7. The Lost Years…Some Thoughts on Josephus and Mary/Mariamne III

220px-Parthian_Queen_Bust wikipedia
Thermusa aka Musa Queen of the  Parthians

I have always wondered what Josephus personally thought of Mariamne III…he could have personally known her if she stayed in Judea after Jesus died–he was born in 37 A.D. Certainly his mother, a daughter of the same House of Hasmoneans, though of the next generation, would have known or known of her. But while Josephus proudly claimed his mother’s bloodline, he would not even name her.  Are we seeing a hint of the same attitude as Jesus… “who is my mother…(Matthew 12:48, for instance)

Where Mariamne III was in the court records as an “orphan virgin” with a trial at court over her abuse and betrothed by Antipater son of Herod…first heir to the kingdom…Josephus included her, but then she disappeared from the court records Josephus was using, and, as far as we know, never mentioned her by name again. He defended Hasmonean Queen Mariamne I against the charge of un-chastity…adultery…for which Herod had her strangled to death. He defended the unnamed wife of Simon the first official Hasmonean High Priest against virtually the same charge…not being a virgin because she had been a captive in a war…Mariamne III would not have been in court records because there wasn’t a king and his court in Jerusalem anymore–Hold that thought.

Because there is another thread to pull: while first researching Josephus’ work and coming up with my theory, I had run across a section of stories that still nagged at me…I didn’t have room to put them in sequence in my blog and they seemed almost a side issue. But I now had time to look at them more closely…this is what I came up with and, of course, it has to do with Mary/Mariamne III…see what you think…

The Lost Years–4 BC-26 AD

When I first began reading on the historical Jesus, there was a small genre of books being published about “The Lost Years.” The lost years are the years of Jesus’ life not covered in the New Testament…basically from birth until Jesus appeared as a grown man on a mission when he was “about 30 years of age”…in ca 26 A.D. (1)  I liked The Lost Years of Jesus Revealed by Rev. Dr. Charles Frances Potter written in 1962. His premise was that Jesus had grown up at Qumran using the first round of recently published Dead Sea Scrolls. Most of the later books on the Lost Years are of Jesus living in India which did not appeal to me…or fit my theory…

But back to Josephus: What nagged at me about that section of his work, I now realized, was that it also spanned the lost years…beginning with what he called “The Banishment of Archelaus.” (4 B.C.-6 A.D.) The exile left Judea in a royal vacuum and a Roman procurator was sent in leading to a census and direct taxation by Rome. There was no longer even nominally Jewish king to soften the blow.

So…Josephus threw together a lot of seemingly random stories; some about King/Tetrarch Herod Antipas in Galilee and how he built his own capitol city Tiberias, among others…and then he said, “About this time…” and launches into a series of stories about the coming of Pilate as procurator, which is generally agreed to be 26 A.D. (Coincidence?) and then he “posted” his contested paragraph on Jesus; the “Testimonium Flavianum.” I went into the paragraphs on Pilate earlier…so will just give the first line and the last line here to give context…because after those two stories…rather out of the blue, Josephus next tells two stories about women. While researching them, I discovered I was not alone in finding them odd…or in connecting them to Mary. First, here are the passages in the order that Josephus wrote them in:

Antiquities of the Jews Book XVIII.Chapter III. Paragraph 1

  1. But now Pilate, the procurator of Judea, removed the army from Cesarea to Jerusalem, to take their winter-quarters there, in order to abolish the Jewish laws… But they (the Jewish protestors) threw themselves upon the ground, and laid their necks bare, and said they would take their deaths very willingly, rather than the wisdom of their laws should be transgressed; upon which Pilate was deeply affected with their firm resolution to keep their laws inviolable, and presently commanded the images to be carried back from Jerusalem to Cesarea.

