During the time that Cleopatra ruled Egypt, a queen also governed the people of Israel. Queen Salome Alexandra led her people through an era of peace and prosperity. Angela Hunt tells her story in Jerusalem’s Queen, part of her Silent Years series about the time between the Old and New Testaments. I’d never heard of Queen Salome Alexandra before reading this novel, so I was fascinated to learn more.
I received this novel in exchange for an honest review by Graf-Martin Communications and Baker Publishing Group; all opinions expressed are my own. This post contains affiliate links.
Jerusalem’s Queen: Plot Overview
Salome Alexandra is affectionately called Shelamzion by her father, whom she adores. His death when she’s six changes her world. She and her mother are taken in by John Hyrcanus, high priest of Jerusalem and a distant relative. Overnight, Shelamzion goes from ordinary village girl to the high priest’s ward, with her own servant girl to boss around — or befriend.
Growing up in the household of John Hyrcanus, Shelamzion gets a firsthand perspective on the politics of Jerusalem. She studies the Torah under a tutor. When she’s betrothed to a pagan prince, she questions her guardian’s plans. When her betrothal is broken and her guardian doesn’t choose another husband for her, she wonders about her life purpose. Then John Hyrcanus marries her to his own son.
As bloodshed and turmoil surrounds her, Shelamzion turns to the Torah and the prophets’ promises of a Messiah. Along with the Essenes and others, she prays that the political upheaval indicates God is about to intervene in Israel’s history again.
My Thoughts on Jerusalem’s Queen
Angela Hunt pulled me into Shelamzion’s story from the first pages. I wanted to know what happened to this little orphaned girl, rescued by a distant uncle, brought up to be a queen. At each twist and turn in the story, I wondered how she was going to become queen. I enjoyed reading the historical notes in the back of the book, to see what pillars of facts Angela had based her story upon.
One can very well see that a country that lived up to the high principles of the Torah, under the direction of pious and wise scholars, flourished as never before. Salome Alexandra was revered as few other rulers of the Jewish people before and after in Jewish history. Jerusalem was again a great spiritual center. ~ “Queen Salome Alexandra“
The narrative moves back and forth between Shelamzion and Kissa, her Egyptian handmaid. Shelamzion is a young, naive girl at the start of the novel, and Kissa provides an older, more experienced perspective. Kissa also provides the epilogue at the end of the novel.
“…her nine-year reign would late be described as Judea’s golden age. Even her critics could find no fault in her piety and devotion to Adonai.” ~ Jerusalem’s Queen
The time period between the Old and the New Testaments is often called the Silent Years, although some of its events are recorded in the books of Apocrypha. Judah’s Wife tells the story of Judah Maccabees, who leads Israel in going to war against their Greek oppressors. Shelamzion reflects on his story and what has happened to Israel since then. Queen Salome Alexandra is mentioned by Josephus, a Jewish historian, in the Dead Sea Scrolls.
About the Author
Angela Hunt is the author of more than 140 books, both fiction and nonfiction, including Delilah: Treacherous Beauty, Esther: Royal Beauty, and Bathsheba: Reluctant Beauty. Her books have won the coveted Christy Award, several Angel Awards from Excellence in Media, and the Gold and Silver Medallions from Foreword Magazine’s Book of the Year Award. She has a masters, doctorate and Th.D in Biblical studies. When she’s not home reading or writing, Angie travels to teach writing workshops at schools and writers’ conferences. She also loves photography and big dogs.