Bookstore Glossary Library Links News Publications Timeline Virtual Israel Experience
Anti-Semitism Biography History Holocaust Israel Israel Education Myths & Facts Politics Religion Travel US & Israel Vital Stats Women
donate subscribe Contact About Home


MARIAMNE (Mariamme). MARIAMNE I (60?–29 B.C.E.) was the daughter of *Alexander the son of Aristobulus, the granddaughter of John Hyrcanus, and the second wife of *Herod. Herod's aim in contracting this marriage was to establish his standing with the royal house. Herod was only betrothed to her, but not yet married, when in 40 B.C.E. he was forced to flee to Idumea from Antigonus, who was supported by the Parthians, and he had placed Mariamne together with the other women of the royal household in the fortress of Masada for safety. When Herod's sovereignty over Judea was ratified by the Roman senate on the recommendation of Mark Antony, he went in 37 B.C.E. to Samaria to marry Mariamne while his army was still besieging Jerusalem. Herod's love for Mariamne was unbounded, but it was met by hatred of him on her part, because Herod had put to death practically all the members of her family. Aware of Herod's feelings for her, she was bold enough to speak harshly to him, which others feared to do. In addition to this, however, her anger was directed against the rise of the new dynasty which had replaced her own – the *Hasmonean – and this caused her to act disdainfully toward the members of the royal Idumean family, particularly to Herod's mother and his sister Salome. As a result these two harbored a grudge against her and were malevolently provocative toward her, fabricating such libels about her as that she had sent her portrait to Antony in Egypt.

When Herod went to visit Antony he entrusted his wife to Joseph, the husband of Salome, ordering him to put Mariamne to death should Antony sentence him to death. Joseph informed Mariamne of this with the intention of showing her how great was the love Herod bore her. When Herod returned from his journey he discovered from Mariamne that Joseph had revealed this secret order to her. According to one account in Josephus, it was then that in his rage Herod ordered both Joseph and Mariamne to be put to death. A parallel account, however, is given by Josephus in the section dealing with Herod's journey to Octavius at Rhodes after the battle near Actium. The first story belongs to the period before 31 B.C.E., while the second is later. It seems that both stories were true, but that the execution of Mariamne took place in 29 B.C.E., and that on the previous occasion Herod did not go so far as to murder his wife. Mariamne bore Herod three sons and two daughters. One of the sons died in his youth. The other two, Alexander and Aristobulus, were executed on the order of their father in 7 B.C.E.

MARIAMNE II (d. circa 20 B.C.E.), the daughter of Simeon b. Boethus the high priest, was the third wife of Herod. She belonged to a priestly family from Alexandria. Her son, also named Herod, was designated to succeed to the throne after Antipater. It was because of this that although Mariamne II knew of Antipater's intentions to kill his father, she held her peace. As a result, when the plot of Antipater was discovered, Herod erased from his will the name of his son Herod II as his heir and sent Mariamne away.


Jos., Wars; Jos., Ant.; A. Schalit, Koenig Herodes (1969), index; Klausner, Bayit Sheni, 3 (19502), 261, 268; 4 (19502), 14–18, 153f. (Mariamne I); 4 (19502), 42, 153 (Mariamne II); A.H.M. Jones, Herods of Judea (1938), index.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.