Izates bar Monobaz
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 Adiabene who became a proselyte to Judaism. He was the son of Queen Helena of Adiabene the wife of King Monobazus I 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 a Jewish 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, an Arab 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.
- The Sociology of MMT and the Conversions of King Abgarus and Queen Helena of Adiabene, Professor Robert Eisenman.
- Moses of Chorene, History of the Armenians 2:35
- Book XX of The Antiquities of the Jews by Josephus.
- Genesis Rabba, Parasha xlvi (or English translation). This odd account may have been part of a ritual deterrence to conversion which is still practiced by mainstream Judaism. A convert is turned away three times and only accepted when he returns each time to ask to be converted.