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LYSIAS:

Syrian statesman of royal descent; died 162 B.C. (I Macc. iii. 32; Josephus, "Ant." xii. 7, § 2). When Antiochus Epiphanes undertook a campaign against the Parthians in 166-165, he appointed Lysias regent and guardian of his heir, Antiochus V. (Eupator), who called Lysias brother (II Macc. xi. 22). The new viceroy was charged with the suppression of the Jewish revolt, and on the defeat of his generals he himself led a strong army against the rebels (165). He seems to have marched along the Palestinian coast to southern Judea, but he was defeated at Beth-Zur, south of Jerusalem, and was obliged to retreat to Antioch (I Macc. iii. 34-36, iv. 26-35; "Ant." xii. 7, § 5).

According to II Maccabees, which Niese regards as the best authority on the subject, this campaign took place after the consecration of the Temple by Judas Maccabeus. The same source states also that Lysias made peace with Judas and quotes the letter in which the former is supposed to have granted the demands of the Jews (II Macc. xi. 1-21).

According to I Maccabees, however, this peace was not concluded until a later date. After the death of Antiochus Epiphanes, Lysias went to Judea (163) with the young king Antiochus V. He again attacked from the south, besieged Beth-Zur, and thus compelled Judas to raise the siege of Acre and give battle. The Jewish army was defeated near Beth-Zechariah, and Beth-Zur fell into the hands of the victors. The Syrians had already laid siege to Jerusalem, then held by the Jews, who would, in all probability, have been utterly defeated had not Lysias been compelled to make war upon his rival Philip, who had been appointed guardian of Antiochus V. (I Macc. vi. 28-48; II Macc. xiii. 1-17; "Ant." xii. 9, §§ 3-5; idem, "B. J." i. 1, § 5). The regent found it advisable, therefore, to make peace with the Jews, whom he allowed to resume their former prerogatives (I Macc. vi. 55-62; II Macc. xiii. 23-26; "Ant." xii. 9, §§ 6-7).

Realizing that it was impossible to deprive the Jews of their religious freedom, Lysias proved himself a better politician than his king, Antiochus Epiphanes. He would have conquered Philip had not his own soldiers betrayed him and his ward, Antiochus V., to the pretender Demetrius I. (Soter), who put them both to death (162; I Macc. vii. 1-4; II Macc. xiv. 2; Appian, "Syrian War," § 47; "Ant." xii. 10, § 1).

Bibliography:
  • Niese, in Hermes, xxxv. 468-476;
  • Schürer, Gesch. i. 205, 213-216.
J. S. Kr.
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