Syrian-Judean Conflict
الصراع السوري يهودا
סכסוך סורי-יהודה

7-2 B.C.


3 B.C.


Golan Heights, Damascus


Early Judean victory
Late decisive Syrian victory
Herod fails to conquer Damascus
Syrian retain control of Golan


Roman Judea



Herod the Great



14,000 Judeans
3000 Roman troops

20,000 Arameans
3000 Arabs and Africans
Hasmonean Jewish militants

Casualties and Losses

13,442 Judeans killed
2,031 Roman soldiers killed

1000 Arameans killed
900 Arabs killed
100 Africans killed
500 Hasmonean Jews dead

The Balthazarian-Herodian War (Hebrew: בלתזר-ההרודיאני מלחמה, Arabic: الحرب بالتاسار-الهيرودي) (Aramaic: בלתזר-ההרודיאני מלחמה) or the Syrian-Judean War (Aramaic: מלחמה בין סוריה ליהודה, Arabic: الحرب السورية يهودا, Hebrew: מלחמה בין סוריה ליהודה) was a battle fought in the Second Temple Era between King Herod of Judea and King Balthazar of Syria.

It was known to be a precursor to the Arab-Israeli conflict, especially that between the former Israel (now Palestine) and Syria.

The war has its origins to the visitation of the Three Magi to Jesus in Bethlehem, Balthazar being one of them before he fled to Syria and established the counterpart to Herod's kingdom.

Although Herod's armies were able to penetrate deep into Syrian territory, reaching the Temple of Damascus his army was trapped and defeated in Damascus, resulting in the plight of Herod to Rome where he was imprisoned for being unable to pay the Romans debt for providing military aid.

Jews fought on both sides. It is sometimes known as the Temple War (Hebrew: מלחמת בית המקדש) (Arabic: الحرب المعبد) (Aramaic: מלחמת בית המקדש), since both Damascus and Jerusalem had a main temple located in the middle of their cities.


Balthazar had previously worked as a diplomat for Herod in Judea, which was a client-state to the Romans under the name "Amos" (Hebrew: עמוס). He was an Arabian scholar and diplomat, though spent most of his studies in Israel and adopting the Judaic faith system since most of Arabia was nomadic at the time.

King Herod sent Amos, along with two other diplomats of foreign origin to hunt the infant Jesus although Herod didn't say otherwise as the three realized it through their instincts (they were right). Jewish scholars present in Bethlehem referred to him as "Amos the Wise" (Hebrew: עמוס החכם).

Prior to establishing a kingship in Damascus, Amos already had an enmity and hate for King Herod and often question whether Herod was truly of Jewish bloodline or not. Amos himself is a descendant of the Midianite priest Reuel or Jethro who gave Moses an encampment after the Exodus.

Kingdom of Aram-Damascus Under Balthazar

Balthazar arrived in Syria, in Damascus only to the find the city plundered by the Romans and its king killed. Although the Syrians had defeated the Romans armies, but the retreating army destroyed the city in the process. Balthazar helped Damascus recover into a thriving city, and made it the counterpart to Jerusalem. He led a work force of Arameans, Arabians, Syrian Jews and Africans to built the Temple of Damascus which rivaled Herod's Second Temple in Jerusalem. Balthazar also built an army and a state militia, and established fortified military garrisons in the Golan region between Syria and Judea. Balthazar was also surprised to find Jewish militants stationed in the mountains, these are those Jews who fled Herod's persecution. Balthazar was eventually crowned the king of Aram-Damascus, the first Arab and non-Aramean king.

Herod Reacts and Declares War, Balthazar Plans to Overthrow Herod

Herod of Judea eventually found out that Amos and two other men hid Jesus' whereabouts and that Amos has established an independant kingdom and a military in Syria as well as the construction of a great temple meant to rival Herod's in Jerusalem.

Herod declared Balthazar a traitor and declared war on him. Balthazar too, was building an army because he planned to overthrow Herod and enthrone a king he felt was of real Jewish bloodline. Balthazar wanted to restore the Hasmonean dynasty and end the Herodian dynasty.

Offensives Conducted by Herod - Herod's Warning to Balthazar

In order to intimidate Balthazar, Herod led an invasion force to Lebanon and easily conquered the settlements up there. Herod sent two men to deliver a message to Balthazar, in both Hebrew an Aramaic to surrender and stand down stating he has conquered Lebanon.

