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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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Anti´ochus, a name which may be interpreted he who withstands, or lasts out; and denotes military prowess, as do many other of the Greek names. It was borne by one of the generals of Philippians whose son, Seleucus, by the help of the first Ptolemy, established himself (B.C. 312) as ruler of Babylon. For eleven years more the contest in Asia continued, while Antigonus was grasping at universal supremacy. At length, in 301, he was defeated and slain in the decisive battle of Ipsus, in Phrygia. Ptolemy, son of Lagos, had meanwhile become master of southern Syria; and Seleucus was too much indebted to him to be disposed to eject him by force from this possession. In fact, the three first Ptolemies (B.C. 323-222) looked on their extra-Egyptian possessions as their sole guarantee for the safety of Egypt itself against their formidable neighbor, and succeeded in keeping the mastery, not only of Palestine and Cœle-Syria, and of many towns on that coast, but of Cyrene and other parts of Libya, of Cyprus, and other islands, with numerous maritime posts all round Asia Minor. A permanent fleet was probably kept up at Samos, so that their arms reached to the Hellespont; and for some time they ruled over Thrace. Thus Syria was divided between two great powers, the northern half falling to Seleucus and his successors, the southern to the Ptolemies; and this explains the titles 'king of the north and 'king of the south,' in Daniel 11. The line dividing them was drawn somewhat to the north of Damascus, the capital of Coele-Syria.

The first Seleucus built a prodigious number of cities with Greek institutions, not, like Alexander, from military or commercial policy, but to gratify ostentation, or his love for Greece. To people his new cities was often a difficult matter; and this led to the bestowal of premiums on those who were willing to become citizens. Hence we may account for the extraordinary privileges which the Jews enjoyed in them all, having equal rights with Macedonians. But there was still another cause which recommended the Jews to the Syrian kings. A nation thus diffused through their ill-compacted empire, formed a band most useful to gird its parts together. To win the hearts of the Jews, was to win the allegiance of a brave brotherhood, who would be devoted to their protector, and who could never make common cause with any spirit of local independence. For this reason Antiochus the Great, and doubtless his predecessors also, put peculiar trust in Jewish garrisons.

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Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Antiochus'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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