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ANTIOCHUS (ăn-tī'ŏ-kŭs, Gr. withstander)

Antiochus III, the Great (223-187 b.c.), king of Syria and sixth ruler of the Seleucid dynasty. By his victory over the Egyptians in 198 Syria gained control of Palestine. He was decisively defeated by the Romans in 190 and thereby lost control over Asia Minor. He was murdered by a mob while plundering a temple.Antiochus IV (Epiphanes), son of Antiochus III and eighth ruler of the Seleucid Dynasty, 175-163 b.c. (1Macc.1.10; 1Macc.6.16). In his attempt to Hellenize the Jews he had a pig sacrified on the altar in Jerusalem, forbade circumcision, and destroyed all the OT books he could find. These outrages involved him in the Maccabean war in which the Syrian armies were repeatedly defeated by the brilliant Judas Maccabeus.Antiochus V (Eupator), son of no. 2. He reigned as a minor for two years and then was assassinated.

ANTIOCHUS ăn tī’ ə kəs (̓Αντίοχος, meaning opposer, withstander). A favorite name of the Seleucid kings of Syria from 280 b.c. onward.

1. Antiochus I (Soter) (324-261 b.c.), son of Seleucus I (see Seleucus), founder of the dynasty, and the Bactrian Apama. He was jointking with his father from 293/2 b.c. until he became the sole ruler in 281 b.c. He became known for his defense of Asia Minor against the invasion of the Gauls from which he earned his title Soter (“Savior”) and was considered the greatest founder of cities since Alexander the Great. He lost important districts of Asia Minor and Syria to Ptolemy II Philadelphus (see Ptolemy) during the “First Syrian War” (274-271 b.c.). He was slain in a battle against the Gauls in Asia Minor in 261 b.c.

2. Antiochus II (Theos) (286-246 b.c.), second son of Antiochus I and Stratonice. His reign commenced in 261 b.c. Although many facets of his life are indeed obscure it seems that he, with the help of Antigonus II Gonatas of Macedonia, attacked Ptolemy II Philadelphus (see Ptolemy) and regained much of what Antiochus I had lost, viz., the coast of Asia Minor and districts of Coele-Syria. This is called the Second Syrian War which went from 260 to 253. In the midst of this war a self-willed Timarchus made himself tyrant of Miletus and plundered the people. In 258 b.c. Antiochus defeated Timarchus, and the Milesians in gratitude for the victory surnamed him Theos (a god) (Appian The Syrian Wars 65). A brilliant political triumph was accomplished by Ptolemy when in 253 b.c. Antiochus agreed to marry Ptolemy’s daughter, Berenice, on the condition that he get rid of his first wife, Laodice (Appian The Syrian Wars 65; Dan. 11:6), with the understanding that the kingdom should go to Berenice’s son. On the part of Ptolemy this was a diplomatic master-stroke but it is incomprehensible why Antiochus agreed to it. The marriage was consummated in 252 b.c. and hence there was peace between the Seleucids and the Ptolemies but this was short-lived because both Antiochus and Ptolemy died in 246 b.c. Their sons had not the mutual feelings of friendship that their fathers had.

With the death of Ptolemy IV in 203 b.c., who was succeeded by his son (five to seven years of age), Antiochus saw his opportunity to take Coele-Syria from Egypt and in 202 b.c. made a pact with Philip V of Macedon for a division of Egypt between the two powers (Livy xxxi. 14. 5). In 201 b.c. he invaded Pal. and after great difficulty captured Gaza. Having secured Pal. Antiochus invaded the dominions of Attalus, king of Pergamos (who was pro-Rom. against Philip V), in the winter of 199-198 b.c. Scopas, an Egyp. general, hearing of Antiochus’ absence invaded Pal. and recovered the lost territories. Antiochus returned to oppose Scopas and at Panias (NT Caesarea Philippi) Ptolemy IV was decisively defeated (Jos. Antiq. xii. 3. 3 § 131-133; Polybius xvi. 18-19; xxviii. 1; Dan 11:14-16). He granted the Jews the freedom to worship according to their laws; allowed them to complete and maintain the Temple; exempted the council of elders, priests, and the scribes of the Temple from taxes, which exemption the citizens of Jerusalem enjoyed for the first three years and after that period they were exempted a third part of their taxes; and released the prisoners (Jos. Antiq. xii. 3. 3-4 § 138-153). The Battle of Panias marked a turning point in Jewish history, for from this time until the Rom. control in 63 b.c. they remained connected with the Seleucid dynasty. Under the Ptolemaic rule the Jews were treated with considerable tolerance but after only a brief period of tranquility under the Seleucid rule the Jews experienced fierce persecution.