Order of the War

Judean Preparation

Herod promised the Romans that they would get Syria as a territorial prize if the Romans sent soldiers to help Herod invade Syria. Emperor Augustus was very awry and reluctant to help Herod warning Herod that if he lost the war and failed to fulfill his promise, he would face severe capital and diplomatic punishment. Herod then sacrificed a lamb to the Roman god Jupiter, which was against Abrahamic and Judaic tradition to worship another god. It is only then, that Augustus agreed to send 3000 Roman soldiers to help Herod with the conquest. Using the victories achieved by Moses and David as examples, Herod believed he could easily conquer Syria via the Golan Heights. The total force was that of 14,000 Judean soldiers and 3000 Roman soldiers.

Syrian Preparation

Balthazar implemented a policy of establishing a state militia and a state army. The militia consited of armed families who would be able to defend themselves from the occupying army in case the state army failed and was pushed back. He used Jewish militants and stationed dozens of them scattered across the Golan region, both state armies and armed villages. Balthazar also believed that Golan would be a strategic key point in conducting his offensive to overthrow Herod. Baltazar had a clear numerical advantage over Herod, including an army of 20,000 Arameans, 3000 Arabs and Africans, and numerous Jewish families from the Hasmonean Dynasty. In addition, armed families joining the resistance scattered all across the mountainous terrain.

Roman and Judean Admonition to Herod

Roman and Judean diplomats were aware of the high activity in the Golan Heights, seeing all the military garrisons and armed villages stationed in the territory. His advisors warned him that he could not take Syria via the Golan Heights, and if he were to occupy the Golan Heights he would lose much of his men doing it and would easily get crushed by Balthazar's army once they get to Damascus. He was also warned of army militants stationed in places unknown to the scribes. Herod did not take the advise, and executed anybody who questioned his choice.

Battle of the Golan Heights

Herod's first focus was the Golan Heights, he figured that the Syrian armies could easily be defeated if their main source of defense was gone. Herod's moved into the Golan territory and were met with instant resistance. The warnings that Herod's late advisors had gave him were correct, Herod's army slowly conquered Golan, nonetheless, but lost 5000 Judean soldiers and 1500 Roman soldiers in doing so. In addition to those, Hasmonean Jewish militants continued their harassing assaults on Herod's soldiers. Herod finally made a decision to go after the militants, giving Balthazar an opportunity to ambush Herod's army which he did. Again, Herod's army withstood both the ambush and the militants but lost an additional 2441 Judean soldiers and 804 more Roman soldiers as the Syrian armies retreated to Damascus. Balthazar at this instance, knew Herod's army was gonna shrink and be demolished by the time he reached Damascus.

Battle of Mount Hermon

Mount Hermon was scatted with armed Jewish families who had heard the news of Jesus' birth in Bethlehem. Herod made a last-minute decision to invade Mount Hermon and eliminate the mountain defenses that Balthazar had relied on. The offensive went disastrously, the cold weather weakened Herod's troops in the mountain and Jewish militants also assaulted more soldiers in the mountain range. Almost all of the men involved were killed or captured, no more than 100 men retreated alive.

Battle of the Temple

Despite Herod's miserable failure in Mount Hermon, his other remaining armies were able to penetrate through the Anti-Lebanon defenses and the other armed villages. Again, they were very costly victories and by the time Herod's armies step foot on the city of Damascus, at least three-quarters of his entire army had been vanquished. Balthazar was inside the Damascus Temple honoring the Sabbath, until Herod's army attacked and forced the temple's inhabitants to flee. Balthazar was infuriated with Herod's decision to attack on a Sabbath. Herod had finally believed that he had crushed Syrian morale and permitted his soldiers to loot anything they found, enjoying two days of celebrating. As dawn was setting, Balthazar's army attacked and ambushed Herod's sleeping army. Jewish militants from the mountains also surrounded the western side of the temple, trapping Herod's army inside. Herod's reserves in the Golan Heights also headed to the city, however they were not enough and they were ambushed by Syrian forces from behind - trapping Herod's army within Damascus. Herod's tiny remnant surrendered in Damascus.

Herod Flees to Rome

Herod avoided being killed by Balthazar so he fled to Rome but paradoxically he was not chased. Balthazar threatened to execute every Judean and Roman in Damascus unless they stated Herod's whereabouts. But nobody actually knew where Herod was. In Rome, Herod was unable to pay debt and homage for the Roman aid. Balthazar requested Herod's body be brought to Damascus, but the Romans refused to do so. Shortly after Herod's execution in Rome, the Romans occupied Jerusalem and Balthazar returned to Damascus to prepare for another Roman invasion but one did not come. The Romans later did agree to deliver Herod's dead body to Damascus where it was taken through in a military victory celebration.

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