Nicanor

NICANOR (nī-kā'nôr, Gr. Nikanōr). One of the seven chosen by the church at Jerusalem to administer alms (Acts.6.5).


NICANOR nī kā’ nər (Νικάνωρ, G3770, meaning conqueror). 1. A Syrian general of the Seleucid period of intertestamental history.

His service under Antiochus. Apparently all that is known about this Nicanor is found in 1 and 2 Maccabees. He is described as a mighty man and a personal friend of Antiochus Epiphanes. In 166-165 b.c. he, along with two other generals, was assigned by Antiochus’ regent, Lysias, to destroy Judah and Jerusalem (1 Macc 3:32-42). They took up their positions at Emmaus, just a few m. from Jerusalem, but were badly routed by Judas Maccabeus and his forces (4:3-14), forcing the Syrian generals and their army to flee into Philistine towns nearby (4:15).

His service under Demetrius. After an interval, during which Antiochus Epiphanes died, young Antiochus V and Lysias, his tutor, were assassinated, and Demetrius I became king, Nicanor’s name appears again in 1 Maccabees. This time he was sent on a similar mission by Demetrius to destroy Judas and his forces (162-161 b.c.). 2 Maccabees 14:12 says that he was made governor over Judea before he left. He is described as one of Demetrius’ honorable princes and a man who had a deadly hatred for Israel (1 Macc 7:26, 27).

His first attempt to overcome Judas was to lure him into a conference, intending to seize him by violence; however, the plot failed when Judas discovered it in time to escape (7:27-30). Two battles ensued, the first at Capharsalama, where Judas won a decisive victory, and the second in the neighborhood of Adasa and Beth-Horon, where Nicanor was among the first slain. After mutilating his body, the Jews displayed it in Jerusalem (7:47; 2 Macc 15:33), and set aside the thirteenth of Adar as “Nicanor’s Day” in honor of their great victory over him on that day (1 Macc 7:48, 49; 2 Macc 15:36).

The record of 2 Maccabees. Several details of 2 Maccabees differ radically from 1 Maccabees. (See esp. 2 Macc 14:12-30.) For example, Judas’s conference with Nicanor is described in 14:22 as peaceable, and Nicanor is said to have enjoyed a close friendship with Judas for a time (14:24). The scholars seem to prefer the account of 1 Maccabees as more reliable.

2. One of the seven men appointed by the Early Church to serve tables and thereby relieve the apostles for other duties (Acts 6:5).

Bibliography

R. H. Charles (ed.), The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha in English, I (1913); R. H. Pfeiffer, History of New Testament Times (1949).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

ni-ka’-nor, ni’-ka-nor (Nikanor): The son of Patroclus and one of the king’s "chief friends" (2 Macc 8:9), a Syrian general under nodetitle and Demetrius Soter. After the defeat of Seron by Judas, Epiphanes entrusted his chancellor Lysias with the reduction of Judea (1 Macc 3:34 ff). Nicanor was one of the three generals commissioned by Lysias--the others being Ptolemy, son of Dorymenes, and Gorgias (1 Macc 3:38). The campaign began in 166 BC; the Syrians were defeated at Emmaus (1 Macc 3:57 ff), while Gorgias at a later stage gained a victory at Jamnia over a body of Jews who disobeyed Judas (1 Macc 5:58). The account given in 2 Macc differs considerably, both in omissions and in additions (2 Macc 8:9 ff). There Nicanor, not Gorgias, is the chief in command. The battle of Emmaus is not mentioned, but "the thrice-accursed Nicanor," having in overweening pride invited a thousand slavedealers to accompany him to buy the Jewish captives, was humiliated, and his host was destroyed, he himself escaping "like a fugitive slave" to Antioch (2 Macc 8:34 f). After the death of Epiphanes, Eupator and Lysias (the last two at the hands of Demetrius (1 Macc 7:2)), Nicanor appears again under King Demetrius in the struggle between Alcimus and Judas. Alcimus, having been seated in the priesthood by Demetrius’ officer Bacchides, could not hold it against Judas and the patriots. He appealed again to Demetrius, who this time selected Nicanor, now governor of Cyprus (2 Macc 12:2) and known for his deadly hatred of the Jews, to settle the dispute and slay Judas (2 Macc 14:12 ff; 1 Macc 7:26 ff). Nicanor was appointed governor of Judea on this occasion. Again 1 and 2 Maccabees differ. According to 1 Maccabees, Nicanor sought in vain to seize Judas by treachery. Then followed the battle of Capharsalama ("village of peace"), in which the Syrians were defeated, though Josephus (Ant., XII, x, 5) says Judas was defeated. Nicanor retired to Jerusalem, insulted the priests and threatened the destruction of the temple unless they delivered up Judas. He then retired to Beth-horon to find Judas posted opposite him at Adasa (1 Macc 7:39 ff) 3 1/2 miles distant. Here on the 13th of the 12th month Adar (March), 161 BC, the Syrians sustained a crushing defeat, Nicanor himself being the first to fall. The Jews cut off his head and proud right hand and hanged them up beside Jerusalem. For a little while Adasa gave the land of Judah rest. The people ordained to keep this "day of great gladness" year by year--the 13th of Adar, "the day before the day of Mordecai" (Feast of Purim). 2 Maccabees mentions that Simon, Judas’ brother, was worsted in a first engagement (14:17), omits the battle of Capharsalama, and represents Nicanor, struck with the manliness of the Jews, as entering into friendly relations with Judas, urging him to marry and lead a quiet life, forgetful of the king’s command until Alcimus accused him to Demetrius. The latter peremptorily ordered Nicanor to bring Judas in all haste as prisoner to Antioch (14:27). The scene of the final conflict (Adasa) is given only as "in the region of Samaria" (15:1). According to this account, it was Judas who ordered the mutilation of Nicanor and in a more gruesome fashion (15:30 ff). It is possible that the Nicanor, the Cypriarch or governor of Cyprus of 2 Macc 12:2, is a different person from Nicanor, the son of Patroclus--a view not accepted in the above account.


