Agrippa vs. Herodias

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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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The Handmaiden Prophecy

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“Blessed Art Thou Among Women” by Walter Rane. “Unto Us a Son is Given…and his mother shall be called Mary.” Mosiah 3:5, 8. http://www.lds.org

So we know from the last post that an Essen prophet predicted that a young Herod would grow up to be the king and certain Pharisees were making prophecies with life and death consequences during the last days of Herod about who would inherit the kingdom from him. Daniel’s prophecy also seems to have been revived, predicting that a “prince shall come” that will have “all things in his power.” I’ve even suggested that the virgin prophecy in the New Testament for Mary could fall into this same category of political prophecy about the kingdom.

Following Josephus’s narrative, he now shares a more clear cut prophecy; this one for Pheroras’ wife, the culprit in the “abuse of the virgins” trial. “Pheroras’ wife” was the second wife of Pheroras, Herod’s brother. When Herod was made king of the Jews, he had secured for his brother a political alliance to a previously unheard of unnamed sister of Queen Mariamne I which helped Herod “beg” a tetrarchy for Pheroras “beyond Jordan” from Caesar Augustus. But when the princess died childless, Herod betrothed Pheroras to one of his own daughters by Mariamne I, a prime alliance, but Pheroras wouldn’t marry her. He married a maid servant instead: Continue reading “The Handmaiden Prophecy”

The Execution of Mariamne the Queen

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Mariamne Leaving the Judgment Seat of Herod (1887), by Pre-Raphaelite painter John William Waterhouse. This picture is all over the internet as the only attempt to illustrate her life and death. There is at least one legend about her in Jewish sources. “According to Talmudic legend, when the rebelling slave, Herod, had killed all the other members of her royal family Mariamne threw herself from the palace roof to her death rather than marry him; Herod then preserved her body in honey for seven years”      ( Jewish Encyclopedia, http://www.geni.com/people/Mariamne-I-Hasmonean for two.) What the legend illustrates is an attempt to redeem Mariamne from being a sinning woman for being a Jewish princess and marrying a “strange” man and defiling the royal bloodline for all times. In truth, her marriage alliance with Herod will change everything.

In the last post, Alexandra had prevailed upon Cleopatra to make Marc Antony demand that Herod come to Egypt to defend himself for killing her son, Mariamne’s younger brother; the seventeen year-old Hasmonean High Priest Jonathan Aristobulus. But now another woman is heard from: Salome, Herod’s sister who had hated Mariamne since those three years trapped with her on Masada—Mariamne took great freedoms, and reproached the rest for the meanness of their birth—told Herod that Mariamne had been unfaithful to him with her own husband and their uncle Joseph while he was gone—Herod had left Joseph to guard the two women during his absence with secret orders to kill them if he did not return. Herod confronted Mariamne in private but she convincingly denied any impropriety and Herod again made a declaration of his love for her… until…she said too much…

Mariamne said, Yet was not that command thou gavest (to his uncle Joseph), that if any harm came to thee from Antony, I, who had been no occasion of it, should perish with thee, a sign of thy love to me?” When these words were fallen from her, the king was shocked at them, and presently let her go out of his arms, and cried out, and tore his hair with his own hands, and said, that now he had an evident demonstration that Joseph had had criminal conversation with his wife; for that he would never have uttered (his secret orders) unless there had been such a great familiarity between them. And while he was in this passion he had liked to have killed his wife; but being still overborne by his love to her…he only gave order to slay Joseph without permitting him to come into his sight; and as for Alexandra, he bound her, and kept her in custody, as the cause of all this mischief. Antiquities of the Jews XV.III.9

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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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Bathsheba, from Consort to Queen Mother

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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”