Faculty Publications

Historical And Chronological Observations On Josephus's Account Of Seleucid History In Antiquities 13.365-371: Its Importance For Understanding The Historical Development Of The Hasmonean State

Document Type



Alexander Jannaeus, Antiochus X Eusebes, Demetrius III, Flavius josephus, Hasmonean state, Seleucid Empire, Seleucus VI

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Scripta Judaica Cracoviensia



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This article explores Josephus's account of Seleucid history in Antiquities 13.365-371. In this passage, Josephus focuses on the Seleucid monarchs Seleucus VI, Demetrius III, and Antiochus X Eusebes and their fight for control of Syria. The difficulty in understanding this section is that it interrupts Josephus's narrative of the reign of Alexander Jannaeus and does not fully explain events in Syria that led to the endless civil wars there. Through the use of historical and numismatic data unavailable to Josephus, this study examines the background of the Seleucid rulers to explain why their struggle was important for understanding Hasmonean history. Josephus begins this section on Seleucid history with Seleucus VI because his death created the political instability that led to a prolonged civil war between the remaining sons of Grypus (Antiochus XI Philadelphus, Philip I Epiphanes, Demetrius III, and Antiochus XII Dionysus) and the son of Antiochus IX Cyzicenus (Antiochus X Eusebes). For Josephus, this conflict was important since the fraternal civil war between these rulers led to the dissolution of the Seleucid Empire and its takeover by the Romans: a fate shared by the Hasmonean state. By placing this account of Seleucid history in his narrative of Jannaeus's reign, Josephus uses events in Syria to foreshadow the fraternal strife in the Hasmonean state that likewise made it vulnerable to the Roman legions of Pompey.


Department of History

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DOI of published version



UNI ScholarWorks, Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa