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Antiochus IV Epiphanes

For other uses, see Epiphanes (disambiguation).

2 Wars against Egypt

Antiochus IV Epiphanes (/nta.kspfniz/;

Greek: , Antochos D' ho
Epiphans, God Manifest";[1] c. 215 BC 164 BC) was
a Greek king of the Seleucid Empire from 175 BC until
his death in 164 BC. He was a son of King Antiochus III
the Great. His original name was Mithradates (alternative form Mithridates); he assumed the name Antiochus
after he ascended the throne.

Main article: Sixth Syrian War

When the guardians of King Ptolemy VI of Egypt demanded the return of Coele-Syria in 170 BC, Antiochus
launched a preemptive strike against Egypt, conquering
all but Alexandria and capturing King Ptolemy. To avoid
alarming Rome, Antiochus allowed Ptolemy VI to continue ruling as a puppet king. Upon Antiochus withdrawal, the city of Alexandria chose a new king, one
of Ptolemys brothers, also named Ptolemy (VIII Euergetes). Instead of ghting a civil war, the Ptolemy brothers agreed to rule Egypt jointly.

Notable events during the reign of Antiochus IV include

his near-conquest of Egypt, which led to a confrontation
that became an origin of the metaphorical phrase, "line
in the sand" (see below), and the rebellion of the Jewish
In 168 BC Antiochus led a second attack on Egypt and
Antiochus was the rst Seleucid king to use divine ep- also sent a eet to capture Cyprus. Before reaching
ithets on coins, perhaps inspired by the Bactrian Hel- Alexandria, his path was blocked by a single, old Roman
lenistic kings who had earlier done so, or else building ambassador named Gaius Popillius Laenas, who delivon the ruler cult that his father Antiochus the Great had ered a message from the Roman Senate directing Anticodied within the Seleucid Empire. These epithets in- ochus to withdraw his armies from Egypt and Cyprus,
cluded 'manifest god', and, after his de- or consider themselves in a state of war with the Roman
feat of Egypt, 'bringer of victory'.[2] How- Republic. Antiochus said he would discuss it with his
ever, Antiochus also tried to interact with common peo- council, whereupon the Roman envoy drew a line in the
ple, by appearing in the public bath houses and applying sand around him and said, Before you cross this circle I
for municipal oces, and his often eccentric behavior want you to give me a reply for the Roman Senate imand capricious actions led some of his contemporaries to plying that Rome would declare war if the King stepped
call him Epimanes (The Mad One), a word play on his out of the circle without committing to leave Egypt immediately. Weighing his options, Antiochus decided to
title Epiphanes.[1][3]
withdraw. Only then did Popillius agree to shake hands
with him.[5]

3 Sacking of Jerusalem and persecution of Jews

Rise to power

As the son and a potential successor of King Antiochus

III, Antiochus became a political hostage of the Roman
Republic following the Peace of Apamea in 188 BC.
When his older brother, Seleucus IV followed his father
onto the throne in 187 BC, Antiochus was exchanged
for his nephew Demetrius I Soter (the son and heir of
Seleucus). After King Seleucus was assassinated by
Heliodorus, a usurper, in 175 BC, Antiochus in turn
ousted him. Since Seleucus legitimate heir, Demetrius
I Soter, was still a hostage in Rome, Antiochus, with the
help of King Eumenes II of Pergamum, seized the throne
for himself, proclaiming himself co-regent for another
son of Seleucus, an infant named Antiochus (whom he
then murdered a few years later).[4]

While Antiochus was busy in Egypt, a rumor spread that

he had been killed. The deposed High Priest Jason gathered a force of 1,000 soldiers and made a surprise attack
on the city of Jerusalem. The High Priest appointed by
Antiochus, Menelaus, was forced to ee Jerusalem during a riot. On the Kings return from Egypt in 167 BC,
enraged by his defeat, he attacked Jerusalem and restored
Menelaus, then executed many Jews.[6]
When these happenings were reported
to the king, he thought that Judea was in
revolt. Raging like a wild animal, he set out
from Egypt and took Jerusalem by storm.

He ordered his soldiers to cut down without
mercy those whom they met and to slay those
who took refuge in their houses. There was a
massacre of young and old, a killing of women
and children, a slaughter of virgins and infants.
In the space of three days, eighty thousand
were lost, forty thousand meeting a violent
death, and the same number being sold into
2 Maccabees 5:1114

