Cleopatra of Jerusalem
There is a possibility that Cleopatra could have been a daughter of a local noble from Jerusalem. She was born and raised in the city and could have been of Jewish or Edomite-Phoenician origins. Cleopatra was called Cleopatra of Jerusalem, to distinguish her from the Ptolemaic Greek Queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt.
However, it is also possible that Cleopatra of Jerusalem really was Queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt. Josephus mentions "Cleopatra of Jeruslaem" twice: once in Antiquities 17.1.3 and once in War 1.28.4. It is interesting to note that according to Josephus, Cleopatra VII and King Herod became intimate, and that Cleopatra "upon the whole, seemed overcome with love for him (King Herod),"(Antiquities 15.4.2). Herod is said to have had a son named Philip with Cleopatra of Jerusalem while it is believed that Cleopatra had a third child with Marc Anthony also named Philip. It is during Marc Anthony's absence that Cleopatra, according to Josephus, spent a great deal of time with King Herod.
Cleopatra of Jerusalem was not related to the Hasmonaean Dynasty. She had married King Herod the Great in 25 BC. Herod most probably married her as a part of a political alliance.
Cleopatra bore Herod two sons who were:
- Herod (b. 24 BC/23 BC), of which very little is known.
- Herod Philip II (b. 22 BC/21 BC - 34) who later became the Tetrarch of Ituraea and Trachonitis.
Cleopatra’s children by Herod were raised and educated in Rome. After the death of her husband in 4 BC, her second son inherited some of his father’s dominion and ruled as a Roman client king until his death in 34. Cleopatra became the mother-in-law of Philip’s wife and niece Salome. Philip and Salome had no children.
- Josephus: Antiquities 15.4.2
- Josephus: War 1.28.4