JOSEPH AND AZARIAH BEN ZECHARIAH, two commanders in the army of Judah Maccabee. When, in 165 B.C.E., Judah and his brother Jonathan went to the help of the Jews in Gilead and Galilee who were being oppressed by the gentiles, Joseph and Azariah were entrusted with the defense of the people and strictly forbidden to engage in active hostilities while Judah was absent from Judea. When the news arrived of the victories of Judah and Jonathan, Joseph and Azariah decided on their own initiative to march against Jabneh. The Syrian general Gorgias counter-attacked. The Jewish army was routed and pursued to the borders of Judea, 2,000 Jews falling in the campaign. The author of I Maccabees (5:56–62) explains this defeat by saying that Joseph and Azariah were not of the stock that had been entrusted with the salvation of Israel.
Schuerer, Hist, 35; Klausner, Bayit Sheni, 3 (19502), 34.