Beloved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus & Simon

(c) Glasgow Museums; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
(c) Glasgow Museums; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation Jesus resurrecting his Beloved friend Lazarus with Martha and Mary in attendance. Notice that Mary is on her knees and facing Jesus rather than her brother newly out of the grave. She is usually depicted as doing obeisance to her Lord…as in betrothed…and as king.

As I have attempted to show, royalty did not marry for love…they made marriage alliances. If Jesus saved a betrothal or marriage until just before going up to Jerusalem to make his case to Pilate and through him to Rome, my guess is that the marriage was an alliance that would strengthen his bloodline case. Also, saving the marriage ceremony for just before going up to Jerusalem–Jesus is quoted often as being against marriage…until the kingdom came…this fateful trip up to Jerusalem, it seems, was his deliberate inauguration of the return of the kingdom.

The Family Whom Jesus Loved…

Simon, Martha, Mariamne, and Lazarus are the names of the “friends” of Jesus in Bethany. “Simon” in conjunction with a “Mariamne” rang a bell for me, as it might for you by now, because of High Priest Simon son of Boethus and his daughter Mariamne II married to Herod the King. But I had to research the other two names to see if there was a connection to be made…


Believe it or not, in the last days of the war with Rome in 68-70 A.D., the rabbis tell several stories of rich arrogant (sinning) women of the city. One woman was named Martha daughter of Boethus:

“It happened that when Martha the daughter of Boethus was betrothed to Yehoshua ben Gamla, the king appointed him to be the High Priest, and they were married. Once, she said: I will go and see him (the High Priest) when he reads (the Torah) on Yom Kippur in the Temple. They laid out carpets for her from the entrance of her house to the gateway of the Temple so that her feet not be exposed (to the ground), even so, her feet were exposed…. (Mishnah Yevamo 6:4; Sifra, Emor 2:6)

A Martha daughter of Boethus was betrothed to a Jesus/Yeoshua who was then named as the High Priest…a marriage alliance…and a typical way, as we have seen, to keep the high priesthood in the family. (This story can be seen as a parody on the gospel stories…i.e., similar use of the word “feet.” And Martha’s feet are not even allowed to touch the ground but in John she is the one doing all the housework.

But from the story, we now know that “Martha” was also a Boethus family name. And Simon was variously called a Pharisee and a leper. “Leper” as a mean nickname was not unfitting for a High Priest who had been deposed, his daughter divorced, and his grandson and heir kicked out of the succession and his two sons tortured over a plot to kill Herod…and who even thirty years later found themselves living in a “poor” village outside of the city. (“Bethany” means House of the Poor.)

That Name Lazarus

From Josephus, we know that Mariamne the High Priest’s daughter had two brothers named Joazar and Eleazar who were also High Priests. There are differing opinions on whether they were sons of Simon or brothers…but all three plus a brother-in-law, Matthias husband of another unnamed daughter, (Elizabeth…my theory) will be High Priest for a short time in the last days of Herod and the early reign of Archelaus. See post on Elizabeth daughter of Aaron.

But where is Lazarus in all this? Well, The Jewish Encyclopedia On-Line says this about the name Eleazar…

Eleazar son of Boethus was the High Priest of Israel from 4 B.C. to a time before 6 A.D. “Lazarus” is the Greek form of the Hebrew Eleazar. Like Lazarus, Eleazar had two well-known sisters, Miriam and Martha. Baltz uses texts from the Talmud and Midrashim to argue that these are the same Mary and Martha that we find in the gospels. Their brother and former High Priest Eleazar was the “Lazarus” whom Jesus raised from the dead, his Beloved Disciple.[2] [3]

The same source indicates that “Joazar” is a variation on the name “Boethus.” Lazarus has for some become the “Beloved Disciple” because of the passages on how Jesus loved him. (See last post) But I would like to add a daughter of the queen’s perspective:

Now when their father Hyrcanus was dead, the eldest son Aristobulus…loved his next brother Antigonus and treated him as his equal; but the others he held in bonds…Antiquities of the Jews XIII.XI.1

Mariamne of Bethany, therefore, would be the link between the two tribes…she was the available virgin in the right place at the right time to make the alliance between an outsider heir to the kingdom raised in Galilee with a mother with a questionable background but a royal blood tie, probably anathema to her right wing… and an outsider High Priest exiled in a poor village in the hill country. If Jesus had become “King of the Jews,” she would have been queen, Mariamne VI by my count.

