||Scroll of Antiochus or Scroll of the Hasmoneans, popular account of the wars of the Hasmoneans and of the origin of the festival of Hanukkah . The scroll has been handed down in several Aramaic versions, probably dating from the late talmudic period (its Aramaic language indicates the period between the second and fifth centuries C.E. in Palestine). It is first mentioned in the Halakhot Gedolot (Venice, 1548) which describes it as originating in "the oldest schools of Shammai and Hillel"; unlike the Scroll of Esther, it is not read on the holiday with which it is connected and will be elevated to this position only "when there arises a priest with Urim and Thummim."
R. Saadiah, in his Sefer ha-Gallui, deals more fully with the scroll. He calls it "The book of the Sons of the Hasmoneans" (כתאב בני חשמונאי) and quotes a sentence which, with minor variations; the scroll which he knew was probably also already punctuated and divided into verses. Nissim of Kairouan assigns the scroll an important position in the literature of the Apocrypha; in the introduction to his Seferha-Ma'asiyyot, he promises to relate the entire history of the Jews, "with the exception of that contained in the Scroll of Esther, the Scroll of the Ḥasmoneans (presumably the Scroll of Antiochus) and the 24 books [of the Bible]." R. Isaiah di Trani reports on the custom of reading the scroll in synagogues on Ḥanukkah (cf. his tosafot to Sukkah 44b (Lemberg, 1868), 31b).
Contents of the Scroll - King Antiochus, who has already conquered many countries, decides in the 23rd year of his reign to destroy the Jewish people, because it adheres to another law and other customs and secretly dreams of dominating the world. He sends to Jerusalem his commander in chief Nicanor, who instigates a massacre there, sets up an idol in the Temple and defiles the entrance hall with pigs' blood. On the pretext of being willing to submit to Antiochus' commands, Jonathan , a son of the high priest Mattathias, gains a secret audience with Nicanor, and kills him with a sword concealed under his robe; he then attacks Nicanor's army, which is now without a leader, and only a few of the soldiers succeed in escaping and returning by ship to Antiochus. In commemoration of the victory, Jonathan has a pillar erected in the town, bearing the inscription "The Maccabean has killed strong men." Antiochus then sends to Jerusalem a second commander, Bagris; he metes out a terrible revenge upon the town and upon those Jews who have returned to the faith (here the scroll includes the story related in I Macc. 5:37–40 and II Macc. 6:16 of the devout people in the cave who were killed on the Sabbath because they would not fight to defend themselves). Jonathan and his four brothers defeat Bagris, who escapes and returns to Antiochus. He is equipped with a new army and armored elephants and then makes an attack on Judea. Judah Maccabee now appears in the story for the first time; and Jonathan, the third son of Mattathias, henceforth remains in the background. At the news of Bagris' approach, Judah proclaims a fast and calls for prayers in Mizpah (cf. I Macc. 3:46ff.); the army then goes into battle and wins several victories, though it pays for them with the death of its leader. Now old Mattathias himself assumes command of the Jewish soldiers; the enemy is decisively defeated, and Bagris is taken prisoner and burned. When Antiochus is told the news, he boards a ship and tries to find refuge in some coastal town; but wherever he arrives he is greeted with the scornful cry: "See the runaway!" so that finally he becomes desperate and throws himself into the sea. At this same time, the Jews are reconsecrating their Temple; while searching for pure oil for the lamp, they find a vessel bearing the seal of the high priest and dating back to the time of the prophet Samuel. By a miracle the oil, which is sufficient in quantity for only one day, burns in the lamp for a full eight days; and this is why Ḥanukkah, the festival commemorating the reconsecration of the Temple, is celebrated for eight days.