Izates As Theudas; Josephus Incorrectly Records His Death Too Late

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
Post Reply
Posts: 160
Joined: Mon May 17, 2021 6:03 am

Izates As Theudas; Josephus Incorrectly Records His Death Too Late

Post by yakovzutolmai »

Bazeus, the King of Adiabene, had two sons: Izates and Monobazus. Monobazus was older, but,
About this time it was that Helena, queen of Adiabene, and her son Izates, changed their course of life, and embraced the Jewish customs, and this on the occasion following: Monobazus, the king of Adiabene, who had also the name of Bazeus, fell in love with his sister Helena, and took her to be his wife, and begat her with child. But as he was in bed with her one night, he laid his hand upon his wife's belly, and fell asleep, and seemed to hear a voice, which bid him take his hand off his wife's belly, and not hurt the infant that was therein, which, by God's providence, would be safely born, and have a happy end. This voice put him into disorder; so he awaked immediately, and told the story to his wife; and when his son was born, he called him Izates. He had indeed Monobazus, his elder brother, by Helena also, as he had other sons by other wives besides. Yet did he openly place all his affections on this his only begotten 2 son Izates,
(Antiquities XX 2:1)

According to Josephus, Monobazus is the elder son, but Izates is given preference to rule first. Monobazus not only steps aside to allow this, but assumes the throne on Izates' death.

Izates lives into the reign of Vologases, according to Josephus.
It was not long ere Izates died, when he had completed fifty-five years of his life, and had ruled his kingdom twenty-four years. He left behind him twenty-four sons and twenty-four daughters. However, he gave order that his brother Monobazus should succeed in the government, thereby requiting him, because, while he was himself absent after their father's death, he had faithfully preserved the government for him. But when Helena, his mother, heard of her son's death, she was in great heaviness, as was but natural, upon her loss of such a most dutiful son; yet was it a comfort to her that she heard the succession came to her eldest son. Accordingly, she went to him in haste; and when she was come into Adiabene, she did not long outlive her son Izates. But Monobazus sent her bones, as well as those of Izates, his brother, to Jerusalem, and gave order that they should be buried at the pyramids 8 which their mother had erected; they were three in number, and distant no more than three furlongs from the city Jerusalem. But for the actions of Monobazus the king, which he did during the rest of his life, we will relate them hereafter.
(Antiquities XX 4:3)

This means Izates could not have died before 51 AD. Josephus also fails to follow up on his promise to relate the fate of Monobazus (by scholarly convention, second of his name).

We know a Monobazus was involved with the Roman-Parthian war in Armenia, and that the infantry of Adiabene played a major role opposed to the Roman legions. Monobazus is likely the person Robert Eisenmann likes to allude to:
A crucial new point that emerges in The New Testament Code is the identification of the document known as the MMT as a Letter from James to someone early Church Fathers call the “Great King of the Peoples beyond the Euphrates.”
As for Theudas, he dies in 46 AD. This make the identification of he with Izates impossible, or perhaps not?

For one, consider the language of Josephus: "24 years, 24 sons, 24 daughters". Josephus has Izates taking power and sending brothers to Claudius. From 41 AD at the earliest, that's 41 + 24 = 65 AD. Two years after Monobazus's war in Armenia. I can't pick and choose where I want Josephus to be wrong, but his story doesn't add up.

Let us identify Izates's activities in history.
Now when the king's brother, Monobazus, and his other kindred, saw how Izates, by his piety to God, was become greatly esteemed by all men, they also had a desire to leave the religion of their country, and to embrace the customs of the Jews; but that act of theirs was discovered by Izates's subjects. Whereupon the grandees were much displeased, and could not contain their anger at them; but had an intention, when they should find a proper opportunity, to inflict a punishment upon them. Accordingly, they wrote to Abia, king of the Arabians, and promised him great sums of money, if he would make an expedition against their king; and they further promised him, that, on the first onset, they would desert their king, because they were desirous to punish him, by reason of the hatred he had to their religious worship; then they obliged themselves, by oaths, to be faithful to each other, and desired that he would make haste in this design. The king of Arabia complied with their desires, and brought a great army into the field, and marched against Izates; and, in the beginning of the first onset, and before they came to a close fight, those grandees, as if they had a panic terror upon them, all deserted Izates, as they had agreed to do, and, turning their backs upon their enemies, ran away. Yet was not Izates dismayed at this; but when he understood that the grandees had betrayed him, he also retired into his camp, and made inquiry into the matter; and as soon as he knew who they were that made this conspiracy with the king of Arabia, he cut off those that were found guilty; and renewing the fight on the next day, he slew the greatest part of his enemies, and forced all the rest to betake themselves to flight. He also pursued their king, and drove him into a fortress called Arsamus, and following on the siege vigorously, he took that fortress. And when he had plundered it of all the prey that was in it, which was not small, he returned to Adiabene; yet did not he take Abia alive, because, when he found himself encompassed on every side, he slew himself.
(Antiquities XX 4:1)

