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OBEDAS°, the name of two Arabian kings.


Arabian king during the reign of Alexander Yannai (103–76 B.C.E.). Alexander's expansionist tendencies brought him into armed conflict with a number of neighboring rulers, including Obedas. The latter, however, successfully laid an ambush for the Judean king in the Gaulan. Alexander, falling into the trap, lost an entire army which, according to Josephus, "was cooped into a deep ravine and crushed under a multitude of camels." Alexander barely escaped with his life, and his overwhelming defeat rekindled the Jewish nation's hatred toward its monarch (Jos., Wars, 1:90; Ant., 13:375).


(d. c. 9 B.C.E.), Arabian king during the reign of Herod the Great. Josephus describes Obedas as "inactive and sluggish by nature; for the most part his realm was governed by Syllaeus," who at one time had been on the point of marrying Herod's sister, Salome. Syllaeus eventually became a bitter enemy of Herod. This aroused the Judean king to demand immediate repayment of 60 talents loaned to Obedas, through Syllaeus, with the claim that the time limit on the loan had expired. It is evident, however, that the feeble Obedas had little to say in the matter, and Syllaeus refused. With the death of Obedas his successor Aretas sent a letter to the Roman emperor Augustus, accusing Syllaeus of poisoning the king. This claim was probably correct, and it subsequently became known that most of Obedas' friends perished together with him (Jos., Wars, 1:487; Ant., 16:220, 279ff., 337). See *Nabateans.


OBEDAS I: Schuerer, Hist, 86f.; Klausner, Bayit Sheni, 3 (19502), 150, 153. OBEDAS II: Schuerer, Hist, 154; Klausner, Bayit Sheni, 4 (19502), 38; A. Schalit, Koenig Herodes (1969), 253, 599, 614f.

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