ALEXAS, friend of Herod the Great (37–4 B.C.E.) and husband of Herod's sister, Salome. Herod forced Salome to marry Alexas, after threatening her with open enmity if she refused. Apparently Alexas was among the dignitaries who became powerful under the patronage of the new Judean dynasty. According to Josephus, Herod gave Alexas instructions about the procedure to be followed after his death. Alexas seems to have wielded sufficient authority to secure the release of the prisoners whom Herod had ordered to be executed on the news of his death to insure that the nation would mourn. But the whole story is probably a malevolent legend without foundation. Alexas had a son named after him, but with the surname Helcias. This son, known as Helcias the "Elder" or "Great" (ὸ μέγας), was apparently among the important members of the house of Herod. He is also referred to as "Helcias the Prefect" (Ant., 19:353). By the third generation, the house of Alexas had already obtained Roman citizenship, for Helcias' son was named julius archelaus . Josephus states that he was "well versed in Greek learning," and Archelaus was therefore among the first to receive the historian's works (Apion, 1:51). -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Jos., Wars, 1:566, 660, 666; Jos., Ant., 17:10, 175, 193–4; 18:138; Stern, in: Tarbiz, 35 (1965/66), 243–5. (Isaiah Gafni)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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