Ananias and Helkias

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ANANIAS AND HELKIAS , two brothers, sons of *Oniasiv, who were generals in the army of Cleopatra iii, queen of Egypt (116–110 b.c.e.). They commanded the Jewish military colony at Heliopolis. Their loyalty to Cleopatra iii (Josephus' reference to which is based on the testimony of Strabo) in her wars against her son Ptolemy Lathyrus for the throne of Egypt won for them great influence (Jos., Ant., 13:284–7). In these wars Ananias and Helkias were in command of the Egyptian army that advanced into Ereẓ Israel to drive out Ptolemy Lathyrus who had consolidated his position there after defeating Alexander Yannai, the Hasmonean king (103–102 b.c.e.). The growing strength of Lathyrus in Ereẓ Israel posed a threat not only to Alexander Yannai's position but also to Cleopatra's rule of Egypt. Ptolemy Lathyrus was defeated in battle and forced to withdraw from Ereẓ Israel, and while in pursuit of him, Helkias died (ibid., 13:348–51). After her victory over her son, Cleopatra was advised by some of her counselors to occupy the Hasmonean kingdom but Ananias warned her against this, pointing out its injustice, as well as the enmity that an attack upon Alexander Yannai would arouse among the latter's fellow Jews in Egypt, her subjects. Because of Ananias' warning Cleopatra did not harm Alexander Yannai and even made a pact with him (ibid., 13:352–5). Helkias, or perhaps his son, is probably mentioned in an Egyptian inscription of 102 b.c.e. as the strategos (commander) of the nome (province) of Heliopolis. It is very doubtful whether the account in Justinus (39:4) of a Ptolemaic general who permitted Lathyrus to escape from Egypt refers to Helkias.


R. Marcus in Jos., Ant., 13:87, n.f. (and literature cited there); Pauly-Wissowa, 2 (1894), 2056 (1); Schuerer, Gesch, 1 (19014), 278; 3 (19094), 132 n.39; Klausner, Bayit Sheni, 3 (19502), 148; Tcherikover, Corpus, 3 (1964), 144–5 n. 1450.

[Uriel Rappaport]