Beloved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus & Simon

(c) Glasgow Museums; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
(c) Glasgow Museums; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation Jesus resurrecting his Beloved friend Lazarus with Martha and Mary in attendance. Notice that Mary is on her knees and facing Jesus rather than her brother newly out of the grave. She is usually depicted as doing obeisance to her Lord…as in betrothed…and as king.

As I have attempted to show, royalty did not marry for love…they made marriage alliances. If Jesus saved a betrothal or marriage until just before going up to Jerusalem to make his case to Pilate and through him to Rome, my guess is that the marriage was an alliance that would strengthen his bloodline case. Also, saving the marriage ceremony for just before going up to Jerusalem–Jesus is quoted often as being against marriage…until the kingdom came…this fateful trip up to Jerusalem, it seems, was his deliberate inauguration of the return of the kingdom.

The Family Whom Jesus Loved…

Simon, Martha, Mariamne, and Lazarus are the names of the “friends” of Jesus in Bethany. “Simon” in conjunction with a “Mariamne” rang a bell for me, as it might for you by now, because of High Priest Simon son of Boethus and his daughter Mariamne II married to Herod the King. But I had to research the other two names to see if there was a connection to be made…

Martha

Believe it or not, in the last days of the war with Rome in 68-70 A.D., the rabbis tell several stories of rich arrogant (sinning) women of the city. One woman was named Martha daughter of Boethus:

“It happened that when Martha the daughter of Boethus was betrothed to Yehoshua ben Gamla, the king appointed him to be the High Priest, and they were married. Once, she said: I will go and see him (the High Priest) when he reads (the Torah) on Yom Kippur in the Temple. They laid out carpets for her from the entrance of her house to the gateway of the Temple so that her feet not be exposed (to the ground), even so, her feet were exposed…. (Mishnah Yevamo 6:4; Sifra, Emor 2:6)

A Martha daughter of Boethus was betrothed to a Jesus/Yeoshua who was then named as the High Priest…a marriage alliance…and a typical way, as we have seen, to keep the high priesthood in the family. (This story can be seen as a parody on the gospel stories…i.e., similar use of the word “feet.” And Martha’s feet are not even allowed to touch the ground but in John she is the one doing all the housework.

But from the story, we now know that “Martha” was also a Boethus family name. And Simon was variously called a Pharisee and a leper. “Leper” as a mean nickname was not unfitting for a High Priest who had been deposed, his daughter divorced, and his grandson and heir kicked out of the succession and his two sons tortured over a plot to kill Herod…and who even thirty years later found themselves living in a “poor” village outside of the city. (“Bethany” means House of the Poor.)

That Name Lazarus

From Josephus, we know that Mariamne the High Priest’s daughter had two brothers named Joazar and Eleazar who were also High Priests. There are differing opinions on whether they were sons of Simon or brothers…but all three plus a brother-in-law, Matthias husband of another unnamed daughter, (Elizabeth…my theory) will be High Priest for a short time in the last days of Herod and the early reign of Archelaus. See post on Elizabeth daughter of Aaron.

But where is Lazarus in all this? Well, The Jewish Encyclopedia On-Line says this about the name Eleazar…

Eleazar son of Boethus was the High Priest of Israel from 4 B.C. to a time before 6 A.D. “Lazarus” is the Greek form of the Hebrew Eleazar. Like Lazarus, Eleazar had two well-known sisters, Miriam and Martha. Baltz uses texts from the Talmud and Midrashim to argue that these are the same Mary and Martha that we find in the gospels. Their brother and former High Priest Eleazar was the “Lazarus” whom Jesus raised from the dead, his Beloved Disciple.[2] [3]

The same source indicates that “Joazar” is a variation on the name “Boethus.” Lazarus has for some become the “Beloved Disciple” because of the passages on how Jesus loved him. (See last post) But I would like to add a daughter of the queen’s perspective:

Now when their father Hyrcanus was dead, the eldest son Aristobulus…loved his next brother Antigonus and treated him as his equal; but the others he held in bonds…Antiquities of the Jews XIII.XI.1

Mariamne of Bethany, therefore, would be the link between the two tribes…she was the available virgin in the right place at the right time to make the alliance between an outsider heir to the kingdom raised in Galilee with a mother with a questionable background but a royal blood tie, probably anathema to her right wing… and an outsider High Priest exiled in a poor village in the hill country. If Jesus had become “King of the Jews,” she would have been queen, Mariamne VI by my count.

