This story, you may be assured, will end in Jerusalem. But only in due course. It begins in Adiabene, a small semi-independent kingdom near the border of the Parthian (Persian) empire in the days before the First Jewish Revolt against Rome. The story is told mostly by the first-century C.E. Jewish historian Josephus, but occasionally details are added by the Mishnah, an early compilation of rabbinic law and commentary.1
Monobazus, the king of Adiabene, had many wives. But he really had a passion for his sister Helena—so he added her as his wife! Queen Helena had at least two sons by her brother. The elder would become Monobazus II. The younger was named Izates. Once when Helena was pregnant with Izates, Monobazus,sleeping beside her, placed his hand on her belly, and a voice called out, telling him to remove his hand so as not to cramp the baby who, by the providence of God, would have a fortunate end.