Antiquities of the Jews XVIII.III.2

  1. But Pilate undertook to bring a current of water to Jerusalem, and did it with the sacred money, and derived the origin of the stream from the distance of two hundred furlongs. However, the Jews were not pleased with what had been done about this water; and many ten thousands of the people got together, and made a clamour against him, and insisted that he should leave off that design…and since the people were unarmed, and were caught by men prepared for what they were about, there were a great number of them slain by this means, and others of them ran away wounded; and thus an end was put to this sedition.(2)

Then on to the very famous third paragraph…

  1. Now, there was about this time, Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works,–a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. (ca 30-33 A.D.) He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day. (ca 90 A.D.) (3)

Scholars notice that this entry on Jesus is totally out of character for Josephus…meaning that the story was inserted whole or the original modified because it is not consistent with his character and work. While it mentions Jesus’ crucifixion it is told in an upbeat way, not the “sad calamity” expected from the first sentence of the next story…unless there was a rebellion over Jesus’ crucifixion…or it was inserted whole.

But now, right after that passage on Jesus which has been altered somehow…comes the first story of a woman. I’ll copy it in full so you get the flavor.

  1. About the same time also another sad calamity put the Jews into disorder; and certain shameful practices happened about the temple of Isis that was at Rome. I will now first take notice of the wicked attempt about the temple of Isis, and will then give an account of the Jewish affairs. There was at Rome a woman whose name was Paulina; one who, on account of the dignity of her ancestors, and by the regular conduct of a virtuous life, had a great reputation: she was also very rich; and although she was of a beautiful countenance, and in that flower of her age wherein women are the most gay, yet did she lead a life of great modesty. She was married to Saturninus, one that was every way answerable to her in an excellent character. Decius Mundus fell in love with this woman, who was a man very high in the equestrian order; and as she was of too great dignity to be caught by presents, and had already rejected them, though they had been sent in great abundance, he was still more inflamed with love to her, insomuch that he promised to give her two hundred thousand Attic drachmae for one night’s lodging; and when this would not prevail upon her, and he was not able to bear this misfortune in his amours, he thought it the best way to famish himself to death for want of food, on account of Paulina’s sad refusal; and he determined with himself to die after such a manner, and he went on with his purpose accordingly. Now, Mundus had a freed-woman (perhaps a Jew) who had been made free by his father, whose name was Ide, one skillful in all sorts of mischief. This woman was very much grieved at the young man’s resolution to kill himself (for he did not conceal his intentions to destroy himself from others) and came to him, and encouraged him by her discourse, and made him hope, by some promises she gave him, that he might obtain a night’s lodging with Paulina; and when he joyfully hearkened to her entreaty, she said she wanted no more than fifty thousand drachmae for the entrapping of the woman. So when she had encouraged the young man, and gotten as much money as she required, she did not take the same methods as had been taken before, because she perceived that the woman was by no means to be tempted by money; but, as she knew that she was very much given to the worship of the goddess Isis, she devised the following stratagem:–She went to some of Isis’s priests, and upon the strongest assurances [of concealment,] she persuaded them by words, but chiefly by the offer of money, of twenty-five thousand drachmae in hand, and as much more when the thing had taken effect; and told them the passion of the young man, and persuaded them to use all means possible to beguile the woman. So they were drawn in to promise so to do, by that large sum of gold they were to have. Accordingly the oldest of them went immediately to Paulina; and upon his admittance, he desired to speak with her by herself. When that was granted him, he told her that he was sent by the god Anubis, who was fallen in love with her, and enjoined her to come to him. Upon this she took the message very kindly, and valued herself greatly upon this condescension of Anubis; and told her husband that she had a message sent her, and was to sup and lie with Anubis; so he agreed to her acceptance of the offer, as fully satisfied with the chastity of his wife. Accordingly, she went to the temple; and after she had supped there, and it was the hour to go to sleep, the priest shut the doors of the temple; when, in the holy part of it, the lights were also put out. Then did Mundus leap out (for he was hidden therein) and did not fail of enjoying her, who was at his service all the night long, as supposing he was the god; and when he was gone away, which was before those priests who knew nothing of this stratagem were stirring, Paulina came early to her husband, and told him how the god Anubis had appeared to her. Among her friends also she declared how great a value she put upon this favour, who partly disbelieved the thing, when they reflected on its nature, and partly were amazed at it, as having no pretense for not believing it, when they considered the modesty and the dignity of the person…(B)ut now, on the third day after what had been done, Mundus met Paulina, and said,–“Nay, Paulina, thou hast saved me two hundred thousand drachmas, which sum though mightiest have added to thy family; yet hast thou not failed to be at my service in the manner I invited thee. As for the reproaches thou has laid upon Mundus, I value not the business of names; but I rejoice in the pleasure I reaped by what I did, while I took to myself the name of Anubis.” When he had said this, he went his way; but now she began to come to the sense of the grossness of what she had done, and rent her garments, and told her husband of the horrid nature of this wicked contrivance, and prayed him not to neglect to assist her in this case. So he discovered the fact to the emperor; whereupon Tiberius inquired into the matter thoroughly, by examining the priests about it, and ordered them to be crucified, as well as Ide, who was the occasion of their perdition, and who had contrived the whole matter, which was so injurious to the woman. He also demolished the temple of Isis, and gave order that her statue should be thrown into the river Tiber; while he only banished Mundus, but did no more to him, because he supposed that what crime he had committed, was done out of the passion of love; and these were the circumstances which concerned the temple of Isis, and the injuries occasioned by her priests.