The best known "Abia" in historical proximity is Azizus of Osrhoene, who was an ally of Philip Philadephus. Abia being the Arab equivalent of the Roman concept of Phylarch. It is speculative but not completely inappropriate to speculate that Azizus is "Abia" to King Philip. The son of Aziz, Sampsiceramus, founded the dynasty at Emesa which gave us the Severan Emperors of Rome as well as Zenobia and the philosopher Iamblichus.

The fortress of the Emesenes was Ash-Shmamish

Isn't it clear that the Assyrian and Parthian/Macedonian subjects of Izates are upset about his religious sympathies? Directing the lord of the Arabs to do something about it? Thus, Izates goes to "Arsamus" to defeat "Abia".

For dating, the Emesene Sampsiceramus II dies in 42. He had just previously attended a great conference with Agrippa in Tiberias in which the Roman governor had offended Agrippa, which Josephus connects chronologically with the removal of an Ananian high priest for Elionaeus Cantheras Boethus (a very good candidate for Lazarus of Bethany).

Now some context for Izates. The Boethusians and B'nei Bathyra have parallel roles in the Jerusalem Sanhedrin and temple during the role of Herod. Bathyra is founded by Zamaris of Babylon, a plausible contender for a prince or general of Adiabene.

The Talmud calls Izates and Monobazus the "Sons of Ptolemy", which could pertain to Ptolemy Menneus (Ma'nu? of Osrhoene) who lived in proximity to Sampsiceramus (and I believe Ptolemy was Philip Philadelphus in exile).

Elionaeus is replaced by the Ananian priest in conjunction with Agrippa's death. In the same year, Theudas's career begins.

There is a tradition which uses the "Lazarus and the rich man" parable to claim Annas (Ananus?) the priest persecuted Lazarus.

The story would be that Izates is present in Syria during 42 AD to fight Sampsiceramus II. Adiabene loyal Boethusians (exiled to Bathyra "Bethany" Batanea after Herod's persecutions, or perhaps after the census of 6 AD, Bathyra maybe the pseudonymic "Nasara" of the Dead Sea Scrolls) have Herod Agrippa's favor and hold the High Priesthood after decades of Ananian control.

Is Agrippa aligning away from Rome and the Alexandrian Jews due to the slight? Is he leaning toward the Adiabenian power which has just asserted dominance over a Roman friendly client? Herod II and possibly Philip both had connections to the Boethusians, and had long been associated with the Northeastern lands Agrippa first controlled. Herod of Chalcis controlled the former domain of Ptolemy Menneus. For Agrippa to have a bias towards Adiabene, and for this to be part of Rome's concern, is certainly possible.

Izates is present in "Bethany" (Bathyra), the regions around Galilee and near Lebanon, when Lazarus Boethus comes back to his household (sister Martha, father Simon Cantheras - whose brother Joazer bears a name which in Syriac means the same as Andrew in Greek). Lazarus has been attacked to near death and exiled by the Ananians. Herod Agrippa is dead. 44 AD.

Izates, therefore, rises up. Not willing to fight Rome. Perhaps converted to fanatical religious belief (maybe influenced by psychedelic drugs), he calls for his followers (the Babylonian Jews, other Essenes and Dositheans) to cross Jordan back to the East. He is a reverse Joshua, and is captured and beheaded. This is 46 AD.

