Glossary of Terms



Harper’s Bible Dictionary

edited by Paul J. Achtemier (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1985)

You are strongly recommended to add to your library the excellent revised edition of Harper's Bible Dictionary titled, The Harper Collins Bible Dictionary, Revised Edition [book review], edited by Paul J. Achtemeier, with the Society of Biblical Literature (NY: Harper Collins, 1996). It is currently the best one-volume Bible dictionary in English, and it is available at Border's Books, Christian Science Reading Rooms,, or

Antiochus, a name borne by thirteen kings or pretenders of the Seleucid dynasty (Hellenistic inheritors of Syria, southern Asia Minor, and other portions of the empire of Alexander the Great). The land of Israel fell under Seleucid rule in 198 b.c., when Antiochus III (the Great) defeated the Ptolemies of Egypt. Antiochus IV (Epiphanes) ruled from 175 until 164 b.c. (see 1 Macc. 1:10). The Maccabean revolt was the response of pious and nationalistic Jews to Antiochus Epiphanes’ efforts to hellenize them and to suppress Judaism.

The New Bible Dictionary

(Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1962)

ANTIOCHUS. The name of 13 kings of the Seleucid dynasty which in the 40 years following the death of Alexander the Great in 323 bc had become master of Asia Minor, Syria and the more westerly of Alexander’s E dominions. Being a Hellenistic dynasty, they sought to maintain hold of this vast empire by founding or resettling a chain of Graeco-Macedonian cities throughout its length and breadth. *Antioch on the Orontes was their capital, with Seleucia on the Tigris a second capital administering the eastern provinces.

Antiochus I was the son of Seleucus I, founder of the dynasty, and Apama I. Joint-king with his father from 292, he succeeded him early in 280 and ruled until his death on 1 or 2 June 261. About 275 he was honoured with the title Soµteµr (‘saviour’) for delivering several cities of Asia Minor from the Gauls: he founded many Hellenistic cities. During his reign there was much conflict with the Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt.

Antiochus II, the younger son of Antiochus I and Stratonice, succeeded his father in 261. He liberated Ephesus, Ionia, Cilicia and Pamphylia from Egyptian domination, and in return for their autonomy the cities of Asia Minor gave him the title Theos (‘god’). He banished his first wife, his cousin Laodice and her two sons and two daughters, and in 252 married Berenice, daughter of Ptolemy II Philadelphus of Egypt. He died in 246.

Antiochus III, the younger son of Seleucus II and grandson of Antiochus II and Laodice, succeeded his older brother Alexander Seleucus III Soter on the latter’s assassination in 223. While reducing S Syria and Palestine in 217 he was defeated at Raphia by Ptolemy IV Philopator of Egypt, but a victory at Panion (the NT Caesarea Philippi) in 198 bc gave him secure control of those regions, formerly part of the empire of the Ptolemies. After putting down two domestic revolts, he led a victorious army E as far as Bactria to regain the old Seleucid empire: for this he was called by the Greeks ‘the Great’ as he had assumed the Achaemenid title of the ‘Great King’. Campaigns in Asia Minor and Greece resulted in successive defeats by Rome, culminating in the battle of Magnesia (189) and the subsequent Treaty of Apamea, by which he ceded to Rome all Asia Minor N and W of the Taurus Mountains. In 187 he died and was succeeded by his son Seleucus IV Philopator.

Antiochus IV, the youngest son of Antiochus III and Laodice III, succeeded his brother Seleucus IV in 175. Until 170/169 he reigned with his nephew Antiochus, Seleucus’ baby son, who was murdered in Antiochus’ absence by Andronicus, who arranged also the assassination of Onias III, the illegally deposed high priest, and was himself rewarded with execution (2 Macc. 4:32-38). During his reign there was much intrigue for the high priesthood on the part of Jason and Menelaus, and because of their misbehaviour Antiochus visited Jerusalem in 169 and insisted on entering the holy of holies, and carried off some of the gold and silver vessels. Pressure from Egypt convinced him of the necessity to hellenize Palestine, and measures against the old religion resulted in the cessation of the sacrifices in the Temple and the erection of a Greek altar on the site of the old one on 25 December 167. The revolt led by Mattathiah of the house of Hashmon and his 5 sons led to the reconsecration of the Temple just 3 years later. Antiochus, who on coins of the later years of his reign called himself (Theos) Epiphaneus ‘(god) manifest’, died on campaign in Media in 164.

Antiochus V Eupator, son of Epiphanes and Laodice, was put to death by the army in 162 on the arrival in Syria of his cousin Demetrius I Soter, the younger son of Seleucus IV and Epiphanes’ rightful successor.

Antiochus VI Epiphanes Dionysus, the infant son of the pretender Alexander Balas (ruled 150-145), was put forward as king by Diodotus (Tryphon) in 143, dethroned by him in 142 and murdered by him in 138.

Antiochus VII Sidetes, son of Demetrius I Soter, deposed Tryphon in 139 and ruled until 130/129. After his decree to the Jews (1 Macc. 15:1-9), permitting them to coin their own money for the first time, he invaded and subdued Judaea in 134, granting the people religious freedom.

The rest of the history of the dynasty is a story of constant rivalry for the throne. Antiochus VIII Grypus (nephew of Sidetes) ruled from 125 to 115, when he was expelled by Antiochus IX Philopator (Cyzicenus), son of Grypus’ mother, Cleopatra Thea, and Sidetes. Grypus returned in 111 and regained all except Coele-Syria, which Cyzicenus ruled until his death in 95. In 96 Grypus died, and among subsequent contestants for the throne bearing this name were two sons of Grypus (Antiochus XI Epiphanes Philadelphus and Antiochus XII Dionysus), and a son and grandson of Cyzicenus (Antiochus X Eusebes Philopator and Antiochus XIII Asiaticus). The last-named ruled from 69 to 65 and was the last of the Seleucid monarchs: in his settlement of the E in 64 Pompey annexed Syria to Rome.

Bibliography. CAH, 6-9, passim; J. Bright, History of Israel, chs. 11-12; D. J. Wiseman in Iraq 16, 1954, pp. 202-211.


All glossary terms
Copyright 1996-2003 Robert Nguyen Cramer
Top of page