII–XXV. Discoveries in the Judaean Desert, 22. Oxford, 1996.

Sidnie White Crawford