Cleopatra of Jerusalem - Could Herod have had a child with Cleopatra of Egypt?

Started by Sharon Doubell - Cruising the high seas on Monday, April 23, 2012

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4/23/2012 at 11:10 AM

I've come across a Wikipedia mention of the possibility that Herod's wife, Cleopatra of Jerusalem, might actually have been an affair with Cleopatra of Egypt.

My urge is to discount it completely, but the source cited is Josephus:
"However, it is also possible that Cleopatra of Jerusalem really was Queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt. Josephus mentions "Cleopatra of Jeruslaem" twice: once in Antiquities 17.1.3 and once in War 1.28.4. It is interesting to note that according to Josephus, Cleopatra VII and King Herod became intimate, and that Cleopatra "upon the whole, seemed overcome with love for him (King Herod),"(Antiquities 15.4.2). Herod is said to have had a son named Philip with Cleopatra of Jerusalem while it is believed that Cleopatra had a third child with Marc Anthony also named Philip. It is during Marc Anthony's absence that Cleopatra, according to Josephus, spent a great deal of time with King Herod."

Now at first glance this seems highly unlikely, just given the documented extent of their dislike for each other, and, as points out, most of these 'conspiracy theorists' seem to forget how few names circulated amongst the people of that time. Hundreds of people in the historical records were called Mariamne, Salome, Joseph for example. So, two Cleopatras who knew Herod do not constitute evidence of one person.

But then you start to think about how she typically used sex to get political power, and you wonder if it might just have been sufficiently economically expedient for her to manipulate Herod this way.

I'm finding no quick internet back-up for this though. And even the two biographies of her I've got on my bookshelf ignore Josephus's apparent statement that Cleopatra "upon the whole, seemed overcome with love for him (King Herod),"(Antiquities 15.4.2).

Curioser and curioser...

10/16/2014 at 3:28 AM

1)If the Cleopatra mother of Herod the Great, king of Judea's child Herod Philip ., Tetrarch of Judaea, is the same as the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra VII Philopator, Pharoah of Egypt; & that child, Phillip, is the same as Ptolemy Philadelphus (whose birthdate does coincide remarkably well with Herod the Great, king of Judea's visit to Cleopatra);
then the (surmised?) birthdate of Herod Philip ., Tetrarch of Judaea should be much earlier.
If that is so, & the Cleopatras are the same, this means that the (surmised?) date for Cleopatra ., of Jerusalem ‘s -25BC marriage to Herod the Great, king of Judea is also incorrect (the Egyptian Queen having suicide 5 years’ earlier); as is the existence of Cleopatra ., of Jerusalem’s other son, Herod ., of Judaea (born c-23BC - for whose life there appears to be little evidence anyway.)
Without documentation to refute it, this is possible. It is also possible that both Cleopatras birthed a son for Herod, and they have become conflated.

2)Both Phillips were coincidentally educated in Rome
– The Egyptian Ptolemy Philadelphus - by Marc Anthony’s ex-wife, Octavia Minor
- & Herod Philip ., Tetrarch of Judaea, together with his half-brothers , Herod Archelaus and Herod Antipas, as a kind of honourable detention to guarantee their father, Herod the Great, king of Judea’s loyalty. [Could Octavia Minor – who only dies in -11BC have been their guardian too?]
However, Herod Philip ., Tetrarch of Judaea’s half brothers’ (born around -20BC & -23BC) are more than 10 years younger than the Egyptian Ptolemy Philadelphus (born around -36BC),so the source that lumps them together with their half brother, Herod Philip ., Tetrarch of Judaea, in describing their education, might be crucial to establishing whether he was, in fact, the older Ptolemy Philadelphus.

3) As the most important source of information on Herod Philip ., Tetrarch of Judaea is Josephus (Titus Flavius) -, & he is also the source of the info that Cleopatra "upon the whole, seemed overcome with love for him (King Herod),"(Antiquities 15.4.2); it seems unlikely that he would then miss out making the point that the two Phillips might be the same man. Unless he was hinting….:-)

It still seems, on the whole, less likely.
(But I will go and peruse his 'Antiquities' just in case) :-)

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