Mariamne of Bethany

Mary of Bethany

The gospels were written from ca 90 A.D. to 135 A.D., well after the war with Rome in 65-70 A.D. With the Temple destroyed, priests were no longer needed…and many of the younger priests had fought the Romans and died, but the Pharisees, soon to be called “rabbis,” were allowed to have a center to study in Galilee. We have seen a small portion of the rabbis’ war of words with the gospel writers reflected in the anti-Semitism in the gospels and the slanders of Mary in rabbinic writings…all happening after the death of Jesus but still affecting the written story that came later. Their writings are where I found Martha daughter of Boethus. In that vein, there is one other woman the rabbis speak of from the last days of Jerusalem named Miriam/Mary. Here is where it gets tricky…ha.

Miriam daughter of Nicodemus

The Rabbi’s loved to tell stories in the “Midrash” (Definition: an ancient commentary on part of the Hebrew scriptures, attached to the biblical text. The earliest Midrashim come from the 2nd century AD, although much of their content is older) of wealthy uppity women in the city and their tragic ends when the siege was broken, and Jerusalem destroyed in ca 65-70 A.D. One of the stories is about one such woman of the city and ointment.

“A happening with Miriam the daughter of Nakdimon that the Rabbis granted her…500 dinari a year for her perfume needs…. She cursed them, saying: ‘I would like to see you apportion such an amount for your own daughters!’ R. Acha said: We answered “amen” after her! (From website Midrishet Lindenbaum of Irene Stern College: “A Shiu for Tisha Be’Av” Two Midrashim on the Destruction of Jerusalem (Eicha Rabba 1:47-8)

Miriam daughter of Nicodemus was an arrogant, spoiled woman of the city with a fondness for ointments showing that a woman didn’t have to be a prostitute to have access to alabaster jars. She needed to have a rich father, though. I found this passage in the Jewish Encyclopedia Online:

Men should not go out on the street perfumed (Ber. 43b); but women perfume themselves when going out (see Josephus, “B. J.” iv. 9, 10). A wife could demand one-tenth of her dowry-income for unguents and perfumes; the daughter of the rich Nicodemus ben Gorion was accustomed to spend annually four hundred gold denarii for the same (Ket. 66b).

Coincidentally, this Mary/Miriam’s father–or perhaps a next generation Nicodemus–shows up only in John’s gospel, as a secret follower of Jesus who also deals in expensive spices…

So (Joseph of Arimathea) came and took away his body. Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. So, they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices…. (John 3:1 and 19:38-42)

There is more.

Martha in the Last Days

They laid out carpets for her from the entrance of her house to the gateway of the Temple so that her feet not be exposed (to the ground) ….

The rich and arrogant women’s decadent behavior in the last days of Jerusalem was used by the later Rabbis as a reason for God’s retribution. And, as was fitting, God inflicted a terrible end on Martha daughter of Boethus.…

The Talmud recounts the story of her last day during the Roman siege of Jerusalem (Talmud Gittin 56a.) At that time, Martha sent her manservant out to bring her some fine flour, but it was sold out…In desperation, without putting on her shoes, she went out to see if she could find anything to eat. She stepped in some dung and died of shock. Rabban Johanan ben Zakkai thus applied to her the Biblical verse. “The tender and delicate woman among you who would not adventure to set the sole of her foot upon the ground.” (Deut. 28:56.) …When Martha was about to die, she brought out all her gold and silver and threw it in the street, saying, “What is the good of this to me,” thus giving effect to the verse, “They shall cast their silver in the streets.” (Ezek. 7:19.) (Talmud Gittin 56a.) [1]

One further thing to note: According to Josephus’ index only one man is listed under the name “Lazarus”, so it wasn’t common and, oddly, not proving anything but showing a certain continuance…the story is about the last days of Jerusalem and dead bodies…

But why should I describe these calamities individually, for Manneus, son of Lazarus, who fled to Titus in those days told him that through a single gate that had been entrusted to him 15,800 corpses had been carried out…All of these were the bodies of the poor…The rest were “buried” by their own kin, who merely took them out and threw them clear of the city…Wars of the Jews V.XIII.7

[1] Wikipedia.com Martha daughter of Boethus

[i] See Jewish Women’s Archive for a fuller story of the very rich Martha daughter of Boethus who bought the high priesthood for her husband Jesus/Joshua/Yehoshua ben Gamla.

