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ANTIOCHUS°, name of 13 Seleucid monarchs who ruled Syria for the greater part of two and a half centuries. They include:

(1) ANTIOCHUS I SOTER (b. 324 B.C.E.), son of Seleucus I Nicator, ruled from 281 to 261. Although unsuccessful in his attempt to capture *Coele-Syria (276–72) from *Ptolemy II of Egypt, Antiochus nevertheless pursued his father's policy of founding Greek cities throughout the empire, and was even erroneously credited in late rabbinic and Roman literature with the founding of the capital, Antioch.

(2) ANTIOCHUS II THEOS, son of Antiochus I, ruled from 261 to 246 B.C.E. Antiochus recaptured those parts of Syria and Asia Minor lost by his father in the First Syrian War. His confrontations with the Egyptian king, and the intrigues of his wives (which eventually caused his death) are alluded to in the Book of Daniel 11:16 ff. Scholars have pointed to a passage in Josephus (Ant., 12:125–7) as proof that Antiochus II granted special rights and even full citizenship to the Jews of certain Greek cities. (For discussion, see Josephus , Loeb edition, vol. 7, 741 ff. For selected literature on the early Seleucid rulers and the Jews, see p. 737.)

(3) ANTIOCHUS III, THE GREAT (b. c. 242 B.C.E.), son of Seleucus II Callinicus (244–26). Antiochus became king after the murder of his brother Seleucus III Soter (223) and immediately succeeded in stabilizing and strengthening the Seleucid Empire. With his accession, however, the long period of peace in Judea came to an end. For 20 years, until 198, the country constantly changed hands. The young king's second expedition through Coele-Syria was particularly successful. By 217 he reached the southernmost parts of Palestine only to suffer a crushing defeat at the hands of *Ptolemy IV near Rafi'a? (Rafa; south of Gaza), in one of the fiercest battles of the Hellenistic period. Antiochus was forced to relinquish the conquered areas, and according to Josephus, the Jews "were in no way different from a storm-tossed ship which is beset on either side by heavy seas, finding themselves crushed between the successes of Antiochus and the adverse turn of his fortunes" (Ant., 12:130). By 198 B.C.E. the Jews of Palestine had become disenchanted with Ptolemaic rule, and they opened the gates of Jerusalem to Antiochus, and assisted in the expulsion of its Egyptian garrison. Antiochus rewarded the Jews for their "splendid reception" by restoring those parts of Jerusalem destroyed by the war, freeing its citizens from taxes for three years and supplying funds for the Temple, and in general by permitting "members of the nation to have a form of government in accordance with the laws of their country" (κατ? το?ς πατρ?ους ν?μους). It was also forbidden to bring to Jerusalem animals forbidden for consumption by Jews (Jos., Ant., 12:129–53). The victories of Antiochus brought him to the attention of the Romans who were advancing through Greece. In 190 Antiochus suffered his greatest defeat near Magnesia and was forced into a degrading settlement by the victorious Romans. Sensing this, the eastern provinces of the Seleucid Empire revolted and Antiochus, determined to finance his recent setback at their expense, died while trying to sack one of the Temple treasuries of Elymais (187; 1 Macc. 8:6–16; Jos., Loeb edition, vol. 7, p. 743 ff., App. D; M. Stern, Ha-Te'udot le-Mered ha-?ashmona'im (1965), 28–46; Schalit, in: JQR, 50 (1959/60), 289–318).

