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Alexander Balas

Alexander ba’-las (Alexandros ho Balas legomenos): He contended against Demetrius I of Syria for the throne and succeeded in obtaining it. He was a youth of mean origin, but he was put forth by the enemies of Demetrius as being Alexander, the son and heir of Antiochus Epiphanes. He received the support of the Roman Senate and of Ptolemy VI of Egypt, and on account of the tyranny of Demetrius, was favored by many of the Syrians. The country was thrown into civil war and Demetrius was defeated by Alexander II took up the cause of his father and in 147 BC, Alexander fled from his kingdom and was soon after assassinated.

Our chief interest in Alexander is his connection with the Maccabees. Jonathan was the leader of the Maccabean forces and both Alexander and Demetrius sought his aid. Demetrius granted Jonathan the right to raise and maintain an army. Alexander, not to be outdone, appointed Jonathan high priest, and as a token of his new office sent him a purple robe and a diadem (Ant., XIII, ii, 2). This was an important step in the rise of the Maccabean house, for it insured them the support of the Chasidim. In 153 BC, Jonathan officiated as high priest at the altar (1 Macc 10:1-14; Ant, XIII, ii, 1). This made him the legal head of Judea and thus the movement of the Maccabees became closely identified with Judaism. In 1 Macc 10:1, he is called Alexander Epiphanes.

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