The next procurator is Tiberius Alexander, a Jew of Alexandria. He persecutes James and Simon in the aftermath of Theudas's death.

Near the end of Tiberius Alexander's reign, there is a major famine. Helena of Adiabene is living as a widow in Jerusalem and famously buys grain from Egypt to relieve it. We might presume this calmed Jerusalem to the intentions of the Babylonian Jews, as the Ananians leave the priesthood, and Tiberius leaves the procuratorship.

Consider the context for Izates. According to Josephus, he would have helped provide the funding to his mother for the famine.

Yet, in the Talmud it is Monobazus who provides the relief:
תָּנוּ רַבָּנַן מַעֲשֶׂה בְמוֹנְבַּז הַמֶּלֶךְ שֶׁבִּזְבֵּז אוֹצְרוֹתָיו וְאוֹצְרוֹת אֲבוֹתָיו בִּשְׁנֵי בַּצּוֹרֶת וַחֲבֵרוֹ עָלָיו אֶחָיו וּבֵית אָבִיו וְאָמְרוּ לוֹ אֲבוֹתֶיךָ גָּנְזוּ וְהוֹסִיפוּ עַל שֶׁל אֲבוֹתָם וְאַתָּה מְבַזְבְּזָם אָמַר לָהֶם אֲבוֹתַי גָּנְזוּ לְמַטָּה וַאֲנִי גָּנַזְתִּי לְמַעְלָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר אֱמֶת מֵאֶרֶץ תִּצְמָח וְצֶדֶק מִשָּׁמַיִם נִשְׁקָף אֲבוֹתַי גָּנְזוּ בִּמְקוֹם שֶׁהַיָּד שׁוֹלֶטֶת בּוֹ וַאֲנִי גָּנַזְתִּי בִּמְקוֹם שֶׁאֵין הַיָּד שׁוֹלֶטֶת בּוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר צֶדֶק וּמִשְׁפָּט מְכוֹן כִּסְאֶךָ
The Sages taught: There was an incident involving King Munbaz, who liberally gave away his treasures and the treasures of his ancestors in the years of drought, distributing the money to the poor. His brothers and his father’s household joined together against him to protest against his actions, and they said to him: Your ancestors stored up money in their treasuries and added to the treasures of their ancestors, and you are liberally distributing it all to the poor. King Munbaz said to them: Not so, my ancestors stored up below, whereas I am storing above, as it is stated: “Truth will spring out of the earth and righteousness will look down from heaven” (Psalms 85:12), meaning that the righteous deeds that one has performed are stored up in heaven. My ancestors stored up treasures in a place where the human hand can reach, and so their treasures could have been robbed, whereas I am storing up treasures in a place where the human hand cannot reach, and so they are secure, as it is stated: “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne”
(Bava Batra 11a)

Acts of the Apostles has the church in Antioch providing relief to Jerusalem.

We should assume the "James community" is located in Bashan (Bathaniyeh) as stated, partly because of the Dead Sea Scrolls reference to this area, and its proximity to the ministerial activities of Jesus. This place, Bathyra, is connected to the Jews of Nisibis. Nisibis is a preeminent religious center for Jews, one of three or four in the ancient world. It was known as Antioch Mygdonia.

There is reason to interpret the James community's first century Antioch as Nisibis.

If the Jews of Nisibis are sending relief to Jerusalem, in conjunction with their king Monobazus's donation, to Helena to distribute, then the stand as a plausible historical basis for the account mentioned in Acts.

Nevertheless, the timing of this famine along with the war against "Abia" imply that Izates died between 42-46. Izates's life until 65 or later, per Josephus, is clearly wrong. 42-46 becomes the best estimate for Izate's death.

This, along with the political context regarding the allegiances and reign of Agrippa, incorporating the prospect of a high priesthood feud between the Ananians (of Alexandria and Rome) and the Boethusians (of Bathyra and Adiabene), best explain the situation regarding Theudas.

This marks Jesus's historical Galilean ministry at 42-46, and the subsequent persecutions of James and Simon proposing a founding of the James religion by around 50. Its center being located at Nisibis (which suggests that the Hierapolis of Pappias may have been Manbij, Syria).

