Alexandra Queen Mother of Mariamne the Virgin

herod
A Young Herod…this photo of a statue of Herod was found in a Jerusalem dig. I could find no original source for it. But statues were forbidden Jews and no likenesses were to be used on coins, either. Herod did not put his “image” on coins he minted but Herod always pushed the envelope where practicing Judaism was concerned. As will Alexandra mother of Mariamne…as we will see.

After the beheading of her warrior prince husband, Alexandra daughter of Hyrcanus II, (Hasmonean Ethnarch and High Priest backed by Rome) did not remarry but returned to her father’s home as a widow. She devoted herself to her daughter Mariamne and her son Jonathan Aristobulus as Queen Mother. Mariamne was at the age of betrothal for a royal virgin and was an asset to be used with care. Because…to add to the mix…their long-time benefactor and buffer with Rome, Antipater, had just been poisoned by someone.

The Marriage Alliance from Hell

Hyrcanus and his daughter Alexandra now make a controversial move that will change everything.  What pushed them to do what they did was the dire fact that Hyrcanus still needed a Roman protector because his nemesis, his now dead brother Aristobulus, had a second son who was beginning to make noises about getting an army together to fight Hyrcanus for the kingdom…yet again…So he and his daughter did something illegal and devastating but that also kept the nation intact under Roman protection rather than in another war they couldn’t win…Alexandra betrothed her young virgin princess daughter Mariamne to Herod son of Antipater. Continue reading “Alexandra Queen Mother of Mariamne the Virgin”

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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The Last Davidic Queen Mother

Eastern Icon of Mary and Queen Mother
An Eastern Orthodox Icon of Mary as Queen Mother. This one shows Mary’s mother and father, not in the gospels. http://www.ukrainianmuseumlibrary.org/images/icons/queen-mother-with-jesus-big.jpg.

The last Davidic king’s mother is mentioned twice using the actual term gebirah[i] (queen mother)…

Jehoiachin…“and his mother’s name was Nehushta the daughter of Elnathan.”  II Kings 24:8

She rode out with her son to be taken into captivity in Babylon. She was mentioned before his “princes.”

Then when tiny Judah was defeated in their battle against Nebuchadnezzar…And Jehoiachin the king of Judah went out to the king of Babylon, he, and his mother and his servants, and his princes, and his officers: and the king of Babylon took him in the eighth year of his reign. II King 24:12

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Mother and Daughter Queens of the Divided Kingdom

D200px-Jezebel01id you know that the queen mother of every Davidic king is named in the Old Testament? It took me a while to figure that out. Bathsheba is not mentioned again after she was received in Solomon’s court as a queen mother (in the last post) and I hope she wasn’t around to see her son run amok in the queen/consort/strange women department.

But king Solomon loved many strange women… he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart…. And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD… (with) all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods. I Kings 11

This is the format used for naming Davidic kings with their mothers beginning with Solomon’s heir:

And Rehoboam the son of Solomon reigned in Judah, Rehoboam was forty and one years old when he began to reign…And his mother’s name was Naamah an Ammonitess. I Kings XIV.21, II Chronicles XII.13

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Bathsheba, from Consort to Queen Mother

rembrandt_bathseba_brief_kln
Bathseba at her bath was a popular subject for the old masters. This one by Rembrandt is one of the nudest. http://www.artbible.info/images/rembrandt_bathseba_brief_kln.jpg

Bathsheba’s story in II Samuel 11 is another beloved tale. King David from his tower in the City of David spies Bathsheba taking a bath on a rooftop and calls her to him. When she is pregnant, David sent her husband Uriah off to the front lines of the current war to be killed. But, again we have two stories. In the other version she is called “daughter of Eliam.” According to Wikipedia:

Bathsheba was a daughter of Eliam, one of David’s “thirty” (2 Sam. 23:34; cf 1 Chr. 3:5); Eliam was also the son of Ahitophel, one of David’s chief advisors…and thus Bathsheba was from David’s own tribe and the granddaughter of one of David’s closest advisors (2 Sam.15:12).