Kind of a shock, right? So…A good devout “pure” woman is tricked into thinking she was sleeping with a god…. or visited by a god…or a supernatural being speaking for God. If she had not found out that the god was a man and she had gotten pregnant, she would have thought that the god was the father. Josephus said that this story “put the Jews in disorder” leading many to think that Ide was a Jewish woman who was crucified (!)…or even that Paulina was a Jewess married to a Roman.

The next passage is definitely about Jews…but not in a good way…

  1. There was a man who was a Jew, but had been driven away from his own country by an accusation laid against him for transgressing their laws, and by the fear he was under of punishment for the same; but in all respects a wicked man:–he then living in Rome, professed to instruct men in the wisdom of the laws of Moses. He procured also three other men, entirely of the same character with himself, to be his partners. These men persuaded Fulvia, a woman of great dignity, and one that had embraced the Jewish religion, to send purple and gold to the temple at Jerusalem; and, when they had gotten them, they employed them for their own uses, and spent the money themselves; on which account it was that they at first required it of her. Whereupon Tiberius, who had been informed of the thing by Saturninus, the husband of Fulvia, who desired inquiry might be made about it, ordered all the Jews to be banished out of Rome; at which time the consuls enlisted four thousand men out of them and sent them to the island Sardinia; but punished a greater number of them, who were unwilling to become soldiers on account of keeping the laws of their forefathers. Thus were these Jews banished out of the city by the wickedness of four men.

What do we do with the women?

There are sites out there quoting books and airing scholarship indicating that both stories on the women, Paulina and Fulvia, have too much in common: both women have husbands named Saturninus and both husbands appeal to Tiberius to right the wrongs. Both women are gullible, taken advantage of by unscrupulous persons and contrary to popular culture, both women were believed by their husbands that they were not adulteress, as the first thought about a woman in trouble is always that she was unfaithful. Even Paulina’s obvious “unfaithfulness” was not considered as such.(3)

However, from my limited research and admittedly only looking at the surface of things but through the lens of my theory that Princess Mariamne III was Jesus’ mother…I am not the only one to think Josephus was giving us a message about Mary/Mariamne III with the stories. Take this excerpt from a paper posted on Academia.org

Josephus, Paulina and Fulvia:

Hidden Agenda in Josephus, Antiquities 18.65-84

(The definitive text is: Amity, Ory 2014…Antiquities 18.65-84, Ancient World 45: 101-121)

An ingenious solution to this questions has been suggested as early as 1927 by Pharr, in a study of “The Testimony of Josephus to Christianity”.21 On the basis of Josephus’ peculiar chronology Pharr concluded that Josephus extracted the twin episodes from their proper place in order to link them, and in particular the chronique scandaleuse of Paulina, with “the passage about Christ, immediately preceding”, that is 18.63-64, the famous Testimonium Flavianum (TF).22 According to Pharr’s reconstruction book 18 did in fact contain a section about Jesus, but the original had been replaced by a Christian hand in the late 3rd or early 4th century (between Origen and Eusebius). The reason for this replacement, argued Pharr, was that in his original text Josephus displayed a highly hostile attitude towards Jesus’ Ministry in Judea, and in addition mocked the Conception story and Jesus’ status as the Son of God. On this reading Mary, who found herself inexplicably impregnated by God, is juxtaposed with Paulina, who was ridiculously deluded into thinking that she was having sexual relations with Anubis. Together with Fulvia they form “The Three Gullible Women”. (Clyde Pharr, “The Testimony of Josephus to Christianity,” AJP (1927) 144-45) (4)

