Tim, Ron, et. al.,
Since recent clues related to the Maccabees seem to be leading south rather than east, I decided to go ahead and look at the Ptolemy king-list of Egypt. Hit the jackpot with this roll!
The below web site has a brief history of the Ptolemy era in Egypt. Despite the annoying HTML artifacts, it provides the relevant "data".
Quoting from this page, Ptolemy Eugergetes (The Do-Gooder) "marched triumphantly into the heart of the Seleucid realm, as far at any rate as Babylonia, and received the formal submission of the provinces of Iran."
Eugergetes equates to Arsaces of Iran/Persia, founder of the Parthian Dynasty, and to the Jewish Asamones ("wealth"), great ancestor of the Hasmonean line. Ptolemy Eugergetes also married the heiress daughter of "Magus" and thereby became king of Cyrene ("Libya").
Three kings later comes Philometor, "perhaps the best of the Ptolemies. Kindly and reasonable, his good nature seems sometimes to have verged on indolence, but he at any rate took personal part, and that bravely and successfully, in war."
The name "metor" transliterates into Parthian Mithra and the Hebrew Mattan. Philometer then corresponds to Mithradates of Parthia and Mattathius the Hasmonean. (Mattath is the Hebrew feminine form of Mattan).
The two kings of Egypt between Euergetes and Philometor, namely Philopater and Ephiphanes, would correspond to the Parthian kings Tiridates and Artabanus, and to the early Hasmoneans Simon and John (son and grandson of Asamones). Ephiphanes was the first Ptolemy to ally himself with Rome against a Seleucid rival.
Philometer successor of Ephiphanes was captured and deposed briefly by the infamous Seleucid Antiochus Ephiphanes. Thereafter he shared power in Egypt with his younger brother Euergetes II/Physkon. The two battled one another over the possession of Cyprus, with victory going to Philometer.
Phlometer supported his son-in-law Alexander Balas in gaining the Seleucid throne. Later, he backed Demetrius II, which led to war with Alexander. Alexander Balas was killed and Philometer mortally wounded in their duel.
The name Alexander Balas adapts into the Parthian Artabanus II (Greek Alex ~ Persian Arta).
Balas/Banus may also corresponds to the Hasmonean John (Gaddi) son of Mattathius, however in 1 Maccabees (9:35-36) his death is attributed to the sons of Jambri of Moab.
Philometer declared his successor to be a young son named Philopater/Memphites by Cleopatra-Kokke. Shortly, the throne was retaken by Euergetes II and Cleopatra bore him two sons. Philopater was later murdered. Euergetes allowed Cleopatra to choose which son would succeed him as Ptolemy. He also bequeathed Cyrene to Apion, a son of his my another woman.
The Greek name Euer-getes compares well with the Parthian name Orodates.
The eldest son of Kokke, Soter/Lathyros, ruled first but was banished by her to Cyprus. The younger son Alexander then ruled alongside Kokke until her death and continued alone until 88 B.C. when he died in a marine battle near Cyprus. This is the approximate date for the death of Mithradates II of Parthia.
Mithradates II could then correspond to Simon Matthes/Thassi son of Mattathius. The designation Matthes may indicate that Simon's true father was Mattathius (but possibly by a minor wife). It was one of Simon's sons, John Hyrcanus, that took the title of king as well as high priest in Jerusalem.
After his death, Sotar/Lathyros ruled again for about eight years. The name Lathyros compares with the Hebrew Lazarus/Eleazar. According to the Book of 1 Maccabees, Eleazar (a.k.a. Auran/Avaran) son of Mattathias died in an attack on a Seleucid king in battle. If Eleazar is Sotar/Lathyros, then the epithet Avaran probably identifies Euergetes/Orodates as his true father.
One might suspect that the name (Judas) Maccabee also relates him in some way to Queen/Ma Kokke.
The last notable Ptolemy was Auletes, whose name adapts well to the Parthian Orodes (II?). The name Apion compares with the Parthian Phraates and Hasmonean Jonathan-Apphus.
If this general framework is correct, then the Book of 1 Maccabees emerges as a rather fanciful story of how the Ptolemies of Egypt exploited Jewish fundamentalism in Israel to win their struggle with their Seleucid rivals. This work also portrays Ptolomaic princes as Jewish nationals, perhaps in retrospect to ensure their continued acceptance as leaders of Israel. It also explains why the royalty of Hasmonean priest-kings was never questioned by other courts or by Rome and why Herod considered crucial for his house to be perceived as a continuation of that line.
© Charles N. Pope, US Library of Congress. All rights reserved.