Agrippa vs. Herodias

Agrippa_I_A.K.A_Herod_Agrippa_or_simply_Herod_(10_BCE_-_44_CE),_King_of_the_Jews
Agrippa the Great, grandson of Mariamne the Queen and Herod the Great. He beat out Herodias, his sister, and Herod Antipas to restore the kingdom.

While Agrippa was in bonds in Rome but apparently dressed as a prince, waiting to be put into prison for hoping that Tiberius Caesar would just go ahead and die and let his friend Caius be emperor, a strange thing happened.

Now Agrippa stood in his bonds before the royal palace, and leaned on a certain tree for grief…and as a certain bird sat upon the tree on which Agrippa leaned (the Romans called this bird bubo,) [an owl,] one of (the others) that were bound, a German by nation saw him and asked a soldier who that man in purple was; and when he was informed that (he was a principal man of the nation of Jews the man asked to be able to speak to Agrippa and) said thus to him…

This sudden change of thy condition, O young man! Is grievous to thee…now wilt thou believe me, when I foretell how thou wilt get clear of this misery…and how Divine Providence will provide for thee. Know therefore…that…I think it fit to declare to thee the prediction of the gods. It cannot be that though (wilt) long continue in these bonds…and wilt be promoted to the highest dignity and power…But, do thou remember, when thou seest this bird again, that thou wilt then live but five days longer. This event will be brought to pass by that God who hath sent this bird hither to be a sign unto thee…Antiquities of the Jews XVIII.VI.7

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More Kings to Come

More Kings
More Kings to Come…

That sign–King of the Jews–nailed over Jesus’ head was meant as a deterrent as kings everywhere put the heads of their enemies on stakes. Herod Antipas and Herodias were sending a warning not to get in their way, as they did with their killing of John the Baptist. They knew that only those of their own House would try to stop their bid for the kingdom…because that is where the bloodline was.

And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.” Matthew 12:25 (Speaking from Hasmonean/Herodian family history?)

But with Jesus and John now dead, who was left to challenge Antipas?

Continue reading “More Kings to Come”

King of the Jews

http://www.jesus-story.net/images/e60f720938d663ce46243db4d314cf82.jpg
“What is Truth” by Nicholas Gai. Jesus before Pilate. Pilate is depicted looking Roman and Jesus looking like a Jewish peasant or revolutionary. But John says that the soldiers cast lots over Jesus’ clothes and that his “coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout.” It is hard today to imagine soldiers casting lots over scruffy rags and it is even harder to imagine my version of Mary/Mariamne III riding into Jerusalem beside her son being acclaimed as a King of the Jews and appearing before Pilate to make his case dressed as anything less than a prince of the realm.

After riding into the city as a king invoking David—but with levels upon levels of meaning…perhaps also as the King to Come “with all things in his power”—that might allow room for the return of a king who was a descendant of the Hasmonean Queen….the House of King and High Priest together who had defied the rule that only a descendant of David could be king for about 100 years…but lost the kingdom after a long war to Herod and his Roman legions in 37 B.C.

After Jesus entered Jerusalem as a king, it seems that things quiet back down and he goes into the Temple in the mornings to teach and at night returns to Bethany…another few ordinary days. Then one morning…

…they came to Jerusalem and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves; and would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple. And he taught them saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? But ye have made it a den of thieves… (Mark 11:15-17)

All four gospels say this happened and John says it happened twice. But they all say Jesus calmly went back into the porticos and taught and when even was come, he went out of the city.

Continue reading “King of the Jews”

In Defense of Mary

Head_of_Mary_Jose_de_Ribera_1637
The Head of Mary by Jose de Ribera 1637 http://www.bible-people.info/Mary.htm

Matthew was the first gospel to add a birth story, probably to answer questions about Mary that persisted in ca 100 A.D. Matthew is the most Jewish of the gospels so his birth story is told from Joseph’s perspective. And yet, Matthew subtly makes Mary more important than Joseph, to the point of saying that he is not Jesus’ father.

And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Messiah. Matthew 1:16

That is exactly the birth story Matthew fleshed out.

Now the birth of Jesus…was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child… Matthew 1: 18-19

If Joseph had a Davidic bloodline and had contracted an alliance with a young virgin princess who could bear a contender for the throne…this was a blow…even with her  prophecy that she would be the one to bear such a son…even and especially if the real father was Herodian…so it is understandable that the two birth stories, Matthew and Luke’s, while quite different, the emphasis was put on Mary’s virginity:

“Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel.” (1:23)…or “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS…” (1:21)…

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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 the Damsel Queen

Salome_coin
Said to be a coin of Salome daughter of Herodias

So while Josephus and Luke, politically, lay the death of John the Baptist at the feet of Herod Antipas, Mark clearly blames Herodias and her daughter Salome for John’s beheading.

And when a convenient day was come, that Herod on his birthday made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee; And when the daughter of the said 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 she went forth, and said unto her mother, What shall I ask? And she said, The head of John the Baptist. And she came in straightway with haste unto the king, and asked, saying, I will that thou give me…the head of John the Baptist.

And the king was exceeding sorry; yet for his oath’s sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her. And immediately the king sent an executioner and commanded his head to be brought; and he went and beheaded him in the prison, and brought his head in a charger, and gave it to the damsel: and the damsel gave it to her mother. Mark 6:21-28

“Damsel” is a term often found linked with “virgin” as in Deuteronomy 22:28-29 which says: If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed…Also, Mark helpfully clarifies exactly what the term means…

And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, “Talitha cumi;” which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise. And straightaway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. (Mark 5:39-42)

We are being told that Herodias’ daughter was a young virgin—perhaps betrothed–as discussed earlier and we will see again–virgins were most often kept indoors to preserve their virginity.  But we the reader have added to Salome’s character a voluptuous Lolita-like pre-teen pursuing her own perverted ways at the expense of God’s elect: a typical  teenager girl in some circles. But Herodias’ daughter could not have been a mere “damsel.”

Herodias…had a daughter Salome…married to Philip, the son of Herod, the tetrarch of Trachonitis… Antiquities of the Jews XVIII.V.4.

Let’s look at that: Continue reading “Salome the Damsel Queen”

Herodias sister of Mariamne III

Herodias_by_Paul_Delaroche
Herodias, look her up on Google images…this is the first image that comes up. It is almost impossible to find a decent representation of her without the head of John the Baptist. Yet, Josephus gives us a different side to her beside the evil she and her daughter have come to represent for over 2000 years.

Herodias was Mariamne III’s sister, also a granddaughter of Mariamne I and Herod the King and was kin to all the other Mariamnes in Josephus. Her father had been executed by her grandfather. Her other grandmother was Salome sister of Herod. She was a veteran of the harem wars and the “abuse of the virgins” trial along with her sister. If she hadn’t been cleared of the charge of un-virginity, she could never have been betrothed to Herod son of Mariamne II, daughter of Simon the High Priest.

But then, suddenly, Herodias, perhaps even still below the age of puberty” was on the outside looking in. Her mother-in-law was divorced by Herod for plotting against him and was thrown out of court and Herodias and her young husband with her. Her husband’s prophecy made in the Temple by Simon the High Priest and his alliance/betrothal to a granddaughter of Mariamne the Hasmonean queen was not fulfilled. There was no re-betrothal for either of them. When next heard from in Josephus Herodias has a grown daughter—unfortunately not a son—and was living in a palace in Caesarea and was still the wife of the same by-passed Herod. Continue reading “Herodias sister of Mariamne III”