People - Ancient Near East: Antiochus Iv Epiphanes
Ancient Near East
Antiochus Iv Epiphanes in Wikipedia
Antiochus IV Epiphanes ("Manifest (God)", "the Illustrious"; pronounced /ćnˈtaɪ.əkəs ɛˈpɪfəniːz/, from Greek: Ἀντίοχος Ἐπιφανὴς; born c. 215 BC; died 164 BC) ruled the Seleucid Empire from 175 BC until his death in 164 BC. He was a son of King Antiochus III the Great and the brother of Seleucus IV Philopator. His original name was Mithridates; he assumed the name Antiochus after he assumed 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.
He assumed divine epithets, which no other Hellenistic king had done, such as Theos Epiphanes (Greek: ΘΕΟΣ ΕΠΙΦΑΝΗΣ mean "God Manifest") and after his defeat of Egypt, Nikephoros (Greek: ΝΙΚΗΦΟΡΟΣ mean "Bearer of Victory"). But his often eccentric behavior, capricious actions and even insanity led some of his contemporaries to call him Epimanes ("The Mad One"), a word play on his title Epiphanes.
Rise to Power
As the son and a potential successor of King Antiochus III, Antiochus became a political hostage of the Roman Republic following the Peace of Apamea in 188 BC. When his older brother, Seleucus IV followed his father onto the throne in 187 BC, Antiochus was exchanged for his nephew Demetrius I Soter (the son and heir of Seleucus). After King Seleucus was assassinated by Heliodorus, a usurper, in 175 BC, Antiochus in turn ousted him. Since Seleucus' true heir, Demetrius I Soter, was still a hostage in Rome, Antiochus, with the help of King Eumenes II of Pergamum, seized the throne for himself, proclaiming himself co-regent for another son of Seleucus, an infant named Antiochus (whom he then murdered a few years later).
Wars against Egypt
Main article: Sixth Syrian War
When the guardians of King Ptolemy VI of Egypt demanded the return of Coele-Syria in 170 BC, 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). Instead of fighting a civil war, the Ptolemy brothers agreed to rule Egypt jointly.
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 themselves in a state of war with the Roman Republic. Antiochus said he would discuss it with his council, whereupon the Roman envoy drew a line in the sand around him 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 wisely decided to withdraw. Only then did Popillius agree to shake hands with him.
Sacking of Jerusalem and Persecution of Jews
While Antiochus was busy in Egypt, a false 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. An official Antiochus appointed as High Priest, Menelaus, was forced to flee Jerusalem during a riot. On the King's return from Egypt in 167 BC enraged by his defeat, he attacked Jerusalem and restored Menelaus, then executed many Jews.
“ 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
To consolidate his empire and strengthen his hold over the region, Antiochus decided to side with the Hellenized Jews by outlawing Jewish religious rites and traditions observed by more orthodox Jews and by ordering the worship of Zeus as the supreme god. This was anathema to the Jews and when they refused, Antiochus sent an army to enforce his decree. Because of the resistance, the city was destroyed, many were slaughtered, and a military Greek citadel called the Acra was established.
“ 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
Rebellion of the Maccabees
Main article: Maccabean Revolt
Most modern scholars argue that the king was in fact intervening in an internal civil war between the traditionalist Jews in the country and the Hellenized Jews in Jerusalem. 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.
These competed violently over who would be the High Priest, with traditionalists with Hebrew/Aramaic names like Onias contesting with Hellenizers with Greek names like Jason and Menelaus. Other authors point to possible socio/economic motives in addition to the religious motives behind the civil war.
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.  As the conflict escalated, Antiochus took the side of the Hellenizers by prohibiting the religious practices the traditionalists had rallied around. This may explain why the king, in a total departure from Seleucid practice in all other places and times, banned the traditional religion of a whole people.
Taking advantage of Antiochus' western problems, King Mithridates I of Parthia attacked from the east and seized the city of Herat in 167 BC, disrupting the direct trade route to India and effectively splitting the Greek world in two.
Recognizing the potential danger in the east, but unwilling to give up control of Judea, Antiochus sent a commander named Lysias to deal with the Maccabees, while the King himself led the main Seleucid army against the Parthians. After initial success in his eastern campaign, including the reoccupation of Armenia, Antiochus died suddenly of disease in 164 BC.
Legacy of Antiochus IV
The reign of Antiochus was the last period of real strength for the Seleucid Dynasty, but in some ways his rule was also fatal to the Empire. Technically Antiochus IV was a usurper, and he left an infant son named Antiochus V Eupator as his only heir. The result was a series of civil wars between rival claimants to the throne, effectively crippling the Empire during a critical phase in the wars against Parthia.
In Jewish tradition
Antiochus IV ruled the Jews from 175-164 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".  Rabbinical sources refer to him as הרשע harasha ("the wicked").
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