Aristobulus I

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For other people with this name, see Aristobulus (disambiguation)
Aristobulus I
King and High Priest of Judaea
Reign c. 104–103 BC (1 year)[1]
Predecessor John Hyrcanus, Maccabean prince only
Successor Alexander Jannaeus
Died c. 103 BC
Spouse Salome Alexandra
Dynasty Hasmonean
Father John Hyrcanus I

Judah Aristobulus I (from Greek Ἀριστόβουλος, meaning "best advising";[2] reigned c. 104 – 103 BC[3]), was the first ruler of the Hasmonean Dynasty to declare himself "king," and was the eldest of the five sons of John Hyrcanus, the previous leader.[4][5] Josephus would declare him the first Jew in 481 years and three months to wear the diadem on his head.[6]

Aristobulus was not only just the first king from the Hasmonean lineage, but the first of any Hebrew kings to claim both the high priesthood and the kingship title. The Sadducees and the Essenes were not concerned about the newly titles of Judah, however, the Pharisees were infuriated of the new kingship title as they felt that the kingship can only be from decedents of the Davidic lineage as the Hasmoneans are Levites. The Pharisees began a massive rebellion, but Aristrobulus died before any attempt to depose of him could occur.[7]


Ascension as king[edit]

Hasmonean Kingdom under Aristobulus
  situation in 104 BC
  area conquered

According to the directions of John Hyrcanus, the country after his death was to be placed in the hands of his wife, and Aristobulus was originally to receive the high-priesthood only. Aristobulus did not approve of his father's wishes, instead, he seized the crown with the support of his brother Antigonus who would later be killed by Aristobulus's guards. To secure his kingship, he had his mother placed in prison, where she starved to death, and to secure himself against further endangerment from his family, he placed his three brothers into prison except for Antigonus.[8]

Conquest of Galilee[edit]

Much of the Galilee region was annexed by Aristobulus, however, there was some resistance from the Arab Ituraean tribes by the northern parts of the region that required military operations. The region made it difficult to conduct such campaigning against the Galilee inhabitants. In the end, Aristobulus would eventually conquer much of the territory from them.[9]The Golan region was also taken during the campaign and Mount Hermon as well.[10][11][8] The conquered inhabitants were forced to accept the Jewish faith, primarily, circumcision was forcibly performed as the first step to conversion.[12][8]

Death and successor[edit]

Aristobulus's feeble health gradually lead his remaining reign under the control of a clique, at the head of which stood Queen Alexandra Salome, his wife. Through his machinations reign, 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. When he showed signs of disease, the queen conspired to murder Antigonus. She deceived the king with suggestions that Antigonus was attempting to overthrow him by force. Salome then convinced Antigonus that his king wished to see his new armor, while telling Aristobulus that his brother was coming to kill him. Antigonus was killed by Aristobulus's guards before he could get close to his brother. Days later, Aristobulus died from pain and internal bleeding from an unknown disease, which Jews perceived his death as a sign of God's disgruntlement. The queen released the younger brothers from prison, placing Alexander Jannaeus on the throne.[13][14]

Archeological findings[edit]

Galilee and Golan settlements[edit]

Archaeological findings in eastern Galilee and lower Golan reveal massive ethnic changes in the area just before, during, and immediately after Aristobulus's reign. Beginning with John Hyrcanus and ending with Alexander Jannaeus, large numbers of pro-Hasmonean Jews immigrated into those territories to support Hasmonean political, economic, and religious ideology, displacing much of the indigenous population. Although many of these towns were later seized by Roman forces who instituted pro-Hellenic policies, the previous Hasmonean influence survived and would incite conflict during and after the rule of Herod the Great.[15]