This also associates Jesus with the Hatrene Triad of Maren and Barmaren, due to Hatra's inheritance of Adiabene's legacy, who plausibly contribute to the legend of Muhammed.

The first, legendary, king of Osrhoene is Aryu son of Hewya. Lion son of snake (echoes of Egyptian theology). Nevertheless, Aryu is also rendered as Orhai (from Urhay) or Osroes (that is Osrhoene).

Osroes I of Parthia,
In 109, Osroes I revolted against Parthian king Pacorus II (r. 78–110) in order to claim the throne for himself.[1] During the reign of Pacorus II's son Vologases III (r. 110–147), Osroes I managed to seize the western part of the empire, including Mesopotamia, while Vologases III ruled in the east.[2][3] In 113, Osroes I violated the Treaty of Rhandeia with the Romans by deposing Vologases III's brother Axidares and appointing the latter's brother Parthamasiris as the king of Armenia.[2][4] This gave the Roman emperor Trajan (r. 98–117) the pretext to invade the Parthian domain and take advantage of the ongoing civil war between Vologases III and Osroes I.[2][3] In 114, Trajan conquered Armenia and turned it into a Roman province.[4] In 116, Trajan captured Seleucia and Ctesiphon, the capitals of the Parthians.[5] Trajan even reached as far as the Persian Gulf, where he forced the Parthian vassal ruler of Characene, Attambelos VII, to pay tribute.[6][7] Fearing a revolt by the Parthians, Trajan installed Osroes I's son Parthamaspates on the throne at Ctesiphon.

After his defeat in Parthia, Parthamaspates again fled to the Romans who then, as a consolation, granted him the co-rule of Osroene, a small Roman client state between Asia Minor and Syria. He was king of Osroene together with Yalur from 118 to 122, and afterwards sole ruler to 123.

The ruler of Osrhoene before Parthamaspates is a "Ma'nu son of Izates". According to Armenian history (Moses of Chorene), Monobazus II is succeeded by his son Ananus, who dies in an accident, then rule reverts to "Sanatruk" who is the son of Izates with the princess of Charax-Spasinau. In Armenian history, Sanatruk conquers Armenia and parts of Babylon before being defeated by Rome. He's not attested elsewhere, though the history of Armenia and Mesopotamia from 90-100 AD are entirely vague.

Sanatruq is a dynastic name from Hatra, appearing from the 170s AD. Ma'nu is attested as an early king of Hatra. This dynastic overlap makes sense. The legends of Sanatruk in the Armenian Christian church are anachronistic. His castle in Armenia is that of the later Amatuni (400s AD), who do claim Jewish descent from the "Ma'nu" rulers of Adiabene. There is also a sense that the dynasty of Hatra flees into Arabia after being expelled by the Sassanids, and are almost certainly related to the family of Muhammed of Medina.

I could almost conclude that Osroes I of Parthia was indeed "Ma'nu bar Izates", the Sanatruk of Armenian legend. His mother was Charax royalty, so he could plausibly support a rebellion in Mesopotamia and Babylon.

As a final note,
In 115, Emperor Trajan was in command of the eastern campaign against the Parthian Empire. The Roman invasion had been prompted by the imposition of a pro-Parthian king in the Kingdom of Armenia after the Parthians invaded it. That encroachment on the traditional sphere of influence of the Roman Empire (both empires had shared hegemony over Armenia since the time of Nero some 50 years earlier) necessarily led to war.

As Trajan's army advanced victoriously through Mesopotamia, Jewish rebels in its rear began attacking the small garrisons left behind. A revolt in far-off Cyrenaica soon spread to Egypt and then Cyprus and incited revolt in Judea. A widespread uprising, centred on Lydda, threatened grain supplies from Egypt to the front. The Jewish insurrection swiftly spread to the recently-conquered provinces. Cities with substantial Jewish populations, Nisibis, Edessa, Seleucia and Arbela (now Erbil, Iraq) joined the rebellion and slaughtered their small Roman garrisons.

These same Babylonian Jews of Osrhoene/Adiabene are revolting against Trajan's war to depose Osroes.

History may be staring us in the face.
Post Reply