[killed 145 BCE]
Rival of Demetrius I who (ca. 153
claimed to be son of Antiochus IV.
Balas attracted the support of a loose coalition of Egypt, Rome, Pergamum,
Cappodocia & Judea --
all of which were interested in weakening the Seleucid dynasty. In return
for Judean support he appointed Judah
Maccabee's brother, Jonathan, high priest, giving legitimacy to the
Hasmonean family's de facto rule in Jerusalem.
Following his decisive military defeat of Demetrius (150
BCE), he claimed
the Seleucid throne & married Cleopatra
Thea, the daughter of the
Egyptian ruler, Ptolemy VI. But once in office Balas quickly proved to be
an incompetent ruler. His wreckless involvement in a plot to
assassinate his father-in-law cost him his wife & the support of
Egypt. His own troops abandoned him when Demetrius II
attacked Syria (147
BCE) with Egyptian aid. As other allies deserted him, only the
to support him, since he allowed them to reclaim a greater degree of
religious & political independence than his predecessors. The
circumstances of his death are uncertain. Either he was killed by
Demetrius' forces or murdered as a refugee in Arabia.
References: 1 Maccabees
13.35-58, 80-87, 106-119.
Other resources on line:
Alexander's claim to
be the legitimate heir of Antiochus IV is graphically
illustrated by this silver tetradrachma, which practically
mirrors Antiochus' own early
coinage. The coin's face portrays Alexander clean-shaven
with the royal diadem, while the reverse bears the image of the
enthroned Zeus holding the victory goddess Nike in his
outstretched hand. The Greek inscription reads (from right
of throne to left) Basileos Alexandrou Theopatoros Euergetou
("of King Alexander, son of a beneficent God").
Alexander's appeal to divine sonship was designed to be
understood in the context of the Seleucid imperial cult that
celebrated Antiochus IV as the manifestation of Zeus himself.
For high resolution images of these and
other coins of Alexander Balas see Ancient
Coinage of Seleucia, Alexander 1 in David Surber's excellent
ancient coins website: Wildwinds.
Perspective on the
World of Jesus
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May 1999 on Web