Mariamne of Bethany

Mary of Bethany

The gospels were written from ca 90 A.D. to 135 A.D., well after the war with Rome in 65-70 A.D. With the Temple destroyed, priests were no longer needed…and many of the younger priests had fought the Romans and died, but the Pharisees, soon to be called “rabbis,” were allowed to have a center to study in Galilee. We have seen a small portion of the rabbis’ war of words with the gospel writers reflected in the anti-Semitism in the gospels and the slanders of Mary in rabbinic writings…all happening after the death of Jesus but still affecting the written story that came later. Their writings are where I found Martha daughter of Boethus. In that vein, there is one other woman the rabbis speak of from the last days of Jerusalem named Miriam/Mary. Here is where it gets tricky…ha.

Miriam daughter of Nicodemus

The Rabbi’s loved to tell stories in the “Midrash” (Definition: an ancient commentary on part of the Hebrew scriptures, attached to the biblical text. The earliest Midrashim come from the 2nd century AD, although much of their content is older) of wealthy uppity women in the city and their tragic ends when the siege was broken, and Jerusalem destroyed in ca 65-70 A.D. One of the stories is about one such woman of the city and ointment.

“A happening with Miriam the daughter of Nakdimon that the Rabbis granted her…500 dinari a year for her perfume needs…. She cursed them, saying: ‘I would like to see you apportion such an amount for your own daughters!’ R. Acha said: We answered “amen” after her! (From website Midrishet Lindenbaum of Irene Stern College: “A Shiu for Tisha Be’Av” Two Midrashim on the Destruction of Jerusalem (Eicha Rabba 1:47-8)

Miriam daughter of Nicodemus was an arrogant, spoiled woman of the city with a fondness for ointments showing that a woman didn’t have to be a prostitute to have access to alabaster jars. She needed to have a rich father, though. I found this passage in the Jewish Encyclopedia Online:

Men should not go out on the street perfumed (Ber. 43b); but women perfume themselves when going out (see Josephus, “B. J.” iv. 9, 10). A wife could demand one-tenth of her dowry-income for unguents and perfumes; the daughter of the rich Nicodemus ben Gorion was accustomed to spend annually four hundred gold denarii for the same (Ket. 66b).

Coincidentally, this Mary/Miriam’s father–or perhaps a next generation Nicodemus–shows up only in John’s gospel, as a secret follower of Jesus who also deals in expensive spices…

So (Joseph of Arimathea) came and took away his body. Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. So, they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices…. (John 3:1 and 19:38-42)

There is more.

Martha in the Last Days

They laid out carpets for her from the entrance of her house to the gateway of the Temple so that her feet not be exposed (to the ground) ….

The rich and arrogant women’s decadent behavior in the last days of Jerusalem was used by the later Rabbis as a reason for God’s retribution. And, as was fitting, God inflicted a terrible end on Martha daughter of Boethus.…

The Talmud recounts the story of her last day during the Roman siege of Jerusalem (Talmud Gittin 56a.) At that time, Martha sent her manservant out to bring her some fine flour, but it was sold out…In desperation, without putting on her shoes, she went out to see if she could find anything to eat. She stepped in some dung and died of shock. Rabban Johanan ben Zakkai thus applied to her the Biblical verse. “The tender and delicate woman among you who would not adventure to set the sole of her foot upon the ground.” (Deut. 28:56.) …When Martha was about to die, she brought out all her gold and silver and threw it in the street, saying, “What is the good of this to me,” thus giving effect to the verse, “They shall cast their silver in the streets.” (Ezek. 7:19.) (Talmud Gittin 56a.) [1]

One further thing to note: According to Josephus’ index only one man is listed under the name “Lazarus”, so it wasn’t common and, oddly, not proving anything but showing a certain continuance…the story is about the last days of Jerusalem and dead bodies…

But why should I describe these calamities individually, for Manneus, son of Lazarus, who fled to Titus in those days told him that through a single gate that had been entrusted to him 15,800 corpses had been carried out…All of these were the bodies of the poor…The rest were “buried” by their own kin, who merely took them out and threw them clear of the city…Wars of the Jews V.XIII.7

[1] Martha daughter of Boethus

[i] See Jewish Women’s Archive for a fuller story of the very rich Martha daughter of Boethus who bought the high priesthood for her husband Jesus/Joshua/Yehoshua ben Gamla.

6 thoughts on “Beloved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus & Simon

  1. Appreciate your interest and willingness to go mad finding your Mary. Thank you for chasing the itch and sharing your learnings. I will return here next time I’m chasing the Marys myself.