It has long been common wisdom that the whole virgin birth/queen of heaven/mother of God stories were late additions…and yes, they may not have been accepted by the Catholic church as doctrine until later…but…in order for Josephus to feel the need to include these gullible women stories in ca 90 A.D., one can’t help but feel that the claim of a virgin birth (fathered by God), had to have still been causing trouble even after the war with Rome in 65-70 A.D. “to this very day.”

Writing in the 50s, Paul does not mention Jesus’ mother except to subtly dispute the virgin birth story by saying that Jesus “was made/born of a woman, made under the law;” (Galatians 4:4) in the natural way. Mark, the earliest written gospel perhaps written about the same time as Josephus or even earlier, does not give a birth story but says “Is not this…the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? And aren’t his sisters here with us?” (6:3) Mark is giving the primacy of Mary over Joseph…he is not mentioned as the father…but Mark is also rather aggressively sharing his opinion about a virgin birth…for those with eyes to see. The mother of Jesus had many other children…in the natural way/under the law…echoing Paul. Regardless, by the time that Matthew and Luke and Josephus are writing, it is a thing. Matthew and Luke defend the story and embellish it, each in their own way…and Josephus disparaged it with the inclusion of the Paulina and Fulvia stories. I can’t help but feel that Josephus wrote something about Mariamne III…maybe not on the virgin birth story but on her influence on her son…or blaming her for his death…as the gospels blame Herodias  for the death of John the Baptist–Mariamne III’s sister.

I say this because there is one more story to look at.

One More Story…and another Controversial Queen Mother

So far, we have two very pure but gullible Roman women duped by unscrupulous priests/women/Jews. But there is another story about a woman in the same book but the chapter before the one we have been looking at about Pilate, Jesus and gullible women. This story is about a mother and a son…and as subconscious, unconscious, or deliberate passive-aggressive judgment on Mariamne III, it is not nearly so flattering to the woman and her son…and perhaps really set the tone for Josephus’ original “Testimony.”

Antiquities of the Jews Book 18 Chapter II Section 4

  1. About this time died Phraates, King of the Parthians, [2 BC] by the treachery of Phraataces his son: upon the occasion following. When Phraates had had legitimate sons of his own, he had also an Italian maid servant, whose name was Thermusa; who had been formerly sent to him by Julius Caesar, among other presents. He first made her his concubine: but he being a great admirer of her beauty, in process of time having a son by her, whose name was Phraataces, he made her his legitimate wife, and had a great respect for her. Now, she was able to persuade him to do any thing that she said; and was earnest in procuring the government of Parthia for her son. But still she saw that her endeavours would not succeed, unless she could contrive how to remove Phraates’s legitimate sons [out of the Kingdom.] So she persuaded him to send those his sons, as pledges of his fidelity to Rome. And they were sent to Rome accordingly: because it was not easy for him to contradict her commands. Now while Phraataces was alone brought up in order to succeed in the government, he thought it very tedious to expect that government by his father’s donation [as his successor.] He therefore formed a treacherous design against his father, by his mother’s assistance: with whom, as the report went, he had criminal conversation also. So he was hated for both these vices: while his subjects esteemed this [wicked] love of his mother, to be no way inferior to his parricide: and he was by them in a sedition expelled out of the country, before he grew too great, and died. [About A.D. 4.]

