The Shocking True Story Behind the “Jesus Family Tomb”

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The Shocking True Story Behind the “Jesus Family Tomb”

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Link to “Tombs” PDF from The Discovery Channel

This links to a version of this Essay with traditional Hebraic names

The Jesus Family Tomb and the Mystery of the Lazy Dalet

Where did Yahshua “Go” When He Was in the Sepulcher 72 hours?

What did “Jesus” Do After the Resurrection?


Washout of the Jesus Tomb Facade before it was destroyed in favor of a parking lot in 1980If you didn’t know this already, the Discovery Channel aired “The Lost Tomb of Jesus” last month (March, 2007).  The claims made by the filmmakers were that that they were perfectly certain they had found the tomb of the family of Jesus, that they had his DNA, that Mary Magdalene was in there, and that they had a son who was in there, too, little Jude.  As a long-time student of archaeological findings and so-call Christian origins, I found the discovery fascinating.  What I couldn’t agree with was the direction the filmmakers took the discovery.  Their rock solid conclusion from what they found in the tomb was that Mary Magdalene was the mother of ‘Jesus’s’ son and that she went to Europe with her brother then came back to die and be interred.



The Nazarene Acts of the Apostles, aka The Recognitions of Clement, a new, true names translation of one of the most important sources of first-century religious practice.  Generous Glossary. (Hear an excerpt.)


The Odes of Shalome, A New, True Names Setting
of the earliest excusively Nazorean songbook. 

(Hear an excerpt.)

These and many more rare new translations
are available at

The Odes of Solomon Shalome - Extraterrestrial Love


If you saw this presentation then you’ll know what I’m about to write about.  If you didn’t, you may still see clips and presentations at


It Is the Real Thing

For the sake of my story, let’s temporarily believe that the “Jesus Family Tomb” is the real thing.  I don’t have time to define all the terms or tell all the history behind what I am presenting to you.  Rest assured what I’m writing is based in fact, not the incredulous presumptions of the DaVinci Code crowd.  You may easily verify most of what I write by simple internet searches, reading Josephus, Philo or Eusebius, using the Search Engine at, or purchasing or any modern scholar’s book of the subject.  (I have several excellent books listed at  Or I can offer you references or sources if you are really interested.  Contact me here: jack AT


Let the story begin:


Twins and Therapeutics – Cleopas and Cleopatra

Let me start off my Shocking True Story Behind the “Jesus Family Tomb” in an unlikely place – Heliopolis, Egypt (Isaiah 19:18) about 10 years before the so-called Common Era (B.C.E.).  Here lives an adult set of twins whose ancestors came out of Egypt in the Exodus, but went back sometime later.  Their names are Cleopatra and Cleopas – very popular Greco-Egyptian names at the time.  (Twins run in the family since even before Jacob and Esau.)  This brother and sister are religious; they are Essenes of the sect of Theraputae – lay religious healers and rainmakers.  Cleopas follows a trade – he is a builder and contractor of building (tekton – Mark 6:3).  Cleopas is in business with his brother brother-in-law, Cleopatra’s husband, Joseph bar James.  Though Heliopolis is their home, they contract and build edifices all over. 


The Compassionate and Powerful Religion of the Essenes, Zaddikim and Just

As Essenes of the Theraputae, Cleopas and Joseph and his wife Cleopatra are highly educated and religious people.  They participate in the study of the ancient manuscripts like the Books of Enoch, the Jubilees, the Torah and the Prophets.  They can read Coptic, Aramaic and common Greek.  As wise and active lay ministers, they have a tradition of study, weather prediction, and healing through prayer and herbs.  Essenes in general have a very high ethical standard as well.  They take in orphans and widows as commanded in Scripture.  They see to the welfare of the poor.  The money they make through their business, which is considerable, is placed (for the most part) in a common fund to better the community of Essenes, especially those who care for less fortunate others or who those called to study Scripture (  Elders in the Essene Movement have attained a high level of set-apartedness (holiness) and are known by the title “The Righteous” or “The Just.”  Joseph is known in Hebrew religious circles as Joseph haZaddik, or “Joseph the Just” (Matthew 1:19; Acts 1:23).


Twins of Joseph and Cleopatra – James and Jude

Joseph and Cleopatra have three children: James, Jude and Joanna.  James and Jude are twins.  (The first of twins is known as the Alphaeus - Matthew 10:3 – the second, the Didymos – John 11:16 – [toma in Hebrew]).   James, being the first-born, is consecrated to Yahweh for the Priesthood of Melchizedek and has already been sent to “Damascus Monastery” of the Essenes located east of Jerusalem on the Brook Kerith.  Jude works with his father and will take over the family contracting business some day.  Joanna is already betrothed to a young Nazorean Essene of the tribe of Levi living in northern Palestine.  She has yet to meet him.


