Bacchides (general)

Bacchides (Greek: Βακχίδης) was a Hellenistic Greek general; friend of the Syrian-Greek king Demetrius; and "ruler in the country beyond the river"—Euphrates. Demetrius sent him in 161 BCE to Judea with a large army, in order to invest the recreant Alcimus with the office of high priest (I Macc. vii. 8, 9). The peaceable Assideans credulously expected friendship from him; but, contrary to oath and covenant, he cruelly slew sixty of them (ib. vii. 16). Leaving Jerusalem, he made a slaughter-house of Bezeth (Bethzecha), and after handing the country over to Alcimus, returned to the king (ib. vii. 19, 20).

Demetrius sent Bacchides back to Judea. A Greek army, under General Nicanor, had been defeated by Judas Maccabeus (ib. vii. 26-50) at the Battle of Adasa. Nicanor had been killed near Adasa.[1] Bacchides was sent with Alcimus and an army of twenty thousand infantry and two thousand cavalry. Bacchides met Judas at The Battle of Elasa (Laisa). Judas was killed and his army defeated.

Bacchides now established the Hellenists as rulers in Judea; and the persecuted patriots (ib. ix. 25-27), under Jonathan, brother of Judas, fled beyond the Jordan River. Bacchides came upon them there on a Sabbath, and again suffered defeat, losing one thousand men (ib. ix. 43-49). He returned to Jerusalem, and, in order to subdue the Jews, fortified not only the Acra, but also Jericho, Emmaus, Beth-horon, Beth-el, Thamnata (Timnatha), Pharathon, Tephon, Beth-zur, and Gazara (ib. ix. 50-52). Soon after, Alcimus died, and Bacchides, having made a fruitless attack upon Jonathan, returned to the king. At the instigation of the Hellenists, he moved a third time against the Jews. Only after he had been defeated several times by Simon, brother of Judas and Jonathan, did he conclude an enforced treaty of peace with Jonathan, and depart into his own land (ib. ix. 58-73; Josephus, Ant. xii. 10, § 13; xiii. 1).

The representation of Bacchides by Josephus (B.J. i. 1, §§ 2, 3) as barbarous by nature, and the statement that he was slain by Mattathias, are both erroneous. In the Syriac translation of the Book of the Maccabees, Bacchides, through an error in transcription, is called "Bicrius" instead of "Bacdius"; and in the Jewish version of the Hanukkah story (Megillat Antiochus) he is called Bagris, or Bogores (see Moses Gaster's edition of the Megillah); forms corrupted, according to Bacher.


  1. Breslich, A. L. (1915). "Bacchides". In Orr James M.A., D.D. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2005-12-09.

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Singer, Isidore; et al., eds. (1901–1906). "Bacchides". Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company. 

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