Zamaris

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ZAMARIS

ZAMARIS (Zimri ; late first century b.c.e.–early first century c.e.), Babylonian Jew. Zamaris fled from Parthian Babylonia with a retinue of 500 horsemen and mounted archers, as well as his family. He had taken refuge in Syria, when *Herod heard of his presence. Desirous of strengthening Jewish settlement in *Trachonitis and of creating a buffer zone, Herod offered land to Zamaris, who was not to be taxed. The Babylonians settled and built a village, *Bathyra, which served as a shield both for the Jewish settlements and for the pilgrims from Babylonia traveling to Jerusalem for the pilgrim festivals. Zamaris' son Jacimus organized a bodyguard for the Herodian family. His son Philip remained a close associate of Agrippa. Some are of the opinion that the *Benei Bathyra, who held high office in the administration of the Temple, came from these Babylonian settlers of Bathyra. In any event, it is clear that the Babylonian Zamaris had mastered Parthian military tactics and that his followers (who included mounted archers) were excellent soldiers. Zamaris must have held a substantial place in the Parthian feudal structure. His flight has nothing to do with Parthian "antisemitism," for in this same period other Jewish grandees held considerable power in the empire. Zamaris may have fallen victim to the complex intrigues surrounding the disputed Arsacid throne.

bibliography:

Jos., Ant., 17:23–31; N.C. Debevoise, Political History of Parthia (1938), 145–6; G. Rawlinson, The Sixth Great Oriental Monarchy (1873), 240ff.; Neusner, Babylonia, 1 (1965), 38–41.

[Jacob Neusner]

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