For other uses, see Alcimus (disambiguation).

Alcimus (from Greek: Ἄλκιμος Alkimos, "valiant" or Hebrew אליקום Elyaqum, "God will rise"), also called Jacimus, or Joachim (Ἰάκειμος), was a High Priest of Israel for three years, 162–159 BCE, who espoused the Syrian cause.[1]


According to 1 Maccabees he was a descendant of the Biblical Aaron, brother of Moses, but not in the high-priestly line;[2] and being ambitious for the office of high priest, he traveled to Antioch to secure the assistance of the Seleucid king Demetrius I Soter, who had just overthrown Antiochus Eupator. Alcimus was of the Hellenizing party, and therefore bitterly opposed by the Maccabees.

Demetrius sent an army under Bacchides to establish Alcimus in the high priesthood at Jerusalem. The favor with which Alcimus was received by the Jews at Jerusalem on account of his Aaronic descent was soon turned to hate by his cruelties.[3] When Bacchides and his army returned to Antioch, the Hasmonean Judah Maccabee attacked and overcame Alcimus, and drove him also to Syria. There he secured from Demetrius another army, led by Nicanor, who, failing to overcome Judah by treachery, attacked him directly, but was defeated and killed. A third and greater army, under Bacchides again, was dispatched to reinstall Alcimus. Judah was defeated and killed, Alcimus established as high priest and a strong garrison left in Jerusalem to maintain him. But he did not long enjoy his triumph, since he died soon after, while he was pulling down the wall of the temple that divided the court of the Gentiles from that of the Israelites.[4]

His successor as High Priest is unknown, though some scholars suggest that this was the Teacher of Righteousness, later founder of the Essenes.


  1. The record of his career may be found in 1 Maccabees 7:4-50; 9:1-57; 2 Maccabees 14; see also Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews XII, 9-11; XX, 10.
  2. 1 Macc 7:14; also Ant, XX, 10.
  3. Smith, William (1867). "Alcimus (1)". In William Smith. Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. 1. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. p. 102.
  4. Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews xii. 9. § 7

External links

Jewish titles
Preceded by
High Priest of Israel
162 BCE—159 BCE
Succeeded by
unknown, eventually Jonathan Apphus
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