Queen Salome Alexandra was a notable ruler of ancient Judea in the Second Temple era. A noble, righteous woman, her reign brought peace and prosperity to the Land of Israel. Read on for 10 facts about this exceptional queen, revered as few other monarchs in Jewish history.

1. She Was Married to Two Hasmonean Kings

Queen Salome Alexandra was first married to Judah Aristobulus I, great-grandson of Matityahu, the Hasmonean High Priest and famed hero of the Hanukkah story. After Judah’s death (within his first year of reign), Salome married the next Hasmonean monarch, Alexander Jannai (Judah’s brother), who ruled the Land of Israel from 91–73 BCE. (This follows the law of levirate marriage in which the widow of a childless individual remarries the deceased’s brother.1)

Read: Queen Salome Alexandra

2. She Is Also Known as “Shlomtziyon”

Jewish sources refer to Salome in various ways, including Shel Tziyon,2 Shlamtu,3 Shlamtzah,4 and others. Many of these monikers, along with the oft-used Shlomtziyon (“Peace [in] Zion”), recall the theme of peace, much as King Solomon’s name represented the tranquil times of his royal tenure.

Read: 11 King Solomon Facts Every Jew Should Know

3. Her Brother Was a Leading Sage

Salome was the sister of Rabbi Shimon ben Shetach,5 a great scholar and leader known for fearlessly promoting Torah law and practice despite hardship and adversity. Salome undoubtedly absorbed her brother’s passion for Torah and Jewish tradition, traits that characterized her noble personality throughout her life.

Read: Rabbi Shimon ben Shetach

4. The Pharisee-Sadducee Split Dominated Her Era

At the time, the Jewish community was split into several factions, the most prominent being the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The Pharisees, or Perushim in Hebrew, comprised the vast majority of the Jewish people, who were loyal to tradition as it was transmitted by the sages throughout the ages. By contrast, the Sadducees, or Tzedukim, were an elitist group who rejected the Oral Torah and the interpretations of the sages, deliberately perverting Torah practice. Although far fewer in number, their wealth enabled them to exert great political influence.

Read: Jewish Factions During the Hasmonean Period

5. She Saved Her Brother’s Life

Although Jannai was originally partial to both factions, an unfortunate incident in which the sages doubted the king’s priestly pedigree provoked his wrath against the Pharisees.6 Jannai ordered all Jewish sages executed; even his own brother-in-law would have been put to death if not for his courageous sister, who hid Rabbi Shimon until the danger had passed.7

Read: King Yannai

6. She Was the Only Female Hasmonean Ruler

Even during Jannai’s lifetime, Salome managed the country's internal affairs when her husband was away and engaged in various military campaigns. Upon his death in 73 BCE, complete authority passed to his wife, who ruled the country with a capable hand for the next nine years. Of the 10 Hasmonean leaders who governed Judea from 139–36 BCE, Salome was the sole female monarch.

Read: 18 Brave Jewish Women

7. Torah and Tradition Reigned Supreme

Unlike her husband, who had come to favor the Sadducees, Queen Salome Alexandra was a bastion of support for the sages and Jewish tradition. She gradually removed the Sadducees from positions of power and reinstated the sages who had survived Jannai’s persecution. Her brother Rabbi Shimon led the Jewish supreme court (Sanhedrin) along with his colleague Rabbi Yehuda ben Tabbai, and the Jews were free to practice Jewish law without fear of reprisal.

Read: The Jewish Court System

8. The Land Flourished Under Her Reign

In addition to religious freedom, Salome ushered in an era of unprecedented peace and prosperity. She strengthened the army and built fortresses, securing peace from hostile neighbors. Additionally, G‑d blessed the land with bountiful produce of unmatched proportions. According to Talmudic tradition, wheat kernels grew to the size of kidneys, barley to the size of olive pits, and lentils to the size of golden dinars.8

Read: The Queen’s Ingenious Act

9. Her Death Led to Civil War and Roman Intervention

Upon Salome’s death in 65 BCE, civil war broke out between her two sons, Aristobulus and Hyrcanus.9 The brothers then committed what proved to be a terrible blunder: They asked the Roman general Pompey to mediate their dispute. This led to ever-increasing Roman intervention in Jewish affairs, putting an end to Jewish independence and ultimately resulting in the destruction of the Holy Temple.

Read: The Beginning of the Roman Takeover

10. She Embodies an Historic Truth

The reign of Queen Salome Alexandra brings home a common theme in Jewish history. Over the millennia of our existence, the Jewish nation has experimented with numerous alternative lifestyles and ideologies that deviate from our time-honored heritage. But Salome’s story clearly demonstrates that remaining loyal to G‑d and following His ways are the keys to peace, security, and material abundance. As the Torah states in Parshat Bechukotai, “If you follow My statutes… I will give your rain in its proper time … I will give peace to the Land.”10

Read: Is G‑d Really Running the World?