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SILAS:

  • 1. A Jew who made himself tyrant of Lysias, a district of the Lebanon. Pompey subjugated him, together with other petty rulers, on his march to Palestine in 63 B.C. (Josephus, "Ant." xiv. 3, § 2).
  • 2. Friend of Agrippa I., whose early years of misery he shared, and who showed his gratitude by appointing his old comrade general of his troops when he became king (Josephus, "Ant." xviii. 6, § 7; xix. 6, § 3). Silas then took many liberties, however, continually reminding the king of his past sufferings that he might emphasize his own loyalty, so that Agrippa was obliged to send him to his own country as a prisoner (ib. xix. 7, § 1). In honor of his birthday the king once more received Silas into favor, and invited him to be his guest; but as Silas continued to insult the king he was again imprisoned (ib.). He was later murdered, as if at the king's command, by Helkias, who was apparently Silas' successor in office. (ib. 8, § 3).Bibliography: Grätz, Gesch. 4th ed., iii. 349; Schürer, Gesch. 3d ed., i. 555.
  • 3. Babylonian soldier in the army of Agrippa II., but who deserted to the Jews on the outbreak of the war. He fought side by side with the kinsmen of the princely house of Adiabene, with Monobaz and Cenedeus and with Niger, and, like them, distinguished himself by his bravery in the battles with Cestius Gallus (Josephus, "B. J." ii. 19, § 2). He seems to have risen quickly from the ranks; for he was one of the leaders of the Jews in the disastrous attack upon Ashkelon, which was badly planned and rashly executed, and in which he himself met his death (ib. iii. 2, § 2).
  • 4. Confidant of Josephus, by whom he was appointed commander of Tiberias. John of Giscala, the avowed enemy of the historian, was about to incite the citizens of Tiberias to revolt against Josephus, when the latter was informed of the plot by a messenger from Silas, and he immediately hurried to the city (Josephus, "Vita," § 17; in this passage Josephus speaks as if he had previously mentioned Silas, but no further information is given, even in "B. J." ii. 21, § 6).
G. S. Kr.
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