Philip of Bathyra

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PHILIP OF BATHYRA (first century c.e.), son of Jacimus and grandson of Zamaris, rulers of Bathyra in the district of Trachonitis. He was a friend of Agrippa ii, who appointed him commander of the army in Bathyra. Josephus describes him as "excelling in combat and… possessing other virtues which could bear comparison with any other man" (Ant., 17:30). When war broke out in Jerusalem and the peace party requested help from Agrippa, Philip was dispatched at the head of 3,000 cavalry. They occupied the upper city, but with the arrival of the *Sicarii under *Menahem b. Judah, Philip's forces were driven out of the fortress of Antonia and compelled to take refuge in the palace of Herod. After a short time, they surrendered on receiving a promise that they would be permitted to leave the city in peace. Philip, fearing that he would be put to death, hid for four days in Jerusalem and by a subterfuge succeeded in escaping from the city and reaching Gamala. This saved him from the intrigues of Varus who was plotting against him. After the dismissal of Varus, he returned with his troops to Bathyra where he was charged with the task of preventing the inhabitants from joining the revolt against the Romans. When Vespasian and Agrippa ii visited Tyre, its inhabitants accused him of surrendering the palace of Herod and the Roman garrison to the Jews, and Vespasian ordered him to be sent for trial before Nero. Nothing more is known of him. Two of his brother's daughters were the only inhabitants of Gamala who escaped death by hiding from the Romans.


Jos., Wars, 2:421, 556; 4:81; Jos., Ant., 17:30; Jos., Life, 46ff., 59–60, 177, 179–84, 407.; Drexler, in: Klio, 19 (1925), 277–312; Schalit, ibid., 26 (1933), 67–95.

[Edna Elazary]