Ptolemy VI Philometor  [ca. 186 - 145 BCE; died of battle wounds]

Seventh Macedonian ruler of Egypt. Since the oldest son of Ptolemy V & Cleopatra I was still a youngster when his father died (180 BCE), his mother acted as regent until her own death (177 BCE). Though Ptolemy VI was deified at age 10 & married to his sister [Cleopatra II] at age 16, he remained a puppet of court eunuchs who recklessly challenged his Seleucid uncle [Antiochus IV] for control of Palestine.  Not only did that invasion fail, it prompted Antiochus to invade Egypt twice (170 & 168 BCE). Antiochus withdrew from Egypt only because of Roman pressure, leaving Ptolemy VI & his younger brother Ptolemy VIII Physcon as co-rulers. Four years later, however, the living god-king [now age 22] was driven from Alexandria by his younger sibling. Rome intervened again to settle the feud between its nominal allies by dividing the Ptolemaic kingdom. As first-born, Philometor retained control of Egypt proper, while Physcon was given Cyrene [Libya]. Cyprus, however, remained a prize contested among the sibling rivals & their Seleucid cousin, Demetrius I. After thwarting his brother's attempt to seize Cyprus (154 BCE), Ptolemy VI countered the Seleucid threat by giving shelter & support to Demetrius' challenger, Alexander Balas. Balas' defeat of Demetrius (150 BCE) prompted Ptolemy to marry his daughter, Cleopatra Thea, to the victor. But when Balas attempted to assassinate his father-in-law during the latter's visit to Syria (148 BCE), Ptolemy reclaimed his daughter & married her to Balas' bitter rival, Demetrius II. While his forces soundly defeated Balas (145 BCE), Ptolemy himself died soon after the battle from head wounds suffered in a fall from his horse.

While Ptolemy VI was neither a strong ruler nor a conqueror, he proved to be a pivotal figure in the events that gave rise to the Maccabean revolt & made an independent Jewish state possible.  For he provoked Antiochus IV to tighten his control on Judea & later fueled the feuds among Antiochus' successors. Jews regarded him as a supporter for permitting a Jewish temple to be erected at Leontopolis [Tell el-Yahudiyeh, Egypt] & favoring Alexandrian Jews against Samaritan opponents.

References: Josephus, Antiquities 12.235, 243, 387; 13.62-82, 103-120, 20:236.
                   _____, War 1.31-33, 7.423-426.
                   Polybius, Histories 28.12, 19-21; 29.23, 26-27.

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