TRYPHON: Diodotus a Usurper of the Syrian Throne

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tri’-fon (Truphon): The surname of Diodotus, a usurper of the Syrian throne. He was a native of Apamea and had been in the service of Alexander Balas. On the death of Balas (145 BC), Tryphon, taking advantage of the complaints of discontent among the troops of Demetrius II (Nicator), set up the younger son of Balas, Antiochus VI, as claimant to the throne against Demetrius (1 Macc 11:39). The Jews under Jonathan came to the assistance of Demetrius in his difficulties against his revolting subjects. But Demetrius, when confirmed on his throne, soon made it apparent that he did not intend to fulfill his promises to his Jewish allies (1 Macc 11:53). Consequently, Jonathan and Simon joined Tryphon and Antiochus VI, securing many advantages for their country (1 Macc 11:54 ff). Jonathan inflicted a severe defeat on the forces of Demetrius. The successes of the Jewish leaders awakened the jealousy and suspicion of Tryphon, who determined to thwart the further plans of Jonathan and to remove him as an obstacle in the way of his securing the crown for himself. By an act of shrewd treachery, Tryphon captured Jonathan at Ptolemais and butchered all his followers (1 Macc 12:48). Simon, brother of Jonathan, now undertook the conduct of affairs and thwarted Tryphon in his attempts upon Jerusalem, whereupon the latter murdered Jonathan at Bascama (1 Macc 13:1 ff) in 143 BC. Tryphon next murdered the young Antiochus VI (1 Macc 13:31) and claimed the throne of Syria for himself (143 BC) (but see the chronology as given in Schurer, HJP, 4th edition, I, 172). Simon now went over to the side of Demetrius on condition that Judea should be free from tribute to Syria–a privilege that was rather in the power of Tryphon than of Demetrius to give, and so “in the 170th year (143 BC) was the yoke of the heathen taken away from Israel” (1 Macc 13:41). In 138 BC Demetrius was captured by Mithridates I (Arsaces), king of Parthia (1 Macc 14:2). His brother, Antiochus VII (Sidetes), continued the struggle against Tryphon, first with the aid of Simon, but later repudiating it. Tryphon was obliged to flee before Sidetes to Dor (1 Macc 15:11), where Antiochus refused the assistance of Simon (1 Macc 15:26). He next escaped to Ptolemais, then to Orthosia, and finally to his native Apamea, where he was driven to suicide (Josephus, Ant, XIII, vii, 2; Strabo, 668; Appian, Syriac, 68). (The best account is given in Schurer, 4th edition, I, 172 ff; compare also Speaker’s Commentary in the place cited.)

by S. Angus

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