The Last Mary and the Apocalypse

080323-151749 The Virgin Mary in Glory from the book of Revelation
The Virgin Mary in Glory from the Book of Revelation

Josephus, lastly, tells a story about one final Mary…the last one in his index and on my list. This Mary’s story is pretty awful. She does something that is the crowning evil that a woman could do; and not just any woman but a wealthy noble woman. Even Josephus hesitates to tell her story, except I have innumerable witnesses to it in my own age….

There was a certain woman that dwelt beyond Jordan, her name was Mary; her father was Eleazar, of the village Bethezub, which signifies “the House of Hyssop.”[i] She was eminent for her family and for her wealth, and had fled to Jerusalem with the rest of the multitude, and was with them besieged therein at this time.

When all exits were closed to the Jews, every hope of escape was now eliminated; and the famine, strengthening its hold, devoured the people, houses and families, one after another. The roofs were full of women and infants in the last stages of exhaustion, the alleys with the corpses of the aged: children and young men, swollen with hunger, haunted the market places and collapsed wherever faintness overcame them…Many, as they buried the fallen, fell dead themselves, while others set out for their graves before their fate was upon them. And throughout these calamities, no weeping or lamentation was heard…Deep silence blanketed the city, and night laden with death was in the grip of a yet fiercer foe—the brigandsJosephus and The Jewish War V.XII.3 Cornfeld.

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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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