Alexander Jannaeus Hasmonean, King and High Priest

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Alexander Jannaeus Hasmonean, King and High Priest

Hebrew: אלכסנדר ינאי החשמונאי, מלך וכהן גדול, Dutch: Alexander Jannaeus ben Hyrcanus, King of Judah and High Priest
Also Known As: "/Jonathan/"
Birthdate:
Birthplace: Jerusalem, Judea
Death: Died in 76 BCE, Judea
Cause of death: Died in war
Place of Burial: Jerudalem, Judea
Immediate Family:

Son of John Hyrcanus I Hasmonean, Ethnarch & High Priest and <private>
Husband of Salome Alexandra, Queen of Judaea
Father of Aristobulus II Hasmonean, King and High Priest; Hyrcanus II Hasmonean, King & High Priest of Judea and <private>
Brother of Absalom of Judea Hasmonéan, Prince
Half brother of Hezekiah ben Yohanan; son #5 of John Hyrcanus I #5 Maccabeus; Judas Aristobulus I Hasmonean, King & High Priest of Judea and Antigonos I Hasmonean

Occupation: King & High Priest of Judea
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Alexander Jannaeus Hasmonean, King and High Priest

אלכסנדר ינאי

Alexander Jannaeus (also known as Alexander Jannai/Yannai; Hebrew: אלכסנדר ינאי) was king of Judea from 103 BC to 76 BC. The son of John Hyrcanus, he inherited the throne from his brother Aristobulus I, and appears to have married his brother's widow, Shlomtzion or "Shelomit", also known as Salome Alexandra, according to the Biblical law of Yibum ("levirate marriage").

His likely full Hebrew name was Jonathan; he may have been the High Priest Jonathan, rather than his great-uncle of the same name, who established the Masada fortress. Under the name King Yannai, he appears as a wicked tyrant in the Talmud, reflecting his conflict with the Pharisee party. He is among the more colorful historical figures, despite being little known outside specialized history. He and his widow (who became queen regnant after his death) had substantial impact on the subsequent development of Judaism.

Jannaeus expanded the Hasmonean Kingdom and established the city of Gamla in 81 BCE as the capital for what is now the Golan Heights.

Family

Alexander Jannaeus married the wife of his brother, Aristobulus I (Salome Alexandra). By her he had two sons, the eldest, Hyrcanus II became high-priest in 62 BCE and Aristobulus II who was high-priest from 66 - 62 BCE and started a bloody civil war with his brother, ending in his capture by Pompey the Great.

Conquests of Alexander Jannaeus

During the twenty-seven year reign of Alexander Jannaeus, he was almost constantly involved in military conflict. Primarily, international factors at the time created an environment suitable for Jannaeus’ conquests. First of all, Jannaeus received support from Cleopatra III of Egypt. She was probably swayed to support Jannaeus through two Jewish commanders in her military. This support was particularly crucial during the war with Ptolemy Lathyrus (discussed later). Ultimately, conflict in the Roman Empire was the greatest outside influence on Judean military campaigns. Political instability in Rome led to a Civil War beginning in 88 BCE. With Rome chiefly concerned with a tumultuous domestic predicament, Jannaeus was free to expand the Judean state. Finally, a weak Seleucid Empire was unable to help Hellenistic cities near Judea.

With a mercenary army similar to that of his father, Jannaeus led a Judean army that conquered the entire coastal plain except for Ashkelon. Jannaeus toppled Western Samaria, the Galilee and the Northern Transjordan. The coastal ports of Dor and Caesarea were also taken after Jannaeus was defeated at Acre. Elsewhere on the Mediterranean coast, the Judeans triumphed over the cities of Raffah and Antedon. Finally, Jannaeus outlasted the inhabitants of Gaza in a year long siege. This impressive victory gained Judean control over the Mediterranean outlet for the Nabatean trade routes. [edit] War with Ptolemy Lathyrus

