Antiochus IV Epiphanes

Antiochus IV Epiphanes rose to power by usurping the throne from Heliodorus who, as chief minister, assassinated Antiochus' older brother and the ruling king Seleucus IV Philopator. A few years later, Antiochus IV Epiphanes would secure his throne by murdering his nephew who was a potential and legal heir to the throne.

During 201-198 B.C., before Antiochus IV Epiphanes usurped the throne, Ptolemaic rule of Judea waned under pressure from the Seleucids, and most Jews welcomed Hellenization.

But by 175 B.C., when Antiochus IV Epiphanes (ruled 175-164 B.C.) came to power, the Jews were split between two political factions: 1) the wealthy and those favoring Greek culture and values, or 2) the religious conservatives which most of the Jews favored. However, the selection of the High Priest was determined by corruption.

In 168 B.C., while Antiochus IV Epiphanes was on a military campaign in Egypt, a failed revolt by the religious conservatives sought to retake Jerusalem. Although the revolt failed, the apparent opposition to Seleucid authority and sympathy towards Ptolemaic Egypt motivated Antiochus IV Epiphanes to quash all thought of rebellion by tearing down the walls of Jerusalem, murdering and enslaving thousands, and desecrating the Temple.

To secure Seleucid authority over Judea, Antiochus IV Epiphanes approved of a colony of Syrian soldiers within Jerusalem. And to meet their religious needs, these foreigners worshiped in the Temple and desecrated it with their pagan worship and pagan prostitution of Syrian cults.

A year later, perceiving that Judaism was an obstacle to the unification of the empire, Antiochus IV Epiphanes banned Jewish rituals such as Sabbath keeping, circumcision, and burned copies of the Torah. The Temple itself had a pagan statue and a pagan alter.

By this time, Antiochus IV Epiphanes assumed the cult name "theos epiphanies" which means "the manifest god" and Jews were forced to celebrate the king's birthday each month and participate in pagan festivals and sacrifices.

All of this led to the Maccabean revolt and by 164 B.C., the Temple was cleansed, renovated and rededicated to the service of Yahweh.

Antiochus IV Epiphanes would die insane in 164 B.C.

Antiochus IV Epiphanes' political lineage from Alexander the Great

When Alexander the Great death unexpectedly in 323 B.C., surviving generals of his army vied for the empire he left behind. The next twenty or more years of conflict became known as the period of the Diadochi until eventually four Macedonian generals declared themselves kings: Ptolemy claiming Egypt, Seleucus over Babylon, Cassander over Macedon, and Lysimachus over Thrace.

Seleucus obtained the largest portion of Alexander's empire; however, it was difficult to control and by the middle of the 3rd century B.C., the Seleucid Empire was reduced to lands west of the Euphrates. Palestine and the islands of the Mediterranean remained subject to Ptolemy.

Seleucus was succeeded by his son Antiochus I Soter (ruled 281-261 B.C).

Antiochus I Soter was succeeded by his son Antiochus II Theo (ruled 261-246 B.C.).

Antiochus II Theo was succeeded by his son Seleucus II Callinicus (ruled 246-223 B.C.).

Seleucus II Callinicus was succeeded by his son Antiochus III the Great (ruled 222-187 B.C.).

Antiochus III the Great was succeeded by his son Seleucus IV Philopator (ruled 187-175 B.C.).

With his infant son being held a political hostage in Rome, Seleucus IV Philopator was assassinated by his chief minister Heliodorus who seizes the throne.

Antiochus IV Epiphanes (ruled 175-164 B.C.), son of Antiochus III the Great and younger brother to Seleucus IV Philopator, successfully ousts Heliodorus for the throne.

To secure the throne, Antiochus IV Epiphanes has his older brother Seleucus IV Philopator's second son, Antiochus, murdered a few years later.


Tanner JP, The Rise of Antiochus IV Epiphanes and His Asssault Against Judea, from the website of

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