Toparchy (τοπαρχία, government of a district), a term applied in one passage of the original of the Apocrypha (1 Macc. 11:28) to indicate three districts to which elsewhere (10, 30; 11:34) the name νομός is given, as also in Josephus (Ant. 13:4, 9). In all these passages the English version employs the term "governments." The three "toparchies" in question were Aphserima (Α᾿φαίρεμα), Lydda and Ramiath. They had been detached from Samaria, Persea, and Galilee respectively, some time before the war between Demetrius Soter and Alexander Bala. Each of the two belligerents endeavored to win over Jonathan, the Jewish high-priest, to their side, by allowing him, among other privileges, the sovereign power over these districts without any payment of land-tax. The situation of Lydda is doubtful; for the toparchy Lydda of which Pliny speaks (5, 14) is situated not in Persia, but on the western side of the Jordan. Aph-Eerima is considered by Grotius to denote the region about Bethel, captured by Abijah from Jeroboam (2Ch 13:19). Ramath is probably the famous stronghold, the desire of obtaining which led to the unfortunate expedition of the allied sovereigns Ahab and Jehoshaphat (1 Kings'22). Pliny (5, 14) mentions ten toparchies in Judaea, and so does Josephus (War, 3, 3, 5).

The "toparchies" seem to have been of the nature of the modern Turkish agaliks, and the passages in which the word τοπάρχης occurs all harmonize with the view of that functionary as the aga, whose duty would be to collect the taxes and administer justice in all cases affecting the revenue, and who, for the purpose of enforcing payment, would have the command of a small military force. He would thus be the lowest in the hierarchy of a despotic administration to whom troops would be entrusted; and hence the taunt in 2Ki 18:24, and Isa 36:9 (Sept.): τῶς ἀποστρέψεις τὸ πρὸσωπον (פִּחִת, "captain") τοπαρχου ἑνός, τῶν δούλων τοῦ κυρίου μου τῶν ἐλαχίστων; — "How wilt thou resist a single toparch, one of the very least of my lord's slaves?" But the essential character of the toparch is that of a fiscal officer, and his military character is altogether subordinate to his civil. Hence the word is employed in Ge 41:34 for the "officers over the land" (פִּקַיד, "overseer"), who were instructed' to buy up the fifth part of the produce of the soil during the seven years of abundance. In Da 3:3, Theodosius uses the word in a much more extensive sense, making it equivalent to "satraps" (אֲחִשׁדָרפנִיָא, "wise"), and the English version renders the original by "princes;" but the original word here is not the same as in Da 3:2,27; Da 6:7, in every one of which cases, a subordinate functionary is contemplated.

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

Topical Outlines Nave's Bible Topics International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Online King James Bible King James Dictionary

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