Mariamne III through V vs. Mary Mother of Jesus

Black Mary
Modified author’s photo of a statue at the Black Madonna Grotto in Eureka MO.

Now we enter a time of almost too many Marys to keep track of…many more qualified people than I have tried to determine which of the Marys named by Josephus could have been the mother of Jesus. I went through them and tried to track what betrothals and marriages we know about and came up with “my theory.”  I’ll lay it out here and you can see what you think. So far, we know about…

Mariamne I was the Hasmonean Queen married to Herod the King.

Mariamne II was the daughter of Simon son of Boethus’ marriage alliance with Herod the King which allowed him to become the dynastic High Priest.

Mariamne III was the granddaughter of Mariamne I and Herod the King.

Mariamne IV

Mariamne IV did not play any role in the Jewish royal court though her mother Olympias was the daughter of Herod the King and Malthace the Samaritan and she was the sister of Archelaus and Antipas who were key players in the gospel stories as Herodian kings. She was given a good betrothal, though one meant to knock down the status of a grandson of Mariamne I.

Aristobulus (son of Mariamne the Queen) left these infants when he was slain by his father…but when they were arrived at the age of puberty, this Herod, (the eldest son), married Mariamne, the daughter of Olympias, who was the daughter of Herod the king, and of Joseph the son of Joseph who was brother to Herod the king, and had by her a son, Aristobulus…Antiquities of the Jews XVIII.V.4

Mariamne IV will die young and not play a role except as wife of an heir of the next generation.

Mariamne V

I left out one crucial phrase about this Mariamne when I quoted it in my last post in order to give her her due…

Moreover, (Archelaus) transgressed the law of our fathers, and married Glaphyra…anddivorced his former wife Mariamne and married her, so great was his affection for her.  Antiquities of the Jews XVII.XIII.1-4

This Mariamne that I have made Mariamne V is a mystery woman and this is the only mention of her in Josephus but she was a Queen in Judaea for maybe 8-9 years before Archelaus divorced her. (See genealogy chart below.)

Considering what happened to Archelaus after he divorced this Mariamne (in the last blog post) it wouldn’t be too far afield to suggest that the divorce—which meant breaking a marriage alliance with a Mariamne with a possible Hasmonean and her backers—and making a different alliance with the daughter of a foreign king not sanctioned by Rome, probably got him deposed by Rome.

Which Mariamne could be Mary the mother of Jesus?

As we have seen, Mariamne was a popular name among royals at just this time with both Hasmonean and High Priestly associations. It is a matter of time and availability. I have already stated that I think that Mariamne III is Jesus’ mother, and I will defend her here while also laying out the reasoning behind other choices. The first concern is usually who was Mariamne V, the divorced wife of Archelaus…the choices are:

  • Mariamne III the Virgin, granddaughter of Mariamne the Queen betrothed widow of Antipater.
  • The daughter of King Antigonus married to Antipater…unnamed but also newly widowed who, if she was then Archelaus’ wife, would now be known to be another Mariamne.

The Virgin Orphan as the Wife of Archelaus

Mariamne III is frankly first choice for most researcher to be the wife of Archelaus. She was young and about the age of puberty and recently betrothed to Antipater Herod’s heir to the kingdom. She was recently widowed with the execution of Antipater…and was perhaps still a virgin—if Antipater had saved the consummation of his marriage alliance to her for his coronation as Herod did with Mariamne I. But not likely because of the orneriness of Antipater and the “abuse of the virgins” trial. Her virginity would be in question. One could see Herod approving of a match for Mariamne III with Archelaus in his new will…though no betrothal for Archelaus was given by Josephus; nor has a re-betrothal listing for Mariamne III survived. If they were betrothed to each other, then just the one listing for both is missing.