In 170 b.c. the amateur regents Eulaeus and Lenaeus advised their minor king Ptolemy VI Philometor (see Ptolemy) to avenge Panias and recover Coele-Syria. But Antiochus got wind of these plans and with a large army invaded Egypt in 170/169 b.c., defeating Ptolemy VI Philometor, and then proceeded to Memphis where he proclaimed himself king of Egypt. Antiochus then went to Alexandria and besieged it (169 b.c.). Arrangement was made whereby Ptolemy VI Philometor was king in Memphis and his brother Ptolemy VIII Euergetes king in Alexandria. Hoping that Egypt would remain paralyzed by the rivalry of the two brother kings (Dan 11:25-27), Antiochus left Egypt to return to Syria. However, when Antiochus was in Egypt, new troubles broke out in Jerusalem. Menelaus plundered the Temple and the people began to riot. In addition there was rumor that Antiochus was killed in Egypt and so Jason came out of his hiding in Trans-Jordan and attacked Jerusalem compelling Menelaus to take refuge in the Acra. Unwisely Jason massacred many innocent people and consequently he was driven out of the city and took refuge again in Trans-Jordan (2 Macc 4:39-5:10). Antiochus learned of this trouble on his way back from Egypt and decided to subdue Jerusalem (2 Macc 5:11-17). He felt that the Jews’ rebellion against Menelaus was a rebellion against his own authority. With Menelaus he desecrated and plundered the Temple of its treasure leaving the city under one of his military commanders, Philip, a Phrygian (1 Macc. 1:20-29; 2 Macc. 5:18-22; Jos. Antiq. xii. 5. 3 § 246-247).

Antiochus was further enraged to the point of madness upon hearing of Judas’ successes. In his desperate need of funds, he attempted to plunder the temple of Nanaea/Artemis in Elymais but was unsuccessful and was able to escape with his life (unlike his father). He withdrew and died insane in Tabae/Gabae, Persia in the spring/summer of 163 b.c. (Polybius xxxi. 9; Appian The Syrian Wars 66; Diodorus xxxi. 18a; Jos. Antiq. xii. 9. 1-2 § 354-361; 1 Macc 9:1-29; 2 Macc 6:1-17).

6. Antiochus VI (Epiphanes Dionysus) (148-142 b.c.), son of Alexander Balas (see Alexander) and Cleopatra Thea (daughter of Ptolemy VI—see Cleopatra). Demetrius II Nicator assassinated Alexander Balas in 145 b.c. and took over the Syrian throne. Since he was young and inexperienced, Jonathan (see Jonathan), who was confirmed as high priest, demanded and received many concessions from him. Being weakened by these concessions and having troubles within his own army, a general of Alexander Balas, Diodotus Tryphon claimed the Syrian throne for Alexander’s son, Antiochus VI in 145 b.c. Jonathan took advantage of the situation and sided with Tryphon who in turn made Jonathan head of the civil and religious aspects and his brother Simon head of the military. However, Tryphon was embarrassed by Jonathan’s success in subduing the whole country from Damascus to Egypt, so by deceit he imprisoned Jonathan and later put him to death (143 b.c.) and procured an assassination of Antiochus VI by surgeons in an operation in 142 b.c. (1 Macc 11:1-13:31; Jos. Antiq. xiii. 4. 4-7. 1 § 109-219).

8. Antiochus VIII (Grypus = hook-nosed) (140-96 b.c.), second son of Demetrius II and Cleopatra (daughter of Ptolemy Philometor and former wife of Alexander Balas—see Cleopatra). Antiochus VIII became ruler in 124 b.c. but in 116 b.c. was attacked by his half-brother/cousin Antiochus Cyzicenus and consequently in 113 b.c. Antiochus VIII retired to Aspendus in Pamphylia (Appian The Syrian Wars 68-69; Jos Antiq. xiii. 10. 1; 12. 1 § 269-273, 325). In 111 b.c. Antiochus VIII returned and gained the greater part of Syria from his half-brother/cousin, the latter retaining the greater part of Coele-Syria. The feud between the brothers was of great advantage to Rome in gaining a foothold in Syria and for the Jews toward complete independence under John Hyrcanus (see Hasmoneans). Antiochus VIII was assassinated in 96 b.c. by Heracleon, a king’s minister (Jos. Antiq. xiii. 13. 4 § 365). He was succeeded by his oldest son Seleucus VI Epiphanes Nicator (see Seleucus).

