SELEUCUS sĭ lōō’ kəs (Σέλευκος). The name of six kings of Syria, four of whom are of some significance.
Seleucus I Nicator,
“conqueror,” c. 358-280 b.c. The son of a Macedonian noble, he was a close associate of in his campaigns in the E. He became the ruler of Syria and Babylonia after Alexander’s death. In the wars of the Diadochi “successors” he was Perdiccas’ chief supporter in the early struggle, but later was a party to his demise. In 316 he lost his domains and was forced to flee to Egypt. With the help of Ptolemy he regained Babylon, Media, and Susiana. This marked the beginning of the Seleucid dynasty which lasted until 65 b.c. Daniel (11:5) referred to him as a prince of the king of the S who became stronger than the king. He was a separatist with Lysimachus, Ptolemy, and Cassander against Antigonus at Ipsus in 301. As a result of the victory, he gained control of Syria and Cilicia. In 281 he won Asia Minor from Lysimachus. He founded a number of famous cities, among them Antioch on the Orontes, Laodicea, Seleucia, Edessa, and Beroea. He settled many Jews in them and conferred upon them the rights of citizenship (Jos. Antiq. XII. iii. 1). He founded his new capital at Antioch and married the daughter of Demetrius, but he did not repudiate his Bactrian wife Apama. Although he was a king of the E, he was basically western in outlook. He aspired to gain the throne of Macedonia and re-establish a unified empire, but he was murdered in the attempt by Ptolemy II.
Seleucus II Callinius,
“glorious victor,” 265-226 b.c. The eldest son of and father of . Reference is made in
Seleucus III Soter,
“savior,” c. 245-223. He and his brother and successor Antiochus the Great are referred to in
Seleucus IV Philopator,
“father-loving,” c. 218-175 b.c. The son of Antiochus the Great and brother of Epiphanes, he maintained a diminished empire by keeping scrupulously to the terms of the Peace of Apamea with Rome. This forbade further adventures in the W under penalty of heavy fine. He remained on friendly terms with the other two independent powers of the E, Egypt and Macedonia. He was assassinated by a plot of Heliodorus, his chief minister, and was succeeded by his brother.
He is mentioned in
E. Bevan, The House of Seleucus (1902, rep. 1966); E. Bikerman, Institutions des Seleucides (1938).
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
(1) Seleucus I (Nicator, "The Conqueror"), the founder of the Seleucids or House of Seleucus, was an officer in the grand and thoroughly equipped army, which was perhaps the most important part of the inheritance that came to
(2) Seleucus II (Callinicus, "The Gloriously Triumphant"), who reigned from 246 to 226 BC, was the son of Antiochus Soter and is "the king of the north" in
(3) Seleucus III (Ceraunus, "Thunderbolt"), son of Seleucus II, was assassinated in a campaign which he undertook into Asia Minor. He had a short reign of rather more than 2 years (226-223 BC) and is referred to in
(4) Seleucus IV (Philopator, "Fond of his Father") was the son and successor of Antiochus the Great and reigned from 187 to 175 BC. He is called "King of Asia" (2 Macc 3:3), a title claimed by the Seleucids even after their serious losses in Asia Minor (see 1 Macc 8:6; 11:13; 12:39; 13:32). He was present at the decisive battle of Magnesia (190 BC). He was murdered by HELIODORUS (which see), one of his own courtiers whom he had sent to plunder the Temple (2 Macc 3:1-40;
For the connection of the above-named Seleucids with the "ten horns" of
Seleucus V (125-124 BC) and Seleucus VI (95-93 BC) have no connection with the sacred narrative.