However, here is my main quarrel with Mariamne “III” being Archelaus’ wife: Timing. If we take the gospels of Matthew and Luke as containing any “real” history, then Mariamne III disappearing from the court record after her betrothal to Antipater and “Mary” appearing in the gospel birth stories in opposition to Herod and Archelaus makes sense—but she could not be in two places at the same time. Both Matthew and Luke tell the birth story quite differently but when you take a step back, they do both use the same kernel of a story—that Mary was pregnant before she was betrothed to Joseph and that her pregnancy and son’s birth were cause for persecution from Herod and his son Archelaus, forcing her to flee Jerusalem and Judea.

Then compare that to a “Mariamne wife of Archelaus,” who at just this time was most likely in Jerusalem assisting Archelaus in his attempt to appear kingly…even needing her presence and bloodline beside him on the dais—and for the trip to Rome…”at just this time.”

Daughter of King Antigonus

That does not mean that “Mariamne wife of Archelaus” did not have a Hasmonean tie. The other most mentioned wife for Archelaus is the unnamed daughter of King Antigonus. A fly in the ointment is that she would have been born before her father was executed in 37 B.C. when Herod officially became King of the Jews. She was married to Antipater son of Herod who was in his 50’s when he was executed, and they had a son and a daughter old enough to be caught up in the betrothal wars when Antipater had himself also betrothed to Mariamne III the pre-puberty virgin.

They seem to me to be two separate individuals. The daughter of King Antigonus would be considerably older than Archelaus—my guesstimate for her is around 40 years old to his seventeen. Mariamne III would be just past puberty. The wife of a king being considerably older is not unheard of in royal political marriage alliances, as we saw with Glaphyra being older than Archelaus…maybe he just liked older women…so that is not a deal-breaker. As wife of Antipater, she was documented as being in the city for his trial. She would have been a good choice politically for the weak Archelaus, as she was a genuine daughter of the last Hasmonean King and known to Rome as not being a troublemaker…She didn’t seem to be part of the band of “merry” women at court, for instance and accompanied her husband to his trial. So, she is a possibility and since we now know that Archelaus’ wife was named Mariamne. She could then be Mariamne III and Mariamne the Orphan Virgin, Mariamne IV. Since it isn’t an actual quote from Josephus, I will leave the numbering the same…but you get the idea.

A Previously Unknown Younger Princess

I would like to add another young woman to the list of royal wives for Archelaus. There is a royal daughter who got sidestepped in the betrothal wars for the Orphans; the children of Herod’s executed sons by Mariamne the Hasmonean Queen; the daughter of Antipater AND the unnamed daughter of King Antigonus (above). The daughter is also unnamed though she was betrothed second in the cement mixer of betrothals.

He(rod) also caused them to be betrothed against they should come to the proper age of marriage…Antipater’s daughter to Aristobulus’s eldest son (Herod) ….Antiquities of the Jews XVII.I.2

Trying to keep this bearable…Antipater would not allow this Herod, grandson of Mariamne I and brother to Mariamne III, to have a prime betrothal to his own daughter. (Young Herod son of Aristobulus will show up later married to Mariamne IV, above. He was another possible heir to the throne, in effect, knocked out of the race to be king to please Antipater. But so was Antipater’s own daughter (granddaughter of Hasmonean King Antigonus).

Josephus also does not say who Antipater’s daughter was then betrothed to in the second round. She is not heard from again as “Antipater’s daughter.” But she has blood rights being the granddaughter of King Antigonus and the daughter of Antipater the previous heir to the kingdom and King Herod, himself. She would have to have been re-betrothed to someone worthy. So, it is possible that she was then re-betrothed to Archelaus as next heir in line after Herod son of Mariamne II the High Priest’s daughter was deposed as already noted, no re-betrothal for her or Archelaus was listed in Josephus. She is equally possible and if so, she was Mariamne V…and has my vote.

