Cleopatra Thea, a Greek Queen in Syria

Cleopatra Thea was the daughter of Ptolomy Philometor Greek ruler of Egypt. She is known to have been more beautiful than the famous Cleopatra who married Julius Caesar and Marc Anthony. There are several coins depicting her likeness. This one is from with information by Jimmy Dunn.

Though the Jews had no official royal women during this war and rule by priests—after the end of the Old Testament and before the New Testament—and their heroine was a priestly/pure widow named Judith, Josephus gives an example of the political marital life of a daughter of the Greek Ptolomy House that ruled in Egypt after the death of Alexander the Great. This Cleopatra lived during Jonathan’s reign, the brother and successor of Judas Maccabee the Savior and was one of seven Cleopatra’s. Josephus says…

Demetrius being thus slain in battleAlexander [Balas] took the kingdom of Syria; and wrote to Ptolemy Philometor, and desired his daughter in marriage; and said it was but just that he should be joined in affinity to one that had now received the principality of his forefathers… and that he was on other accounts not unworthy of being related to him. Ptolemy received this proposal of marriage gladly; and wrote him an answer…promising him that he would give him his daughter in marriage; and assured him that he was coming to meet him at Ptolemais…and would there marry his child to him. When Ptolemy had written thus, he came suddenly to Ptolemais, and brought his daughter Cleopatra along with him; and as he found Alexander there…he gave him his child in marriage, and for her portion gave her as much silver and gold as became such a king to give…

(Then, the son-in-law Alexander began to plot a “treacherous design” against his father-in-law.)

Hereupon Ptolemy blamed himself for having given his daughter in marriage to Alexander…so he dissolved his relation to him, and took his daughter away from him, and immediately sent to Demetrius, and offered to make a league of mutual assistance and friendship with him, and agreed…to give him his daughter in marriage.  Antiquities of the Jews XIII.IV.1-8

Lest we feel sorry for Cleopatra Thea, or think she was merely a pawn, she had been raised for this. She knew how to play the alliance game and was coming out on top until she made a fatal error:

The Other Cleopatra

Written and photographed by George Taylor published in Saudi Armaco World Magazine in the March/April issue 1978 at

…In fact, there were other notable Cleopatras in the ancient world…And one of them was a queen more lovely and more scheming than the famous Cleopatra, and even more ruthless in her ambition to hold fast to her royal position. She was the wife of three kings and the mother of two more; she ordered the assassination of one of her husbands and one of her sons; and she died of drinking the poison she had prepared for another son. Virtually unknown except to historians and to collectors of Greek coins, she is Cleopatra Thea, a queen of the Seleudd (Syrian) realm in the second century B.C….

(The Demetrius Cleopatra married) “was, be it noted, a boy of less than 14 at the time. This third marriage lasted nine years, during which Cleopatra Thea bore five sons. But then the third husband was killed and the dreadful struggle for power was resumed – this time with Cleopatra herself in the forefront…

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