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Antiochus IV Epiphanes

Antiochus IV Epiphanes
Basileus of the Seleucid Empire
Bust of Antiochus IV at the Altes Museum in Berlin.
Reign 175–164 BC
Predecessor Seleucus IV Philopator
Successor Antiochus V Eupator
Born c. 215 BC
Died 164 BC (aged 50 or 51)
Wife
Issue Antiochus V Eupator, Laodice VI, Alexander Balas, Antiochis, and possibly Laodice (wife of Mithridates III of Pontus)
Dynasty Seleucid dynasty
Father Antiochus III the Great
Mother Laodice III

Antiochus IV Epiphanes (; Greek: Ἀντίοχος Δ΄ ὁ Ἐπιφανής, Antíochos D' ho Epiphanḗs, "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.

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 Maccabees.

Antiochus was the first Seleucid king to use divine epithets on coins, perhaps inspired by the Bactrian Hellenistic kings who had earlier done so, or else building on the ruler cult that his father Antiochus the Great had codified within the Seleucid Empire. These epithets included Θεὸς Ἐπιφανής 'manifest god', and, after his defeat of Egypt, Νικηφόρος 'bringer of victory'.[2] However, Antiochus also tried to interact with common people by appearing in the public bath houses and applying for municipal offices, and his often eccentric behavior and capricious actions led some of his contemporaries to call him Epimanes ("The Mad One"), a word play on his title Epiphanes.[1][3]

Contents

  • Rise to power 1
  • Wars against Egypt 2
  • Sacking of Jerusalem and persecution of Jews 3
  • Maccabean revolt 4
  • Final years 5
  • Jewish tradition 6
  • See also 7
  • Footnotes 8
  • External links 9

Rise to power

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

Wars against Egypt

The guardians of King Ptolemy VI of Egypt demanded the return of Coele-Syria in 170 BC, but 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 Ptolemy's brothers, also named Ptolemy (VIII Euergetes). The Ptolemy brothers agreed to rule Egypt jointly instead of fighting a civil war.

In 168 BC, Antiochus led a second attack on Egypt and also sent a fleet to capture Cyprus. Before reaching Alexandria, his path was blocked by a single old Roman ambassador named Gaius Popillius Laenas who delivered a message from the Roman Senate directing Antiochus to withdraw his armies from Egypt and Cyprus, or consider himself in a state of war with the Roman Republic. Antiochus said that he would discuss it with his council, whereupon the Roman envoy drew a line in the sand around Antiochus and said, "Before you cross this circle, I want you to give me a reply for the Roman Senate" – implying that Rome would declare war if the King stepped out of the circle without committing to leave Egypt immediately. Weighing his options, Antiochus decided to withdraw. Only then did Popillius agree to shake hands with him.[5]

Sacking of Jerusalem and persecution of Jews

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. Menelaus was the High Priest appointed by Antiochus, but he was forced to flee Jerusalem during a riot. The King returned from Egypt in 167 BC, enraged by his defeat, and 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 slavery.
— 2 Maccabees 5:11–14

Antiochus decided to side with the Hellenized Jews in order to consolidate his empire and strengthen his hold over the region. He outlawed Jewish religious rites and traditions kept by observant Jews and ordered the worship of Zeus as the supreme god (2 Maccabees 6:1–12). This was anathema to the Jews and they refused, so Antiochus sent an army to enforce his decree. The city was destroyed because of the resistance, many were slaughtered, and a military Greek citadel was established called the Acra.[7]

Not long after this the king sent an Athenian senator to force the Jews to abandon the customs of their ancestors and live no longer by the laws of God; also to profane the temple in Jerusalem and dedicate it to Olympian Zeus, and that on Mount Gerizim to Zeus the Hospitable, as the inhabitants of the place requested...They also brought into the temple things that were forbidden, so that the altar was covered with abominable offerings prohibited by the laws. A man could not keep the sabbath or celebrate the traditional feasts, nor even admit that he was a Jew. At the suggestion of the citizens of Ptolemais, a decree was issued ordering the neighboring Greek cities to act in the same way against the Jews: oblige them to partake of the sacrifices, and put to death those who would not consent to adopt the customs of the Greeks. It was obvious, therefore, that disaster impended. Thus, two women who were arrested for having circumcised their children were publicly paraded about the city with their babies hanging at their breasts and then thrown down from the top of the city wall. Others, who had assembled in nearby caves to observe the sabbath in secret, were betrayed to Philip and all burned to death.
— 2 Maccabees 6:1–11

Maccabean revolt

Mina of Antiochus IV Epiphanes.

The First and Second Book of Maccabees painted the 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 traditionalist Jews in the country and the Hellenized Jews in Jerusalem.[8][9][10] According to Joseph P. Schultz, "Modern scholarship on the other hand considers the Maccabean revolt less as an uprising against foreign oppression than as a civil war between the orthodox and reformist parties in the Jewish camp."[11]

It seems that the traditionalists, with Hebrew/Aramaic names such as Onias, contested with the Hellenizers, with Greek names such as Jason and Menelaus, over who would be the High Priest.[12] Other authors point to possible socio/economic motives in addition to the religious motives behind the civil war.[13]

What began in many respects as a civil war escalated when the Hellenistic kingdom of Syria sided with the Hellenizing Jews in their conflict with the traditionalists.[14] As the conflict escalated, Antiochus took the side of the Hellenizers by prohibiting the religious practices that the traditionalists had rallied around. This may explain why the king banned the traditional religion of a whole people, in a total departure from Seleucid practice in all other places and times.[15]

Final years

King Mithridates I of Parthia took advantage of Antiochus' western problems and attacked from the east, seizing the city of Herat in 167 BC and disrupting the direct trade route to India, effectively splitting the Greek world in two.

Antiochus recognized the potential danger in the east but was unwilling to give up control of Judea. He sent a commander named Lysias to deal with the Maccabees, while the King himself led the main Seleucid army against the Parthians. Antiochus had initial success in his eastern campaign, including the reoccupation of Armenia, but he died suddenly of disease in 164 BC.

Jewish tradition

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 הרשע harasha ("the wicked").[17] He has been identified as the "eleventh horn of the beast" in the Book of Daniel (chapters 7 to 12).[18][19]

See also

Footnotes

  1. ^ a b Encyclopædia Britannica Online: Antiochus IV Epiphanes
  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) 363–389
  5. ^ Polybius 29.27.4, Livy 45.12.4ff.
  6. ^ Josephus, Wars of the Jews 1:1:1–2
  7. ^ 1 Maccabees 1:30–37; Witherington
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  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

External links

  • Antiochus IV Ephiphanes entry in historical sourcebook by Mahlon H. Smith
  • Jewish Encyclopedia: Antiochus IV Epiphanes
  • livius.orgAntiochus IV Epiphanes at
  • Antiochus IV entry in 'Seleucid Genealogy'
Antiochus IV Epiphanes
Born: 215 BC Died: 164 BC
Preceded by
Seleucus IV Philopator
Seleucid King
175–164 BC
Succeeded by
Antiochus V Eupator
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