Still Standing

Venida_de_la_Virgen_del_Pilar_(Ximenez_de_Maza)
The Virgin of the Pillar

All the prophecies of Armageddon and the End of Days were fulfilled. Millions were killed or enslaved or sent to the amphitheaters. But I believe there was a ray of hope for “certain” of those with eyes to see. Consider this last quote from Josephus just after the siege was broken…

Caesar gave orders that they should now demolish the entire city and temple, but should leave as many of the towers standing as were of the greatest eminency: this is, Phasaelus and Hippicus, and Mariamne…in order to demonstrate to posterity what kind of city it was, and how well fortified, which the Roman valour had subdued…This was the end which Jerusalem came to by the madness of those that were for innovations; a city otherwise of great magnificence, and of mighty fame among all mankind.  Wars of the Jews VII.I.1

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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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Josephus’ Mother

911640514 Josephus
Flavius Josephus

The family from which I am derived is not an ignoble one, but hath descended all along from the priests…to be of the sacerdotal dignity, is an indication of the splendour of the family…I am of the chief family of that first (priestly) course also; nay, farther, by my mother, I am of the royal blood; for the children of Asamoneus, from whom that family was derived, had both the office of the high priesthood, and the dignity of a king, for a long time together...Life of Flavius Josephus

Josephus was born to be somebody and he knew it. His full name was Yosef Ben Matityahu or Joseph son of Matthias. He emphasizes his high priestly credentials from his father and yet…he also has a Hasmonean bloodline though his mother, though he will not name his own mother in his autobiography. He claims descent from Jonathan, brother of Judas the Hammer/Maccabeus, the “first brother to be a high priest/ruler.” Continue reading “Josephus’ Mother”

Mary the Nazarite

Madonna_catacomb
The earliest known depiction of Mary and baby Jesus from the Catacombs of Priscilla in Rome dated to “late 2nd century.” Can’t tell how she is wearing her hair but it is either long and loose or more likely she is wearing a mantle. By then Paul would have had his way…Wikipedia.

So, if two actual historical queens took Nazarite vows in Jerusalem 20 to 30 years after the death of Jesus, is it too far afield to think that Mary/Mariamne made a long-term even life-long Nazarite vow until her prophecy was fulfilled…until her son returned to claim the kingdom? It will be a short discussion.

My first thought is, if I had a prophecy that I would bear a special son, I would want to look up how to do it right. Pre-google, you went to a scribe to look it up in the Torah or the prophets, as clearly the gospel writers did for the prophecies Jesus fulfilled.

And…in another “believe it or not,” there is a prescription given to a young woman by an angel on how to bear such a son…it is the story of the mother of Samson.

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Agrippa vs. James son of Mariamne III

Madonna with Jesus and James
The Madonna and Child with St. James by Andrea Del Saito (1486-1531) from google image http://www.ntprints.com.  James, second son of Mary/Mariamne III has become quite popular of late.

Worms in Agrippa’s Golden Apple

The first worm in Agrippa’s dream of being the “King to Come” was, of course, his grandfather Herod. He was in the same dilemma of all the grandchildren of the Queen…proving the priest’s with their genealogies and abhorrence of “strange women” right. Because, not only was Agrippa Herodian on his grandfather’s side, his own mother was a strange woman. Bernice, widow of Aristobulus son of Mariamne the Queen was Idumaean on her mother Salome’s side and Arabian on her father’s side…which did not matter one bit to Rome.

But these were hard times for the royal blood. The multitude would take what they could get and Agrippa’s father was also a Hasmonean Prince of the Tower of the Queen.  The multitude so desired to have a king in Judea again, one that had Providence on his side, that they would forgive Agrippa his Herodian blood. There is a tradition recorded in the Mishna[1] about Agrippa at the Feast of Tabernacles in 41 A.D. (King 41-44 A.D.) Agrippa read the set reading for the occasion from the Book of Deuteronomy: “Thou mayest not set a stranger over thee that is not thy brother” (17:15) Agrippa burst into tears feeling that he was unworthy and the multitude cried out to him, “Be not grieved, Agrippa! Thou art our brother!”

(A clue, perhaps, that a Jesus with Herodian blood, also, might have been accepted by the people…and Rome…if not for his feud with the Annas House of priests.)

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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?

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Mary Magdalene and the Resurrection

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Mary Magdalene at the Tomb with two other “Marys” following behind her. These are the famous “Three Marys”  at the cross…Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. John 19:25. his passage is the source of the Three Marys at the Cross paintings; “his mother, his mother’s sister Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. But it is just as easy to read that list differently, making four women at the cross; his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. You can place the commas so that there are two women; [1] “his mother and his mother’s sister; Mary the wife of Cleophas and Mary Magdalene.” (The passage is reminiscent of the Gnostic Gospel of Phillip quote: “His sister, his mother,and his companion were each a Mary.”) (Luke says: It was Mary Magdalene and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women…24:10)
That verse in John is also the only time that “his mother” and “Mary Magdalene” are in the same sentence. I think that John wrote the scene at the cross around some well-known last words of Jesus directed at his mother and deliberately or not, separated “his mother” from “Mary Magdalene”…my theory. He put the Beloved Disciple into the scene and made it about him, knowing full well that Mary had other sons probably standing there with her. But heard in the context of Mariamne III pushing her son to go up to Jerusalem to fulfill her prophecy that her son would restore the kingdom, the words from the cross take on a bitter edge.
The power structure won the day. Jesus was eliminated. Caiaphas’ “prophecy” that Jesus should die for “the good” of the nation held and the son of Mariamne III with her Virgin prophecy that her son would rule was going by the wayside. Luke tells us in Acts that Mary was with her other sons and the disciples in Jerusalem after the crucifixion but the authors of the gospels were confused as to whether she was at the cross or not…until John, written last, explicitly included her but without naming her…

Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. (John 19:25)

I think that John wrote her into the scene at the cross (perhaps not realizing she was there disguised as Mary Magdalene…my theory) because he wanted us to know about this last scene between Jesus and his mother that has also been veiled.

Now there stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother…When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by whom he loved…

The “disciple standing by whom he loved” has caused a lot of debate about who “he” was. He was first thought to be Lazarus “whom Jesus loved,” as we saw. And, if Jesus had just made a marriage alliance with Lazarus’ sister or daughter most likely, Mary of Bethany, it could make sense to turn her over to his wife’s family. But Mary often traveled with her other sons and one son James will be the leader of the family and followers in Jerusalem after his death…and she clearly stayed with them. She had no need to be taken care of by a “Beloved Disciple.”[1] But forget about all that for a moment and just see the last words John said Jesus spoke to his mother from the cross. A totally different picture emerges…

Woman, behold thy son!  (John 19:26)

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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.

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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 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 they would make a connection…

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 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 house work.

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 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.

But where is Lazarus in all this? 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, 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 is 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…

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 (sinner) woman of the city with a fondness for ointments showing that a woman didn’t have to be a prostitute/sinner to have access to alabaster jars. She needed to have a rich father, though. I found this passage in the Jewish Encyclopedia On Line:

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 had 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.