ALEXANDER BALAS
(bah' luhs) GREEK: BALAS
possibly a form of Baal, "lord"
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Posing as the son of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, Alexander Balas (called Alexander Epiphanes in 1 Maccabees 10:1) ruled Syria from 150 to 145 B.C. He was actually of humble origin, born in Ephesus, but nonetheless succeeded in wresting the Syrian throne from Demetrius I Soter. In 152, when Alexander began his campaign to usurp the throne, he engaged in a bidding war with Demetrius to secure the allegiance of Jonathan, the leader of the Jews. His offer included a purple robe, a gold crown, and an appointment as high priest - though Jonathan was not from a proper high priestly family. Jonathan pledged allegiance to Alexander, rejecting offers from the unpopular Demetrius.

When Alexander was challenged militarily by Demetrius's son, Demetrius II Nicator, Jonathan came to his patron's aid. Victorious at Joppa and Azotus, Jonathan was rewarded with the Ekron district. Alexander, however, had ineptly alienated much of the Syrian population.

Allied with Ptolemy Philometor of Egypt, Demetrius II eventually took power after a great battle near Antioch. While seeking safety, Alexander was beheaded by Zabdiel of Arabia. The gruesome evidence was sent to Ptolemy three days before he himself died of battle wounds.

{E2 Dictionary of Biblical People}

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