As usual, I am not the only one to connect this story to the gospel story. Here is a portion of one attempt from the website Early Church History

KING HEROD & KING PHRAATES

The King of Persia (Iran), the Parthian Phraates IV (reigned 37-2 BC), was the ruler who sent the Magi to pay homage to Jesus. The Parthians were deadly enemies of the Romans and the two empires vied for control of lands from 66 BC until 217 AD. Herod the Great was, of course, a friend of Rome, but a foe of the “newborn King of the Jews” Jesus from His birth until Herod’s death. With so many family enemies at home, Phraates was, like Herod in Jerusalem, paranoid with reason. Phraates must have been relieved when the Magi returned with the news that the new king came from humble origins. He need not have worried about the infant Jesus. Phraates was murdered in 2 BC by his son Phraataces, whose mother Thermusa crowned him Phraates V. https://earlychurchhistory.org/politics/king-herod-king-phraates/

Phraates-IV-Coin and Thermusa
“Silver tetradrachm of Phraates IV and his concubine Thermusa” before Thermusa and her son killed him and she crowned her son Phraates V. in 2 BC.

I have put forward that Mariamne III crowned and anointed her son as king in Bethany before they went up to Jerusalem to present his claim as “King of the Jews,” in part because of a passage in the Son of Solomon. Here the author on Early Church History just says that Thermusa…even though she has no royal blood herself…but as the queen, crowned her son as king…as a Jewish queen mother also could do.

Go forth, O ye daughters of Zion, and behold king Solomon with the crown wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals, and in the day of the gladness of his heart.  Song of Solomon 3:11

Criminal Conversation

Josephus also tells the story of Agrippa Jr. and his sister Bernice, the last king and queen of Palestine/Israel, and how they were accused of having “criminal conversation” while being a brother and sister king and queen with an only begotten son. (5)

By inserting this story into his Antiquities of the Jews, that happened about the same time frame that Jesus was born, Josephus may have been hinting that later Mariamne III and Jesus had an unusual, even “criminal” relationship. It is pretty clear from the gospels’ authors that Mary upset the disciples to no end. They had Jesus nearly disown her…who is my mother? The Gnostic Gospels, also, have much to say about Mary but call her Mary Magdalene (my theory). See my chapter on Mary being Mary Magdalene…of the tower/magdal of Mariamne I the great queen…Here are the passages from the Gospel of Philip that speak of Jesus and Mary Magdalene that seem to hint that they were married…read it in the context of the Themusa story that Josephus shared…for those with eyes to see…

The Gnostic Gospel of Philip on Mary

All who are begotten in the world are begotten in a natural way, and the others are nourished from the place whence they have been born. It is from being promised to the heavenly place that man receives nourishment. […] him from the mouth. And had the word gone out from that place, it would be nourished from the mouth and it would become perfect. For it is by a kiss that the perfect conceive and give birth. For this reason we also kiss one another. We receive conception from the grace which is in one another.

There were three who always walked with the Lord: Mary, his mother, and her sister, and Magdalene, the one who was called his companion. His sister and his mother and his companion were each a Mary.

And the companion of the […] Mary Magdalene. [… loved] her more than [all] the disciples [and used to] kiss her [often] on her […]. The rest of [the disciples…] They said to him, “Why do you love her more than all of us?” The Savior answered and said to them, “Why do I not love you like her? When a blind man and one who sees are both together in the darkness, they are no different from one another. When the light comes, then he who sees will see the light, and he who is blind will remain in darkness. (6)

Deliberately opaque…and written years later…under a mystical philosophy…but…

 

(1) If we use Luke’s birthday of 6 A.D. at the time of the census, then he would have been 20 in 26 A.D. and he would not have been “about 30 years old” until 36 A.D. Most scholars have settled on Mark and Matthews version of the birth in ca 4 B.C. …though that makes Jesus “about 30 years of age” in 26 A.D. not the usual 30 A.D. Confusing…one has to pick and choose.

