Izates II

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IZATES II , called Zotos in the Midrash (Gen. R. 46:10), king of *Adiabene (c. 35–60 c.e.). In his youth, Izates was sent by his father to the court of Abnerigos, king of Mesene, where he received his education. He married Samakhos (or Simakho), the king's daughter, and was appointed ruler of Ḥaran by his father through the efforts of his mother *Helena. Although Izates was the youngest son, he succeeded his father as king of Adiabene. While still in Mesene he became attracted to Judaism, like his mother, and on the occasion of a famine in Ereẓ Israel, they both gave considerable help to the hungry. He sent five of his sons to Jerusalem, "that they should acquire a thorough knowledge of our ancestral language and ethics" (Jos., Ant., 20:51f., 71). His conversion aroused opposition in Adiabene and his opponents, in a desire to depose him, called on Abias, king of Arabia, for assistance. After a temporary setback Izates succeeded in defeating his opponents and attacked Abias, who committed suicide rather than be taken captive.

In general Izates' foreign policy was prudent and was directed toward preserving the independence of his country. He avoided involvement in the wars between the two great powers of his day, the Roman Empire and Parthia, to whose overall authority he was subject. He pursued this policy when the Parthian king Vardanes demanded his participation in war against Rome. When he refused, Vardanes threatened him with war but was assassinated before he could implement his threat. Later the nobility of Adiabene requested Vologases i, king of the Parthians, to appoint a new king, and Vologases made preparations to invade the country. However, external events compelled him to change his plans.

On Izates' death, he left 48 sons and daughters, but bequeathed the throne to his brother, *Monobaz ii. When Helena (who was then living in Jerusalem), learned of his death she hastened back to Adiabene but died there shortly after. Monobaz transferred the remains of his mother and brother to Jerusalem, burying them in the mausoleum built by Helena north of Jerusalem and called "the tombs of the kings" (or, by Jews, "the cave of Kalba Savu'a"). In the Roman war many of Izates' sons fought on the side of the Jews and were put in chains after their surrender.


Schuerer, Gesch, 3 (19094), 169–73; M.Kon, Kivrei ha-Melakhim (1947); Klausner, Bayit Sheni, 5 (19512), 45–9; Schalit, in: Annual of the Swedish Theological Institute, 4 (1965), 163–81.

[Abraham Schalit]