Twins of Cleopas and Marion – Simon and Salome

Cleopas is also married – to Marion (John 19:25).  Like Cleopatra and Cleopas, Marion is a common Greek form of a very common Hebrew name; two princesses of the Maccabees had this name, both married to Herod.  Cleopas and Marion have two children, also twins: Simon and Salome.  (By the way, did I mention Joseph and Cleopas were cousins?  Marriage within the extended family was expected and blessed in those days.)


Essene Fellowships Sprinkled All Over

These Essene families had for some generation been influenced by the immersion of Egypt into Greek culture under the Ptolemys, but in these days, close to the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy of the advent of Messiah, both Joseph and Cleopas abandon Greek names and give their children strictly Hebrew appellations.  As Essenes, they take the best of Greek culture, abandoning the worst, and are seeking out their Hebraic roots even as they are working and traveling together (Matthew 9:17).  There is a fellowship of Essenes of one sort or another in every city and town of Egypt, Palestine and Syria, so there is no lack for like-minded friends in their travels.


Death in the Family

Yet despite the family’s regard for health and faith healing, there is nothing they can do to save Cleopatra, Joseph’s wife.  She dies young infection after a dental procedure and, though there is great grief in the families (for the two are as one), they all reckon that some good will come out of the tragedy.  The Resurrection will surely bring them together again!


Herod Rebuilding Sepphoris (Zippori)

The cruel King Herod is the greatest builder in history; there is no lack of work.  In fact, Sepphoris is to be rebuilt as the administrative capital of Galilee.  Joseph, Cleopas, Jude and Simon are easily able to acquire long-term employment there rebuilding the amphitheater in the center of the city.  It is to be a showplace and Herod is sparing no expense.  Galilee is dangerous for anyone, so the families are careful to choose where they will reside.  They have kin in Sepphoris – Joachim, his wife Hannah, and their daughter Mary.  With Joachim help, Joseph and Cleopas will move their families to two villages on the outskirts of Sepphoris: Nazareth and Cana.  Many builders are moving to this area and homesteads are in short supply, but Joachim relates that there is a detachment of Roman soldiers posted in these towns and they will be safe. 


INTERRUPTION:  Now we have Joseph and his son Jude and daughter Joanna in Nazareth and Cleopas and Marion and their twins Simon and Salome in Cana.  Mary lives in Sepphoris where she was born.  James, Joseph’s oldest son, is in the seminary symbolically known as “Damascus“ and, when he becomes a priest of the Order of Melchizedek at age 30 (Hebrews 5:6), the Essene treasury will purchase him a house in Jerusalem.  (This according to the primary source histories.  This priesthood did not require a Levitical heritage.)


Mary and Joseph

We already know the story of “Mary and Joseph.”  It was the duty of an Essene of Joseph’s type, i.e. “a righteous one,” to take to wife such a woman as Mary, pregnant and alone, especially since she was a kinswoman.  Essenes of all sects adopted children, helped the poor, and even married women in order to give them the benefit of a family name and the Essene treasury.  Some Essenes, especially those who were priests and some certain sects, remained celibate, and increased their numbers solely by adoption and the taking youth into their discipleship programs. 


Jesus / Yahshua in Sepphoris

The youth Jesus, who was considered the illegitimate child of Mary by the religious authorities of Nazareth, was not allowed an education in the synagogue (Deuteronomy 23:2).  Jesus, being a firstborn of the line of Judah and himself a scion of David, would work with Joseph and Jude in Sepphoris until the age of thirteen at which time he is committed to the Nazorean Essene seminary at Mt. Carmel on the Mediterranean.  It would be in Mt. Carmel and “Damascus” where he would spend many of his “lost years.” Upon reaching the age of Nazorean eldership at 30, he too would become a priest of the order of Melchizedek, though from a different school than his much older step-brother Yaakov.  (For more on Yahshua’s lost years from a Nazorean perspective, search for “Jackson Snyder’s Lost and Found.”)


