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Founder of a Samaritan sect that exercised influence at Nablus until opposed by the priestly school (according to Bowman). He is dated in the second century b.c. by Josephus, the first century a.d. by Origen and the Clementine Recognitions, and the fourth century a.d. (under “Dusis”) in the Samaritan Chronicles 3,6,7. His proto-Gnostic sect in the first century a.d. (Hegesippus) supported his claim to be the Christ foretold by Moses, kept the Sabbath strictly, read his books, and claimed he was still alive (Origen). They practiced circumcision, vegetarianism, and possibly chastity (Epiphanius). Epiphanius thought Dositheus taught resurrection but that Sadducean influence made the sect deny it. From this J. Montgomery argues for two Dosithean sects. Dositheans survived to the twelfth century, according to Arabic sources.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)


(1) A captain of Judas Maccabeus (2 Macc 12:19-25); along with Sosipater he captured Timotheus after the battle of Carnion, but granted him his life and freedom on the representation that "he had in his power the parents of many of them and the brethren of some," who, if they put him to death, should "be disregarded."

(2) A soldier in the army of Judas Maccabeus (2 Macc 12:35); he made a special attack upon Gorgias, governor of Idumaea, the opposing general, and would have taken the "accursed man" prisoner but for the interference of a Thracian horseman.

(3) A Jew, son of Drimylus (3 Macc 1:3) who rescued Ptolemy Philopator from a plot of Theodotus. He afterward proved an apostate from Judaism.

(4) A Levite priest who "in the 4th year of the reign of Ptolemy and Cleopatra" carried the translation of the Book of Esther to Alexandria (Additions to Esther 11:1).