Alexander Balas°

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ALEXANDER BALAS °, king of Syria, 150–146 b.c.e. According to Diodorus and Strabo, Balas was his original name before he assumed the cognomen Alexander. Many of his contemporaries state that Alexander Balas was a native of Smyrna, of lowly parentage, but he pretended to be the son of Antiochus iv Epiphanes and claimed the throne of his alleged father in opposition to Demetrius i Soter. Alexander was supported by Attalus ii of Pergamum and was recognized by Ptolemy vi Philometor of Egypt. The Romans, inclined to encourage the disturbances in Syria, also allowed Alexander's adherents freedom of action. In 153 b.c.e., Alexander led an army of mercenaries against Demetrius. The pretender's first act was to win Jonathan the Hasmonean to his side by appointing him high priest and leader of the Jews. Demetrius fell in battle, and Alexander assumed the throne in 150. To strengthen his position in Syria he married Ptolemy's daughter. However, when he conspired against him, Ptolemy withdrew his support and allied himself with Demetrius ii, son of the late king, who now laid claim to his father's throne. In the ensuing battle between Alexander and Ptolemy on the River Oenoparas near Antioch, Alexander was defeated and Ptolemy mortally wounded. Alexander took refuge with the Arab chieftain Zabeilus, who slew him and sent his head to Ptolemy who had not yet died from his wounds.


i Macc. 10:1 ff., 15 ff.; 11:1 ff.; Jos., Ant., 13:35 ff., 58 ff., 80 ff., 103 ff.; Klausner, Bayit Sheni, 3 (19502), 54–59; A. Bouché-Leclercq, Histoire des Séleucides, 1 (1913), 338 ff.; Schuerer, Gesch, 1 (19014), 227 ff.

[Abraham Schalit]