Demetrius II°

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DEMETRIUS II ° (Nicator ) (141–125 b.c.e.), ruler of the Seleucid dynasty in Syria; son of *Demetrius i Soter. In 146/5, with the support of Ptolemy v of Egypt, he defeated Alexander Balas. Ptolemy succumbed to wounds received in this battle and Demetrius, having succeeded in getting the Egyptian army to leave Syria, seized control of the country. He now came to an agreement with Jonathan the Hasmonean, whereby the latter was confirmed in his high priesthood and his annexation of the three regions of Ephraim, Lydda, and Ramathaim was officially endorsed. On his side, Jonathan was compelled to raise the siege of Acre, to cede Jaffa and Ashdod which he had captured, and to promise a tribute of 300 talents. Relying upon his army of mercenaries, Demetrius embarked upon a tyrannical rule, which eventually led to the revolt of *Diodotus-Tryphon. Tryphon made use of the young son of Alexander Balas, who until then had been under the protection of the Nabatean governor, and was successful in winning over the Syrian populace. In the civil war between Demetrius and Tryphon that now ensued, Jonathan supported Demetrius, until the latter was taken prisoner in a campaign against the Parthians in 141. Against this background of Syrian weakness, the independence of Judea was achieved under Simeon the Hasmonean. During the imprisonment of Demetrius, his brother *Antiochus (vii) Sidetes reigned over Syria. He defeated Tryphon and also the Jews, but he too came to grief on his expedition against the Parthians in 130–129. Demetrius, whom the Parthians freed in order to stir up civil war in Syria, regained the kingdom in 129, but lost it again through revolution, when Ptolemy Physcon, king of Egypt, supported the claims of one Alexander who pretended to be the son of Alexander Balas. The war between Demetrius and this Alexander came to an end after two years. Demetrius attempted to escape to Tyre, but was captured and put to death in 126/5 (i Macc. 10:67–11:56; Jos., Ant., 13:86–87, 109–62, 174, 177, 180, 184–6, 218–9, 221–2, 253, 267–9, 271).


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 Ẏehudah (19582), 119–20; T.H. Gaster, Dead Sea Scriptures (1956), 243.

[Abraham Schalit]