Queen Cleopatra of Jerusalem – The humble wife of King Herod the Great




Queen Cleopatra of Jerusalem
(public domain)

Queen Cleopatra of Jerusalem was the fifth wife of King Herod the Great of Judea. King Herod married her as a substitute for his executed wife, Queen Mariamne I. King Herod did not love her, but he deeply respected her. She proved to be very loyal to him. Due to her loyalty, her son, Prince Herod Philip II, inherited lands northeast of modern-day Palestine.[1]

Most of Queen Cleopatra of Jerusalem’s life is unknown.[2] She came from a prominent family of Hellenized aristocrats that settled in Jerusalem.[3] Some historians believe that she was named after Queen Cleopatra II and III of Egypt, who were known for their generosity towards the Jews.[4] It is unclear how King Herod came to marry Cleopatra of Jerusalem.[5] Historians generally believe that he married her after Queen Malthace sometime before 22 B.C.E.[6] This is because King Herod married her as a substitute for Queen Mariamne I, whom he executed on suspicion of adultery.[7] Even though he did not love Queen Cleopatra of Jerusalem (because Queen Mariamne I was his greatest love), he still respected her.[8] Queen Cleopatra of Jerusalem gave Herod two sons. They were Prince Herod and Prince Herod Philip II.

Queen Cleopatra of Jerusalem was said to have been a very loyal and dutiful wife to King Herod.[9] She did not participate in the political machinations of Queen Mariamne I’s sons and Queen Doris of Jerusalem.[10] Because of her faithfulness, King Herod highly regarded her.[11] Therefore, she enjoyed all the wealth and privileges that King Herod bestowed on her as queen until his death in 4 B.C.E.[12] King Herod even sent her sons, Prince Herod and Prince Herod Philip II, to be educated in Rome.[13] However, only Prince Herod Philip II benefited from it.[14]

In 4 B.C.E., King Herod died. Very little is known about Queen Cleopatra of Jerusalem after King Herod’s death.[15] There is no mention of how or when she died.[16] Prince Herod Philip II was the only son of Queen Cleopatra of Jerusalem to be named in King Herod’s will.[17] This may be that if Prince Herod was older than Prince Herod Philip II, then he may have died in Rome.[18] If he was younger than Prince Herod Philip II, he might have been too young to be included in King Herod’s will.[19] Prince Herod Philip II inherited Trachonitis, Auranitis, Panaeas, Batanea, and Gaulanitis (which were lands northeast of modern-day Palestine).[20] He would eventually marry his niece, Princess Salome, the daughter of Princess Herodias and Prince Herod Philip I. Princess Salome was known for her infamous dance of death that led to the beheading of John the Baptist.[21] Thus, Queen Cleopatra of Jerusalem was Princess Salome’s mother-in-law.

While very little is known of Queen Cleopatra of Jerusalem, it is clear that she was very smart and faithful to King Herod.[22] She did not participate in any conspiracies against her husband. Because of her loyalty to him, she enjoyed the privileges of Judaea’s queen. King Herod even rewarded her by including her son in her will. Queen Cleopatra of Jerusalem’s greatest legacy was her son, Prince Herod Philip II.[23] He was said to be “a good and honourable prince” [24], who administered justice throughout his realm.[25]

Sources:

“Cleopatra of Jerusalem”. (n.d.). Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved on December 22, 2022 from https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/cleopatra-of-jerusalem.

Kasher, A., Witztum, E. (2008). King Herod: A Persecuted Persecutor: A Case Study in Psychohistory and Psychobiography. Germany: Netlibrary.

Macurdy, G. H. (1937). Vassal-queens and Some contemporary Women in the Roman Empire. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press.

Smith, M. H. (n.d.). “Cleopatra of Jerusalem”. Virtual Religion Network. Retrieved on December 22, 2022 from https://virtualreligion.net/iho/cleo_jer.html.


[1] “Cleopatra of Jerusalem”, n.d., Jewish Virtual Library

[2] Smith, n.d., “Cleopatra of Jerusalem”

[3] Smith, n.d., “Cleopatra of Jerusalem”

[4] Kasher and Witztum, 2008

[5] Smith, n.d., “Cleopatra of Jerusalem”

[6] Smith, n.d., “Cleopatra of Jerusalem”

[7] Kasher and Witztum, 2008

[8] Kasher and Witztum, 2008

[9] Smith, n.d., “Cleopatra of Jerusalem”

[10] Smith, n.d., “Cleopatra of Jerusalem”

[11] Smith, n.d., “Cleopatra of Jerusalem”

[12] Smith, n.d., “Cleopatra of Jerusalem”

[13] Kasher and Witztum, 2008

[14] Smith, n.d., “Cleopatra of Jerusalem”

[15] Smith, n.d., “Cleopatra of Jerusalem”

[16] Smith, n.d., “Cleopatra of Jerusalem”

[17] Smith, n.d., “Cleopatra of Jerusalem”

[18] Smith, n.d., “Cleopatra of Jerusalem”

[19] Smith, n.d., “Cleopatra of Jerusalem”

[20] Kasher and Witztum, 2008; “Cleopatra of Jerusalem”, n.d., Jewish Virtual Library

[21] Macurdy, 1937

[22] Smith, n.d., “Cleopatra of Jerusalem”

[23] Macurdy, 1937

[24] Macurdy, 1937, p. 83

[25] Macurdy, 1937






About Lauralee Jacks 189 Articles
I am a former elementary teacher in Tennessee. I have a bachelor’s degree in Liberal and Civic Studies from St. Mary’s College of California, a master’s in Elementary Education from the University of Phoenix, and a doctorate in Educational Leadership from the College of Saint Mary. Because my family are from East Asia, I have a passion for historical Chinese and Korean television shows. I always wanted to separate fact from fiction in dramas. Writing articles from History of Royal Women gives me a chance to dig deeper and explore these royal women as they might have been in real life. Also, it gives me a chance to look at the history and culture of where my family originated. I love researching East Asian royalty because they rarely get enough attention in the West often being overshadowed by European royalty. I find these royal women to be just as fascinating and their stories deserve to be told. Thus, I am excited to write for History of Royal Women!

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