The Wife of Simon the Hasmonean – The first Hasmonean Queen of Judea




simon hasmonean judea

The Wife of Simon the Hasmonean was the founder of the Hasmonean Dynasty. Even though she was Queen of Judea, her name and early origins are largely unrecorded.[1] Even though we know so very little about her, historical accounts portray her as a strong and courageous heroine.[2] She was a war captive, a woman who encouraged her son to exact justice on his father’s murderer while being tortured and died a violent but heroic death.[3] While she remains forgotten in history, she founded an illustrious dynasty.[4]

In circa 180 B.C.E., the Wife of Simon the Hasmonean was born.[5] Her name and background remain unrecorded.[6] Her husband was Simon the Hasmonean, the High Priest and King of Judea.[7] Therefore, she was the Queen of Judea.[8] She gave birth to three sons and two daughters. One of these sons was John Hyrcanus, who was born ca. 165 B.C.E.[9] There was some doubt about John Hyrcanus’s birth.[10] In ca. 168-167 B.C.E., the Wife of Simon the Hasmonean was taken prisoner by the Seleucid king, Antiochus IV, and may have been raped.[11] Because of this doubt, many of John Hyrcanus’s political enemies opposed his accession as the next King of Judea.[12]

Simon the Hasmonean married his daughter to Ptolemy, the Governor of Jericho.[13] In ca. 135 B.C. E., Simon the Hasmonean and his family visited the region to see his daughter and Ptolemy.[14] They stayed in Doq, a desert fortress. It was there that Ptolemy planned to eliminate the Hasmonean royal family and take the throne of Judea for himself.[15] Ptolemy hosted a feast but realised that John Hyrcanus was not there.[16] Immediately, he knew his plan had failed.[17] Ptolemy did manage to kill Simon the Hasmonean and his two sons.[18] Ptolemy then sent assassins to murder John Hyrcanus.[19] Before the assassins could kill him, the news of his father’s murder had already reached John Hyrcanus’s ears.[20]

John Hyrcanus gathered his men and left for Doq to punish his father’s murderer.[21] Once John Hyrcanus arrived at the fortress gates, Ptolemy brought the Wife of Simon the Hasmonean to the turrets of the castle and tortured her in front of her son.[22] This was to dissuade John from attacking the fortress.[23] Nevertheless, the Wife of Simon the Hasmonean pleaded for her son to punish his father’s murderer and not be dissuaded from Ptolemy’s actions.[24] In the end, John Hyrcanus abandoned attacking Doq because of the “advent of the Jewish sabbatical year”.[25] Ptolemy killed the Wife of Simon the Hasmonean and escaped.[26]

The Wife of Simon the Hasmonean’s name has been lost to history. However, history has not forgotten her courage.[27] She was a queen and the mother of the next King of Judea.[28] Even in the face of death, the Wife of Simon the Hasmonean continued to persuade her son to get justice for her husband’s murderer. Even though her efforts were in vain, she continues to be admired for her heroism.[29] The Wife of Simon the Hasmonean is the ancestress of Princess Alexandra the Maccabee, Queen Mariamne I, Princess Herodias, Queen Salome, and Queen Julia Berenice I.[30]

Sources:

Ilan, T. (1999, December 31). “Hasmonean Women.” Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women. Jewish Women’s Archive. Retrieved on April 10, 2023 from https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/hasmonean-women.

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

Wilker, J. (2017). Noble Death and Dynasty: A Popular Tradition from the Hasmonean Period in Josephus. Journal for the Study of Judaism: In the Persian Hellenistic & Roman Period48(1), 69–91.


[1] Ilan, 2022

[2] Wilker, 2017

[3] Wilker, 2022

[4] Ilan, 2022

[5] Ilan, 2022

[6] Ilan, 2022

[7] Wilker, 2017

[8] Wilker, 2017

[9] Ilan, 2022

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

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

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

[13] Wilker, 2017

[14] Wilker, 2017

[15] Ilan, 2022

[16] Ilan, 2022

[17] Ilan, 2022

[18] Ilan, 2022

[19] Ilan, 2022

[20] Ilan, 2022

[21] Ilan, 2022

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

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

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

[25] Ilan, 2022, p. 22

[26] Ilan, 2022

[27] Wilker, 2017

[28] Wilker, 2017

[29] Wilker, 2017

[30] Ilan, 2022






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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