A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology

Smith, William

A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology. William Smith, LLD, ed. 1890

(Ἀλέξανδρος Ἰανναῖος), was the son of Johannes Hyrcanus, and brother of Aristobulus I., whom he succeeded, as King of the Jews, in B. C. 104, after putting to death one of his brothers, who laid claim to the crown. He took advantage of the unquiet state of Syria to attack the cities of Ptolemais (Acre), Dora, and Gaza, which, with several others, had made themselves independent. The people of Ptolemais applied for aid to Ptolemy Lathyrus, then king of Cyprus, who came with an army of thirty thousand men. Alexander was defeated on the banks of the Jordan, and Ptolemy ravaged the country in the most barbarous manner. In B. C. 102, Cleopatra came to the assistance of Alexander with a fleet and army, and Ptolemy was compelled to return to Cyprus. (B. C. 101.) Soon afterwards Alexander invaded Coele Syria, and renewed his attacks upon the independent cities. In B. C. 96 he took Gaza, destroyed the city, and massacred all the inhabitants. The result of these undertakings, and his having attached himself to the party of the Sadducees, drew upon him the hatred of the Pharisees, who were by far the more numerous party. He was attacked by the people in B. C. 94, while officiating as high-priest at the feast of Tabernacles; but the insurrection was put down, and six thousand of the insurgents slain. In the next year (B. C. 93) he made an expedition against Arabia, and made the Arabs of Gilead and the Moabites tributary. But in B. C. 92, in a campaign against Obedas, the emir of the Arabs of Gaulonitis, he fell into an ambush in the mountains of Gadara; his army was entirely destroyed, and he himself escaped with difficulty. The Pharisees seized the opportunity thus afforded, and broke out into open revolt. At first they were successful, and Alexander was compelled to fly to the mountains (B. C. 88); but two years afterwards he gained two decisive victories. After the second of these, he caused eight hundred of the chief men amongst the rebels to be crucified, and their wives and-children to be butchered before their eyes, while he and his concubines banqueted in sight of the victims. This act of atrocity procured for him the name of " the Thracian." It produced its effect, however, and the rebellion was shortly afterwards suppressed, after the war had lasted six years. During the next three years Alexander made some successful campaigns, recovered several cities and fortresses, and pushed his conquests beyond the Jordan. On his return to Jerusalem, in B. C. 81, his excessive drinking brought on a quartan ague, of which he died three years afterwards, while engaged in the siege of Ragaba in Gerasena, after a reign of twenty-seven years. He left his kingdom to his wife Alexandra. Coins of this king are extant, from which it appears that his proper name was Jonathan, and that Alexander was a name which he assumed according to the prevalent custom. (Josephus, J. AJ 13.12-15.)