The Family of Mariamne in the End Times

download (2) Bernice
King Agrippa II and his sister Queen Bernice listening to Paul tell them about Jesus and the Resurrection.

The Book of Acts mentions both Queen Bernice and Princess Drusilla in ca 57-59 A.D. Paul had been arrested to save him from young priests who vowed to kill him for bringing Gentiles into the Temple and Roman Procurator Felix wanted to hear what Paul was saying that was causing such turmoil in Jerusalem. His nineteen year old wife Drusilla daughter of King Agrippa also came to hear him.

“And, after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. (Acts 24:24

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Agrippa’s Daughters–the last Queens of Jewish Palestine

berenice romeinspompeii.net
Queen Bernice…had a tricky time with her marriage alliances. Nothing she did…and she calmly complies with lots of nonsense in order to be safely “married off”…satisfied her detractors. And there is much more to come.

One other thing that Agrippa did to anger everyone hoping for a “purer” kingdom to come, was to “high-handedly” perpetuate the “wantonness” of his own virgin daughters. Josephus, bless him, tells us why they were so angered…

And thus did Agrippa depart this life. But he left behind him a son, Agrippa by name, a youth in the seventeenth year of his age, and three daughters, one of whom, Bernice, (he) married to Herod, his father’s brother, and was sixteen years old; the other two, Mariamne and Drusilla , were still virgins; the former was ten years old and Drusilla six. Now these his daughters were thus espoused by their father; Mariamne to Julius Archelaus Epiphanes, the son of Antiochus, the son of Chelcias; and Drusilla to the king of Commagena . Antiquities of the Jews XIX.IX.1

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Sapphira vs. Queen Glaphyra

Sapphira
The Death of Sapphira by Ambrose Francken II, in Dublin Castle, Ireland from Google images. Somehow Sapphira got herself depicted with her bodice ripped. The main difference between the Essen and the Jesus group was their inclusion of women. We have always been told that the Essenes were a celibate all male society…like Catholic priests…except for occasionally and where appropriate they “do not absolutely deny the fitness of marriage, and the succession of mankind thereby continued…” Wars II.VIII.2 The ruins of their headquarters on the Dead Sea has revealed a few female bodies…intriguing.

In my mission to compare the gospel stories to those in Josephus and ferret out the royal women’s roles in both, I was struck by the story of Sapphira and Ananias in the Book of Acts in the New Testament. It is an odd story…out of the blue…because it shows a totally different side to the disciples. And, because, believe it or not, I can compare it to a royal woman’s story. See what you think.

But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, and kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?…And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost…And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him. And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, yea, for so much. Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? Behold the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and carrying her forth, buried her with her husband. And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.  Acts 5: 1-11 

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The Damsel Queen Esther

(c) Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
A usual portrayal of Salome…nubile, partially naked with some sort of veils. More later.

We saw in the last blog that Salome was not a “damsel;” i.e.; 12 years old as Mark defined “damsel.

And when the daughter of the said Herodias came in, and danced, and pleased Herod and them that sat with him, the king said unto the damsel, Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee. And he sware unto her, Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom…Mark 6 and Matthew 14

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Salome Alexandra a Harlot in the Dead Sea Scrolls

GoogleDeadSeaScrolls-970-80
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.  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.)

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Shalomzion Regent

images (1)Salome Alexander
Salome Alexander, Regent of Judea (141-67 BCE) This and other woodcuts on this blog are from Guillaume Rouille’s iconography book of 950 woodcuts portraits published in Lyon, France in 1553 called Promptuarii Iconum Insigniorum per Wikipedia, for one.

John Hyrcanus stayed as High Priest and did not take the title of King but his sons will. They will change everything and not in a good way. Like Solomon’s son Rehoboam who broke the nation into Judah and Israel, the sons of John Hyrcanus were not fit to rule.

But when the successes of John and of his sons made them be envied, and occasioned a sedition in the country…and (John) was not ignorant of anything that was to come afterwards; insomuch that he foresaw and foretold that his two eldest sons would not continue masters of the government: and it will highly deserve our narration to describe their catastrophe, and how far inferior these men were to their father in felicity.  Wars of the Jews I. II.7-8

“Mistress of All”

John did something totally new. He left the kingdom to his unnamed wife. In effect sentencing her to death:

Now when their father Hyrcanus was dead, the eldest son Aristobulus, intending the change the government into a kingdom…first put a diadem on his head, four hundred and eighty-one years and three months after the people had been delivered from the Babylonian slavery…This Aristobulus loved his next brother Antigonus, and treated him as his equal; but the others he held in bonds and cast his mother into prison, because she disputed the government with him; for Hyrcanus had left her to be mistress of all. He also proceeded to that degree of barbarity, as to kill her in prison with hunger… Antiquities of the Jews XIII.XI.1

Nothing is really known about this woman/queen/regent, the wife of such a pivotal figure in Jewish history. No one over the centuries has bothered to give her a name…and yet, the revered John Hyrcanus left the nation in her hands. She is a nameless martry, in a way.

Yet she remains the precedent that allowed Shelamziyyon, her daughter-in-law, to indeed become queen a generation later. Jewish Women’s Archive (jwa.org)

Salome called Alexandra

Aristobulus, a Sadducee, was married to “Salome, who, by the Greeks, was called Alexandra.” It was a political alliance. She was a Pharisee who had a brother who was a very highly esteemed Pharisee and a Nasi, (prince of the congregation), head of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish High Court—an alliance of opposites to help keep the peace.