9. Antiochus IX (Cyzicenus, but Philopater on coins), reigned 113-95 b.c., second son of Antiochus VII and Cleopatra (daughter of Ptolemy Philometor and formerly married to Alexander Balas and Demetrius II), was reared in Cyzicus in Asia Minor, hence the surname (Appian The Syrian Wars 68). In 116 b.c. he defeated his half brother/cousin Antiochus VIII and became the sole ruler from 113-111 b.c. Upon the return of Antiochus VIII, Antiochus IX was able to retain only Coele-Syria while the former regained the greater part of Syria. Antiochus IX was captured, killed, and succeeded by his nephew Seleucus VI Epiphanes Nicator (Jos. Antiq. xiii. 13. 4 § 366) (see Seleucus).

10. Antiochus X (Eusebes = pious), reigned 94-83 b.c., son of Antiochus IX Cyzicenus. When Seleucus VI Epiphanes Nicator, son of Antiochus VIII Grypus, took over the throne in 95 b.c., he was challenged by Antiochus XI. Subsequently the other four sons of Antiochus VIII Grypus, viz., Antiochus IX, Philip, Demetrius III, and Antiochus XII all attempted to wrest the throne from Antiochus X. After conquering Mesopotamia, Tigranes, king of Armenia, gained control over Syria in 83 b.c. and ruled over it by means of a viceroy until his own defeat by the Romans in 69 b.c. (Jos. Antiq. xiii. 13. 4 § 366-371; Appian The Syrian Wars 48). This internal strife weakened the Seleucid dynasty which was beneficial to the Romans and made it possible for Alexander Janneus (see Hasmoneans) to conquer almost all of the land of Israel. Antiochus X’s end in 83 b.c. is variously reported (Appian The Syrian Wars 49, 69; Jos. Antiq. xiii. 13. 4 § 371).

11. Antiochus XIII (Asiaticus), reigned 69-65 b.c., son of Antiochus X and Selene (daughter of Ptolemy Physcon who had been married successively to Ptolemy Soter, Antiochus VIII, Antiochus IX, and Antiochus X—Strabo xvi. 2. 3; Appian The Syrian Wars 69). When Lucullus of Rome defeated Tigranes of Armenia in 69 b.c., he assigned Syria to Antiochus XIII. In 65 b.c. Philip, grandson of Antiochus VIII, sought to claim the throne but was unsuccessful. Antiochus XIII appealed to Rome for help but Pompey came to Syria and made it a Rom. province in 63 b.c. which marked the end of the Seleucid dynasty (cf. Appian The Syrian Wars 49, 70; Plutarch Pompey 39; Strabo xl. 1a).

12. The father of Numenius (see Numenius) mentioned in 1 Maccabees 12:16; 14:22; Jos Antiq. xiii. 5. 8 § 169; xiv. 8. 5 § 146.

13. Antiochus (Epiphanes), son of Antiochus IV of Commagene, was engaged to marry Drusilla, youngest daughter of Agrippa I (see DRUSILLA AND AGRIPPA); but the marriage was never consummated because, although he had promised Agrippa to embrace Judaism, he later changed his mind and refused to become a convert (cf. Jos. Antiq. xix. 9. 1 § 355; xx. 7. 1 § 139).


E. Schürer, HJP, I, i, 172-185; E. R. Bevan, The House of Seleucus, 2 vols. (1902), passim; W. W. Tarn, “Tne Struggle of Egypt against Syria and Macedonia,” CAH, VII (1928), 699-731; E. R. Bevan, “Syria and the Jews,” CAH, VIII (1930), 495-533; S. Tedesche and S. Zeitlin, The First Book of Maccabees, Eng. tr., introd., and comm. (1950), passim; M. Rostovtzeff, The Social and Economic History of the Hellenistic World, 3 vols., 2nd ed. (1953), passim; J. C. Dancy, A Commentary on I Maccabees (1954), passim; R. A. Parker and W. H. Dubberstein, Babylonian Chronology 626 B.C.-A.D. 75, 2nd ed. (1956), 37-44; G. Downey, A History of Antioch in Syria (1961), 87-142; passim; S. K. Eddy, The King Is Dead (1961), passim; S. Zeitlin, The Rise and Fall of the Judaean State, I (1962), passim; D. S. Russell, The Jews from Alexander to Herod. Vol. V of The New Clarendon Bible (1967), passim; B. Reicke, The New Testament Era (1968), 48-73.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

(Antiochos; A, Antimachos (1 Macc 12:16)): The father of Numenius, who in company with Antipater, son of Jason, was sent by Jonathan on an embassy to the Romans and Spartans to renew "the friendship" and "former confederacy" made by Judas (1 Macc 12:16; 14:22; Ant, XIII, vi; 8).