All the Mariamnes vs. Mariamne wife of Archelaus and/or “Our” Mary

Mariamnes vs Mary

Conflation—or All the Above

It has long been standard operating procedure to conflate any combination of the royal women to make the wife of Archelaus. (The unnamed daughter of King Antigonus + Mariamne wife of Archelaus = “our Mary.” If you are a fan of Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code, you know that combining women is exactly what we like to do with Mary of Bethany+ the unnamed “sinning rich woman” + Mary Magdalene = one wife for Jesus son of Mary.

A Note about Joseph the Just

It has gotten complicated, and I even scare myself, worrying that I have gotten so far off the beaten path that I am “making stuff up.” [i] The thing that keeps me going on good days is that the similarities keep coming…take for instance, Joseph.

Then Joseph her husband, being a just man…Matthew 1:18-20

Matthew says that “Joseph” was a “just” man as Elizabeth was a pure daughter of a High Priest, “just and righteous.”  But we are very carefully NOT told who Joseph is. Since Matthew and Luke give us genealogies that don’t agree on who Joseph’s father was…it is hard to accept either one. We are never told who Mary was, whose daughter she was, to what House she belonged. The House and lineage of both the mother and father of Jesus are veiled. So, I am here suggesting that “Joseph” might be Joseph of Elemus who we saw was the High Priest for one day, on the Day of Atonement, where he would have been expected to receive a prophecy as Joseph in the New Testament did and Zacharias husband of Elizabeth did also.

the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph…fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife; for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and though shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people….Matthew I:20-21

As we continue on with Josephus and the gospels, let’s read them with this Joseph in mind and see what happens…

The Long Death of Herod

By now even Herod knew he was dying and devised a way to harass his ungrateful people even after he was dead. After killing the “innocents” and the “wise men” as we saw in the last post, Herod, from his Jericho palace, hatched the following plot. He was…

…in such a melancholy state of body…when he proceeded to attempt a horrid wickedness; for he got together the most illustrious men of the whole Jewish nation, out of every village, into a place called the Hippodrome (at Jericho), and there shut them in. He then called for his sister Salome…“I know well enough that the Jews will keep a festival upon my death; however, it is in my power to be mourned for on other accounts… if you will but be subservient to my commands. Do you but take care to send soldiers to encompass these men that are now in custody, and slay them immediately upon my death, and then all Judea, and every family of them, will weep at it whether they will or no.”  Wars of the Jews I. XXXIII.6, and Antiquities of the Jews XII.VI.3

And, it is repeated, I think, by Luke in the New Testament…

And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.  And Joseph also went…out of the city of Nazareth into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David); To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. Luke 2:1-5

This tax has always been a puzzle. Luke has caused centuries of perplexity over the actual birth date of Jesus because the only census in this time frame was taken ten years after the death of Herod—where Josephus places it. Most think that Luke simply got it wrong but I think that Luke was taking the existing story…that would have been well known…of the calling of the “illustrious” men to Jericho to ratify Herod’s new heir (or be killed, if they refused) and gave it a Davidic spin. Bethlehem was King David’s place of birth and was geographically near Jericho. And, like his reference to the “most excellent Theophilus” Luke is giving us a hint for those with eyes to see that “Joseph” was one of the principal men…as was the “most excellent Theophilus.” (I:1)  According to Josephus’ index two men named “Theophilus” will later be High Priests.

So, operating under the assumption, for the moment, that Joseph son of Heli according to Luke–was Joseph son of Ellemus of a high priestly family worthy of serving as the High Priesthood on the Day of Atonement when the actual High Priest Matthias son of Theophilus could not. It was an incredible honor to be the High Priest on the only day of the year that the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies and was traditionally expected to receive a prophecy for the nation while in there. (And, except for the name change from Mattathias to Zacharias, it could be Zacharias’ story.)

This Joseph son of Ellemus was a kinsman of “Matthias son of Theophilus (Antiquities of the Jews XVII.VI.4) who was then also kin to the “most excellent Theophilus, to whom Luke addressed his gospel. Having a priest take over for you on the day of the fast was, I would think, a rare occurrence. The priest who took over for Matthias son of Theophilus would have been a celebrity in Jerusalem in those awful last days of Herod the King. Per Luke his Joseph would have been kin to Simon son of Boethus and Elizabeth daughter of Aaron…and would have been, at least momentarily, a priest with purer hands…a “just” man without Herodian blood.

