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(1) Jewish commander of the fortress of Lysias, in the region of Lebanon. The fortress was destroyed by Pompey during his campaign in Syria (63 b.c.e.; Jos. Ant., 14:40).

(2) A close friend of *Agrippa i during the latter's early hardships and imprisonment at Rome under Tiberius. When Agrippa became king (41 c.e.) Silas was appointed commander of the entire Judean army. His intimate relations with the king, however, eventually brought about his dismissal from office, since his tendency to overemphasize his loyalty to Agrippa in the early years was resented in the royal court. Silas was relieved of his command and imprisoned. Agrippa eventually regretted this harsh treatment and wished to release him, but the prisoner, by now obsessed with his grievance, declined the offer. After Agrippa's death (44) Silas was murdered by order of *Herod, king of Chalcis, and Helcias, commander of the Judean army (Jos. Ant., 18:204; 19:299, 317–25, 353).

(3) A Babylonian soldier in the Jewish ranks at the outset of the war against Rome (66 c.e.). Silas, who had deserted to the Jewish forces from the army of *Agrippa ii, later led an unsuccessful Jewish attack upon the city of Ashkelon, where he was slain (Jos., Wars, 2:520; 3:11, 19).

(4) Commander of Tiberias appointed by *Josephus. When *John of Giscala arrived in the city and appealed to the citizens to abandon their allegiance to Josephus, Silas informed the latter of the impending danger. Josephus thereupon marched to Tiberias with a force of 200 men and averted the danger (Jos., Wars, 2:616; Life, 89, 90, 272).


Schuerer, Hist. 220, 334, n. 11; Klausner, Bayit Sheni, 3 (19502), 220; 4 (19502), 293f.; 5 (19512), 160, 181; A. Schalit, Koenig Herodes (1969), 9 n. 29.

[Isaiah Gafni]