(2) Just a side note here…perhaps this is where the Sicarii got their signature method of revolt…from Pilate’s soldiers…who hid daggers under their clothes and would mingle with the crowds. William Whiston, translator and editor of  The Complete Works of Josephus…the edtion I used…footnotes here that this may be the “very Galilean Jews whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices,” Luke xiii.i,2)

(3) The Jesus Passages in Josephus – a Case Study, part 2e – ”Testimonium Flavianum”: Content and context; The Testimonium does not fit in context… https://rogerviklund.wordpress.com/2011/03/07/the-jesus-passages-in-josephus-%E2%80%93-a-case-study-part-2e-%E2%80%93-%E2%80%9Dtestimonium-flavianum%E2%80%9D-content-and-context-the-testimonium-does-not-fit-in-context/

(4) This quote is from an article on Academia.org under Ancient Worlds 45:101-121 with the disclaimer…”This is a non-proofed, pre-published draft. The definitive text (author) is: Amity, Ory, 2014.

(5) Also see my story of Arabian Queen Helene  and her “criminal conversation” …married to her brother as king and queen of Adiabene  and their “only begotten son.”

(6) Copied from…http://gnosis.org/naghamm/gop.html   Wikipedia: The Gospel of Philip was written between 150 AD and 350 AD, while Philip himself lived in the first century, making it extremely unlikely to be his writing. Most scholars hold a 3rd-century date of composition.[6]   Ehrman, Bart (2003). Lost Christianities. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. xi–xii.