After a failed siege against Gaza, Jannaeus struck a phony league of friendship with the Egyptian co-ruler Ptolemy Lathyrus. In reality Jannaeus sought the assistance of Lathyrus’ mother, Cleopatra III, against her son. When Lathyrus learned of this treachery, he took out his fury on Judea. After defeating Jannaeus near the Jordan River, Lathyrus’ soldiers slaughtered fleeing Jewish troops. Afterwards, Lathyrus attacked a small village in Judea with utter malice. The Egyptian troops strangled women and children. Then the deceased were cut into pieces, boiled in cauldrons, and eaten as a sacrifice. This act of cannibalism was used to terrify the Judean people and their military. After this massacre, Jannaeus was in no position to stop the onslaught of Lathyrus. However, Cleopatra III stepped in to prevent Lathyrus from sacking Jerusalem.

News of this slaughter certainly spread rapidly throughout Judea, exemplified by the Pesher on Isaiah 4Q161 found at Qumran: “(25) He will shake his fist at the mount of the daughters of Zion, the hill of Jerusalem…(27) when he goes up from the Valley of Acco to fight against Philistia…(29) and even up to the boundaries of Jerusalem.”

High Priesthood

It is clear that a strong rift existed between the Pharisees and Alexander Jannaeus. The rival Sadducees were avid supporters of Jannaeus (see 4Q448). The Pharisaic opposition to Jannaeus continued with his marriage to his brother’s widow, which was forbidden by Torah law. Furthermore, Jannaeus established himself as a ruler concerned mainly with conquests rather than his religious obligations.

One year during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, Alexander Jannaeus, while officiating as the High Priest (Kohen Gadol) at the Temple in Jerusalem, demonstrated his support of the Sadducees by denying the law of the water libation. The crowd responded with shock at his mockery and showed their displeasure by pelting Alexander with the etrogim (citrons) that they were holding in their hands. Unwittingly, the crowd had played right into Alexander's hands. He had intended to incite the people to riot and his soldiers fell upon the crowd at his command. The soldiers slew more than 6,000 people in the Temple courtyard.

This incident during Tabernacles was a major factor leading up to the Judean Civil War by igniting popular opponents of Jannaeus. A Qumran document sheds further light on another opponent of Jannaeus. The scroll 4Q390 was written by an adversary of Jannaeus seeking popular support to overthrow the Hasmonean King. The author called for an end to the dispute between Jannaeus and the Pharisees. According to the author, the only acceptable solution was an end to the Hasmonean Priesthood and secular control. This opposition culminated in the Judean Civil War.

Judean Civil War and the Crucifixion of the 800

The Judean Civil War initially began after the conquest of Gaza by Jannaeus. Due to Jannaeus’ victory at Gaza, the Nabatean kingdom no longer controlled their trade routes to Rome and Damascus. Therefore Nabatean king Obodas I launched an attack on Judea in the Golan. Potentially, the war with the Nabateans was the last straw against a war-mongering king and an incompetent High Priest. After Jannaeus was defeated in battle against Obadas, he returned to fierce Jewish opposition in Jerusalem. A civil war broke out between Pharisaic supported Jewish rebels and Jannaeus.

Overall, the war lasted six years and left 50,000 Judeans dead. After Jannaeus succeeded early in the war, the rebels unbelievably asked for Seleucid assistance. Judean insurgents joined forces with Demetrius III to fight against Jannaeus. The Seleucid forces defeated Jannaeus at Schechem and forced him into exile in the mountains. However, these Judean rebels ultimately decided that it was better to live under a terrible Jewish king than backtrack to a Seleucid ruler. After 6,000 Jews returned to Jannaeus, Demetrius was defeated. The end of the Civil War brought a sense of national solidarity against Seleucid influence. Nevertheless, Jannaeus was uninterested in reconciliation within the Judean State.

The aftermath of the Judean Civil War consisted of popular unrest, poverty and grief over the fallen soldiers on both sides. The greatest impact of the war was the victor’s revenge. Josephus reports that Jannaeus brought 800 rebels to Jerusalem and had them crucified. Even worse, Jannaeus had the throats of the rebel’s wives and children cut before their eyes as Jannaeus ate with his concubines.