To consolidate his empire and strengthen his hold over

the region, Antiochus decided to side with the Hellenized
Jews by outlawing Jewish religious rites and traditions
kept by observant Jews and by ordering the worship of
Zeus as the supreme god (2 Maccabees 6:112). This
was anathema to the Jews and when they refused, An- Mina of Antiochus IV Epiphanes.
tiochus sent an army to enforce his decree. Because of
the resistance, the city was destroyed, many were slaughThe First and Second Book of Maccabees painted the
tered, and a military Greek citadel called the Acra was
Maccabean Revolt as a national resistance to a foreign
political and cultural oppression. Modern scholars argue
that the king was intervening in a civil war between the
Not long after this the king sent an Athetraditionalist Jews in the country and the Hellenized Jews
nian senator to force the Jews to abandon the
in Jerusalem.[8][9][10] According to Joseph P. Schultz,
customs of their ancestors and live no longer
Modern scholarship on the other hand considers the
by the laws of God; also to profane the temple
Maccabean revolt less as an uprising against foreign opin Jerusalem and dedicate it to Olympian
pression than as a civil war between the orthodox and reZeus, and that on Mount Gerizim to Zeus the
formist parties in the Jewish camp.[11]
Hospitable, as the inhabitants of the place
It seems that the traditionalists, with Hebrew/Aramaic
requested...They also brought into the temple
names like Onias, contested with the Hellenizers with
things that were forbidden, so that the altar was
Greek names like Jason and Menelaus over who would
covered with abominable oerings prohibited
be the High Priest.[12] Other authors point to possible soby the laws. A man could not keep the sabbath
cio/economic motives in addition to the religious motives
or celebrate the traditional feasts, nor even
behind the civil war.[13]
admit that he was a Jew. At the suggestion of
the citizens of Ptolemais, a decree was issued
What began in many respects as a civil war escaordering the neighboring Greek cities to act in
lated when the Hellenistic kingdom of Syria sided
the same way against the Jews: oblige them to
with the Hellenizing Jews in their conict with the
partake of the sacrices, and put to death those
traditionalists.[14] As the conict escalated, Antiochus
who would not consent to adopt the customs
took the side of the Hellenizers by prohibiting the reliof the Greeks. It was obvious, therefore, that
gious practices that the traditionalists had rallied around.
disaster impended. Thus, two women who
This may explain why the king, in a total departure from
were arrested for having circumcised their
Seleucid practice in all other places and times, banned the
children were publicly paraded about the city
traditional religion of a whole people.[15]
with their babies hanging at their breasts and
then thrown down from the top of the city
wall. Others, who had assembled in nearby
5 Final years
caves to observe the sabbath in secret, were
betrayed to Philip and all burned to death.
2 Maccabees 6:111
Taking advantage of Antiochus western problems, King
Mithridates I of Parthia attacked from the east and seized
the city of Herat in 167 BC, disrupting the direct trade
route to India and eectively splitting the Greek world in
4 Maccabean revolt
Main article: Maccabees

Recognizing the potential danger in the east, but unwilling to give up control of Judea, Antiochus sent a commander named Lysias to deal with the Maccabees, while

the King himself led the main Seleucid army against the [12] Gundry, Robert H. (2003). A Survey of the New Testament. Zondervan. p. 9. ISBN 0-310-23825-0.
Parthians. After initial success in his eastern campaign,
including the reoccupation of Armenia, Antiochus died
[13] Freedman, David Noel; Allen C. Myers; Astrid B. Beck
suddenly of disease in 164 BC.
(2000). Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 837. ISBN 0-8028-2400-5.

Jewish tradition

[14] Wood, Leon James (1986). A Survey of Israels History.

Zondervan. p. 357. ISBN 0-310-34770-X.

Antiochus IV ruled the Jews from 175 to 164 BC. He is

remembered as a major villain and persecutor in the Jewish traditions associated with Hanukkah, including the
books of Maccabees and the "Scroll of Antiochus".[16]
Rabbinical sources refer to him as harasha (the
wicked).[17] He has been identied as the eleventh
horn of the beast in the Book of Daniel (chapters 7 to

[15] Tchrikover, Victor. Hellenistic Civilization and the Jews.

[16] Vedibarta Bam And You Shall Speak of Them: Megilat Antiochus The Scroll of the Hasmoneans
[17] Jewish Encyclopedia
[18] Collins, John J., Daniel commentary, The Catholic
Study Bible, 2 March 2006
[19] Jewish Encyclopedia: Book of Daniel

See also

9 External links

Abomination of Desolation
Antiochus IV Ephiphanes entry in historical sourcebook by Mahlon H. Smith

Books of the Maccabees

List of people who have been considered deities

Jewish Encyclopedia: Antiochus IV Epiphanes

Antiochus IV Epiphanes at


[1] Encyclopdia


Antiochus IV entry in 'Seleucid Genealogy'




[2] C. Habicht, The Seleucids and their rivals, in A. E.

Astin, et al., Rome and the Mediterranean to 133 B.C., The
Cambridge Ancient History, volume 8, p. 341
[3] Polybius 26.10
[4] M. Zambelli, L'ascesa al trono di Antioco IV Epifane
di Siria, Rivista di Filologia e di Istruzione Classica 38
(1960) 363389
[5] Polybius 29.27.4, Livy 45.12.4.
[6] Josephus, Wars of the Jews 1:1:12
[7] 1 Maccabees 1:3037; Witherington
[8] Telushkin, Joseph (1991). Jewish Literacy: The Most Important Things to Know about the Jewish Religion, Its People, and Its History. W. Morrow. p. 114. ISBN 0-68808506-7.
[9] Johnston, Sarah Iles (2004). Religions of the Ancient
World: A Guide. Harvard University Press. p. 186. ISBN
[10] Greenberg, Irving (1993). The Jewish Way: Living the
Holidays. Simon & Schuster. p. 29. ISBN 0-671-873032.
[11] Schultz, Joseph P. (1981). Judaism and the Gentile Faiths:
Comparative Studies in Religion. Fairleigh Dickinson Univ
Press. p. 155. ISBN 0-8386-1707-7.




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