#73 Women in Jewish History: the Second Temple Period

In this absorbing Jewish history lecture, David examines the stories and contributions of nine remarkable, often powerful, Jewish women from the period of the second temple in Jerusalem, including:

  • Queen Esther
  • Judith (Yehudit)
  • Hannah and her seven sons
  • Hannah Maccabee
  • Queen Salome (Shlomtzion)
  • Queen Miriam
  • Queen Mariamne
  • Berenice
  • Drusilla.

David also explains how the changing political and cultural landscape impacted women’s rights, roles, and opportunities during a period that included:

  • Persian rule
  • Hellenic rule
  • Hasmonean rule
  • Roman rule.

Moreover, he provides historical background and context to this time in Jewish history, packed with complex political intrigue, military machinations, civil war, and regime changes.

Watch a video slideshow of the podcast lecture on Youtube below.


David delivered this talk in 2017 as part of a series on women in Jewish History for the Jewish Museum in Melbourne. Unfortunately, not all lectures in this series were successfully recorded. However, some of those that were recorded can be found here:

#50 Women in Jewish History: 18th to 20th Centuries

#51 Women in Jewish History: 20th to 21st Centuries

He has also given complete lectures on women in Jewish history in other series, including:

#14 Worlds in transition: Jewish History of the 16th Century part 3

#43 Communities in Search of Meaning: Jewish History of the 17th Century (part 3)

Images used in this video
  • Youtube cover – comprising images below and a picture of David by Stephan Rohl under CC licensing http://www.stephan-roehl.de
  • The four phases of the Second Temple Period – graphic by David Solomon (attribution required).
  • Esther in the Harem. Painting by Edwin Long, 1878. Location of painting: National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
  • Early 3rd century CE Roman painting of Esther and Mordechai, Dura-Europos synagogue, Syria. Public domain.
  • Esther and Mordecai Writing the First Purim Letter by Aert de Gelder, c.1685. Public domain.
  • Modern reconstruction of what the Second Temple would have looked like after its renovation during the reign of Herod I. Public domain.
  • Ezra Reads the Law to the People, one of Gustave Doré’s illustrations for La Grande Bible de Tours. Public domain.
  • Esther Denouncing Haman by Ernest Normand. Public domain.
  • The Feast of Esther by Johannes Spilberg the Younger, c.1644. Public domain.
  • Achaemenid Empire under different kings. Ali Zifan. CC BY-SA 4.0
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Achaemenid_Empire#/media/File:Achaemenid_Empire_under_different_kings_(flat_map).svg
  • Francesco Fontebasso: Family of Darius Before Alexander. Public domain.
  • Mattathias of Modi’in killing a Jewish apostate, engraving by Gustave Doré. Public domain.
  • Judith with the Head of Holophernes, by Simon Vouet, (Alte Pinakothek, Munich). Public domain.
  • Judith with the Head of Holophernes, by Cristofano Allori, 1613 (Royal Collection, London). Public domain.
  • The Courage of a Mother, one of Gustave Doré’s illustrations for La Grande Bible de Tours, 1866. Public domain.
  • Antonio Ciseri’s Martyrdom of the Seven Maccabees (1863), depicting the woman with her dead sons. Public domain.
  • Judas Maccabeus before the Army of Nicanor by Gustave Doré. Public domain.
  • Martyrs refusing to sacrifice to the Greek idol from Die Bibel in Bildern. Public domain.
  • Wojciech Stattler’s Machabeusze (Maccabees), 1844. Public domain.
  • Queen Salome Alexandra. Public domain.
  • Pompey in the Temple of Jerusalem, by Jean Fouquet. Public domain.
  • Artemisia Gentileschi: Judith and Maidservant with Head of Holofernes. Public domain.
  • The taking of Jerusalem by Herod the Great, 36 BCE (sic). Public domain.
  • John William Waterhouse: Mariamne Leaving the Judgement Seat of Herod. Public domain.
  • Mariamne I from “Promptuarii Iconum Insigniorum”. Public domain.
  • Herodias with the Head of St. John the Baptist – Paul Delaroche – Wallraf-Richartz Museum – Cologne – Germany 2017. Public domain.
  • Simon Maccabee Made High Priest from Die Bibel in Bildern. Public domain.
  • The Augustus of Prima Porta (early 1st century AD). Public domain.
  • Agrippa I also called the Great (10 BC – 44 AD), King of the Jews, was the grandson of Herod the Great, and son of Aristobulus IV and Berenice. Public domain.
  • The Apostle Paul Explains the Tenets of Faith. Public domain.
  • William Hogarth, Paul before Felix, 1752. Drusilla is seated on Felix’s right. Public domain.
  • Destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem, Francesco Hayez, oil on canvas (1867) depicts the destruction and looting of the Second Temple by the Roman Army. Public domain.