This was the name of several Syrian kings from B.C. 280 to B.C. 65. The most notable of these were:
Antiochus the Great, who ascended the throne B.C. 223. He is regarded as the “king of the north” referred to in Dan. 11:13-19. He was succeeded (B.C. 187) by his son, Seleucus Philopater, spoken of by Daniel (11:20) as “a raiser of taxes” and “his successor will send out a tax collector to maintain the royal splendor. In a few years, however, he will be destroyed, yet not in anger or in battle” (NIV).
Antiochus IV, surnamed “Epiphanes” i.e., the Illustrious, succeeded his brother Seleucus (B.C. 175). His career and character are prophetically described by Daniel (11:21-32). He was a “vile person.” In a spirit of revenge he organized an expedition against Jerusalem, which he destroyed, putting vast multitudes to death in the most cruel manner. From this time, the Jews began the great war of independence under their heroic Maccabean leaders with some success, defeating the armies of Antiochus that were sent against them. Enraged at this, Antiochus marched against them in person, threatening to utterly exterminate the nation; but on the way he was suddenly arrested by the hand of death (B.C. 164).