This incredible account is supported in the Dead Sea Scrolls. In the Nahum Pesher, the Judean Civil War and Jannaeus’ brutal retribution are specifically mentioned.

“(2) The interpretation of it concerns Demetrius, King of Greece, who sought to enter Jerusalem on the advice of the Seeker-After-Smooth-Things. (3) But God did not give Jerusalem into the power of the Kings of Greece from Antiochus until the rise of the rulers of the Kittim… (6b) Its interpretation concerns the Lion of Wrath (7) which will bring vengeance against the Seekers-After-Smooth-Things; he would hang men alive.”

In this passage, The Seekers-After-Smooth-Things represent the Jewish Rebels, the Lion of Wrath represents Alexander Jannaeus, and the rulers of Kittim signify the Roman Empire. Given that this passage mentions the Roman takeover, it was clearly written after the fall of the Hasmonean Dynasty. Nevertheless, substantiation of Josephus’ account of the crucifixion of Jewish rebels by Jannaeus quells any doubt of historicity of this event.


Sources (more):

Alexander Jannai Maccabeus of Judea - rootweb

Early Nabatean history 300 BCE - 26 BCE


Alexander Jannaeus

Alexander Jannaeus (also known as Alexander Jannai/Yannai; Hebrew: אלכסנדר ינאי) was king of Hasmonean Kingdom from 103 BC to 76 BC during the Hasmonean dynasty. The son of John Hyrcanus, he inherited the throne from his brother Aristobulus I, and appears to have married his brother's widow, Shlomtzion or "Shelomit", also known as Salome Alexandra, according to the Biblical law of Yibbum ("levirate marriage"), although Josephus is inexplicit on that point. Since Alexander Jannaeus was a high priest, he was technically breaking Jewish law according to the laws in Leviticus. The laws in Leviticus state that a Jewish high priest is forbidden to marry a widow. The Law in Leviticus would have taken precedence over the biblical law in Deuteronomy that allowed the marriage of a non-high priest individual to a childless brother's widow.

His likely full Hebrew name was "Jonathan"; he may have been the High Priest Jonathan, rather than his great-uncle of the same name, who established the Masada fortress. Under the name "King Yannai" he appears as a wicked tyrant in the Talmud, reflecting his conflict with the Pharisee party. He is among the more colorful historical figures, despite being little known outside specialized history. He and his widow (who became queen regnant after his death) had a substantial impact on the subsequent development of Judaism.

Family

Alexander Jannaeus was the third son of John Hyrcanus, by his second wife. When Aristobulus I, Hyrcanus' son by his first wife, became king, he deemed it necessary for his own security to imprison his half-brother. Aristobulus died after a reign of one year. Upon his death, his widow, Salome Alexandra had Alexander and his brothers released from prison.

Alexander, as the oldest living brother, had the right not only to the throne but also to Salome, the widow of his deceased brother, who had died childless; and, although she was thirteen years older than he, he married her. By her, he had two sons, the eldest, Hyrcanus II became high-priest in 62 BC and Aristobulus II who was high-priest from 66 - 62 BC and started a bloody civil war with his brother, ending in his capture by Pompey the Great.

Conquests

During the twenty-seven year reign of Alexander Jannaeus, he was almost constantly involved in military conflict. International factors at the time created an environment suitable for Jannaeus' conquests. First, Jannaeus received support from Cleopatra III of Egypt. This support was particularly crucial during the war with Ptolemy Lathyrus (discussed later). Ultimately, conflict in the Roman Republic was the greatest outside influence on Judean military campaigns. Political instability in Rome led to a Civil War beginning in 88 BC. With Rome chiefly concerned with a tumultuous domestic predicament, Jannaeus was free to expand the Judean state.