Joseph son of Ellemus drops out of the official record after his big day…at just this time, as will Mariamne III…at just this time…ca 6-4 B.C. Something to at least consider.

The Rabbi’s think it over…

There are two additional rabbinic thoughts on Joseph b. Elam/Ellemus, though. Quoting from the Jewish Encyclopedia on Matthias son of Theophilus:

On the eve of a Day of Atonement—for the priest the most important time in the year—he had become ritually unclean, and consequently was unable to perform the duties of his office, which were discharged instead by his kinsman Joseph ben Ellem (“Ant.” xvii. 6, § 4). This occurrence is mentioned in the Talmud (Tosef., Yoma, i. 4; Yoma 12b; Yer. Yoma 38d), although the name of Matthias ben Theophilus is omitted. “It happened to Joseph b. Elam of Sepphoris that after a disqualifying accident had happened to the high priest, he was appointed in the former’s place.”

The new piece of information is that Joseph ben “Elam” was from Sepphoris.[1] Sepphoris was a large city four miles from where the present day Nazareth is located. And…

The Rabbis forbade him afterward to officiate, even as a common priest (Yoma 12b; Hor. 12b)[2]

If Joseph was not allowed to be a priest in the Temple anymore, it would also free him up to move out of Jerusalem. I can speculate no further about Joseph. He is a mystery man…and so is Joseph son of Elemus. Try googling him. But he was kin to Matthias son of Theophilis and therefore also kin by marriage to Elizabeth mother of John the Baptist and it would make sense of Mary’s sudden trip to see her “cousin” after being betrothed to this “Joseph.”

But is here anything linking Joseph of Elemus to being a “carpenter?

The Carpenter Designation

The question then becomes even more crucial if Joseph b. Elem had high priestly ties, why was Jesus and/or Joseph thought to be carpenters?

Mark 6:3 “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary…”

Matthew 13:55  “Is not this the carpenter’s son, is not his mother called Mary…”

So, rather belatedly, I googled “carpentry” and Jesus and eventually found this:

“The Mishnah mentions the fact that they (Davidic families) brought their wood offerings to the Temple on a special day. (The 20th of Tammuz, i.e., June-July). The author quotes Eisler: …like a few other clans, their impost fell due on a special day, and not, like the rest of the people…The reason for this arrangement evidently was that they owned so much real estate that the delivery of their wood required a great deal of time.”[3]

So…

  1. A Joseph tie to Sepphoris in Galilee 4 miles from where Nazareth is today.
  2. A Davidic genealogy tie that Matthew and Luke tried to establish, though using different charts, for Joseph is corroborated…
  3. The Davidic families tie to wood.

 One could see two things: One that there may well have been a Davidic tie for Joseph. If so, a marriage alliance between a priest/High Priest for a day with a Davidic tie…and Mariamne the granddaughter of Mariamne the Hasmonean Queen…would/could have been powerful. And when it failed…Joseph was not allowed to be a priest anymore and he dropped out…and stayed in Gailee….and the questions arising over Jesus’ father/his mother a virgin…in part led to his claim made to Pilate falling to be honored and his political rivals pushing for his death. The later rabbis would make a pun of the wood/Davidic tie designation as a slander against one who (falsely, in their opinion) died trying to claim to be a Son of David/King.

A lot to think about…Quantum Physics may be right…we find what we are looking for…amazingly, consciously or subconsciously, information I could not have predicted can and does pop up.

The Eclipse of the Moon and the Passing of Herod

Herod did die but he missed an eclipse of the moon by about four days. Josephus makes a point, though, of saying that it happened the night the “wise men” and their forty young students were executed:

And that very night there was an eclipse of the moon. Antiquities XVII.VI.2

The eclipse of the moon occurred March 13th, 4 B.C. This eclipse is verifiable and is what is used to help date both the death of Herod and in pure speculation, the birth of Jesus…which happened “about this time.”

