We shall deal elsewhere with the nature of the Jewish community at Antioch as there are several good texts on the subject. The object of this commentary is the Maccabean connection to Antioch. This is linked over the centuries to the worship/commemoration of the martyrs of the Maccabean Uprising most specifically the woman, supposedly Ashmûnît, and her seven sons.
As William Stinespring relates in his excellent (and as yet unpublished) translation from 1932 of the "Arab Description of Antioch":
"In this city there is a fine building
In the great Byzantine tradition, the structure was a veritable trove of religious bric a brac.
Obermann makes some excellent observations and brings into play an Arabic version (by Ibn Schahin) of the Rabbinical texts. He notes that the Maccabean martyrs were the only example of Jewish "saints" being drafted into the Christian hagiosphere. And in Antioch it was not merely the concept but the physical "site" that was transformed from a tomb to a synagogue and eventually to a church.
There has also been some discussion as to where exactly the martyrdom and burials took place with Jerusalem also potentially staking a claim to the event. In any case, Antioch had its "Maccabean" shrine and claimed great antiquity to its relics. Interestingly he notes that Rabbinical sources downplay the siting of the synagogue in Antioch on the site of the tomb as this circumstance would fly in the face of prohibitions against corpses or graves at the site of worship, a scruple that Christians did not indulge.
In the way of explanation, Obermann goes on to elucidate the issue of the name of the mother of the martyrs. She is referred to in the Vatican text as Ashmûnît. This he contends is really "Hasmonith" and this is a manifestation of the much more used term Hasmonean in reference to the period of the uprising. Other versions of her name include Shamuni, Salomona, Salomonis or Samona.
Utilising the text of Ibn Schahin he reveals that:
"And there was built upon them (viz. upon the martyred brothers and their mother) an eightfold synagogue." He relates that 1. Maccabees records that Simon Maccabaeus erected a memorial on the sepulchre of his family setting up seven pyramids one against another, for his father and his mother and four brethren. Over time this morphed into a shrine/synagogue eventually being coopted into a church function (and later, by some reports, the "relics of the saints" were transferred to Constantinople where holy body parts were a favorite of the hoi polloi and the great and good.
It seems this shrine was in the Kerataion or Rhodion districts near to the southern wall. This prompts us to wonder about why any tombs would be allowed inside the city walls, this not being standard practice. Then again the wall may not have extended that far up the slopes and these barrios may have been ex urbs at that time. The fact that it was built on arcades probably relates to it being on one of the steeper urbanised parts of Mt Silpius.