One of "the seven" chosen to superintend "the daily ministration" of the poor of the Christian community at Jerusalem (Ac 6:5). The name is Greek.eral under nodetitle and Demetrius Soter. After the defeat of Seron by Judas, Epiphanes entrusted his chancellor Lysias with the reduction of Judea (1 Macc 3:34 ff). Nicanor was one of the three generals commissioned by Lysias--the others being Ptolemy, son of Dorymenes, and Gorgias (1 Macc 3:38). The campaign began in 166 BC; the Syrians were defeated at Emmaus (1 Macc 3:57 ff), while Gorgias at a later stage gained a victory at Jamnia over a body of Jews who disobeyed Judas (1 Macc 5:58). The account given in 2 Macc differs considerably, both in omissions and in additions (2 Macc 8:9 ff). There Nicanor, not Gorgias, is the chief in command. The battle of Emmaus is not mentioned, but "the thrice-accursed Nicanor," having in overweening pride invited a thousand slavedealers to accompany him to buy the Jewish captives, was humiliated, and his host was destroyed, he himself escaping "like a fugitive slave" to Antioch (2 Macc 8:34 f). After the death of Epiphanes, Eupator and Lysias (the last two at the hands of Demetrius (1 Macc 7:2)), Nicanor appears again under King Demetrius in the struggle between Alcimus and Judas. Alcimus, having been seated in the priesthood by Demetrius’ officer Bacchides, could not hold it against Judas and the patriots. He appealed again to Demetrius, who this time selected Nicanor, now governor of Cyprus (2 Macc 12:2) and known for his deadly hatred of the Jews, to settle the dispute and slay Judas (2 Macc 14:12 ff; 1 Macc 7:26 ff). Nicanor was appointed governor of Judea on this occasion. Again 1 and 2 Maccabees differ. According to 1 Maccabees, Nicanor sought in vain to seize Judas by treachery. Then followed the battle of Capharsalama ("village of peace"), in which the Syrians were defeated, though Josephus (Ant., XII, x, 5) says Judas was defeated. Nicanor retired to Jerusalem, insulted the priests and threatened the destruction of the temple unless they delivered up Judas. He then retired to Beth-horon to find Judas posted opposite him at Adasa (1 Macc 7:39 ff) 3 1/2 miles distant. Here on the 13th of the 12th month Adar (March), 161 BC, the Syrians sustained a crushing defeat, Nicanor himself being the first to fall. The Jews cut off his head and proud right hand and hanged them up beside Jerusalem. For a little while Adasa gave the land of Judah rest. The people ordained to keep this "day of great gladness" year by year--the 13th of Adar, "the day before the day of Mordecai" (Feast of Purim). 2 Maccabees mentions that Simon, Judas’ brother, was worsted in a first engagement (14:17), omits the battle of Capharsalama, and represents Nicanor, struck with the manliness of the Jews, as entering into friendly relations with Judas, urging him to marry and lead a quiet life, forgetful of the king’s command until Alcimus accused him to Demetrius. The latter peremptorily ordered Nicanor to bring Judas in all haste as prisoner to Antioch (14:27). The scene of the final conflict (Adasa) is given only as "in the region of Samaria" (15:1). According to this account, it was Judas who ordered the mutilation of Nicanor and in a more gruesome fashion (15:30 ff). It is possible that the Nicanor, the Cypriarch or governor of Cyprus of 2 Macc 12:2, is a different person from Nicanor, the son of Patroclus--a view not accepted in the above account.