Notes

[1] See The Jesus Dynasty, The Hidden History of Jesus, His Royal Family, and the Birth of Christianity by James D. Tabor for a good current look at Sepphoris and the origins of the name Nazareth. Simon & Shuster NY 2006

[2] Jewish Encyclopedia article JOSEPH (High Priest) by: Richard Gottheil, M. Seligsohn

[3] The Messiah Jesus and John the Baptist…Robert Eisler Methuen & Co. Ltd. 1931 quoted by The Dead Sea Scrolls: And the Personages of Earliest Christianity by Arthur E. Palumbo, Jr., Algora Publishing, New York 2004, http://www.algora.com.

The Last Days of Herod the King

Albertinelli_Visitation
Another “Visitation” painting, this one by Albertinelli in the public domain, depicting that enigmatic visit between the “just and righteous” Elizabeth daughter of Aaron and the beleaguered Mariamne III quickly betrothed to “Joseph” as her betrothed Antipater is killed by his father, leaving her technically, hopefully, a virgin widow.

We are now actually in the last days of Herod. He has scourged the palace and the city torturing, killing, and deposing all those who were against him or for anybody else—including his own kin. Nobody wants Antipater to inherit, except Antipater…who has the blood of Mariamne I’s sons on his hands…the true heirs to the throne. It is why there are so many prophecies and why prophecies are so dangerous.

But now Herod was in great pain and humiliation with a body that had developed gangrene and “worms in his privy parts;” and he knew the people saw his afflictions as God’s revenge on him. He asks for a knife to pare an apple and giving a war cry, plunged the knife at his chest. A nephew grabbed it just in time; but Antipater in the dungeon under the palace heard the cry and thought that Herod was dead, and not a minute too soon. He tried to bribe the guard to let him out as he was now, finally, king. The guard, knowing where his bread was buttered, ran first to make sure Herod was really really dead this time. Finding him alive, he told Herod what his son had tried to do… Continue reading “The Last Days of Herod the King”

Elizabeth daughter of Aaron

maryandelizabeth
The Visitation…Mary visits Elizabeth… “And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; and entered into the house of Zacharias and saluted Elisabeth. And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: and she spake out with a loud voice, and said, blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb…” Luke 1

Luke began his birth story for Mary with a birth story for “Elizabeth daughter of Aaron”  meaning a daughter of a High Priestly House if not the High Priest himself.

In the days of Herod king of Judaea, there was a priest named Zacharias of the priestly class of Abijah; his wife was of the daughters of Aaron and her name was Elizabeth. They were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless… Luke 1:5-6.

To get a little background, before we look at Luke’s birth story for Elizabeth, it would be helpful to note this passage from Josephus on John Hyrcanus the Hasmonean High Priest:

Now a very surprising thing is related of this high priest (John) Hyrcanus, how God came to discourse with him: for they say that…he was alone in the temple, as high priest, offering incense, and heard a voice (make a prophecy)… And this he openly declared before all the multitude on his coming out of the temple; and it accordingly proved true…He was esteemed by God worthy of the three privileges—the government of his nation, the dignity of the high priesthood, and prophecy… (Antiquities of the Jews XIII.X.3, 7) 

Continue reading “Elizabeth daughter of Aaron”

The Virgin Orphans on Trial

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A Russian Icon, The Virgin, by Trile Stvuyuschaya

Herod betrothed his grandchildren by his son Aristobulus son of Mariamne the Queen as he should, to those that would enhance their position with Rome. If he didn’t, Augustus would object…Rome will continue to honor Hasmonean royal blood until the end of the kingdom (65-70 A.D.). The two granddaughters of the Queen had enough power with the multitudes and Rome that Antipater insisted on being betrothed to one of them, Mariamne III. The other girl, Herodias was betrothed to the next heir in line, Herod II son of Mariamne II the High Priest’s daughter.

There were others at court, though, hoping to secure places in the kingdom to come…the kingdom after Herod died…as well. They wanted the court rid of the prodigy of Mariamne the Queen even though her heirs were half-Herodian. With the sons of Alexander son of Mariamne the Queen sent back to Cappadocia with their mother Glaphyra and the sons of Aristobulus son of Mariamne the Queen sent to Rome to be raised with Caesar and not old enough to inherit at this time anyway, interest fell to certain other sons at court with blood lines that could sway Rome and daughters who could bear sons that might be king.

