Salome Alexandra a Harlot in the Dead Sea Scrolls

Fragments of Dead Sea Scrolls. Some small portion of the scrolls can now be dated to the late 60 BCE because they mention Queen Shalomzion. The fragmentary state of a lot of the scrolls make it frustrating to try to really research them but Google is getting involved. See link.

Salome Alexandra and her husband, “King Jonathan”, as he was called and their two sons are all named in a Dead Sea Scroll titled Annalistic Calendar.  In some places Salome is referred to as a Regent…a ruler, and other times as a Queen…meaning the wife of a king. “Shelamzion’s” mention does not really tell us anything about her, however, because it is so fragmentary; but it is a way to date that portion of the scrolls.

…[….) foundation, Shelamzion entered […] […] to receive […] […] Hyrcanus rebelled […]…(4Q322 Frag. 2. Also see 4Q324 with just her name.)

But there is another section of the Dead Sea scrolls where the writer was commenting on the biblical prophetic books to show how a Torah prophecy is fulfilled by events happening in his own political times. The commentary is called a “Pesher.” Scholars think that a portion of Pesher Nahum refers to Queen Salome as a harlot.

Pesher Nahum… goes on to describe the rule of the Pharisees, obviously during the queen’s reign. Jerusalem under the rule of the new queen is described as “the bloody city” and the queen herself is described in the words of the prophet Nahum: “Because of the countless harlotries of the harlot, the winsome mistress of sorcery, who ensnared nations with her harlotries and peoples with her sorcery.” (Nahum 3:4). (From The Jewish Women’s Archive—Queen Shelamziyyon)

A World War I recruitment poster. The Daughter of Zion (representing the Hebrew people): “Your Old New Land must have you! Join the Jewish regiment”.

Calling Zion/Jerusalem a woman goes back to the Davidic psalms as does the term “Daughter of Zion” as a positive thing. Then the Prophets in the Old Testament raised the practice to a whole new level with some of its most poignant passages praising or lamenting her circumstances. Jerusalem, herself, and/or the Daughters of Zion, or her royal women, were either good or debauched virgins, loyal or adulteress wives, depending on how the prophet and/or the priests writing the passages viewed the politics of the current government of the “bloody city.” If the nation was defeated by foreign armies and carried off…Jerusalem was a debauched virgin “confounded and ashamed.” If she had made alliances that did not favor the priests/authors, she was a disloyal wife…an adulteress or a harlot.

So, to say  here that Queen Shelamziyyon was a Harlot committing harlotries…meant that whomever was writing the commentary did not agree with her politics…remembering that she had allowed the Pharisees to have a large role in the government at the expense of the Sadducees, the party of priests…and, one serious thought about who the Dead Sea Sect were…is that they were exiled priests…who lost their position in the Temple during the reign of the Maccabees/Hasmoneans. If true, then they would see Shelamziyyon as a political enemy.

But any woman will tell you that politics was and still is not the only reason for using evil female metaphors. Most of the old Mediterranean societies were anti-women. And while the Jews may have been less so than some, their right wing, like right wings to this very day, view women negatively…as someone to be feared…if not evil personified…This next excerpt is also in the Dead Sea Scrolls and while it professes to be an ode to Folly, an evil female in direct opposition to Wisdom, a beloved “female” image, it can also be seen as a rant against women.

(From The Dead Sea Scrolls, A New Translation with Commentary by Michael Wise, Martin Abegg, Jr., and Edward Cook, Harper San Francisco 1996

Wiles of the Wicked Woman–4Q184

Frag. 1 {Folly} produces nothingness, and in{…}. She is always seeking error, she whets the words of [her mouth]. With raillery and jesting she flatters, and adds derision to useless [vanity]. Her heart creates lewdness…[…Her eyes] are befouled with perversity, her hands grip corruption tight. Her feet come down to do evil, and to walk in the crimes of […Her thighs are] pillars of darkness, a horde of sins is under her hem, her […]blackest night.]

Her attire […] her robes are gloom of twilight, while her jewelry is infected with rot. Her bed is a couch of corruption […] pits of hell. Her inns are where darkness lies down, she holds sway at dead of night. Among the pillars of gloom she pitches her tent, and settles among the tents of silence, in the middle of perpetual flames. She does not belong with any of those illuminated by brightness…(“sons of light?”)

It goes on and on…but I would like to note that this “sinning” woman concept will be part of the New Testament story.

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