War with Ptolemy Lathyrus

Alexander's first expedition was against the polis of Ptolemais (Acre). This campaign seems to have been well timed politically as the weak Seleucid Empire was unable to intervene. Help came to the citizens of Ptolemais from Ptolemy Lathyrus, who had been cast out by his mother, Cleopatra III, and had founded a kingdom in Cyprus.

Ptolemy landed a large army for the relief of the town; but Alexander met him with treachery, arranging an alliance with him openly while secretly he sought to obtain the help of his mother against him. As soon as Ptolemy learned of this intrigue, he marched against Asochis, near Sepphoris, which he captured, together with 10,000 prisoners and much plunder. A similar attack upon Sepphoris failed; but in a later battle at Azophon on the Jordan, Alexander with his whole army suffered a defeat at the hands of a much smaller force. Alexander allowed the enemy to cross the river unimpeded, in order that, as he thought, he might more easily catch it between his army and the stream. He saw his error only when it was too late. The enemy fell upon the Jewish camp, women and children were struck down, their corpses were hacked to pieces, flung into caldrons and boiled, so that the people thought they were dealing with cannibals. This act was used to terrify the Judean people and their military.

Alexander might easily have lost his crown and Judea its independence as the result of this battle, had it not been for the assistance extended by Egypt. Cleopatra's two Jewish generals, Helkias and Ananias, persuaded the queen of the dangers of allowing her banished son Ptolemy to remain victorious and she entrusted them with an army against him. As a result, Ptolemy was forced to withdraw to Cyprus, and Alexander was saved. The Egyptians, as compensation for their aid, desired to annex Judea to their country, but considerations touching the resident Egyptian Jews, who were the main support of her throne, induced Cleopatra to modify her longings for conquest. The Egyptian army withdrawn, Alexander found his hands free; and forthwith he planned new campaigns.

Later campaigns

Alexander captured Gadara and the strong fortress Amathus on the Jordan; but, in an ambush set for him by Theodorus, ruler of Amathus, he lost the whole of the rear-guard of his army—10,000 men —together with his baggage. He was more successful in his expedition against the Hellenized coastal cities (what had once been Philistia), capturing Raphia and Anthedon. Finally, in 96 BC Jannaeus outlasted the inhabitants of Gaza in a year-long siege, which he occupied through treachery, and gave up to be pillaged and burned by his soldiery. This victory gained Judean control over the Mediterranean outlet for the Nabatean trade routes.

High Priesthood

The relations between Alexander and the Pharisees were probably never very cordial; though, according to the statement of the Talmud, Simeon ben Shetach, the head of the party, was a brother of the queen and a frequent guest at the palace. The rival Sadducees were avid supporters of Jannaeus (see 4Q448). Furthermore, Jannaeus established himself as a ruler concerned mainly with conquests rather than his religious obligations.

One year during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot or Feast of Tabernacles, Alexander Jannaeus, while officiating as the High Priest (Kohen Gadol) at the Temple in Jerusalem, demonstrated his support of the Sadducees by refusing to perform the water libation ceremony properly: instead of pouring it on the altar, he poured it on his feet. The crowd responded with shock at his mockery and showed their displeasure by pelting Alexander with the etrogim (citrons) that they were holding in their hands. Unwittingly, the crowd had played right into Alexander's hands. He had intended to incite the people to riot and his soldiers fell upon the crowd at his command. The soldiers slew more than 6,000 people in the Temple courtyard.

This incident during the Feast of Tabernacles was a major factor leading up to the Judean Civil War by igniting popular opponents of Jannaeus. A Qumran document sheds further light on another opponent of Jannaeus. The scroll 4Q390 was written by an adversary of Jannaeus seeking popular support to overthrow the Hasmonean king. The author called for an end to the dispute between Jannaeus and the Pharisees. According to the author, the only acceptable solution was an end to the Hasmonean priesthood and secular control. This opposition culminated in the Judean Civil War.