Continue reading “The Virgin Orphans on Trial”

Mariamne III the Virgin Orphan

The OrphansKing Herod had his two sons by Mariamne the Hasmonean Queen executed in 7 BCE clearing the way for his Idumaean son Antipater to be his first heir but…

…an intolerable hatred fell upon Antipater from the nation, though he had now an indisputable title to the succession…However, he began to be in a terrible fear, as he saw the posterity of those that had been slain growing up; for Alexander had two sons by Glaphyra, Tigranes and Alexander; and Aristobulus had Herod, and Agrippa, and Aristobulus, his sons, with Herodias and Mariamne, his daughters. Wars of the Jews I.XXVIII.I

Like his father, Antipater, too, feared Hasmonean blood. Even with their grandmother and their fathers executed and with their royal bloodline diluted the sons and daughters of Alexander and Aristobulus, the sons of Mariamne, were political rivals even though they were “below the age of puberty.” What Antipater feared was for the orphans to be betrothed in political alliances that would support the “orphans” before Augustus to take the throne away from him when his father died. Continue reading “Mariamne III the Virgin Orphan”

The Sons of Mariamne

Sons of Mariamne I and II
The pages of Josephus through this entire time frame are full of references to Alexander and Aristobulus as the “sons of Mariamne” and Herod as “son of Mariamne the High Priest’s daughter.” Coincidentally, the first reference to a family designation for Jesus is in Mark 6:3, the first gospel written, where he says…”Is this not the…son of Mary.” Those who had eyes to see…who knew the recent history of the Jews in Palestine during the time that the boys were the heirs to the kingdom as “sons of Mariamne”…17 BCE to 7 BCE…when they were killed…would know exactly what he was hinting at…(My theory.)

Mariamne I’s two eldest sons were sent to Rome to be raised by Augustus as heirs to the Jewish throne. They also had two daughters, but it is the sons that will now dominate the royal record.

By 17 B.C. when Alexander and Aristobulus were sixteen to eighteen years old, Herod could put it off no longer and brought them back home. He was in a dilemma…he had to treat them as his heirs or the people will rebel…and…he still greatly feared that if they developed backers, he was in danger of being deposed in their favor. He now feared his own son’s Hasmonean blood.

The first thing Herod did was “marry them to wives.” He married Alexander, the eldest boy, to Glaphyra, a descendent of Darius the Great, daughter of Aristobulus king of Cappadocia…yet a strange woman. Herod married the second son, Aristobulus, to his sister Salome’s daughter, Bernice, who was a more or less converted Jew/Idumaean/Nabatean on her mother’s side and daughter of an Arabian priest on her father’s side. But even with the mixed blood, the sons of Mariamne I were the people’s hope for the restoration of anything close to a Hasmonean or even truly Jewish kingdom. Continue reading “The Sons of Mariamne”

Mariamne II the High Priest’s Daughter

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Livia Drusilla, or Julia, wife of Octavian. They will both be deified after they died and were then called Augusta and Augustus. Salome, sister of Herod, was a good friend of Livia, who was a true force to be reckoned with in Roman politics. http://www.womeninthebible.net/jewish_princess.htm#Salome

With the deaths of Alexandra and Mariamne and a whole generation of Hasmonean male relatives and nobles their dominance in the royal record recedes and we learn of other royal and noble women, some will be Hasmonean, and some will not. Some we will know the names of and some we will not. But from now on—with Mariamne’s heirs half-Herodian—the royal bloodline is no longer pure. By design, I might add; the practice was age old, and it was the very thing the priests tried so hard not to let happen by allowing kings to exist in Israel. The House of Herod now ruled…even though its women are often Hasmonean princesses now safely married off to members of Herod’s family. It was the Hasmonean women’s due as royalty to be part of the new government though they could not do much but maintain spy rings, plot and bide their time, as we will see.

A Man Possessed

As mentioned in the last post, Herod appears to have had a nervous breakdown after the execution of his “beloved” Queen: Continue reading “Mariamne II the High Priest’s Daughter”