Lys'ias (Δυσίας, a common Greek name), the name of two men mentioned, one in the Apocrypha, and the other in the New Testament.
1. A Syrian "nobleman of the blood royal" whom Antiochus Epiphanes, when setting out for Persia, appointed guardian of his son, and regent of that part of his kingdom which extended from the Euphrates to the borders of Egypt (1 Macc. 3:32; 2 Macc. 10:11; compare Josephus, Ant. 12:7, 2; Appian, De rebus Syr. 46). Acting under the special orders of the king, Lysias collected a large force for the purpose of carrying on a war of extermination against the Jews. This army, under the command of the generals Ptolemy, Nicanor, and Gorgias, was surprised and put to flight by Judas Maccabaeus near Emmaus (1 Macc. 3:38-4:18; Josephus, Ant. 12:7, 3, 4). In the following year, B.C. 165, Lysias himself invaded Judaea with a still larger army, and joined battle with Judas in the neighborhood of Bethsura. The Syrians were again defeated, and so decisively that Judas was able to accomplish his great purpose, the purification of the Temple, and the re-establishment of divine worship at Jerusalem (1 Macc. 4:28-61; Josephus, Ant. 12:7, 5-7). Lysias retired to Antioch. and, while preparing for a fresh campaign, the death of Epiphanes left him in virtual possession of the supreme power. Shortly afterwards (probably B.C. 163), with an army equal in number to the former two combined, with three hundred war-chariots and two-and-thirty elephants, and accompanied by the young king Antiochus Eupator, he again entered Judaea from the side of Idumaea. Having taken the fortified city of Bethsura, he advanced to Jerusalem and laid siege to the Temple. Meeting here with a stouter resistance than he had anticipated, and hearing that Philip, a rival claimant to the guardianship of the king, was returning from Persia, he hastily concluded a peace with the Jews, and set out for Antioch. On reaching this city he found it in the possession of his rival. In the engagement which followed Philip was defeated and slain. Another and more formidable opponent, however, soon appeared in the person of Demetrius Soter, first cousin of the king, who, escaping from Rome, landed at Tripolis, and laid claim to the throne. The people rose in his favor, and Antiochus and Lvsias were seized and put to death (1 Macc. 6-7. 2; 2 Macc. 13-14:2; Joseph. Ant. 12:9, 10; Appian, De rebus Syr. 47).
In the second book of Maccabees an account is given at some length of an invasion of Judaea by Lysias, made befbre the final invasion, but after the death of Epiphanes (2 Macc. 11). It is scarcely possible to reconcile this with the more trustworthy narratives of the first book, and it is clear from 2 Mace. 9:28-10:10, that the writer is not following a strictly chronological order in this part of his history. Internal evidence seems to favor the opinion that this narrative has been compiled from separate and partial accounts of the two invasions referred to in 1 Macc. 4-6, the writer too hastily inferring that they described the same event. — Kitto. "There is no sufficient ground for believing that the events recorded are different (Patritius, De Consensue Macc. § 27, 37), for the mistake of date in 2 Macc. is one which might easily arise (compare Wernsdorf, De fide Macc. § 66; Grimm, on 2 Macc. 11:1). The idea of Grotius that 2 Macc. 11 and 2 Macc. 13 are duplicate records of the same event, in spite of Ewald's support (Geschichte, 4:365, note), is scarcely tenable, and leaves half the difficulty unexplained."
2. CLAUDIUS LYSIAS, the chiliarch (χιλίαρχος, "chief captain") who commanded the Roman troops in Jerusalem during the latter part of the procuratorship of Felix, and by whom Paul was secured from the fury of the Jews, and sent under guard to the procurator Felix at Caesarea (Ac 21:31-38; Ac 22:24-30; Ac 23:17-30; Ac 24:7,22). A.D. 55. Nothing more is known of him than what is stated in these passages. From his name, and from Ac 22:28, it may be inferred that he was a Greek who had become a Roman citizen. His proper rank appears to have been that of military tribune, and his note to his superior officer is an interesting specimen of Roman military correspondence (comp. Wernsdorf. Cl. Lysiae Oratio. Helmst. 1743). SEE PAUL.