Judean Civil War and the Crucifixion of the 800

The Judean Civil War initially began after the conquest of Gaza by Jannaeus. Due to Jannaeus' victory at Gaza, the Nabatean kingdom no longer controlled their main trade route to Rome. Therefore, Nabatean king Obodas I launched an attack on Judea in the Golan Heights. After Jannaeus was defeated in battle against Obodas, he returned to fierce Jewish opposition in Jerusalem. A civil war broke out between Pharisee-supported Jewish rebels and Jannaeus.

Overall, the war lasted six years and left 50,000 Judeans dead. After Jannaeus succeeded early in the war, the rebels asked for Seleucid assistance. Judean insurgents joined forces with Demetrius III Eucaerus to fight against Jannaeus. The Seleucid forces defeated Jannaeus at Schechem and forced him to take refuge in the mountains. However, these Judean rebels ultimately decided that it was better to live under a terrible Jewish king than backtrack to a Seleucid ruler. After 6,000 Jews returned to Jannaeus, Demetrius was defeated. The end of the Civil War brought a sense of national solidarity against Seleucid influence. Nevertheless, Jannaeus was uninterested in reconciliation within the Judean State.

The aftermath of the Judean Civil War consisted of popular unrest, poverty and grief over the fallen soldiers on both sides. The greatest impact of the war was the victor's revenge. Josephus reports that Jannaeus brought 800 rebels to Jerusalem and had them crucified, and had the throats of the rebel's wives and children cut before their eyes as Jannaeus ate with his concubines.

Coinage

The coinage of Alexander Jannaeus is characteristic of the early Jewish coinage in that it avoided human or animal representations, in opposition to the surrounding Greek, and later Roman types of the period. Jewish coinage instead focused on symbols, either natural, such as the palm tree, the pomegranate or the star, or man-made, such as the Temple, the Menorah, trumpets or cornucopia.

Alexander Jannaeus was the first of the Jewish kings to introduce the "eight-ray star" or "eight-spoked wheel" symbol, in his bronze "Widow's mite" coins, in combination with the widespread Seleucid numismatic symbol of the anchor. Depending on the make, the star symbol can be shown with straight spokes connected to the outside circle, in a style rather indicative of a wheel. On others, the spokes can have a more "flame-like" shape, more indicative of the representation of a star within a diadem.

It is not clear what the wheel or star may exactly symbolize, and interpretations vary, from the morning star, to the sun or the heavens. The influence of some Persian symbols of a star within a diadem, or the eight-spoked Buddhist wheel (see the coins of the Indo-Greek king Menander I with this symbol) have also been suggested. The eight-spoked Macedonian star (a variation of which is the Vergina Sun), emblem of the royal Argead dynasty and the ancient kingdom of Macedonia, within a Hellenistic diadem symbolizing royalty (many of the coins depict a small knot with two ends on top of the diadem), seem to be the most probable source for this symbol.

The most likely explanation is that the symbol is a star encased in a diadem and it is a religious explanation. Biblical law forbids the making of graven images (especially see Deuteronomy 4:16,23), yet the image of a monarch is a staple of Hellenistic coins. In place of an image of himself, therefore, it is likely that Alexander Jannaeus chose a star, in keeping with Numbers 24:17, "A star rises from Jacob, a scepter comes forth from Israel." This verse generally was seen as a biblical support for monarchy (and specifically as support for a Davidic monarchy). Jannaeus, however, could have seen it as an image of his achievements, if not his own rule. This is how the rest of Numbers 24:17 and verses 18 and 19 continue: The star, it says, "smashes the brow of Moab, the foundation of all children of Seth. Edom becomes a possession, yea, Seir a possession of its enemies; but Israel is triumphant. A victor issues from Jacob to wipe out what is left of Ir." Considering Jannaeus' conquests—creating a kingdom that rivaled those of David and Solomon and may have even exceeded those—the "star" envisioned in the prophecy of Balaam in Numbers was a perfect match for him.