The first mint of Hasmonean coins didn't begin until the leadership of John Hyrcanus I. Like his father, Judah Aristobulus only minted his coins with the title of the high priesthood. It wasn't until Alexander Jannaeus that both the roles of kingship and the high priesthood were minted onto coins.[16][17]The majority of Judah's coins were found in the regions of Galilee and the Golan, primary, the largest amount of coins were from Gamla. Majority of them come from his actual reign, while a small amount of these coins were minted after.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rocca, Samuel (2009). The Army of Herod the Great, Volume 443 of Men-at-arms series. Osprey Publishing. p. 6. ISBN 9781846032066. 
  2. ^ A. Elwell, Walter; Wesley Comfort, Philip (2001). Tyndale Bible Dictionary, Tyndale reference library (Illustrated ed.). Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. p. 109. ISBN 9780842370899. 
  3. ^ R. Baskin, Judith (2011). The Cambridge Dictionary of Judaism and Jewish Culture (Illustrated ed.). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. p. 221. ISBN 9780521825979. 
  4. ^ V. Brisco, Thomas (1999). Holman Bible Atlas. B&H Publishing Group. ISBN 9781433670312. 
  5. ^ Ellens, J. Harold; T. Greene, John (2009). Probing the Frontiers of Biblical Studies, Volume 111 of Princeton Theological Monograph Series. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock Publishers. p. 205. ISBN 9781606084601. 
  6. ^ Whiston, William; Josephus, Flavius. Antiquities of the Jews, Book 13, section 301. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  7. ^ T. Wine, Sherwin. A Provocative People: A Secular History of the Jews. IISHJ-NA. p. 174. ISBN 9780985151607. 
  8. ^ a b c Magness, Jodi (2012). The Archaeology of the Holy Land: From the Destruction of Solomon's Temple to the Muslim Conquest (Illustrated ed.). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. p. 95. ISBN 9780521124133. 
  9. ^ Horbury, William; D. Davies, W.; Finkelstein, Louis; Sturdy, John (1999). The Cambridge History of Judaism 2 Part Set: Volume 3, The Early Roman Period, Volume 3 of The Cambridge History of Judaism, William David Davies (Illustrated, Reprint ed.). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. p. 198. ISBN 9780521243773. 
  10. ^ A. Myers, E. (2010). The Ituraeans and the Roman Near East: Reassessing the Sources, Volume 147 of Society for New Testament Studies Monograph Series. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781139484817. 
  11. ^ E. Nickelsburg, George W.; Neusner, Jacob; Jeffery Avery-Peck, Alan (2003). George W.E. Nickelsburg in Perspective: An Ongoing Dialogue of Learning, Volume 2 George W.E. Nickelsburg in Perspective: An Ongoing Dialogue of Learning Volume 80; Volume 82 of Journal for the study of Judaism / Supplements Supplements to the Journal for the study of Judaism. BRILL. p. 462. ISBN 9789004129863. 
  12. ^ Manning Metzger, Bruce; David Coogan, Michael (2004). The Oxford Guide to People & Places of the Bible. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. p. 85. ISBN 9780195176100. 
  13. ^ Noel Freedman, David; C. Myers, Allen (2000). Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Amsterdam University Press. p. 67. ISBN 9789053565032. 
  14. ^ R. Losch, Richard (2008). All the People in the Bible: An A-Z Guide to the Saints, Scoundrels, and Other Characters in Scripture. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 146. ISBN 9780802824547. 
  15. ^ a b Buth, Randall; Steven Notley, R. (2013). The Language Environment of First Century Judaea: Jerusalem Studies in the Synoptic Gospels—Volume Two, Jewish and Christian Perspectives Series. BRILL. p. 154. ISBN 9789004264410. 
  16. ^ G. Sayles, Wayne (1999). Ancient Coin Collecting VI: Non-Classical Cultures, Ancient Coin Series, Volume 6 of Ancient coin collecting. F+W Media, Inc. p. 110. ISBN 9780873417532. 
  17. ^ Eyal, Regev (2013). The Hasmoneans: Ideology, Archaeology, Identity, Volume 10 of Journal of Ancient Judaism. Supplements, Volume 10 of Journal of ancient Judaism / Supplements: Supplements. Vandenhoeck & Ruprech. p. 175. ISBN 9783525550434. 


Flavius Josephus's following works:

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