Queen Shelamzion Alexandra reigned as queen of Judea from 76 to 67 BCE. During her reign, she oversaw a prosperous period, maintained the peace with a strong army, careful diplomacy, and the support of the Jews of ancient Israel and beyond. She had two names, one Hebrew (Shelamzion) and one Greek (Alexandra).

When her husband, King Alexander Janneaus died, she became sole heir to the Hasmonean kingdom. While she had two grown sons named Aristobulus and Hyrcanus II, she decided not to step aside for them, perhaps recognizing the rivalry between the younger and older son would not end well.

The ancient Jewish historian Josephus (37 CE - c. 100 CE) wrote that “She was particular in her observance of national traditions and would banish from power anyone who deviated from the sacred law. Whereas her husband had persecuted the Pharisees, in her reign as solitary queen, Shelamzion was particularly supportive of the Pharisees, promoting their vision of Judaism and perhaps ensuring their popularity for generations to come.”

Pharisees beliefs became the foundational, liturgical and ritualistic basis for Rabbinic Judaism.

While Josephus was uncomfortable with the idea of a woman in charge of political affairs, he admitted that “she proved to be a shrewd and capable administrator…”.

When she died, her sons fought over the throne, inviting Rome to establish Judea as one of its provinces. Judea never regained full independence until the modern age of Israel.

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