Lauren Jacobs has written an exciting novel, Shelamzion: Queen of Israel, that captures the spirit of the historical Queen Shelamzion and her tumultuous world. It accurately reconstructs the details of her life and times through an engaging narrative that never fails to entertain, and awe the reader.
I spent a year and a half researching, spending my time, my life, and my excitement with the Hasmonean queen Salome Alexandra, and a further year and a half writing her story. I have a Jewish paternal line and as such, I spent a number of years in a religious Jewish synagogue. I always mention this because it was so foundational in the life I now have and even in my calling to bring unknown women’s stories to the fore. The Jewish festival of Hanukkah, is my favourite festival and is celebrated with great ceremony in the synagogue. The festival is celebrated annually, to mark the great victory of the Jewish Maccabean family, over the cruel Greek tyrant, Antiochus Epiphanes. It is the ultimate celebration of light overcoming the darkness, and the ultimate portrayal of victory for those who believe in the One True God of the Bible. This feast is also mentioned in John 10:22. The Hasmonean family also known as the Maccabees, freed the tiny nation of Israel and the sons of that family, set themselves as the rulers of the land. Sadly, they quickly slipped in to the pagan ways of the nations around them and they became cruel rulers. Salome Alexandra was a Hasmonean, and she was born a few years after her family had taken the leadership reigns of the land.
She grew up privileged, educated and incredibly strong. She excelled in her studies of Yahweh’s Holy Law and in political affairs. So much so that her uncle, King John and his wife, chose her as the marriage partner to their son Alexander, a hot – tempered man destined to become the next king. Salome however, was almost double her young cousins age but they wed eventually, when she was 29 and he was 16.
Her achievements and her reign are so meritorious and so important to understand the first century B.C, that I have to share one more morsel of information about her. The Jewish Oral Law called the Talmud, relates the following, her reign was so prosperous that the rains would come down from Sabbath eve to Sabbath eve, until the wheat became like kidneys, the barley like olive pits, and the lentils like golden denars. The sages gathered some of them and put them aside for the coming generations.” Wheat as big as kidneys, barley like olive pits, stored away for generations to come? This reference reminds me of the manna stored in the jars that Moses told Aaron to set aside for future generations (Exodus 16:33). But how have I eaten from this great miracle and how have I drunk from the rains that fell in Salome’s day, this was what I wondered as I sat down to write her story. God was giving me the story so that I could share a greater truth with the body of Yeshua and with His daughters. With His women who have a sword in their hands but have been told they cannot use it because they were born of the wrong gender. What theologians use from Athaliah’s story, is rightly undone in Salome Alexandra’s narrative. Her reign was an oasis in time, she was ruler like David, a woman who by the rabbi’s own admission, ruled over a Golden Age.
When I speak about her, I am often asked, “where has she been all these years?” My answer? She has been hiding in plain sight, but her story is coming to the front for such a time as this. I truly believe that some stories and some realities are only revealed at certain times in history because of the age and time frame God is moving us in to. It is my conviction that these women’s stories, stories like Junia’s, and stories like Salome’s are being birthed in to our consciences because God is bringing together a greater army. An army of men and women who are fighting for the souls of the lost and of the broken. Salome’s legacy is not dead, it was dormant but it is speaking to you and to me about a queen who was loved, accepted and adored. About a woman who was Godly, chosen, gifted and anointed and she rose above the darkness of her time to rule for 9 years. She was the final ruler of an independent Judea and her story leaves me with hope and courage. Her legacy should be something we point to when we are challenged, something we look at it in deeper ways than before. My book Shelamzion Queen of Israel, is our brave queen’s first biography in novel format and it’s something I hope will place her legacy back in to our conscious minds. It’s a story Yeshua is giving to His body right now, because He is going to use His daughters to do mighty things, this is our destiny, right here and now.
Guilma Stander – Radio Personality, South Africa
Lauren Jacobs as an Ordained Minister,understands the importance of giving a voice to those strong Historical Women – forgotten in the pages of History books. The use of actual time lines for the lives of these Characters gives a truly Authentic feel that draws you into their world of Ancient History
Professor Kenneth Atkinson – Author and Biblical Scholar, USA
Pastor Xana McCauley, Pastor at Rhema Bible Church North, Co-founder of Hands of Compassion, Founder of GEMA (Gender Equality Matters).
At a time when women’s voices are beginning to be heard, this book tells the story of a leader who cared about her country and intentionally sought God and followed him. Self-sacrifice and heartbreak mingle with honour and joy. Lauren Jacobs reminds us that there are many women of faith whose stories need to be told in the twenty-first century.
Revd Nobuntu Penxa Matholeni – Lecturer Stellenbosh University. RSA
Your personal narratives are so needed in the academia world.