03.05.11 76 – 67 B.C. Queen Alexandra Salome Reigns; Pharisees Control the Temple
After the death of Jannaeus, his widow, Alexandra Salome, became the only queen to solely rule Judah. She was radically different in that she was, without question, the kindest and most righteous monarch the Jewish people had during the Inter-Testamental Period. In light of the fact that she had been married to a corrupt leader, it is amazing that she governed in a godly manner. Her major problem was the corruption of government officials within her staff whom she eventually removed, as well as the Pharisees who at times failed to follow her directives. Because of her, Judaea enjoyed a golden age of peace and prosperity. Amazingly, during a time of chaotic influences, men were honored to have her lead their nation and fight their battles.
Josephus stated that, as a Pharisee, the elderly queen focused on the observance of the Mosaic Law and maintained peace throughout the land, although at times the Sadducees became the persecuted ones. Eventually she placed her son Hyrcanus II in the position of high priest and allowed the Pharisees to control the temple and reins of government. There can be little question that this dynamic change came about due to the influence of a union of non-priestly heads of wealthy families, known as the “elders.” Elders were significant, as well noted in the gospels during the ministry of Jesus, as in Luke 19:47.
As to her other son, Aristobulus II, because he was bold, energetic, and quick tempered, she resigned him to private life. Consequently, there was a great degree of bitterness and tension between them as well as between the two religious sects. Josephus writes,
Now Alexander [Jannaeus] let the kingdom to Alexandra, his wife, and depended upon it that the Jews would now very readily submit to her; because she had been very averse to such cruelty as he had treated them with, and had opposed his violation of their laws, and had thereby got the good will of the people … for she chiefly studied the ancient customs of her country and cast out those men of the government that offended against their holy laws.
And now the Pharisees joined themselves to her, to assist her in the government. These are a certain sect of Jews that appear more religious than others, and seemed to interpret the laws more accurately. Now, Alexandra hearkened to them to an extraordinary degree, as being herself a woman of great piety towards God. But these Pharisees artfully insinuated themselves into her favor little by little, and became themselves the real administrators of the public affairs. They banished and reduced whom (namely the Sadducees) they pleased; they bound and loosed (men) at their pleasure; and, to say all at once, they had the enjoyment of the royal authority, while the expenses and the difficulties of it belonged to Alexandra. She was a sagacious woman in the management of great affairs.
Josephus, Wars 1.5.1-2 (107-111)
The queen also took care of the affairs of the kingdom and got together a great body of mercenary soldiers, and increased her own army to such a degree, that she became terrible to the neighboring tyrants and took hostages from them and the country was entirely at peace.
Josephus, Antiquities 13.16.2 (409b)
She was only the second queen of Judah, the first being Athaliah, daughter of the infamous Ahab and Jezebel, who ruled for six years (2 Chron. 22:12). Their great-granddaughter, Mariamne, became the favorite wife of Herod the Great.
. Atkinson, “The Salome No One Knows.” 61-62.
. Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. 223; See also 02.01.04.
. Insert mine.
. Ahab is among fifty biblical names whose existence has been verified by archaeological studies in a published article by Lawrence Mykytiuk titled, “Archaeology Confirms 50 Real People in the Bible.” Biblical Archaeology Review. March/April, 2014 (40:2), pages 42-50, 68. This archaeological evidence confirms the historical accuracy of the biblical timeline. For further study, see the website for Associates for Biblical Research, as well as Grisanti, “Recent Archaeological Discoveries that Lend Credence to the Historicity of the Scriptures.” 475-98.