The Wife of John Hyrcanus I – The almost Queen regnant of Judea

john hyrcanus judea

The Wife of John Hyrcanus I was Queen of Judea from 135-10 B.C.E. Upon his death in 104 B.C.E., King John Hyrcanus I chose his wife over all his sons to be the next ruler of Judea.[1] However, Judah Aristobulus, her eldest son, strongly opposed his mother’s rule and robbed her of the throne.[2] Her name and early origins largely remain unrecorded.[3] However, her name would have been remembered for millennia had her accession to the throne of Judea been successful.[4]

In circa 155 B.C.E., the Wife of John Hyrcanus I was born.[5] Her name and background remain unrecorded.[6] She was the wife of John Hyrcanus I, who became the High Priest and King of Judea in 135 B.C.E.[7] Therefore, she was Queen of Judea. She gave birth to five sons.[8] They were Judah Aristobulus, Antigonus, Alexander Jannaeus, Abshalom, and a son whose name is unrecorded.[9]

King John Hyrcanus I reigned for thirty-one years. He was considered “a just and enlightened ruler” [10]. He firmly consolidated his rule in Israel.[11] He destroyed a Samaritan temple on Mount Gerizim.[12] He converted the Idumeans, who were the inhabitants of Southern Judea, to Judaism by force.[13] He also supported the Sadduceans against the Pharisees because they strongly opposed his rule.[14]

In 104 B.C.E., King John Hyrcanus I died. Before his death, he chose his wife over all his sons to be the next ruler of Judea.[15] However, Judah Aristobulus greatly opposed his mother’s accession to the throne.[16] He believed that, as the eldest son, his mother had robbed him of his birthright.[17] Before his mother could act, Judah Aristobulus declared himself the King of Judea.[18] Then, he killed his mother through starvation.[19]

The Wife of John of Hyrcanus I was the Queen of Judea and was almost its Queen regnant. Even though there are very few details about her life, she must have had ample political acumen if her husband chose her to be his successor instead of their sons.[20] Because her son ousted her from the throne, we do not know what she would have been like as Queen regnant.[21] Instead, she has mostly been erased from history.[22] Yet, she had set a precedent that women could become rulers of Judea.[23] This precedent would allow her daughter-in-law, Salome Alexandra, to become the Queen regnant of Judea in 76 B.C.E.[24]


“Hyrcanus I, John”. (2011). In L. Rodger, & J. Bakewell, Chambers Biographical Dictionary (9th ed.). Chambers Harrap.

Ilan, T. (1999, December 31). “Hasmonean Women.” Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women. Jewish Women’s Archive. Retrieved on April 10, 2023 from

Ilan, T. (2022). Queen Berenice: A Jewish Female Icon of the First Century CE. Netherlands: Brill.

[1] Ilan, 2022

[2] Ilan, 2022

[3] Ilan, 2022

[4] Ilan, 2022

[5] Ilan, 2022

[6] Ilan, 2022

[7] Ilan, 2022

[8] Ilan, 2022

[9] Ilan, 2022

[10] “Hyrcanus I, John”, 2011, para. 1

[11] “Hyrcanus I, John”, 2011

[12] “Hyrcanus I, John”, 2011

[13] “Hyrcanus I, John”, 2011

[14] “Hyrcanus I, John”, 2011

[15] Ilan, 2022

[16] Ilan, 2022

[17] Ilan, 2022

[18] Ilan, 2022

[19] Ilan, 2022

[20] Ilan, 2022

[21] Ilan, 2022

[22] Ilan, 2022

[23] Ilan, 31 December 1999, “Hasmonean Women”

[24] Ilan, 31 December 1999, “Hasmonean Women

About Lauralee Jacks 171 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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