The prologue for The Golden Rule will be presented in three parts (over three days) since I don’t want to burden the readers with long entries. I will end each part with the beginning of the next part which will appear the next day, to make things more fun. I will probably do the same with each completed chapter, breaking it into pieces. If anyone disagrees with this system, let me know! I am flexible with this job.
The dialogue for this segment is not invented by me. It is taken from the report given to, and eventually published, by the great historian Josephus; there is little reason to doubt it, I believe, though I have heard arguments from scholars.
In the next blog, I will tell the fascinating mystery of the identity of Queen Alexandra, and a little background of the horrific reign of blood her husband inflicted on his people. To many of those who enjoy vampires, don’t be surprised if Vlad Dracula comes to mind as you read it…
Salome Alexandra or Alexandra of Jerusalem (Hebrew: שְׁלוֹמְצִיּוֹן אלכסנדרה, first Hasmonean queen of Judea)
Alexander Jannaeus (also known as Alexander Jannai/Yannai). King of Judea. Hebrew: אלכסנדר ינאי
The monster lay dying. A few years ago he stood beside the altar in the Temple looking at the silent, threatening multitude gathered around him. The sun hit the pink stones of Jerusalem mercilessly. Heat waves shimmered over the people, shifting and obscuring their individual faces, but he knew that they were ready to pelt him, one more time, with the heavy citrons they were holding for the festival. They had done it before and he killed thousands of them in retaliation. He did not want another confrontation. “What do you want of me?” he screamed. “What ought I to do to stop your hatred of me?”
A few seconds of silence followed his question. And then, in unison, the crowd roared: “To die! To die! To die! To die! To die!” He turned and fled, surrounded by his foreign bodyguards. He could never turn their hatred into love; not after murdering over fifty thousand of his own people during his reign. Judea swam in the blood he had shed and trembled at the sadistic pleasure he took in others’ pain.
And now, at last, Alexander Jannaeus was indeed dying. Death came as a result of heavy drinking in the middle of a difficult campaign, besieging Ragaba, a fortress near the Jordan River. He was only forty-nine years old, but years of alcoholism, debauchery, endless campaigns, and the streak of madness that tainted the glory of so many of the Hasmonean Dynasty, ravaged the king. His queen, Alexandra, who was fifteen years older than him, seemed younger; she had always been a beauty and remained so in middle age. Realizing that he was about to die, she wept, beat her breast, and lamented, “To whom are you thus leaving me and your children, who are in need of help from others, especially when you know how hostile the nation feels toward you!”
“Listen to me,” he commanded. “Conceal my death from the soldiers until you capture the fortress. And on your return to Jerusalem you will be hailed for your splendid victory.”
“And what then?” Alexandra asked, raising her tear stained face from her hands. “They will quickly forget the victory.”
“Then, yield power to the Pharisees, for if they praised you in return for this sign of regard, they would dispose the nation favorably toward you and the children. The Pharisees have so much influence with their fellow-Jews that they could injure those whom they hated and help those to whom they were friendly. They have the complete confidence of the masses when they speak harshly of any person, even when they do so out of envy. I have come to conflict with the nation because I treated the Pharisees badly.”
Alexandra listened to the dying man’s advice silently. It made sense.
“And so,” he continued, “when you come to Jerusalem, send for them and show them my dead body. Permit them, with every sign of sincerity, to treat me as they please, whether they wish to dishonor my corpse by leaving it unburied because of the many injuries they have suffered at my hands, or in their anger, wish to offer my dead body any other form of indignity. Promise them also that you will not take any action, while you are on the throne, without their consent. If you speak to them in this manner, I shall receive from them a more splendid burial than I should from you. For once they have the power to do so, they will not choose to treat my corpse badly, and at the same time you will reign securely.”
These were his final words. And every word he spoke came true, exactly as he predicted, a brilliant strategist, genius, and madman to the last.
And as the bloodshot eyes closed for the last time, a pair of bright, calm blue eyes opened for the first time in faraway Babylonia…