ALEXANDRA (SALOME [acc. to Eusebius Σαλίνα]; full Jewish name Shalom Zion):
By: Louis Ginzberg
The only Jewish queen regnant with the exception of the usurper Athaliah; born 139
This last political act of the king was his wisest; for the queen fully justified the confidence reposed in her. She succeeded especially in quieting the vexatious internal dissensions of the kingdom that existed at the time of Alexander's death; and she did this peacefully and without detriment to the political relations of the Jewish state to the outside world. Alexandra received the reins of government (76 or 75
The queen's accession brought freedom to hundreds whom Alexander had sent to languish in dungeons, and liberty to return home to thousandswhom the same cruel monarch had driven into exile. The Pharisees, who had suffered such misery under Alexander, now became not only a tolerated section of the community, but actually the ruling class. Alexandra installed as high priest her eldest son, Hyrcanus II.—a man wholly after the heart of the Pharisees—and the Sanhedrin was reorganized according to their wishes. This body had hitherto been, as it were, a "house of lords," the members of which belonged to the aristocracy; but it lost all significance when a powerful monarch was at the helm. From this time it became a "supreme court" for the administration of justice and religious matters, the guidance of which was rightfully placed in the hands of the Pharisees. Thus, the reign of Alexandra marks a most important epoch in the history of Jewish internal government.Her Internal and External Policy.
That the Pharisees, now that the control of affairs was in their hands, did not treat the Sadducees any too gently is very probable; although the execution of Diogenes, by whose advice King Alexander had 800 Pharisees nailed on the cross, speaks rather for their moderation than for their cruelty, inasmuch as the special reference to the execution of this reprobate shows that such acts of revenge must have been few. It was rather the evil conscience of the Sadducees that moved them to petition the queen for protection against the ruling party. Alexandra, who desired to avoid all party conflict, removed the Sadducees from Jerusalem, assigning certain fortified towns for their residence. Here, again, her shrewdness was displayed in so arranging that the important fortresses of Hyrcania, Alexandrion, and Machærus were not entrusted to their somewhat uncertain keeping. Alexandra's sagacity and tact succeeded in accomplishing what all the military genius of her husband had failed to effect; namely, to make Judea respected abroad. She increased the size of the army, and carefully provisioned the numerous fortified places; so that neighboring monarchs were duly impressed by the number of protected towns and castles which bordered the Palestinian frontier. Nor did she abstain from actual warfare; for she sent her son Aristobulus with an army to raise the siege of Damascus, then beleaguered by Ptolemy Menneus. The expedition was without result. The peril threatening Judea in the year 70
Rabbinical legend still further magnifies the prosperity which Judea enjoyed under Alexandra. The Haggadah (Ta'anit, 23a; Sifra, ḤuḲḲat, i. 110) relates that during her rule, as a reward for her piety, rain fell only on Sabbath (Friday) nights; so that the working class suffered no loss of pay through the rain falling during their work-time. The fertility of the soil was so great that the grains of wheat grew as large as kidney-beans; oats as large as olives; and lentils as large as gold denarii. The sages collected specimens of these grains and preserved them to show future generations the reward of obedience to the Law. See Pharisees, Sadducees.
[The name "Shalom Zion" is variously modified in rabbinical literature: see Krauss, "Lehnwörter" s.v.; it occurs also in inscriptions; see Lidzbarski, "Handbuch der Nord-Semitischen Epigraphik," s.v., and art. Alphabet in this vol., p. 443.]
- Josephus, Ant. xiii. 11, § 12; 15, § 16;
- idem, B. J. i. 5;
- Ewald, History of Israel, v. 392-394;
- Grätz, Gesch. d. Juden, 2d ed., iii. 106, 117-129;
- Hitzig, Gesch. d. Volkes Israel, ii. 488-490;
- Schürer, Gesch. i. 220, 229-233;
- Derenbourg, Essai sur l'Histoire et la Géographie de Palestine, pp. 102-111;
- Wellhausen, I. J. G. pp. 276, 280-285;
- Madden, Coins of the Jews, pp. 91, 92;
- Willrich, Judaica: Forschungen zur Hellenisch-Jüdischen Geschichte und Litteratur, 1900, pp. 74, 96.