(4) ANTIOCHUS IV EPIPHANES, son of Antiochus III, ruled from the death of his brother *Seleucus IV in 175 B.C.E. until his death in 164. His reign marks a turning point in Jewish history. Striving vigorously to restore the strength of the Seleucid Empire, Antiochus founded more new Greek cities than all his predecessors. He became the champion of an intense Hellenization, more as a result of personal tendencies than as a means of reunifying the divided kingdom. To this end Antiochus paid particular attention to the Jews of Palestine. *Onias III, the high priest, was replaced in 173 by *Jason who had strong leanings toward the Hellenistic party in Jerusalem. In time the character of the Jewish capital itself was altered, with Jason undertaking "to register the Jerusalemites as citizens of Antioch" (II Macc. 4:9; on the legal status of Jerusalem under the government of the Hellenizers see V. Tcherikover, Hellenistic Civilization and the Jews (1959), 161 ff.). Jason was eventually outbid for the office of high priest by Menelaus, who proved even more servile and prepared to carry out the most extreme Hellenization of Judea. In 168 Antiochus set out on his second expedition to Egypt. Wishful thinking probably promoted the spread of false rumors regarding the king's death, and as a result, Jason, who had fled to Transjordan, returned to Jerusalem and tried to reestablish his rule. On returning from Egypt, Antiochus, convinced that a rebellion had broken out against him, stormed the city, killed thousands of Jews, and sold thousands more into slavery. In their place, and especially in the citadel of Jerusalem ( *Acra ) which was erected on the instructions of Antiochus, a Greek community was set up, thus outwardly transforming the city into a foreign polis (city-state). By 167 the enforced Hellenization of the Jews reached its peak; the Jews were compelled, under penalty of death "to depart from the laws of their fathers, and to cease living by the laws of God. Further, the sanctuary in Jerusalem was to be polluted and called after Zeus Olympius" (II Macc. 6:1, 2). The nature of these decrees has puzzled most scholars and students of the Hellenistic period. Ancient polytheism for the most part was tolerant, and this particular brand of Hellenization was not applied by Antiochus to any segment of the non-Jewish population under his rule. It would seem, therefore, that religious oppression appeared to Antiochus to be the only means of achieving political stability in Palestine, since it was that country's religion, if anything, that was out of place in a predominantly Hellenized empire. It would be wrong, however, completely to disregard the nature of the king himself. His strange behavior, causing contemporaries to refer to him as Epimanes ("madman") instead of Epiphanes, obviously played a major part in the formation of such violent policies. In any case, Antiochus did not personally oversee the implementation of these policies. He died in the city of Tabae (Isfahan). He was succeeded by his nine-year-old son Antiochus V Eupator (Polybius 26:10; 31:3–4; Livius 41:19, 20; Diodorus 29:32; 31:16; for a summation of modern literature on Antiochus IV see Tcherikover, op. cit., 175–203).

(5) ANTIOCHUS V EUPATOR reigned only two years before being murdered by his cousin Demetrius, the son of Seleucus IV.

(6) ANTIOCHUS VII SIDETES (b. 164 B.C.E.), the son of *Demetrius I Soter and younger brother of *Demetrius II Nicator. During the early years of his reign (138–129) Antiochus was forced to overcome the usurper Tryphon. His confirmation, therefore, of the privileges granted by his predecessors to the Jews and Jerusalem (I Macc. 15:1 ff.; Jos., Ant., 13:223 ff.) was an obvious attempt to solicit the help of *Simeon the Hasmonean, the high priest. When it was clear, however, that he would defeat Tryphon, the king immediately relented and demanded the return of Jaffa, Gezer, and the citadel in Jerusalem to Seleucid rule. To enforce these demands, Antiochus sent the general Cendebaeus to Judea, but the latter was defeated by Judah and John, the sons of Simeon the Hasmonean. Antiochus probably instigated Simeon's murder in 134 by *Ptolemy the son of Abubus, for immediately afterward he laid siege to Jerusalem. The Jews, led by John *Hyrcanus , managed to hold out for two years, but were finally compelled to accept the harsh terms set by Antiochus. The king was thereupon free to turn eastward, and in his expedition against the Parthians, in which soldiers of John Hyrcanus also participated, met his death (129; Tcherikover, op. cit., 240–1, 250–1; Stern, op. cit., 122–4, 139–43).

(7) ANTIOCHUS IX CYZICENUS, son of Antiochus VII and half-brother of Antiochus VIII Grypus, with whom he competed for the Seleucid throne from 113–95 B.C.E. Cyzicenus was unsuccessful in two attempts to rescue the Samaritans from John Hyrcanus. In 107 *Samaria fell to the sons of Hyrcanus, *Antigonus and *Aristobulus I , and the two pursued Cyzicenus as far as *Beth-Shean (Scythopolis), where he finally succeeded in eluding them. The second attempt by the Syrian king to subdue the armies of Hyrcanus, this time with the aid of Ptolemy VIII Lathyrus of Egypt, was similarly rebuffed, and Antiochus retreated to Syria. In 95 B.C.E. Cyzicenus was defeated by Seleucus VI, the son of Grypus, and took his own life (Jos., Ant., 13:270 ff.).


Klausner, Bayit Sheni, index; Schuerer, Gesch, 1 (1901), 175 ff.

[Isaiah Gafni]

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.