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Mistaken Identity? Mosaic in Israel Purported to Show Alexander the Great, but Some Not So Sure

Mistaken Identity? Mosaic in Israel Purported to Show Alexander the Great, but Some Not So Sure

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According to, archaeologists have discovered an interesting and unusual mosaic at the Huqoq archaeological site west of the Sea of Galilee. The most recent and most interesting find dates from the 5th century, and shows a king in military attire and a troop of soldiers, offering a calf to a group of white-robed priests. But the meeting is obviously fractious, as the priests are drawing their swords, while the bottom of the scene shows the solders lying defeated and dying. 

The scene has been compared to the semi-legendary meeting between Alexander the Great and the Jerusalem priesthood, in the 4th century BC. While other historians have suggested the mosaic represents the attack on Jerusalem by Antiochus VII in the 2nd century BC. But the characters are not named, which is unusual for mosaics in this era, and there are a number of problems with these interpretations. The main problem is that the king is bearded, which Antiochus and Alexander were not. And the meeting between Alexander and the Judaic priesthood was supposed to have been friendly, not antagonistic. And neither Alexander nor Antiochus were defeated, as the bottom of the mosaic appears to show.  

Archaeological site of Huqoq, Israel, where the new mosaic has been revealed.

Archaeological site of Huqoq, Israel, where the new mosaic has been revealed. (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Mistaken Identity

Since traditional academia have been unable to satisfactorily decypher what this mosaic represents, perhaps we should rework these interpretations using the new religio-historical framework that has been constructed in 'The King Jesus Trilogy'. This radical new theory, which is fully supported by all the original texts, suggests that the gospel era and story refers to the late AD 60s, and the tragic events of the Jewish Revolt. And if we use this new framework, we can immediately see that this mosaic does not depict Alexander the Great or Antiochus. The classical interpretations are wrong.

More intriguingly, this is actually a depiction of an obscure scene from the Talmud, where bar Kamza offers a sacrificial calf on behalf of the Romans, to rabbi Zechariah Abkulas (see Gittin 55-57).  This was in about AD 68, just prior to the Jewish Revolt.  But bar Kamza was being devious here, because he had cut the calf's lip (you can see the mark on the mosaic), knowing that Zechariah would have to reject the blemished Roman offering - and thereby offend the Romans, and in turn precipitate the Jewish Revolt. This was one of the ways by which the Jewish Revolt was deliberately contrived.

So who was this mysterious and largely unknown character called bar Kamza? Well, in actual fact, Kamza is merely a witty hypocorism meaning 'locust'.  And there was a royal family in Syria who were similarly disparaged as being locusts, one of whom was Agabus (meaning locust) who appears in Acts of the Apostles (Acts 11:27).  This Syrian Agabus in Acts prophesied the great Judaean famine of AD 47 and gave famine relief-money, just as did the more famous Queen Helena.  And this confirms that this royal family of 'locusts' was actually the Syrian monarchy of King Abgarus V of Edessa, because he was married to this very same Queen Helena.  Yes, the famous 1st century Queen Helena was the queen of Edessa in northern Syria.  (Note - Agabus and Agbarus are the Roman and Syriac pronunciations of this king's name.)

According to the account, King Abgarus received the Image of Edessa, a likeness of Jesus.

According to the account, King Abgarus received the Image of Edessa, a likeness of Jesus. (Public Domain)

And all the Edessan royalty, including King Abgarus, were bearded, a detail which suits the king in this mosaic much better than does Alexander or Antiochus. In fact, Josephus Flavius calls the Edessan monarchy the 'barbarians beyond the Euphrates', because they were bearded and lived across the Euphrates ('barbarian' being derived from 'barber' meaning 'hair', rather than from a foreign language).  And all the Edessan kings wore the diadema headband, the same as in this mosaic, which was the symbol of both the Greek and the Greco-Persian royalty.

So it is possible that this mosaic depicts King Abgar V of Edessa. But we are actually looking for the son of King Abgarus here (bar Kamza, not Kamza), and he was called King Izas Manu VI of Edessa.  And we know that the Talmud's enigmatic character called bar Kamza was King Izas Manu of Edessa, because both are said to have lived in Antioch-Edessa, and both are said to have started the Jewish Revolt (see: Gittin 55-57, and Josephus Flavius). But who was this relatively unknown King Izas Manu? (who was almost completely deleted from the works of Josephus Flavius.)  Believe it or not, King Izas Manu was the biblical King Jesus Em Manu-el, which is why the king on this mosaic wears a Judaic side-lock of hair.  (These 'two' monarchs share many, many similarities, including their near-identical names and a ceremonial Crown of Thorns.)

