King of the Jews

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“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.

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Jesus son of Mariamne

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The Samaritan Woman at the Well. “There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, “Give me to drink.”…(after some back and forth about “living water” vs water in the well)…Jesus saith unto her, “Go call thy husband, and come hither.” The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said unto her, “Thou hast well said…for thou has had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.” The woman saith unto him “Sir…I know that Messias cometh…when he is come, he will tell us all things.” Jesus saith unto her, “I that speak unto thee am he.” And upon this came his disciples, and marveled that he talked with the woman…John 4: 7-26. Note that the disciples did not marvel that he talked to a Samaritan with whom Jews had many religious and political reasons for enmity. Nor did they notice that Jesus had just called himself the Messiah for the first time. They marveled that he spoke to a woman and a “sinner.” Remembering that Jesus taught that any re-marriage is adultery. “If a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.” Mark 10:12

The way the gospels are written—and let me say again, I am no expert, merely obsessed with comparing the royal women in Josephus to the gospel women and seeing what happens– nothing deep—it often seems to me that there were two factions among the followers of Jesus according to the way the gospels are written: women and everyone else. It has often been commented on that Jesus spoke to a lot of women for his day. The 70s feminists I read going so far as to make him the first “feminist.” For instance; Jesus was called upon to defend and/or “heal” the women around him, most of whom are considered to be “sinners” by the disciples. They also had a bias against the “rich.”  If even some of the disciples around Jesus were Essen in their outlook…not surprising if they had been disciples of John the Baptist who has long been considered to be at least affiliated with the Essenes, then it is understandable.  As Josephus said of the Essen:

This is demonstrated by that institution of theirs, which will not suffer anything to hinder them from having all things in common; so that a rich man enjoys no more of his own wealth than he who hath nothing at all. Antiquities of the Jews XVIII.I.5

Add to that the “sins” of Essen belief that I have quote twice earlier about how women are not to be trusted…and rich women were the worst sinners…even for the Rabbis, as we will see in the later posts. Mary Magdalene had money enough to support Jesus but also had seven devils. The Matthew and Luke birth stories also accuse Mary, as do the Rabbis of being an adulteress. The women with enough funds to purchase expensive ointment had to have been “sinners.”

Remember that the very first designation of family for Jesus was Mark 6:3:

“Is this not Jesus…the son of Mary.”

It was changed by each subsequent gospel to make it more patriarchal…because to call a man the son of his mother was unusual. It usually meant that he was illigitimate…and that is a possibility…given all the fuss made about his birth. But I think it is something more, of course. I think that calling Jesus the “son of Mary/Mariamne” placed him immediately for his audience for those with eyes to see and ears to hear. Even forty years after Jesus’ death and after the war that leveled the Jewish nation, Jews would have known what it meant as they were dispersed over the Mediterranean. He was a son of the royal house, a son of the Tower of Mariamne…and his wrongful death will play a part in the lead-up to that war with Rome…as I will attempt to show.

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