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Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature


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Deme´trius, a man's name, denoting a votary of Ceres, and very common among the Greeks. The persons of this name mentioned in the history of the Maccabees, and in the New Testament, are—

Demetrius Soter, 1

Deme´trius Soter, king of Syria. He was son of Seleucus IV, surnamed Philopator; but, being an hostage at Rome at the time of his father's death, his uncle, the notorious Antiochus Epiphanes, assumed the crown of Syria, and retained it eleven years. After him it was held two years by his son Antiochus Eupator, who was put to death in B.C. 162 by Demetrius, who then arrived in Syria and secured the royal heritage from which he had so long been excluded. He reigned twelve years, B.C. 102-150. The points in which his history connects him with the Jews are alone of interest in this work, and these points belong to the history of the Maccabees [see article MACCABEES]. To his time belong the latter end of the government of Judas in Israel and the beginning of that of Jonathan. He acted oppressively and unjustly towards them; but, when a rival arose in the person of Alexander Balas, he bade so high for the support of Jonathan as to create a doubt of his sincerity; for which cause, as well as from resentment at the injuries he had inflicted on them, the Jews espoused the cause of Balas, to whose success they in no slight degree contributed [ALEXANDER BALAS, 2].

Demetrius Nicator, 2

Demetrius Nicator, or Nicanor, son of the preceding, but who was excluded from the throne till B.C. 146, by the success of Alexander Balas, and then recovered it chiefly by the assistance of his father-in-law Ptolemy Philometor. He at first treated the Jews well, but eventually gave them so much cause for dissatisfaction that they readily espoused the cause of Antiochus Theos, son of Alexander Balas. Demetrius underwent many vicissitudes, and passed several years (B.C. 141-135) in captivity among the Parthians, from which he eventually returned and recovered his throne, which he continued to occupy till B.C. 126, when he was defeated in battle by the pretender Alexander Zebina, and afterwards slain at Tyre, whither he had fled [MACCABEES].

Demetrius, 3

Demetrius, a silversmith at Ephesus, who, being alarmed at the progress of the Gospel under the preaching of Paul, assembled his fellow-craftsmen, and excited a tumult by haranguing them on the danger that threatened the worship of the great goddess Diana, and consequently their own craft as silversmiths. Their employment was to make 'silver shrines for Diana' (); and it is now generally agreed that these 'shrines' were silver models of the temple, or of its adytum or chapel, in which perhaps a little image of the goddess was placed. These, it seems, were purchased by foreigners, who either could not perform their devotions at the temple itself, or who, after having done so, carried them away as memorials or for purposes of worship. The continual resort of foreigners to Ephesus from all parts, on account of the singular veneration in which the image of the goddess was held, must have rendered this manufacture very profitable, and sufficiently explains the anxiety of Demetrius and his fellow-craftsmen.

Demetrius, 4

Demetrius, a Christian, mentioned with commendation in . From the connection of St. John with Ephesus at the time the Epistle was written, some have supposed that this Demetrius is the same as the preceding, and that he had been converted to Christianity. But this is a mere conjecture, rendered the more uncertain by the commonness of the name.





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Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Demetrius'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature".

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