Helene of Adiabene

Helene, queen of the Persian province of Adiabene, earned the respect of both the early rabbis and the chronicler Josephus for her leadership and unusual piety. Helene, also called Sadan, converted to Judaism around 30 CE, along with her husband/brother Monabazus Bazaeus and their family. She sent her younger son, Izates, into exile to protect him from coups and plots by his brothers and installed her elder son, Monobazus, as steward until Izates could return. She made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 46 CE, saving the local Jews from a famine by importing grain and figs from Egypt, and donated several gold items to the Temple. She kept a Nazarite vow for fourteen years, abstaining from alcohol and refraining from cutting her hair, and reportedly lived in a massive sukkah frequented by several noted rabbis. Shortly after Izates’s death and the coronation of Monobazus in 55 CE, Helene died and was buried with Izates in Jerusalem in an ornate tomb she had designed herself. The tomb was excavated in the mid-1800s, and Helene’s sarcophagus now resides in the Louvre.


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Sarcophagus of Helene, Queen of Adiabene, from a collection at the Louvre Museum. Image via WIkimedia Commons.

Date of Birth
First Century
Date of Death
56 CE

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Helene, Queen." (Viewed on April 20, 2021) <https://jwa.org/people/helene>.


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