So, again, love had very little to do with it. The parties had negotiated a marriage alliance, albeit a nasty one. She would bring to the relationship the backing of her military family and David was in the middle of a war. For her part, David’s marriage to Bathsheba gave her the promise that a son of hers would inherit the kingdom.

The Role of a Wife of the King

We learn a lot from Bathsheba. She was given speaking parts like Queen Michal as she pursued her primary duty at court; fighting for the rights of her son. The author of I Kings gives this speech:

And Bathsheba went in unto the king into the chamber…and did obeisance unto the king. And the king said, What wouldest thou? And she said unto him, My lord, thou swarest by the LORD thy God unto thine handmaid, saying, Assuredly Solomon thy son shall reign after me…And now Adonijah reigneth and…thou knowest it not…And the king sware, and said…Assuredly Solomon thy son shall reign after me…Then Bathsheba bowed with her face to the earth, and did reverence to the king, and said, Let my lord king David live forever. I Kings 1:10-31 Continue reading “Bathsheba, from Consort to Queen Mother”

Tamar Virgin Daughter of King David

Etruscangirl
Statue of a young Etruscan girl. I have not found a depiction of Tamar showing her virgin’s striped coat as commented on by both the biblical story and Josephus.

Brand new King David decided to deny Michal daughter of the first king Saul her right to bear an heir to their combined kingdom. It was now his kingdom and he had lots of wives in the way of the known world at that time. David had lots of wives and lots of heirs…the priest’s worst nightmare. And, predictably, in the way of kingdoms and harems, the court then revolved around which wife’s son would be his heir. Mothers of sons played politics both at court and in their bedroom during their designated visit from the king. When the wives of the sons of David were incorporated into the harem as “daughters of King David,” they were treated as young goddesses who probably liked to flaunt their own bloodlines and youthful beauty…but…as Michal found out…David demanded their worship…and no laughing..he wrote a Psalm about them.

All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces…Kings’ daughters were among thy honourable women: upon thy right hand did stand the queen in gold of Ophir. Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house; So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him. Psalm 45:8-11, KJV

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Michal daughter of King Saul

Michal watching David Dance before the Ark
Michal daughter of King Saul watching her husband King David dance naked before the Arc of the Covenant.

How David got to be the second King of Israel is a complicated story with two versions side by side in the Old Testament. The Priest’s version begun in the last post has the LORD denounce his first choice Saul and next send Samuel to the home of Jesse, a man with seven or eight sons from whom the Lord chose the youngest, David to be the second king…

for he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance and goodly to look to.” The LORD told Samuel, “Arise anoint him: for this is he. I Samuel 16-17

Fortunately, the political story is right there also, with the tale of the young warrior David who endeared himself to King Saul and his son Jonathan and became so popular with the people that Saul felt he had to offer him his eldest daughter Merab in marriage in a classic marriage alliance with your friend/enemy. But, David, knowing nothing about his own special anointing, refused:

Who am I? and what is my life, or my father’s family in Israel, that I should be son-in-law to the king? I Samuel 18:18

Since David could not afford to marry a daughter of the king, Saul sent him off to kill Philistines and gather 100 foreskins which he would accept as his daughter’s bride’s price or dowry. Much to Saul’s annoyance, David came back with the foreskins. He reneged on giving David his eldest daughter, though, and gave him his next daughter Michal:

I will give him her, that she may be a snare to him...I Samuel 18:21

We are told that Michal loved David and proved herself his ally against her father who tried to kill him repeatedly. At last David fled King Saul, leaving Michal behind,* and went to Hebron to rally the troops to his side. As David’s role as military commander grew, he started marrying other wives, as was customary but also, at least in part, because of this:  Continue reading “Michal daughter of King Saul”