    I am young in my understanding of the players in their extrabiblical stagings – but have been rather persuaded (Ben Witherington III & others) of Eleazar son of Boethus as the BD. I am still trying to parse if he can transfer to all works bearing the name John, particularly Revelation.

    But first: I searched your site – have you considered the works of Dr. Margaret Barker in your long dealings? I imagine you have, but just in case, you might find a tidbit. Particularly her treatise “Christmas: The Original Story” she, with the help of concurrent texts, suggest Mary may have been one of the 70/72 virgins selected to weave (Barashit) the Temple Veil. Very poetic considering the ancient 1st Temple Lady Wisdom and her weaving wrapping the Sons of God as Melchizedek High Priests. She also translates the LXX fragment of Psalm 110:3 – where the word womb is used – as very likely being Maricham – which it appears to my eyes to be.

    The fact that you are chasing a queen in Mary I can’t see how you wouldn’t be invigorated (again, this is a massive assumption, you may have read all of MB for all I know) to see the ties with the ancient Lady Wisdom / Queen of Heaven / Holy Spirit of the 1st Temple and your Political Mary. I myself am likely to consider your findings more in light of this trajectory.

    – – – –

    I did want to ask if you knew – the tone of the Gospel of John and Revelation is heavily Essene & First Temple in their theologies. Everything I ascertain from the house of Boethus is Sadducee in nature, though. I was really hoping to find a historical connection where Eleazer (BD Lazarus) obtained the suppressed teachings the Essenes preserved (1st Temple Theology embedded in Johannine literature) as that would about settle the mystery for me. And leave me to the incredibly wild yet Scripturally feasible notion that Eleazar continues to be supernaturally sustained until the Parousia. I have gone mad, too, you see. There has to be something – as Jesus Himself learned of these things sometime during before His baptism.



    1. Thank you Allen for your thoughts on Mary. Back in the 70s and 80s when the feminist movement sparked the goddess movement in Christianity, I read many books about the things you mention…virgins in the Temple weaving the Veil, etc. But when I discovered Josephus and began to look at a political Mary, I stopped reading about the Mary you are looking for. I don’t think I have read anything by your Dr. Margaret Barker. I will look for something. Also, which book of Ben Witherington III speaks to Eleazar/Lazarus of House of Boethus? I had not read anything about it and had pieced it together from the New Testament Bethany stories. “Bethany” meaning house of the Poor and the use of “Poor” there by Jesus had always meant to me that Bethany was referring to an Essene camp…Also…I was sort of taking the resurrection of Eleazar as Lazarus as a parody…because he had been of the Sadducee party not believing in resurrection per Josephus but had been persuaded to join in with Jesus’ attempt at being named king because Jesus would name him as his High Priest. Would love to read Witherington’s book… Cleta


  2. That’s her alright… There are plenty of clues in the New Testament as well as in the Talmud. For example, if a Jew is reclining at a meal, it is Passover Seder. The Last Supper was held in an upper room, which is strange because Pharisees always met in upper rooms and Jesus and the Pharisees didn’t get along to well. The Boethusians were from Egypt and were friendly with Romans, in fact, Marianne was very friendly with a certain Roman. They were both on the Island of Rhodes about 9 months before Jesus was born. That’s all you get…. well… OK, Judas Iscariot (Iscariot means sword) changes his name and becomes Saul, kills the original Christians (he was the coat check man at the execution of St Steven) then changes his name to the Apostle Paul, whose symbol was a sword, and takes over Jesus’s mission and aims in at Rome in order to infiltrate and subvert Roman power. Jesus told his Apostles NOT to preach to gentiles because his message was for Israel only. The Pharisees gained control over the Boethusians/Sadducees such that Israel was no longer friends with Rome. Martha poured oil on Jesus because his real father….Pantera… had died but that meant there was no one left to save him… riding into town on a donkey is how conquered kings are humiliated by the conquerors.

    This isn’t about religion at all but more about politics, most people miss it all. The Jews were situated inbetween the Romans and the Parthians who had be at war for for 50 years before Jesus was born and the war lasted 217 years, both sides bargaining with those in the middle for help. It must be noted that the real seat of Jewish power was Babylon, where Jews had been bankers, merchants, advisors and import/export traders for 500 years before Jesus. While everyone talks about how Jews were forced to be bankers and were seconds class citizens in Europe, Jewish bankers in Baghdad had been aristocracy for hundreds of years. Selah.


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