Aristobulus I

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For other people with this name, see Aristobulus (disambiguation)
Aristobulus I
King and High Priest of Judaea
Aristobulus I from "Promptuarii Iconum Insigniorum"
Reign c. 104 — 103 BC
Died c.103 BC
Predecessor John Hyrcanus I
Successor Alexander Jannaeus
Father John Hyrcanus I

Judah (Yehudah, Heb. יהודה) Aristobulus I (reigned 104–103 BC), the first ruler of the Hebrew Hasmonean Dynasty to call himself "king," was the eldest of the five sons of John Hyrcanus, the previous leader.[1] Josephus would declare him the first Jew in 481 years to “wear the diadem on his head” (Ant. xiii, 301).


According to the directions of John Hyrcanus, the government of the country after his death was to be placed in the hands of his wife, and Aristobulus was originally to receive only the high-priesthood. But he seized the crown with support of his brother Antigonus, and threw his mother into prison, where she starved to death. To secure himself against further danger from his family, he imprisoned three of his brothers.[1] Kasher suggests that this reflects a policy dispute regarding the rate of expansion in Galilee, and the potential for conflict with the Hellenistic cities on the coast.[2]

Under Aristobulus’ reign, the name of the Jewish community or council of the Jews became “Hever ha-Yehudim” and in the Greek, the “Sanhedrin.” The identity of ‘the community of the Jews’ may have been on his coins, but their title, like his crown, was seen and spoken in Greek terms.

Being of feeble health, he gradually came under the complete control of a clique, at the head of which stood Alexandra Salome, the queen. Through its machinations, he was led to suspect his favorite brother, Antigonus—whom he had entrusted with a share in the government, and whom he treated almost as a coregent—of designs against him.[1] When he showed signs of disease, his wife, Queen Shelomit (Salome) Alexandra, conspired to murder Antigonus. She poisoned the king’s mind with suggestions that his brother was attempting to steal the throne by force. She then convinced Antigonus that his king wished to see his new armor, while telling Aristobulus that his brother was coming to kill him. Antigonus died before reaching the throne. Days later, Aristobulus died of internal bleeding from a disease. The Queen released the younger brothers from prison, placing Alexander Jannaeus on the throne (Jewish Wars i, 74-85).

Hasmonean Kingdom under Aristobulus
  situation in 104 BC
  area conquered



  • Josephus Ant. xiii, (301-319); Jewish Wars (B.J.) i, (70-84).

See also[edit]

Aristobulus I
Died: 103 BC
Preceded by
John Hyrcanus I
King of Judaea
104 BC – 103 BC
Succeeded by
Alexander Jannaeus
High Priest of Judaea
104 BC – 103 BC