If John’s wife also had been of a leading Pharisee house, she may have been kin to Salome Alexander, her daughter-in-law. Her death in prison would have needed to be avenged. Whether it was revenge or because Aristobulus declared himself a king, he did not last long:

…upon this occasion, the queen very cunningly contrived the matter with those that plotted his ruin…Wars of the Jews I.III.3:

An elaborate plot unfolded to turn the three sons of John Hyrcanus feuding with each other ending with Aristobulus manipulated into killing his brother Antigonus. Aristobulus was then in turn probably poisoned as he became deathly ill very shortly after, or as he said:

“So I perceive I am not like to escape the all-seeing eye of God, as to the great crimes I have committed; but this vengeance of the blood of my kinsman pursues me hastily. O thou most impudent body! How long wilt thou retain a soul that ought to die, on account of that punishment it ought to suffer for a mother and a brother slain! How long shall I myself spend my blood drop by drop! Let them take it all at once; and let their ghosts no longer be disappointed by a few parcels of my bowels offered to them.” As soon as he had said these words, he presently died, when he had reigned no longer than a year.  Wars of the Jews I.III.4

Yet another Son of John Hyrcanus

When Aristobulus was dead, his wife Salome….let his brethren out of prison, (for Aristobulus had kept them in bonds, as we have said already,) and made Alexander Janneus king, who was the superior in age and in moderation. This child happened to be hated by his father as soon as he was born, and could never be permitted to come into his father’s sight till he died. The occasion of which hatred is thus reported: when Hyrcanus chiefly loved the two eldest of his sons, Antigonus and Aristobulus, God appeared to him in his sleep, of whom he inquired which of his sons should be his successor. Upon God’s representing to him the countenance of Alexander, he was grieved that he was to be the heir of all his goods, and suffered him to be brought up in Galilee. However, God did not deceive Hyrcanus, for after the death of Aristobulus, he certainly took the kingdom…Antiquities of the Jews XIII.XII.1

Apparently, Salome Alexander did not now oppose the title of king, as SHE “made” this son the king. She also must have claimed the Levirate Law[1] of the widow with no children—the claim to marry another son in her dead husband’s House in order to have a son to carry on his name—even though the Jewish Encyclopedia says that she was thirty-seven and he twenty-two when they married.

Alexander may have been a fairly good king in the expanding the territory and making war category, though he earned the nickname “Thracian”[2] for his ruthlessness. He had to contend with another flare-up of the “your (grand)mother was a captive in the war” issue, saying he wasn’t fit to be the High Priest, but could remain as the king. The people threw citrons at him when he tried to officiate in the Temple, anyway, and he killed 6,000 of the protesters right in the Temple. He and the Pharisees declared open war on each other with the Pharisees calling in Demetrius Eucerus, another dreaded Greek, to help them fight Alexander. He had to flee to the mountains but “Yehonatan the King”[3] eventually triumphed, and brought his enemies to Jerusalem and…

Did the most barbarous actions in the world to them; for as he was feasting with his concubines, in the sight of all the city, he ordered about eight hundred of them to be crucified; and while they were living, he ordered the throats of their children and wives to be cut before their eyes.  Antiquities of the Jews XIII.X.

Shalomzion as Regent

When Alexander Janneus the Sadducee died, he left the kingdom to his wife, as his father had done before him, because this time his sons may have been too young to inherit. But the documents Josephus was working from said that the reason he left the government to Salome (Shalomzion) Alexandra was that she was a Pharisee and they so hated him that they would kill his sons. He did it to help keep his sons alive long enough for them to inherit. The people had become polarized in a Sadducee vs. Pharisee divide…a Sunni vs. Shiite split…a red state vs. blue state impasse and though the ploy worked for a while, the split will flare up again. Salome Alexandra ruled as a regent for nine years and gave the Pharisees ascendancy and angered the Sadducees but did keep the peace while she was alive.

Notes

Excerpts from an article in HAARTZ (on-line)Sunday October 14, 2018

Decapitated 2,000-year-old Skeletons Unearthed at Downtown Jerusalem Dig

Most of the 125 skeletons belonged to women and children from the Jewish Pharisee sect, who were likely massacred by king Alexander Yannai of the rival Sadducees, archaeologists say

Some 125 human skeletons dating back more than 2,000 years have been dug up in the Russian Compound in downtown Jerusalem. Researchers have established that most of them are the remains of women and children who belonged to the separatist Pharisee community and had been decapitated. Members of this ancient sect of Judaism opposed the rule of Hasmonean King Alexander Jannaeus – popularly as Alexander Yannai – who apparently slaughtered them in the first century B.C.E…

Historic documentation abounds with gruesome descriptions of Yannai’s brutality. For example, Flavius Josephus (born Yosef Ben Matityahu) recounts an incident, during the celebration of the fall festival of Sukkot in 95 B.C.E., when masses subjects protested the fact that Yannai poured the ritual libation liquid on his feet instead of on the Temple altar. The crowd threw citrons at the king and in response, according to Josephus, the king sent in his troops, who murdered some 6,000 people. The historian notes that this event sparked an unsuccessful rebellion against Yannai, during which over 50,000 people were eventually murdered….

In his book “The Wars of the Jews,” Josephus noted another violent incident, in which, while Yannai was “drinking and lying down with his concubines” in a public place, he “ordered eight hundred to be hung upon crosses in the midst of the city” and “had the throats of their wives and children cut before their eyes.”

https://www.haaretz.com/archaeology/.premium-decapitated-2-000-year-old-skeletons-unearthed-at-jerusalem-dig-1.6553289?

[1] This Levirate Law will come up again and again and will be why John the Baptist was killed. (Deuteronomy 25:5-7)

[2] Antiquities of the Jews XIII.XIV.2  This whole section is pretty gruesome.

[3] There are coins with “King Jonathan” on them (see Jewish Encylopedia.com) and a hymn to “King Jonathan” was found in a Dead Sea Scroll, (4Q448). (Josephus’ “Essens” that he describes at length in this section, ca 160s B.C.