Anileus and Asineus Catalyze Jewish Conversion Of Adiabene

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Anileus and Asineus Catalyze Jewish Conversion Of Adiabene

Post by yakovzutolmai »

According to Moses of Chorene, the defeat of Parthian/Armenian forces by Germanicus led to the sons of "Abgar Ukkama" being marched away indignantly as prisoners. In turn, Abgar leaves his former capital of Nisibis behind in order to rebuild the ancient walls of Urhay in preparation for conflict with Rome.

The year would have been 18 AD. The same year, after the conclusion of hostilities with Rome, Parthian Emperor Artabanus II rides East to deal with usurpers and secessionists.

One can imagine this environment as being ripe for the rebellion of Anileus and Asineus. Two Jews of Neerda (near Bablyon), who build up a robber state that runs along the Euphrates to Nisibis and controls Babylon and Northwestern Mesopotamia. Apparently the Parthians allowed these Jewish robbers partial legitimacy due to rebellions in Characene and Seleucia.

In the Edessan king's list, Pacorus reigns for 5 years. This corresponds to 43-38 BC. Two successive Abgars rule for three years each. In 32 BC, Ma'nu Saflul takes over for about 19 years. Moses of Chorene lists Arsham the father of Abgar's reign as lasting 20 years. Thus, we can pinpoint the start of Abgar (perhaps Bazeus) Ukkama's reign in 13/12 BC. Syriac histories list it lasting 37 years. This takes us to 25 AD.

Josephus's account of Anileus has him killing "a certain Parthian general."
A certain Parthian, who came as general of an army into those parts, had a wife following him, who had a vast reputation for other accomplishments, and particularly was admired above all other women for her beauty
(Antiquities XX 9:5)

Finally, Elias of Nisibis inserts a footnote into the history of Edessa that after Abgar Ukkama reigned, his son reigned for one month, followed by six years of an "Abgar Hewara" followed again by the son of Ukkama.

If Abgar had come to stop Anileus in 25 AD, then Anileus might have killed him in battle, taking his wife Helena for his own. Josephus alludes to the reputation of this wife as if we should know her, and Helena is a good candidate for such a person, the description is apt.

Then, Anileus rules 6 years until 31 AD. This explains why Helena was said to be the wife of Bazeus then Abgar. She is living for 6 years in Nisibis or Neerda in a Jewish household. This, along with the temporary prestige of the Babylonian Jewish state, primes Helena for conversion thanks to the ministerial efforts of Ananias.

Izates's own conversion to Judaism could have been pragmatic. After the defeat of Anileus, the Jews lose power in Babylon. This causes the Macedonians, who had previously maintained an alliance of convenience with the Jews, to form a new alliance with the Syrian Arabs, leaving the Jews as a disempowered minority. This causes them to flee to Nisibis and Neerda, emptying the other cities of the region.

We hear that Izates, after assisting Artabanus (ca. 35-40) against a coup, is gifted Nisibis as a reward. One has to wonder how it is that this Jewish occupied citadel is Artabanus's to gift. Yet, Izates as a Jewish convert, may be the appropriate governor of the city. Thus, Izates's conversion may have been partially a political calculation.

The Jews of Babylon had shown their power. Moreover, the Jewish Kingdom of Judea had also shown its potential at times.

The Talmud has Monobazus II sending aid for the famine in 48. This means Izates dies before that. The Edessan Kings list gives the next reign as 14 years, which would be: 31/32-45/46 AD. This is the death of Theudas.

We see in 42, Sampsiceramus II dies. This corresponds to the story in Josephus of Izates fighting an Arab "Abia" due to his attempt to make Adiabene a Jewish kingdom.

In 41, Herod Agrippa is slighted by Rome and Sampsiceramus II, and appears to have been angered at this. We see him respond by building the walls of Jerusalem and deposing the Ananian line of High Priests for the Boethusians (Elioneaus - a candidate for Lazarus).

This implies that Herod Agrippa and Izates were planning a kind of Jewish-Babylonian empire.

Agrippa is killed. Elionaeus is removed. Suddenly, Theudas appears. After his death, Tiberius Alexander persecutes James and Simon. This period ends during the famine, in which Adiabene via Munbaz and Helena offer food aid, thanks also the support from "the church in Antioch" which could certainly be Nisibis. One imagines the reputation of the Bablyonian faction was restored after the Theudas debacle.

Nevertheless, in 62, Ananus has James killed. If James is Jacimus of Batanea - son of Zamaris the Babylonian Jew - then perhaps this is a political murder.

In conclusion, there is a clear sequence of events whereby the throne of Adiabene (having links to Iturea), absorbs the Jewish power of Babylon and threatens to dominate Jewish religion and politics.

I think this narrative must be taken as the wider geopolitical context for the development of the Christian religion by the "James community" following the death of Theudas.

I've laid out this hypothesis previously, however I think Anileus and Asineus must be incorporated. Josephus titles the section "departure from Babylon" and in context with the rise of Jewish Adiabene, this event had strong explanatory power. It also aligns with the wider history of Helena and the kings of "Edessa", almost perfectly.
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