First English edition of the Nuremberg chronicle: being the Liber chronicarum of Dr. Hartmann Schedel…

Alexander, a son of Antiochus Epiphanes and eleventh king of Syria and Asia, reigned 9 years. He was always merciful to the Jews. He made an alliance with Jonathan Maccabeus; and with his help slew Demetrius Soter, and reigned in his stead. He betrothed himself to Cleopatra, daughter of king Ptolemy; but Ptolemy took her and gave her as wife to Alexander Demetrius, son of Demetrius Soter. Finally Alexander fled to the king of the Arabs; but the latter feared Ptolemy, and therefore slew Alexander and sent his head to Ptolemy.[Alexander Balas was a youth of non-aristocratic birth who lived in Smyrna. He was put forward by the enemies of Demetrius I Soter as a supposed son of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, king of Syria. In their struggle for the throne, the rivals sought the support of Jonathan Maccabeus, who elected to side with Alexander, and was appointed high priest by him (153 BCE). Jonathan defeated Apollonius, one of the generals of Demetrius, and received further honors (1 Maccabees 10). But Alexander Balas cared more for sensual pleasures than for kingly duties; his father-in-law Ptolemy turned against him, and Alexander, fleeing to Arabia, was assassinated there (1 Maccabees 11:17).]

This Demetrius reigned three years after Alexander. When his father's kingdom was recovered, the vices of youth led him into neglect and inattention. Finally he was taken prisoner at Hyrcania, and lived for nine years deprived of his kingdom. After that he was reinstated in his kingdom, and Philometor gave him as wife his daughter Cleopatra, who had been misled by Alexander.[Demetrius Nicator, son of Demetrius Soter, is probably here referred to. He reigned 146-142 BCE, and again 128-125 BCE. He had been sent to Cnidus by his father for safety, when Alexander Balas invaded Syria; and after the death of his father he continued in exile for several years. With the assistance of Ptolemy Philometer, he defeated Balas and recovered his kingdom; but having like his father rendered himself odious to his subjects by his vices and cruelties, he was driven out of Syria by Tryphon, who set up Antiochus, the infant son of Alexander Balas, as a pretender against him. Demetrius retired to Babylon, and from there marched against the Parthians, by whom he was defeated and taken prisoner in 138. He remained in captivity for ten years, but was kindly treated by the Parthian king Mithridates, who gave him his daughter Rhodogune in marriage. Meanwhile his brother Antiochus III Sidetes, having overthrown the usurper Tryphon, engaged in war with Parthia, in consequence of which Phraates, the successor of Mithridates, brought forth Demetrius, and sent him into Syria to operate a diversion against his brother. In the same year Antiochus fell in battle, and Demetrius again obtained possession of the Syrian throne (128). Having engaged in an expedition against Egypt, Ptolemy Physcon set up against him the pretender Alexander Zebrina, by whom he was defeated and compelled to fly. His wife, Cleopatra, who could not forgive him his marriage with Rhodogune, refused to afford him refuge at Ptolemais', and he fled to Tyre, where he was assassinated in 125.]

Antiochus Sidetes (Sedetes), while still a child, on the advice of Tryphon (Triphone) attempted to recover the kingdom; but he accomplished little, for he was at once slain by him when they fought with one another. For a while one reigned, and then the other.[Antiochus VII Sidetes (137-128 BCE), so called from Side in Pamphylia, where he was brought up, was the younger son of Demetrius Soter and succeeded Tryphon. He married Cleopatra, wife of his dear brother Demetrius Nicator, who was a prisoner with the Parthians. He carried on war against the Parthians, at first with success, but was afterwards defeated and slain in battle in 128.]

This John Hyrcanus (Hircanus), after the slaying of his father Simon (Symone) and his two sons, Judas and Mattathias by Ptolemy the general at a banquet, rightfully attained to the priesthood at Jericho. After having managed affairs very well for twenty-three years he died. He left behind Aristobulus, his first-born son, and Antigonus and two other small sons. But as none of them were as yet competent to rule over the people, he placed over his sons his wife, who was very smart. And she officiated for 26 years as a man worthy of the priesthood and vigorous in her governance. He sought and secured the right of friendship from the Romans. He suffered much opposition on the part of the Pharisees and Essenes, of whom he was finally relieved, and lived to a glorious old age.[John Hyrcanus I, prince and high priest of the Jews, was the son and successor of Simon Maccabaeus, the restorer of the independence of Judea. He succeeded to his father's power in 135 BCE. He was at first engaged in war with Antiochus VII Sidetes, who invaded Judea, and laid siege to Jerusalem. In 133 he concluded a peace with Antiochus, on the condition of paying an annual tribute. Owing to the civil wars in Syria between the several claimants to the throne, the power of Hyrcanus steadily increased; and at length he took Samaria, and razed it to the ground (109), notwithstanding the army which Antiochus IX Cyzicenus had sent to the assistance of the title of king, he may be regarded as the founder of the monarchy of Judea, which continued in his family till the accession of Herod.]

