Demetrius I Soter°

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DEMETRIUS I SOTER ° (162–150 b.c.e.), ruler of the Seleucid dynasty in Syria; son of *Seleucus iv. In his youth Demetrius was a hostage in Rome. When he became aware of the weakness of *Antiochus v and the governor *Lysias, he escaped, with the aim of wresting the Syrian crown from his cousin. Demetrius established his rule despite the opposition of the Roman Senate which did not wish to see an energetic ruler on the Seleucid throne. In consequence of the victory of his general *Bacchides over Judah Maccabee in 160 b.c.e., Demetrius reinstated the Syrian overlordship of Judea. He was also successful in crushing an insurrection in the eastern provinces led by Timarchus, governor of Babylonia. In the course of time, Demetrius, as a result of his tyranny, brought down upon himself the hatred of the Syrians. He also became embroiled with Attalus ii of Pergamon and with Ptolemy v of Egypt. Finally the two kings joined forces against him in support of the pretender *Alexander Balas, who claimed to be the son of Antiochus iv. Jonathan the Hasmonean associated himself with Alexander, who appointed him high priest. The substantial concessions now made by Demetrius to the Jews availed nothing, as Jonathan did not trust him. In the end, Demetrius was defeated by Alexander and fell in battle (i Macc. 7:1–9; 10:20, 40–59; Jos., Ant., 12:389, 390, 393, 397, 400, 402–3, 415, 420; ibid., 13:23, 35, 37, 39, 43–44, 47–48, 58–61).


E.R. Bevan, House of Seleucus, 2 (1902), index; B. Niese, Geschichte der griechischen und makedonischen Staaten…, 3 (1903), 245ff., 263ff.; Schuerer, Hist, index; A.R. Bellinger, End of the Seleucids (1949), 75–76; Y. Yadin, Ha-Megillot ha-Genuzot mi-Midbar Yehudah (19582), 119–20; T.H. Gaster, Dead Sea Scriptures (1956), 243.

[Abraham Schalit]