Gorgias

GORGIAS gôr’ jəs (Γοργίας). A general selected by Lysias (regent over Syria under Antiochus Epiphanes) along with Ptolemy and Nicanor to destroy Judah (1 Macc 3:38). He was a “man of experience in military service” (2 Macc 8:9), a friend of the king (1 Macc 3:38), and later a governor (2 Macc 10:14) of Idumea (2 Macc 12:32).

Guided by Jews opposing Judas Maccabeus (q.v.), Gorgias once took “five thousand infantry and a thousand picked cavalry” and left camp by night to attack Judas by surprise (1 Macc 4:1ff.). But Judas learned of it and attacked the weakened gentile camp. Finding Judas gone, Gorgias’ men returned to their own camp, and seeing it in flames, they fled.

Gorgias defeated Joseph and Azariah because “they did not listen to Judas and his brothers” nor “belong to the family of those men through whom deliverance was given to Israel” (1 Macc 5:59-62).

Later, when governor of Idumea, Gorgias almost lost his life as one Dositheus, on horseback, seized him and started to drag him away. He was rescued by a Thracian horseman and escaped (2 Macc 12:32-35). Following this, Gorgias’ men were routed (v. 37). (The KJV with some Gr. MSS reads Gorgias in v. 36, in place of Esdris.)

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

A general in the service of nodetitle (1 Macc 3:38; 2 Macc 8:9). Lysias, who had been left as regent during the absence of Antiochus in Persia, appointed Gorgias to take the command against Judea in 166 BC. In 1 Macc 4:1-24 is recorded a night attack by Gorgias with 5,000 foot and 1,000 horse upon the camp of Judas Maccabeus in the neighborhood of Emmaus, in which Judas was completely victorious. The victory was all the more striking as the force of Judas was considerably smaller in number and had "not armor nor swords to their minds" (1 Macc 4:6). Later on (164 BC) he held a garrison in Jamnia, and gained a victory over the forces of Joseph and Azarias who, envying the glory of Judas and Jonathan, in direct disobedience to the orders of Judas, attacked Gorgias and were defeated.

Jamnia as given in Josephus, Ant, XII, viii, 6, is probably the correct reading for Idumaea in 2 Macc 12:32. The doings of Gorgias in 2 Macc are recorded with some confusion. He was regarded with special hostility by the Jews. In 2 Macc 12:35 he is described as "the accursed man."