2 thoughts on “7. The Lost Years…Some Thoughts on Josephus and Mary/Mariamne III

  1. So here’s my thoughts on this
    I ran across a theory that Musa of Parthia was Caesar and Cleopatra’s daughter, it’s likely she wouldn’t have been recognized. The roman senate wanted an alternative to Caesarian. If the two rulers had a recognized daughter, you could have married her off to a senator (Brutus, for example) and, in doing so, created an instant rival for Caesarian. Something Cleopatra was desperate to avoid. If a daughter did exist, as I grant is possible, Augustus would have kept her close. He got rid of political liabilities, but he collected political chess pieces.
    Giving her as a gift to the Parthian King of Kings would have been a genius move on the Roman Emperor’s part. To the Romans, he gave the king of kings a slave girl, nothing of real value. Sure, maybe some “in the know” might have known she was Cleopatra’s daughter, but that didn’t matter since Julius Caesar never acknowledged her. Under Roman law, she was no one, but her bloodline would have meant a lot in the east.
    He was giving the king of kings a slave girl true. However, due to her parentage, the Hellenistic kings under his rule would have expected him to marry her. As you say, the Seleucid kings would have been delighted to have a Ptolemaic queen. However, marrying and favoring a slave girl would have made the Parthian king look ridiculous to the Romans, not to mention that her presence in court would have alienated the influential Jewish leaders in Parthia who had no love for the Ptolemy’s. It explains why she was such a polarizing figure from the start.
    The whole operation seems very much Augustus’s style.
    If she is Ceasar’s daughter, then in 2 BC, so she’s about 40 with a son Phraates V in his early 20s, she poisons her husband and marries her son. So Jesus has been born at this point. Now prior to her offing her husband, things aren’t good in Parthia, and they get worse after she poisons the king and takes over. The Parthians practiced lateral succession, so the whole “whos king?” question tended to be fluid for a few years, well the various contenders fought it out. So Parthia, for a few years prior and pretty much Musa’s entire rule is pretty much in chaos.
    Now the Parthian empire starts to fracture into a couple of factions; we have the Sassanid Persians. We have the Parthians, Samarians, and the Hellenistic kings of the Bactrian and Seleucid states. After all, the king of Parthia was the king of kings. It was a pretty diverse empire. Then there was another up-and-coming group, the Hebrews.
    Now the emperor Augustus has a plan. He will conquer Germany. Then he will recruit the Germans into the Roman army, use this army to destroy the Parthians, and take control of the silk road and conquer the world. This plan hinges on two things, A) that he is able to assimilate the Germans into the empire, and B) he retains control of Judea to use as a staging ground. Ok, so as evil plans go, this one has some obvious weaknesses. The plan gets delayed as A) the Romans can’t seem to solidify their conquest of Germania, and B) the Jewish insurgency is a constant problem, one that is exasperated by the fact that the Parthians are supplying the Zealots with money and weapons. The Parthian kings also keep attempting to put puppet rulers on the throne of Judea. Now Herod was actually ousted twice by Parthian-backed usurpers and had retaken the throne with roman aid both times. The first time had been with the aid of the Ptolemies and Mark Anthony, so there wasn’t a lot of love for Cleopatra in the Jewish camp at this point. This might be why the Jewish sources dismiss her as nothing but an upstart courtesan since that is also how they seemed to have viewed Cleopatra. Let’s not forget that the Ptolemies and the Seleucids had both taken turns occupying Judea at that point.
    Now into this chaos come three Zoroastrian Magi from Babylon. Looking up at the sky, they get some first-rate intel, literally a gift from god. A star appears and signals the birth of the king of kings (the title for the king of Parthia) in Bethlehem, a king born to the house of David. This is important; remember Herod was a Jewish Arab, not a member of one of the old royal families of Judea.
    Now, Jesus’s birth is a potential game-changer. The Parthians don’t have the resources, unity, or strategic position to challenge Rome. However, if a Jewish ruler was to rise and unite Judea with Parthia and Armenia, that empire would be a force to be reckoned with.
    The Parthians controlled the silk road, but it was Jewish merchants and bankers who controlled the silk trade into the Mediterranean from the harbors of Galilee and the land routes to turkey and Egypt. moreover, there were large and powerful Jewish populations in both Babylon and Armenia. Two of the main military powerhouses of the region. With a Jewish messiah to unite these kingdoms, he would have the money, the military, and the unity. It would have been an empire with the potential to challenge Rome at its height. And the Magi didn’t have a lot of time. Rome was still putting down the german revolts and was still recovering from a long and brutal civil war. If they were going to stop Rome’s advance East they had to act.
    So, the magi did what any good power broker or intelligence operative would do with this information just in the off chance that its true. They raced across the desert to Judea and didn’t spare the camels. There they attempted to enlist King Herod into this plot. In the context of events, it makes sense in a political sense to recruit him. The Herods were in a position to facilitate this whole affair, and if it were successful, Herod stood to be the big winner. He would control the center of this new Jewish empire. Harold hears the magi out and did the “Oh yeah great idea, Jewish/Persian alliance all for it, tell me when you find this future king.” As the bible tells us, once the magi were out of earshot, he gave the orders to kill everyone involved as soon as they found Jesus. He was Rome’s man, and the Parthians had tried to kill him, well only as many times as I’m sure the Iranians have tried to kill the director of MASAD, best not to take chances just kill everyone. Yeah think we are better today, your right today we would have just sent a drone strike.
    However Herod didn’t have drones, and the Magi are tipped off by the angels, and they flee east, leading the Romans and Herod’s assassins away as Mary and Joseph flee to Egypt with Jesus.
    At this point, the magi disappear from history. Or do they, shortly after the birth of Christ, two Jewish brothers Anilaeus and Asinaeus raise an army and take control of the area around Babylon. These guys are reportedly thugs, and not exactly bright ones if the sources are to be believed. Yet, they are ceded control of one of the most significant trade hubs of the Parthian empire. It seems to me that there is a more intelligent hand playing a role in this. Someone with standing to make deals with the Parthian kings.
    Where the magi behind the brothers rise to power? And if so was this there attempt to pave the way for the rise of a Jewish king of kings in Parthia?
    Possibly since at the same time, we start to see major anti roman political intrigues going on in Armenia, another Jewish power base, and the vital buffer state between the Parthians and the Romans. Someone was playing politics and hard. Now, why does this not work out? it seems a brilliant plan…. Except, all the key figures in the magi’s plot keep getting seduced and or poisoned by pagan concubines. You take the Musa story and go down the line copy paste repeat. Seduction, poison, rebellion… until you start seeing where the whole concept of the whore of Babylon might have come from.
    Now, as we all know, Jesus wasn’t destined to become warrior king. He wasn’t running around playing politics and waging war as other prophets before and after him did. He was the son of God who came with a message of peace and hope. No one expected it, I am left to wonder if the magi got it wrong and, like others at the time, predicted the messiah to come in the form of Jewish Alexander the Great or Caesar a great conquer.

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    1. Michael…This is what is so fascinating about studying history…for each person who searches, something new and different emerges. As quantum physics said, we each bring to history what we find there…CMF

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