Hershel Shanks

The tomb of the kings in Jerusalem was the resting place for the only first-century C.E. Jews known to have been converted by a missionary. It is the mausoleum of Izates, ruler of a small Persian kingdom called Adiabene on the Upper Tigris, and his mother, Helen. Izates was tutored by a Jewish traveling salesmen and later persuaded by another Jewish traveler to undergo circumcision—the final step in conversion. Another itinerant Jew converted Helen, who built this royal tomb for herself and her son in the Jewish holy city. While missionizing was never official Jewish policy, individual Jewish teachers and travelers apparently did exert influence on people they encountered in the course of their journeys.