Note that the character in this mosaic is dressed in military uniform and is wearing a purple cloak, which was the sole prerogative of the Roman Emperor, and so we know this king was claiming the throne of Rome. However, in a very similar fashion the biblical Jesus (King Izas Manu) was also pointedly said to have been dressed in a purple cloak (Mark 15:7). Why?  Because the Jewish Revolt was primarily a revolt against Rome, rather than against Judaea, and King Izas Manu (the biblical Jesus) wanted to become the next emperor of Rome.  Which is why both of these kings wore a purple cloak, and why their army is depicted as being defeated at the bottom of the mosaic. King Izas Manu of Edessa started and lost the Jewish Revolt, and according to Josephus Flavius he was crucified in the Kidron Valley alongside two others, but survived.

The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem during Jewish-Roman war.

The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem during Jewish-Roman war. (Public Domain)

So the upper register of this mosaic depicts bar Kamza giving a sacrificial calf to the priests of Jerusalem, to start the Jewish Revolt, while the bottom register depicts his eventual defeat. And so we see here the start and the end of the Jewish Revolt - an event that plays a large role not just in Josephus Flavius' history of the Jews, but also in the Talmudic and Gospel accounts. And so this mosaic confirms that bar Kamza was King Izas Manu of Edessa, and confirms that King Izas Manu was the biblical King Jesus Manu-el.  Which is, in turn, a complete confirmation of the new religio-historical framework discovered, explored, and explained in 'The King Jesus Trilogy'. 

Ralph Ellis is author of Jesus, King of Edessa. You can find out more at

The full mosaic can be seen here:

Top Image: Architectural elements and ruins at the archaeological site of Huqoq, Israel (CC BY-SA 3.0). Inset, decorated mosaic floor uncovered in the buried ruins of a synagogue at Huqoq. (National Geographic)

By Ralph Ellis



If Jesus was not a contender for the throne of Rome, then why was he pointedly dressed in a purple cloak, during the crucifixion? The purple cloak was the sole prerogative of the emperor, which is why King Jubba I of Mauretania was executed for wearing one (and Jubba had imperial intent). The purple cloak is an overt symbol of Jesus' true intent.

And we know that Jesus was involved in a revolution, because he was put in prison alongside other revolutionaries (see comment above). But what revolution was this? I devote more than 500 pages to proving that Jesus' revolt happened in the AD 60s, not the AD30s, and so the revolt was the great Jewish Revolt. The two contenders were King Izas Manu (Jesus Em Manuel) and Vespasian, and it was Vespasian who won. And Vespasian took the Judaic Star Prophesy, which said that the next emperor would come from the East (the Eastern Star), to be ome emperor. But ir was Jesus was born under the Eastern Star - this was his prophesy.


I disagree a bit with some interpretation... Jesus didn't want "to become the next emperor of Rome", but rather Jesus claimed to be a King. Also, I've never heard of Jesus being referred to as a "locust".

Correct, King Abgar was Kamza from the Talmud, and King Izas Manu (Jesus) was bar Kamza, his son. And the Edessans kings were indeed referred to as 'locusts', because they came from the east and destroyed Judaea (in the Jewish War), while the locusts of the plagues came from the east and destroyed Egypt. Standard Talmudic pesher wordplay.

While Jesus is not directly called a locust, both Jesus and bar Kamza appear to go to the same party or gathering of priests, incognito, as mentioned in the Talmud and Gospels. And both started the Jewish Revolt, which is why Jesus was held in prison 'alongside revolutionaried who had comitted murder in the Revolt', as it says in the Gospels. So we can be pretty sure that bar Kamza was Jesus.


Unless I understand this wrong, bar Kamza was the son of King Abgar and Queen Helena.  The Gospels give his mother as Mary.  Further, I have never heard of Jesus referred to as a locust.


Ralph Ellis was trained in surveying and computer science. He has been touring the Mediterranean and researching Egyptian and biblical history for over 30 years, and his comparisons between the two have greatly assisted our understanding of biblical history. In addition,... Read More

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