In literature

Alexander Jannaeus is the main character of the novel The King of Flesh and Blood, (מלך בשר ודם) by Israeli novelist Moshe Shamir - a novel including many hints to the politics of 1950s Israel, when it was written.

As the husband of Queen Salome Alexandra, he is also a character in the novel Queen of the Jews by Judy Petsonk (2012).

Alexander Jannaeus and his wife Queen Alexandra are the main characters of Constantine Cavafy's poem bearing their names. In the poem Cavafy notes the Hellenistic influence on the behavior of the couple.

Source :

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Jannaeus

About אלכסנדר ינאי החשמונאי, מלך וכהן גדול (עברית)

יהונתן אלכסנדר ("ינאי") - מלך וכהן גדול משושלת החשמונאים בין השנים 103 לפנה"ס עד 76 לפנה"ס בתקופת הבית השני. עסק רבות בכיבושים והרחיב מאוד את ממלכת החשמונאים, למרות שידע גם תבוסות. אלכסנדר ינאי היה בנו הצעיר של יוחנן הורקנוס הראשון. מהמטבעות ידוע לנו ששמו העברי היה "יהונתן" וינאי הוא קיצור של שם זה. עם זאת, יש הסוברים שינאי הוא קיצור של "יוחנן". אחיו, יהודה אריסטובולוס הראשון, שטם את ינאי וחשש ממנו, ובעת היותו המנהיג כלא את ינאי. אולם לאחר מות יהודה אריסטובולוס ומשמת אחיו הנוסף אנטיגונוס הראשון התמנה אלכסנדר ינאי לשליט. אלכסנדר ינאי נשא לאישה כיבם את אלמנתו של יהודה אריסטובלוס, הלא היא שלומציון המלכה (שהיא גם האחות של שמעון בן שטח).

צוואת ינאי : כאיש מלחמות ניהל אלכסנדר ינאי את ממלכתו, וכאיש מלחמות נפל בשעה שצר על אחת הערים בעבר הירדן המזרחי. בשנות מלכותו האחרונות ביקש לאחות את הקרע בינו לבין העם, ואף ציווה על אשתו, שלומציון אלכסנדרה, להשלים עם הפרושים, כי הבין שלבסוף מלך לא יוכל לשלוט בעם על חודם של כידונים ולהתבסס על חיל שכירים.

בשעה שנפטר ינאי, בשנת 76 לפנה"ס, התפלגה ירושתו והתפצלה לשלושה בעלי תפקידים: אשתו שלומציון נטלה את כתר המלוכה, בנה הבכור, הורקנוס השני, היה לכוהן גדול והפיקוד על הצבא נמסר לבן הצעיר, יהודה אריסטובולוס השני.

ינאי בהערכה היסטורית : יוסף קלוזנר מתייחס באהדת מה אל ינאי המלך ורואה כבדיה את הסיפורים שיש אצל יוסף בן מתתיהו בדבר אכזריותו הגדולה (למשל צליבת 800 פרושים, שחיטת נשיהם ובניהם לעיניהם והתעלסות עם פילגשיו במשתה גדול באותו זמן). בספרו "היסטוריה של הבית השני" הוא מציין שעל ידי השגשוג המדיני והכיבושים: הועיל המלך ה"חילוני" מבית חשמונאי גם ליהדות הרוחנית - אפשר, שלא מדעתו - יותר מן ה"רוחניים" ביותר שבמנהיגיה... היחס השלילי אל מלך זה מצד קדמונינו ואחרונינו מעיד רק על אי התעמקות בדברי הימים של אותו זמן ועל מגמות תאולוגיות, שאינן מביאות בחשבון את החיים הארציים ואת מצב הדברים כמו שהיו בימי קדם.

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Alexander Jannaeus Hasmonean, King and High Priest's Timeline

-125
-125
Jerusalem, Judea
-103
-103
- -76
Age 21
Jerusalem, Judea
-100
-100
Age 24
Judea
-100
Age 24
Judea
-76
-76
Age 48
76 BCE, Judea
-76
Age 48
Jerudalem, Judea