|2000-year-old ossuary of Miriam, daughter of Y'shua|
Researchers from Bar-Ilan and Tel Aviv universities published a study confirming the authenticity of an ancient ossuary that was plundered from a tomb in the Valley of Elah (where David defeated Goliath).
The 2,000-year-old ossuary, a stone chest used for secondary burial of bones, belonged to a daughter of the Caiaphas family of high priests. It is marked with the 6 pointed star associated with the Horite ruling caste, and an Aramaic inscription that says, “Miriam Daughter of Yeshua Son of Caiaphas, Priests of Ma’aziah from Beth Imri.” The inscription dates to the time of the Second Temple.
The word Imri has scholars scratching their heads. It may be a reference to the present-day village of Beit Ummar in the hill country north of Hebron. As an alternative, the scholars Zissu and Goren suggest that ‘Beth Imri’ might be the name of a priestly family of Immer (Ezra 2:36–37; Neh 7:39–42), whose descendants might have been among the Ma’aziah priestly course.
The high priest Yehosef Bar Caiaphas was involved in the trial and crucifixion of Jesus. The historian Josephus informs us that his full name was Joseph Caiaphas, that he was appointed High Priest by the Roman prefect of Judaea, Valerius Gratus, in 18 CE and removed from office almost 20 years later. The Caiaphas family was related to the Ma’aziah priests, one of the 24 divisions of priests that maintained the offerings at the Temple in a rotation system. A list of priestly divisions can be found in 1 Chronicles 24:7-18, which is usually dated by scholars to the fifth century B.C. There is no mention there, however, of any fixed order of service. Only in post-biblical traditions is it mentioned that the priestly divisions served according to a weekly rotation system.
The priests themselves lived not only in Jerusalem but also in other settlements in the land of Israel. When it was "time for the division to go up [to Jerusalem]" (Mishnah, Ta'anit 4:2), the priests left their homes, went up to Jerusalem for a week, and afterwards returned to their homes in Judea or Galilee.
The name "Miriam"
Miriam was a common name in Jesus' time and before. The name is Meri in ancient Egyptian, Mania in Siamese, and Mari or Meru in the Nilo-Saharan languages.
The inscription on the ossuary is helpful in determining how the daughters of the ruler-priests were memorialized. If we apply the same formula to the Virgin Mary, this is what we have:
"Miriam Daughter of Joachim Son of Pntjr (Panther) Priests of Nathan of Beth Lehem"
From the earliest predynastic times, ntjr designated the king among the Kushites. The name Panther or p-ntjr likely meant "God is King."
It is certain that Mary was of the ruler-priest caste because even those who hated her admit this. Sanhedrin 106a says: “She who was the descendant of princes and governors played the harlot with carpenters.” It is said that she was so despised that some Jews tried to prevent the Apostles from burying her body.
I Chronicles 4:4 lists Hur (Hor) as the "father of Bethlehem." The author of Chronicles knew that Bethlehem was originally a Horite settlement in the heart of Horite territory. The prophets foretold Bethlehem as the birth place of the Son of God.
Joseph's family lived in Nazareth which was the home of the eighteenth division of priests, that of Happizzez (1 Chronicles 24:15). The words happi and ntjr originate in the Nile Valley, as do the names of many of the ruler-priests listed in the genealogies in Luke and Matthew. Melchi, a name that appears twice in Mary's ancestry, means "my image" in Amharic.
Ma'aziah is Amaziah who ruled over Judah from 769 to 781 B.C. His mother was Jodah who is listed in Luke 3:27. As a member of this priestly family Caiaphas was probably born in the hills south of Bethlehem. This is not Yosef Bar Caiaphas, the Roman appointed high priest who interrogated Jesus. Miriam's paternal grandfather might have been the brother of Yosef.
Caiaphas is also spelled Ka-yafa. Ka is the Kushitic word for king and yafa means beautiful.
Imri was the father of Zaccur who helped to rebuild a section of the wall of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 3:2). This priestly branch had been in captivity in Babylon. The Jews returned to Palestine between 338-315 B.C. The location of Beth Imri is not known. Some believe that it may be Beth Ummar located south of Bethlehem.
Y'shua is related to the name Shua. Shua was Judah's mother-in-law. She is a descendant of the Shua mentioned in 1 Chronicles 7:32, a daughter of Eber.
The Six prong star
The six prong star is also found on the ossuary of Joseph Caiaphas, the high priest (shown below).
This is sometimes called a rosette, It appears on a tomb at Banais, Israel. Banais is thought to be one of the sources of the Jordan river. There is a large cave and various archaeological sites with pools of water running beneath and large cliffs rising above.
Related reading: The Nazareth-Egypt Connection; The Peoples of Canaan; Kushite Wives