Tag Archives: Shavuot

Jew of the Week: Salome Alexandra

Queen of Judea

Shlom-Tzion (139–67 BCE), more commonly known by her Hellenized name Salome Alexandra, has the distinction of being the only true, independent Jewish Queen of Israel in history. Her husband was the king Alexander Yannai, a Sadducee who sparked a civil war and began an extermination campaign against traditional Judaism. At his death, Salome took over and restored peace to the kingdom. She ended her husband’s cruel persecutions of the rabbis (recalling many of them from exile in Egypt, including her brother, the great Shimon ben Shetach). She also re-established the Sanhedrin, the Jewish Supreme Court. Together with the sages of the day, a public school system was instituted for all children, rich or poor. Salome also championed the rights of women and developed the marriage document (ketuba) with clauses that protect the bride, as we still use to this day. Greatly expanding the army and fortifying Judea’s borders, Salome protected the kingdom from foreign powers (particularly Armenia and Syria). Her reign was marked by incredible prosperity, and the Talmud recounts that during her nine-year rule the rains always came in their times, oats grew as large as olives and wheat grains as large as kidney beans. Sadly, the kingdom quickly unraveled at her death, and was shortly after conquered by Rome.

Words of the Week

Freedom of choice has been granted to every person: if he desires to turn toward a good path and be righteous, the ability to do so is in his hands; and if he desires to turn toward an evil path and be wicked, the ability to do so is in his hands…

– Rabbi Moses ben Maimon (Maimonides)

Jew of the Week: King David

Happy Shavuot!

David 1, Goliath 0

David ben Ishai (c. 907-837 BCE) Better known as King David, he unified the twelve tribes of Israel, prepared Jerusalem for its status as our eternal capital and defeated all of our enemies, namely the Philistines and their champion Goliath. [*Sidenote: he didn’t kill Goliath with a slingshot. He chopped his head off with the giant’s own sword.] Perhaps most famously, he is the author of the Book of Psalms – beloved by peoples worldwide, including Jews, Christians, and Gangsta Rappers (see below). David was a harpist and poet, shepherd and the youngest of 8 brothers. He ruled Israel for 40 years, and lived exactly 70, having been born and passed away on Shavuot.

Words of the Week

“Even when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me.” – King David, Psalm 23
“As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I take a look at my life, and realize there’s nothin’ left.” – Coolio, Gangster’s Paradise
“I shall fear no man, but God; Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…” – 2Pac, So Many Tears