Above is a photo of the powerful and wealthy kingdom of Adiabene that backed the Jews of Jerusalem in every way. Why didn’t Jesus go here to teach, or, Paul, who was looking for more proselytes? Surely foreign prophets from Adiabene went to Jerusalem to preach to aliens, and Jews who had converted to Helenism. There had to be foreign Rabbis.
The Jewish Historian Josephus was a quisling descended from King David, thus, he had a vested interest in putting other royal people in a bad light, such as, having royal siblings marry each other and have children.
Once part of the Assyrian heartland, Adiabene was annexed by the expanding Persian empire in the 6th century BC. Xenophon’s 10,000 passed through on their way to the Black Sea, and Alexander’s final confrontation with Darius III was at Gaugamela – probably in the territory of Adiabene east of Mosul. It emerged as an independent kingdom when the Parthians overran the former Seleucid lands. Its main city was Arbela (modern Irbil). Its culture was Persian, its religion Zoroastrian – until a curious episode told by JOSEPHUS, concerning the royal family:
King Monobazus fell in love with his sister Helena, and made her pregnant. A dream told him to look after his son, who would have a happy life. Izates became his favourite, although Monobazus had sons by other women. Because they made no secret of their hatred for him, Monobazus sent Izates away, to be brought up by his friend the king ofCHARACENE. Izates was well-looked after, and married the king’s daughter. Monobazus – old by now – died, and Izates returned to become king.
Coincidentally both mother and son had been attracted to Judaism. When Izates came home, having refused to murder all his brothers (he sent them off as hostages instead – some to emperor Claudius in Rome, others to the Parthians) he decided to ignore public opinion and become a fully-fledged Jew – by getting himself circumcized. Helena went to Jerusalem, where she and her son became major benefactors, and Izates sent five of his sons there to be brought up as Jews.
Izates was a sucessful and well-respected king – and earned even more respect when he took in ARDAVAN III, king of Parthia, driven out by a conspiracy, and helped him regain his throne. Ardavan gave him Nisibis as a thankyou. But, although the royal family keenly embraced Judaism, the nobles did not. They tried to dethrone Izates, first by an alliance with the Arabs, and when that failed, with the support of Valaksh I (Vologaeses), now king of Parthia (since AD 51). Izates was saved when VALAKSH I HAD TO LOOK ELSEWHERE to confront an invasion of the Dahae and Sacae. Soon after this IZATES DIED, leaving the kingdom to his brother Monobazus II, who had also become a Jew. It’s doubtful whether Judaism spread much beyond the royal family, however.
When JUDAEA REBELLED AGAINST ROME IN AD 66, the Adiabene royal family suppported the Judaeans: as a result members of the family were captured by Titus and taken as hostages to Rome.
In AD 116 , Adiabene was annexed by the Roman emperor Trajan, as part of his preparation for a full-scale invasion of Parthia, and became the Roman province of Assyria. But only for a couple of years. Trajan’s successsor, Hadrian, released it. It was, along with next-door Atropatene, reluctant to accept the rule of the Sasanians, remaining loyal for some time to its former Parthian overlords. It also became defiantly Christian in later times, retaining its distinctiveness. Despite being overrun in the invasions of emperors Severus (AD 196) and Caracalla (AD 216) it stayed part of the Sasanian empire until the Islamic conquest.
Aiabene, petty kingdom that was a vassal state of the Parthian empire (247 bc–ad 224) in northern Mesopotamia (now Iraq). Its capital was Arba-ilu (Arbela; modern Irbīl). In the 1st century adits royal family embraced Judaism; the queen mother Helena (d. ad 50), famous for her generosity to the Jews and the Temple, and her sons Monobazus II and Izates II were buried in the Tombs of the Kings at Jerusalem. Adiabene was frequently attacked by the Romans during their campaigns against the Parthians.
Izates II (Ἰζάτης), son of Monobaz (Μονόβαζος), or Izates bar Monobaz (also known as Izaates, Persian: ایزد or Hebrew: זוטוס בן מונבז) (ca. 1-55 CE). Izates, or Izas as Josephus Flavius sometimes calls him, was a king of the Parthian client kingdom of King Monobazus I who became a proselyte to Judaism. He was the son of QueenHelena of Adiabene and of Adiabene. Queen Helena was also said to be the wife of King Abgarus of Edessa and thus the queen of Edessa too.Moses of Chorene confirms that this Helena was also the queen of Adiabene when he says:
- “The chief of King Abgar’s wives, who was named Helena … Helena went away to Jerusalem in the time of Claudius, during the famine which Agabus had predicted. Spending all her treasures she bought an immense amount of grain in Egypt, which she distributed to the poor, to which Josephus bears witness. Her famous mausoleum stands before the gate at Jerusalem to this very day.:
During his youth Izates was sent by his father to the court of King Abinergaos I of Characene in Charax Spasinu. While in Charax Izates became acquainted with aJewish merchant named Ananias, who familiarized him with the tenets of the Jewish religion, in which he became deeply interested. Izates married King Abinergaos’ daughter Symacho who had been converted to Judaism through the efforts of Ananias. His mother had been previously won over to Judaism without his knowledge. On returning home and ascending the throne on the death of his father (c. 31 CE), Izates discovered the conversion of his mother; and he himself intended to adopt Judaism, and even to submit to circumcision. He was, however, dissuaded from this step both by his teacher Ananias and by his mother, but was ultimately persuaded thereto by another Jew, Eleazar.
For some time Izates enjoyed peace; and he was so highly respected that he was chosen as arbitrator between the Parthian king Artabanus III and his rebellious nobles (c. 39 CE). But when several of Izates’ relatives openly acknowledged their conversion to Judaism, some of the nobles of Adiabene secretly induced Abia, anArab king, to declare war against him. Izates defeated his enemy, who in despair committed suicide. The nobles then conspired with Vologases, King of Parthia, but the latter was at the last moment prevented from carrying out his plans, and Izates continued to reign undisturbed for a total of twenty-four years.
Izates died around 55 CE. His mother Helena survived him for only a short time. He left twenty-four sons and twenty-four daughters. Izates was succeeded by his older brother Monobaz II, who sent Izates’ remains and those of Queen Helena to Jerusalem for burial.