King Ptolemy VI defeats King Alexander I (1 Macc 11:13-11:19)

“Then King Ptolemy entered Antioch. He put on the crown of Asia. Thus he put two crowns upon his head, the crown of Egypt and that of Asia. Now King Alexander was in Cilicia at that time, because the people of that region were in revolt. When King Alexander heard of it, he came against him in battle. King Ptolemy marched out and met him with a strong force. He put him to flight. King Alexander fled into Arabia to find protection there. King Ptolemy was exalted. Zabdiel the Arab cut off the head of Alexander and sent it to King Ptolemy. However, King Ptolemy died three days later. His troops in the strongholds were killed by the inhabitants of the strongholds.   Thus Demetrius became king in the one hundred sixty-seventh year.”

The Egyptian King Ptolemy VI entered Antioch and put on the crown as the King of Asia. Thus he had 2 crowns as king of both Asia and Egypt. King Alexander was in Cilicia, which is Turkey or Asia Minor, putting down a revolt when this happened. He returned to battle his father-in-law who had taken his wife and crown away from him. However, King Ptolemy put King Alexander I to flight where he fled to Arabia. There the Arab Zabdiel cut off his head and sent it back to King Ptolemy VI. Everything was going good for the Egyptian king but then he died 3 days later. In a strange twist of fate, King Demetrius II became the king of Asia and Egypt in 145 BCE. He was the son of King Demetrius I, who had been in exile in Crete after the death of his father 5 years earlier. Thus he was a rather young man.

King Antiochus got the bad news about Judah (1 Macc 6:5-6:7)

“Then someone came to King Antiochus in Persia. He reported that the armies which had gone into the land of Judah had been routed. Lysias had gone out with a strong force, but had been turned away. He fled before the Jews. The Jews had grown strong from the arms, supplies, and abundant spoils which they had taken from the armies they had cut down. They had torn down the abomination that he had erected upon the altar in Jerusalem. They had surrounded the sanctuary with high walls as before, and also Beth-zur, his town.”

King Antiochus IV was in Persia, probably Ecbatana the former capital when he got word about the failure of Lysias in Judah. The Jews had taken the spoils from his army and grew stronger. They had taken down his statue of a god in Jerusalem. The biblical author calls it an abomination. They had taken back the town of Jerusalem.

King Antiochus Epiphanes attacks Egypt (1 Macc 1:16-1:19)

“When Antiochus Epiphanes saw that his kingdom was established, he determined to become king of the land of Egypt, so that he might reign over both kingdoms. Thus he invaded Egypt with a strong force of chariots and elephants and a cavalry with a large fleet. He engaged King Ptolemy of Egypt in battle. King Ptolemy turned and fled before him. Many were wounded and fell. They captured the fortified cities in the land of Egypt. He plundered the land of Egypt.”

King Antiochus Epiphanes is known as King Antiochus IV. He decided to invade Egypt and combine it with Syria. He had a huge invasion army. This appears to be the first biblical mention of elephants and a fleet of battle ships. He took on the Egyptian King Ptolemy VI (186-145 BCE), who apparently fled. This Ptolemy VI had a strange history. His mother was called Cleopatra I. He married his sister called Cleopatra II. He had a daughter named Cleopatra III, who would marry a Syrian king. He was 6 when he became king with his mother until she died when he was 10. Thus he would have been 16 when this invasion by King Antiochus IV took place in 170 BCE, while the invading king was 45 years old. Some 25 years later in 145 BCE, this same Egyptian King Ptolemy VI, when he was 41, would invade and capture Syria. Now back to our story, King Antiochus IV has captured and plundered Egypt.