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MALCHUS (CLEODEMUS THE PROPHET):

Hellenistic writer of the second century B.C. His Semitic name, "Malchus," a very common one in Phenicia and Syria but not met with among the Jews, combined with the pagan traditions abounding in his work, has given rise to discussions concerning his origin. Ewald supposes him to have been a Phenician; Herzfeld, a Syrian; Freudenthal endeavors to prove that he was a Samaritan; and Schürer holds that he must have been either a Jew or a Samaritan.

Cleodemus was the author of a history of the Jews in Greek, in which Jewish traditions are blended with Greek mythology. A short notice of this history, which is no longer in existence, is quoted by Josephus ("Ant." i. 15) from Alexander Polyhistor. Cleodemus relates that among the sons of Abraham and Keturah were three, Apher, Surim, and Japhran (ᾈφέραν, ᾈσουρείμ, Ἰάφραν), from whom the town of Aphra, the land of Assyria, and Africa derived their names. He relates further that these three sons helped Hercules in his fight against Libya and Antæus, and that Hercules married the daughter of Aphra, by whom he had a son, Didorus, from whose son Sophon the Sophacians derived their name.

Bibliography:
  • Ewald, Gesch. vii. 91;
  • Herzfeld, Gesch. des Volkes Israel, iii. 498, 575;
  • Freudenthal, Alexander Polyhistor, p. 130 et passim;
  • Schürer, Gesch. iii. 357 (Eng. transl. ii. iii. 209).
T. I. Br.
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