Salome Alexandra

The first Hasmonean Queen of Judea.

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When Aristobulus II contested the claims of his older brother, Hyrcanus II, and began capturing key positions, she approved a military action to stop him. This set off yet another civil war, but Salome Alexandra did not live to see her sons destroy the peace she had established in Judea. Queen Salome Alexandra died at the age of seventy-three, loved by the Pharisees and hated by their opponents. Josephus criticized her harshly, suggesting that she was power hungry. 

The Talmud, a rabbinic (and therefore a pharisaic) source, praises her as an intermediary between her husband, Alexander, and the Pharisee Shimon ben Shetah, and credits her with rescuing seventy elders who were condemned to death. Another Talmudic passage reports that during her reign the harvests in Judea were miraculously bountiful.

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Emily Taitz

Emily Taitz has a PhD in medieval Jewish history from the Jewish Theological Seminary. She taught women's history at Adelphi University and is presently co-editor of The New Light, a literary magazine.