We know just a little about the two brothers:
(Antiquities XVIII 9:1)Now there were two men, Asineus and Anileus, of the city Neerda by birth, and brethren to one another. They were destitute of a father, and their mother put them to learn the art of weaving curtains, it not being esteemed disgrace among them for men to be weavers of cloth. Now he that taught them that art, and was set over them, complained that they came too late to their work, and punished them with stripes; but they took this just punishment as an affront, and carried off all the weapons which were kept in that house, which were not a few, and went into a certain place where was a partition of the rivers, and was a place naturally very fit for the feeding of cattle, and for preserving such fruits as were usually laid up against winter.
(Matthew 4:18-22)As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.
It's a mere thread, but it is interesting that the later Sons of the Tumult are not out fishing, but rather occupied with the weaving of nets.
We also see that, in comparing these two pairs of men (Anileus/Asineus + James/John), that the latter pair is discovered specifically with their father while Josephus feels the need to explicitly tell his audience that this pair lacks a father. What would it matter to the story whether they had a father or not?
We run into hints of this in Josephus a lot: possible complete inversions of truth that prevent identification. Perhaps Anileus and Asineus most certainly had a famous father.
Nikos Kokkinos believes that the Salome of Antipas's court, who in real history marries Aristobulus of Chalcis, was his daughter with the princess of Nabatea. The daughter of Herodias, in his opinion, would have been too old. As a result, Kokkinos does believe that Salome of Herod and Herodias may actually have been married to some "Zebedee". The mother of whoever might be identified as James and John. The gospels have Zebedee located in Bethsaida, and in general I would locate Herod II's family in Chalcis or near Banias. It's hard to imagine this character in Rome.
Since the gospels have Herodias married to Philip, which Kokkinos believes, one explanation is that Herod II remained in Rome and permitted Herodias a divorce. Herodias then takes Salome to Banias and marries Philip. The identity of Zebedee may be possible to identify.
Anileus was famously involved with a woman whom he stole away from her husband for her beauty. This character is never named, but her story reminds of "Helena". Compare also Josephus's words about Mariamne Boethus:
((Antiquities XV 9:3)There was one Simon, a citizen of Jerusalem, the son of one Boethus, a citizen of Alexandria, and a priest of great note there; this man had a daughter, who was esteemed the most beautiful woman of that time; and when the people of Jerusalem began to speak much in her commendation, it happened that Herod was much affected with what was said of her; and when he saw the damsel, he was smitten with her beauty, yet did he entirely reject the thoughts of using his authority to abuse her, as believing, what was the truth, that by so doing he should be stigmatized for violence and tyranny; so he thought it best to take the damsel to wife.
((Antiquities XVIII 9:5)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. Anileus, the brother of Asineus, either heard of that her beauty from others, or perhaps saw her himself also, and so became at once her lover and her enemy; partly because he could not hope to enjoy this woman but by obtaining power over her as a captive, and partly because he thought he could not conquer his inclinations for her. As soon therefore as her husband had been declared an enemy to them, and was fallen in the battle, the widow of the deceased was married to this her lover.
The story of Simon Boethus and Mariamne has always stricken me as odd and unlikely. Herod gives away the High Priesthood to marry a young woman? And a few years, allegedly, after the marriage would supposed to have occurred (per Kokkinos dating the children of Herod's wives)? Then Herod disowns the lot of Boethusians for a slight?
What's remarkable is how Josephus's treatment of Herod and Mariamne parallels that of Anileus and the mysterious Helen figure.
- A king is smitten with a woman who has a vast reputation, is esteemed above all others for her beauty
- The king refuses to use his power to coerce her, for fear of being labelled a tyrant
- The king contrives a way to take the woman for wife.
If we have three like characters: Mariamne Boethus - the wife of Anileus - Helena of Adiabene, I would suggest the latter two are closer geographically, chronologically and contextually. Thus, Mariamne is the echo or facsimile of the real Helena.
In this vein, Helena was said to have been married to both Bazeus of Adiabene and Abgar of Edessa. Eisenmann claims they are probably the same person, and I'd agree that "Edessa" doesn't seem to be a kingdom until Trajan makes it one in the second century.
However, in the Syriac records, Elias of Nisibis inserts a comment on the Abgarid kings list. He notes that Abgar Ukkama was usurped by Abgar "Hewara" (the white) for six years before Ukkama (or perhaps the son of Ukkama) was restored to the throne.
The period from when Anileus seizes Nisibis, until his defeat would be about six years. If we treat this "Fifth Abgar" of Edessa as Bazeus, and Izates as his son, then "Abgar the White" is identified as the uncle of Izates.
There is some confusion with "Abgar Ukkama" where one is wont to identify either Bazeus or Izates as this character, perhaps both. With a sense that Ukkama himself is partly legendary, a consequence of later Abgar VIII "The Great" attempting to fabricate a Christian history for Edessa via the Doctrine of Addai. It is entirely possible that Izates and Hewara are brothers. In a similar vein, if Josephus is lying about the father of Anileus, then perhaps the father lived and was Hewara, leading the movement instead of his sons.
Nevertheless, the consequence of this leaves two possibilities:
1) Manu Saflul and his wife Alexandra the Hasmonean had the son Bazeus, and the second son was Zebedee, who married Salome.
2) Bazeus himself married Salome (before Helena), and Boanerges are half-brothers to Izates. This fits with Josephus having the children as orphans "destitute of a father", or rather, neglected and cast out by him. Bazeus does remind of "Sabazios" which fits the concept of "tekton", and the interchange between Bazeus's domain with kin-kingdoms (Sophene, Commagene) allows for Lydian cultic influence. Sabazios, in turn, reminds of Zebedaios. If Anileus is Hewara, he is usurping the father who cast him out, bypassing the man's other sons, and marrying the sacred woman so that he can produce a line of his own.
We continue to lack an explanation of why Helena is Bazeus's "sister wife", although I favor an esoteric basis for the rumor. Bazeus and Helena are being identified popularly as the sacred consorts, who are brother-sister twins. He's a tekton, she's his "sister-wife". Implicit of a sacred marriage and divine rule.
With the history of Abgar Hewara, the usurping "uncle" explained by Anileus, then the story of Herod and Mariamne Boethus is fabricated. This allows for Mariamne Boethus to have been the unwanted Mariamne of Archelaus.
Finally, one must ask if "weaver" is symbolic of something. Certainly, the literal trade could be transposed into the Galilean fishermen context, as net weaver. However, if the gospel fisherman motif is symbolic, then certainly a "weaver of curtains" could be too. We see that Mary Magdalene is remembered as a weaver of the temple's curtain. Funny that Josephus has to go out of his way to reassure us that in crazy Babylon, curtain weaving is an acceptable profession for a man, immediately sounding like apology.
Bonus points to anyone who can unpack the etymology in Greek or Hebrew for "weaver" and see if there's a confused meaning, like sounding words and so forth. For instance, "temple curtain weaver" could be a mistaken translation of "temple curtain tender", and this is invocative of priestly pedigree.
Weaving also implies cunning and intrigue.
Nevertheless, what better name for the two brothers who conquered all the Euphrates and then caused the Jews to be banished from Babylon than "Sons of the Tumult"?