Balthazar of Damascus
بالتاسار دمشق
Reign c.1 A.D.-40 A.D.
Titles Amos the Wise (עמוס החכם), Amos of Syria
Birthplace Najran, Arabia Felix (today part of Saudi Arabia)
Place of death Damascus, Syria
Buried Damascus, Syria
Royal House House of Damascus
Religious beliefs Judaism, Hebraic faith

Amos Magi (Hebrew: עמוס האמגושים, Greek: Ἄμος) or also Amos the Wise (Hebrew: עמוס החכם) and Amos the Arab (Hebrew: עמוס הערבי), also known by his alleged native name Balthazar (Arabic: بالتاسار) and regnal name Amos of Damascus (Aramaic: עמוס של דמשק, Hebrew: של דמשק) or Balthazar of Damascus (Arabic: بالتاسار دمشق) was an Arabian-Assyrian scholar, poet and later a Syrian military leader who became King of Damascus, the first non-Aramean king of Syria.

He was one of the Three Wise Men who visited Jesus when he was born in Bethlehem, and Jewish recorders referred to and gave him by the name "Amos Magi", meaning "Amos Wise" (Hebrew: עמוס חכם) which was actually meant to be "Amos the Wise". Some Biblical sources also referred to him by "Amos Balthazar" and referred to his native language as "sounding similar but not too close to Hebrew", meaning his native tongue could have been Arabic or an Arabian language. Arab and Islamic sources refer to his name as Balthazar.

Amos was also a great builder, and transformed Damascus to resemble Jerusalem. He reigned around the same time King Herod ruled Judea, and is regarded as the Arab counterpart to Herod as Balthazar held great enmity against King Herod and defeated him in a war after Herod tried to invade Syria.

Amos was very involved in the church during his career. He allegedly visited Egypt and Sudan, paving an earlier history of the Arab presence in North Africa prior to Islam. He returned to his Arabian homeland, where he encountered Christian preachers. A native preacher by the name of Abdul Duwas recorded, "The man who called himself Balthazar is native to here and visited the Messiah at his birth before going to Egypt and returning here."


Biblical and Islamic contexts record Amos was being a descendant of Jethro or Reuel, the Midianite priest who invited Moses in for an encampment. Arab nationalists believe him to be a descendant of Hobab through Gershom, the son of Moses, and Hobab's daughter Zipporah who married Moses. Balthazar had actually recorded his own lineage, he wrote predominantly in the Hebrew language since he spent most of his political career in Israel and no written record exists in his own tongue.

He wrote, "The Israelites called me Amos, my home dwellers called me Balthazar. My ancestor helped Moses after he came from Egypt, gave him food and gave instructions of leadership."

Many historians agree that Balthazar was a native South Arabian. 

He married either an Aramean or a Greek settler in Syria, after the victory in Damascus.

Islamic sources claim that Balthazar was an Adnanite Arab, a direct descendant of Ishmael who hailed from Mecca. However, some Yemeni Islamic scholars consider him to be of mixed Adnanite and Qahtanite origins. 

Political Career Prior to Jesus Visitation

Many accounts state that Balthazar had worked as diplomat for King Herod. However, he was known to be extremely critical of Herod's policies leading him not to kill the infant Jesus during his later visitation.

According to a letter found in Jerusalem written in Hebrew regarding foreign diplomats in Israel, it reads "באשר ליושב המדבר, שיודע הוא בתעסוקתו של הורדוס הגדול, הוא בא לבוז הורדוס, והוא עייף מאוד של מקורותיו של המלך, השוכן במדבר שהורדוס בשם עמוס, היה מרחוק מזרח למצרים, ממזרח כוש רחוק מזרח לאדמות לאורך הנילוס, סביר להניח שישמעאל מגורים בין בני ישראל ..." which translates in English to "As for the desert-dweller, who now is in the employment of Herod the Great, he has come to despise Herod and is very weary of the king's origins. The desert dweller whom Herod called Amos, was from far off east of Egypt, east of Cush far east of the lands along the Nile, most likely an Ishmaelite dwelling among the Israelites....".

Building Projects in Syria

Balthazar arrived in Aram-Damascus following his journey from Bethlehem only to find the city plundered and destroyed. The Romans had tried to invade the city, but failed to do so although they destroyed much of its buildings in the process. Balthazar was crowned King of Syria, with his domain in Damascus. Since Damascus resembles Jerusalem in its ancient significance, Balthazar started a program to build up Damascus and make it mimic Jerusalem.

Along with a force of Arameans, Arabians, Egyptians and Cushites - Balthazar built the Temple of Damascus (Arabic: معبد دمشق) in which its structure mimicked the Second Temple of Herod in Jerusalem. Many centuries later as Muslim armies conquered Syria, the temple site would become today's Umayyad Mosque.

In the temple, Balthazar built an entire garden which pointed toward Bethlehem, and a niche in the wall to Jerusalem. He also destroyed the old paganism in Damascus and introduced the Abrahamic faith system that the Jews followed.

Balthazar also established well-built military fortifications in the city. In the Golan Heights, Balthazar established military garrisons to watch the borders with the neighboring domain belonging to Herod whom Balthazar considered his eternal enemy.

War with Herod

Herod heard of Balthazar's move in Syria, and was infuriated by it. Herod referred to Balthazar as a traitor, and assembled an army of Romans and Judeans to invade Syria. Similarly, King Balthazar assembled his own force of Arameans, Arabians, Egyptians and even Jewish militants who despised Herod - more often the same ones who built his temple. This would result in the epic war known as the Balthazarian-Herodian War (Hebrew: בלתזר-ההרודיאני מלחמה, Arabic: الحرب بالتاسارالهيرودي) or the Syrian-Judean War.

Balthazar and Herod's armies clashed in the Golan Heights, ending up in a Herodian victory and an advance of his armies to Damascus although Balthazar's army did inflict devastating casualties against Herod's army and continued their harassing attacks among Herod's settling armies. Many native Syrians in the Golan Heights were grafted into Herod's army or killed at the stake. Many Judeo-Christians also suffered under Herod's occupation, they were able to withstand it, though, since Balthazar armed most of the civilians.

In an attempt to find Jesus, Herod also sent armies into Galilee since Jesus was a Galilean Jew. After taking over the Golan Heights, Herod established settlements of Judeans in them.

Balthazar sent another siege of the Golan, however again despite inflicting large casualties, he was unable to take the Golan Heights and assumed a defensive position in the war, something that Balthazar's Jewish advisor Obadiah Gideon Joseph recommended.

Herod's invasion continued into Damascus, pushing Balthazar's army back deep within the city. The Syrian Jews, mostly families of Judean refugees escaping Herod's persecution, established militant groups in the mountains and attacked Herod's armies. Herod's army was eventually able to reach the Temple of Damascus, many Herodian troops did set foot inside it without any opposition. By this time, however, Herod's army was exhausted and tried to exploit the temple for food and rest and would destroy it thereafter.

Balthazar's army eventually surprise attacked Herod's army and made them surrender in Damascus, Herod escaped and fled to Rome where he was punished for being unable to pay back the military debts of Roman aid.