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 these “flaws,” 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”

Salome Alexandra a Harlot in the Dead Sea Scrolls

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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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Judith the Savior and the Mother of All Wars

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Judith is a Jewish heroine. Her name is meant to imply “Jewish” and some think it is a feminine version of Judas the Maccabee, Savior of Israel during the war in the 160s B.C.

With Jeshua/Jesus son of Josedek and his new dynasty of High Priests in charge, we hear no more of strange women. But during the reign of Onias III, the fifteenth High Priest, it all came crashing down and for the same reason the House of David crashed: invasion. The Greek King Antiochus Epiphanes decided to conquer tiny Judah in the 160s B.C. The war is captured in The Books of the Maccabees in the Apocrypha and by Josephus using those books.

The book of I Maccabees tells the story from the point of view of Judas the Hammer who rose up against “Epiphanes”…a name that means “god”…making their resistance a Holy War.  II Maccabees is written from the point of view of the priests in Jerusalem. Both sides tell the gruesome story of Antiochus’ plan to make Jerusalem “the common graveyard of the Jews.” Pigs and prostitutes were brought into the Temple and priests were forced to offer sacrifices to the Greek king. Mattathias son of Hasmon, a priest, killed another priest making the sacrifice and took off to the hills:

Let everybody who is zealous for the Law…come out after me.” I Maccabees 2

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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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Hanna and the First Birth Story

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Hannah the Hebrew mother of Samuel the Priest and Prophet who anointed Saul the first King of the Hebrews. She has the first “birth story.”

First there was Sarah who was in the Book of Genesis as the wife of Abraham…who wasn’t technically a king…more the father of the nation with Sarah as its mother.

Sarah who laughed also…Genesis 17

5 God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife…I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” 17 Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” 

YHWY was rather long-suffering where special births were concerned…even into New Testament times, as we will see.

How to Choose your First King

But remember that the political nation of Israel had been run by priests making the laws and a military commander fighting the wars. Eventually, though, the people demand a king to be like the other nations. The priests were immediately against it. Having an actual king meant their would be queens, foreign and domestic, and daughters of kings, sons with queen mothers, and royal arrogant women with no end of evil doings.

Even though the Priests pointed out all these problems repeatedly, the people still demand a king…perhaps hoping to get out from under the thumb of such a strong priesthood. Eventually, though, the priests agreed to do it while making sure that they could control the process.  A king approved of by God; i.e., the priests, would have to be chosen and anointed by a High Priest.

But how do you chose a king without an established royal bloodline? The answer seemed to have been that you have a pure-blooded priest who was known to communicate with God choose the king. In order to have a priest pure enough, he must have a pure (blooded) mother. The priest who chose the first king was Samuel…so, reading backwards, Samuel was given a birth story with a mother who would represent the best/purest that a woman could be at the time. She would be a married Hebrew woman with a good genealogy who desperately wanted a son enough to agree to turn him over to the priests as a child. The lucky woman was named Hannah, we are told, and she has the first official special birth story. Parts of it should look familiar.

Hannah’s Vow

Hannah was one of Elkanah’s two wives. The gold standard for women was to have a son for her survival and her husband’s futurity. Hannah’s sister-wife already had a son and made Hannah’s life miserable because she did not. So Hannah went to the Tabernacle in Shiloh to pray for a son…

Now Eli the priest sat upon a seat by a post of the temple of the Lord. And Hannah was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore. And she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head. (First Book of Samuel I:6-11) 

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Strange Women

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Miriam and Aaron complain against Moses

Moses’ first marriage (October 22, 2014 Post) showed how a young daughter of a king was used to make a  marriage alliance with the enemy. His second marriage illustrates something that might seem a bit off course, but is necessary to understanding a crucial split in the budding Hebrew nation.

When Moses killed an Egyptian and fled the country, he made an alliance with a Midianite Priest. The priest gave Moses one of his daughters in a friendly pact and she had two sons before Moses went back to lead the Hebrew exodus out out Egypt because of a breakthrough spiritual encounter with YHWY. Moses became the original Law Giver with his Ten Commandments but it wasn’t long before his brother Aaron was made the first High Priest by YHWY and the head of the Levite Priests who wrote the rest of the Laws in the five “Books of Moses” in the Old Testament/ Torah.[1]  At some point Moses brought Zipporah and/or just her two grown sons into the Hebrew camp.

Unfortunately, by that time the priests had made new laws about marrying foreign woman and his sister Miriam and brother Aaron immediately called Moses on it.

And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman. (Numbers 12) [2]

Miriam[3] is named first in the challenge. She is also the first Mariamne/Mary in Josephus’ index and the namesake for all the others but she was the loser when she confronted Moses. Moses remained as Yahweh’s only face to face spokesperson and Aaron remained the High Priest, though henceforth Yahweh would only speak to him in dreams and visions. It was Miriam the Prophetess, the woman of the triumvirate, rather typically, that was cast out, given leprosy, and died. (Exodus 2:21–22) No real pronouncement was made by Yahweh about the foreign wife of Moses, the cause of the conflict. You have to piece it together.  Continue reading “Strange Women”