[ca. 187 - 150 BCE; killed]
Son of Seleucus IV who
sent him to Rome (175
BCE) as a 12 year old hostage in exchange for his
uncle, Antiochus IV.
When Demetrius' father was murdered, his uncle claimed the throne,
leaving him a prisoner in Rome. Thirteen years later (162
escaped, captured & executed his young cousin [Antiochus
V] & claimed the throne for himself.
Demetrius wasted no time in trying to crush
the Jewish rebellion. His devastating defeat of Jewish forces at the
battle of Elasa (160
BCE) in which the Judean leader Judah
Maccabee was killed might have heralded the end of Jewish hopes for
independence had he been able to concentrate all his forces on suppressing
Jewish rebels. But in 153
BCE he was faced with an even more serious
threat to his rule in the person of Alexander
Balas, who claimed to be a
son of Antiochus IV & won support from foreign opponents who sought to
counter Demetrius' territorial ambitions [Ptolemy
VI, the Roman Senate
& Judah Maccabee's brother, Jonathan].
He died fighting Balas' forces.
1 Macc 7:1-8;
History of Rome: Syrian Wars 46-47.
Other resources on line:
Maccabees 10 - Jewish account of Jonathan's use of the rivalry
between Demetrius I and Alexander Balas to establish his
independence includes quotation of royal correspondence [NRSV
translation posted by
Silver tetradrachma with profile of
Demetrius I on the face & the seated figure of Fortune [Tyche]
holding a cornucopia on the other side. The inscription reads simply
Basileos Demetriou ["of King Demetrius"].
Perspective on the
World of Jesus
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Mahlon H. Smith
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