Aristobulus, son of John Hyrcanus, imprisoned his mother and his two younger brothers. And first he took over the crown of the kingdom. He reigned for one year only. He was a king and a priest, and at the suggestion of his wife he killed his brother. And when 475 years had passed since Zedekiah, the last king of Judea, when the kingdom of Judea was divided and brought to an end, he died of a very severe disease that expelled blood from his ruined inner organs.[Aristobulus I, eldest son of Joannes Hyrcanus, assumed the title of king of Judea on the death of his father. He put to death his brother Antigonus, in order to secure his power, but died in the following year.]

Tryphon (Triphon), after the treacherous imprisonment of Jonathan, began a war against his brother Simon; and he obtained from Simon one hundred talents of silver and the two sons of Jonathan as sureties. And he killed Jonathan and his two sons. Afterwards he also killed his lord Antiochus, a boy, and reigned in place of him.[Tryphon (Diodotus Tryphon) usurped the throne of Syria during the reign of Demetrius II Nicator. After the death of Alexander Balas in 146 BCE, Tryphon first set up Antiochus, the infant son of Balas, as a pretender against Demetrius; but in 142 he murdered Antiochus and reigned as king himself. He was defeated and put to death by Antiochus Sidetes, the brother of Demetrius, in 139, after a reign of three years.]

This Alexander, the brother of Aristobulus, received the priesthood and kingdom at the hands of the Jews, and he reigned 27 years. The surviving widow of Aristobulus, who had born him no child, released him and two brothers from prison, and placed him, he being the oldest, on the throne as king of Judea. He put to death his brother, the next born after him, and placed the kingdom beyond the reach of the third brother by compelling him to live with him. He was so cruel that in one year he put to death a thousand old people, and hung up in the lanes and streets eight hundred married men who criticized his evil conduct, together with their wives and children. He died of the four-day fever in the 27th year of his reign; and he left two sons, Hyrcanus and Aristobulus; but he appointed his wife Alexandra to rule, for she had the good will of the people since, when her husband was still alive, she had comforted them with kindness.

Upon the death of Aristobulus I, his widow Alexandra released her brother-in-law Alexander Jannaeus from prison and offered him her hand and the throne, both of which he accepted. In his long and checkered reign he not only put down the rebellion of his turbulent subjects, but conquered and Judaized the old Israelite territory across the Jordan, so that under him the little Jewish community spread, by conquest and forcible conversion, form the narrow limits of the ancient territory of Israel. During the whole reign of Alexander, the opposition of the Pharisess to the dynasty and its policies was exceedingly bitter. As his end approached. Alexander committed the government to Alexandra, advising her to make her peace with the Pharisees. This she did, and for the next ten years the affairs of the kingdom were more pacific. She made her son, John Hyrcanus II, high priest. Upon her death she left the civil authority to Aristobulus II, the younger of the two sons. Each brother desired the office of the other, and a civil war followed. Aristobulus defeated his older brother and also assumed the priesthood.

The name Maccabees is commonly given to the Jewish family (otherwise known as Hasmonaeans) who led the revolt against Syria and Antiochus IV, and furnished the dynasty of leaders and rulers in the State thus formed. The chronology follows:

John Hyrcanus I135-105
Aristobulus I105-104
Alexander Jannaeus104-79
John Hyrcanus II + Aristobulus II69-63

This Alexander (referring to a portrait in the lineage of Syrian kings, following the portrait of Tryphon), a son of Antiochus, reigned after Tryphon (Triphonem). He was slain by the general Diodotus (Dyodatus).

The Alexander referenced here seems to be either:

  1. Alexander I Balas, a Seleucid king who ruled from 152 to 145 BCE. However, he was not killed by Diodotus (in fact the opposite is true—Diodotus supported Alexander throughout his life), but by Nabataean Arabs. Nor did Alexander I Balas rule after Tryphon, but before him.


  1. Alexander II Zabinas (Zabinas is a derogative nickname meaning "the bought one" or "the purchased slave"), a Seleucid king who claimed to be an adoptive son of Antiochus VII, but in fact appears to have been the son of an Egyptian merchant. He was used by the Egyptian king Ptolemy VIII Tryphon as a means of getting to the legitimate Seleucid king Demetrius II, who supported his sister Cleopatra II against him in the complicated dynastic feuds of the latter Hellenistic dynasties. Zabinas managed to defeat Demetrius II and thereafter ruled parts of Syria (128-123 BCE), but soon ran out of Egyptian support and was in his turn defeated by Demetrius' son Antiochus VIII Grypus. As a last resort, Zabinas plundered the temples of the Seleucid capital Antioch. He is said to have joked about melting down a statuette of the goddess of victory Nike (‘Victory') which was held in the hand of a Zeus statue, saying "Zeus has given me Victory." Enraged by his impiety the citizens of Antioch drove Zabinas out of their city. He was then captured by robbers who gave him to Antiochus. Shortly thereafter he was put to death.

The problem with this one-sentence paragraph is with the identity of Tryphon, who could be either the Egyptian king Ptolemy VIII Tryphon (but why mention Ptolemaic kings in a king list devoted to Seleucids?) or the Seleucid general and later king Diodotus Tryphon, the Seleucid king described two paragraphs earlier in the Chronicle, who did not put to death any Seleucid king named Alexander. The entire paragraph, however, may be translated "This Alexander, the son of Antiochus, reigned after Tryphon, whom the general Diodotus killed." This, of course, still doesn't solve anything, since Diodotus did not kill Tryphon (most likely the general Diodotus himself was Tryphon!).