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Fausset's Bible Dictionary


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Mary of cleophas

Mary of Cleophas or (See CLOPAS; ALPHAEUS; JAMES.) In John 19:25, "there stood by Jesus' cross His mother, and His mother's sister Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene." In Mark 15:40, "Mary Magdalene, and Mary of James the Little and of Joses, and Salome." In Matthew 27:56, "Mary Magdalene, and Mary of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's children" (i.e. Salome). Thus "Mary of Cleophas" is the same as "Mary of James the Little and of Joses," and was sister of the Virgin Mary. The names of the two sisters being alike may be explained by the fact that many manuscripts distinguish the Virgin Mary as Mariam, Mary of Cleophas and the other Mary's as Maria (as we distinguish Mary and Maria); it was a favorite name for mother's to give to children, from the famous Miriam, Moses' sister.
        Mary was probably the Virgin's older sister or half-sister; she married Cleophas and by him had four sons, James (the apostle), Joses ("Joseph" Vaticanus manuscript, "John" Sinaiticus manuscript), Jude (the apostle), and Simon, and three daughters. She is first named at the cross, again in the evening of the same day "sitting over against the sepulchre" with Mary Magdalene (Matthew 27:61), having previously "beheld where He was laid" (Mark 15:47). She, with the women which came with Jesus from Galilee, "prepared spices and ointments" on the sabbath eve (Luke 23:55-56), and when the sabbath was past "came to see the sepulchre" (Matthew 28:1) and "to anoint Him" with the "sweet spices they had bought" (Mark 16:1), and then "saw the vision of angels which said He was alive" (Luke 24:23).
        Cleopus being mentioned only to designate Mary and James implies he was dead when Jesus' ministry began. Joseph too was dead, for he is never mentioned after Luke 2. The widowed sisters then joined in the one house at Nazareth, and their children came to be regarded as "brethren" (Matthew 12:47; Matthew 13:55-56), there and at Capernaum (John 2:12). Her retiring disposition may be the cause of the non-mention of" Mary of Cleophas" until the crucifixion. Her sons were certainly older than Jesus, else they would not have dared to interfere with Him by force (Mark 3:21). John, by our Lord's direction, took His Virgin mother at the crucifixion to his own home in Jerusalem. Further residence with nephews who had so misunderstood her divine Son would have been less congenial to the bereaved virgin mother than residence with the beloved disciple.

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Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew Robert M.A., D.D., "Definition for 'Mary of cleophas' Fausset's Bible Dictionary". - Fausset's; 1878.

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