Joanna and Matthew Lebbaeus Alphaeus

About this time, Joanna, the daughter of Joseph, marries her intended.  He was to be a Jerusalem priest but he opts for another kind of Levitical worklevying taxes.  Also the first of a set of twins (Mark 2:14), Matthew the Levite becomes a rich young ruler in the seashore town of Capernaum.  Joanna and Matthew have children, one of who is named Matthew II.  A generation later, in 37 C. E., Joanna has the privilege of naming her grandson after her father, Joseph.  This same Joseph becomes responsible for much of what we know of these times.  For later he would be adapted by the Emperor Vespasian and become Flavius Josephus.  But long before, Matthew II would become the scribe for the Nazorean movement, spearheaded by Yahshua Messiah (Jesus Messiah), currently known as Jesus bar Joseph.  Although many wonderful stories were to be told about him long after he was gone, Matthew was content to stay with James his brother-in-law in Jerusalem all his life.  Simon bar Cleopas, his pastor when he fell asleep, laid him in the family tomb and scratched his nickname “Matyah” on an ossuary.


Jude and Simon

While the eldest brother James is studying Enoch and becoming “James the Just” in Jerusalem, his twin (toma), Jude, is studying current political events with John, an Egyptian Essene of the Damascus School.  Jude talks about John with his father Joseph, the teen-ager Jesus, along with Cleopas and Simon bar Cleopas (Luke 24:18) as they walk the five miles to work each day – to the amphitheater in Sepphoris – the place where the youth Jesus learns all about actors and hypocrites.  Jude and Simon, as strong men of nationalistic fervor, are lured into the “Zeal for the Law” movement, also known as “The New Covenant of Phineas” (Numbers 25:6-13). The goal of this secret society is to bring about a theocratic Israel.  Although there are many violent movements in these days, this Essene wing of the Covenant promotes passive resistance against the occupying Romans and Herodians.   


Although Jude and Simon are both married with children (Simon was married in Cana with Jude as best man – John 3), they find themselves, as descendants of King David, pushed up to the forefront of the Phineas New Covenant movement.  And now, a great event is planned as a show of solidarity – a “reverse exodus” in which all covenanters walk east through the city of Tiberius and OUT of Palestine, into the desert for a week-long camp meeting.  Tens of thousands march out, with Jude and Simon – and even the younger Jesus – leading the “Cana to Nazareth Yahad.”  (This would be called a “strike” today.)


The Romans general in Tiberius does not take this well as it causes a serious work shortage.  The General takes his armed divisions out to the desert, surrounding the campers and beheads the purported leaders, including Jude, son of Joseph (Acts 5:36).   His body would never be claimed.  Jesus and his half-cousin Simon bar Cleopas of Cana escape along with about 400 others.  But the bulk of the dissenters are sold into slavery.  This would be the final peaceful demonstration against Greek and Roman authority. 


Besides his wife, Jude leaves behind a young child, the Jude Jr.


Joseph and Joses

Grief over the death of his son, with whom he had worked closely for many years, also took Joseph’s life at the age of 54 leaving behind his young Essenic wife, Mary, his eldest son James (who is now in Jerusalem), Jesus – his son by adoption, and his youngest son and namesake, Joses (‘Little Joseph’).  (This brother has a mention in Acts 1:23 as Joseph bar Sabbas ha Zaddik [the Just] along with his uncle, ‘Mathias.”)



Jesus, the Nazorean Essene of Mt. Carmel, adopts his nephew, Jude Jr. As a Zaddik after the order of Melchizedek, he would never be married nor have marital relations.  Yet adoption was the right thing to do on the behalf of his brother.  Jesus also adopts other children, allowing all children to come unto him.   Jesus also continues to maintain a close relationship with his youngest brother, Joses (Mark 6:3).  As a Nazorean Essene, Jesus understands his community of brothers, sisters and children to be family, and he supports his greater family financially and spiritually (Matthew 9:15, 12:50, 14:21, many more).


Back to the Tomb

Now before we get to the so-called “Tomb of Jesus” I must make a few remarks: first off, whatever human remains are found in this cave tombs were buried in a common grave in 1980.  Ossuaries, or bone-boxes, were used over and over again for over as long as 100 years; whatever remains were in them were not necessarily those of the names inscribed on them.  There is no telling what DNA material was soaked out of them and it is no wonder that the DNA tested was found to be unrelated.  (This was the filmmaker’s ‘proof’ that one of the boxes belonged to Mary Magdalene.)  Next, let us be reminded of the story of Joseph of Arimathaea – that he secured his family tomb well in advance of his death, just as many today make funeral arrangement long before (Matthew 27:60). 


James became a well-established in Jerusalem; he was the head of the Assembly of Ebionite Essenes there; he worked for a living as a paid priest of the order of Melchizedek (Acts 6:7), and we have James’ history right up to his assassination in 62 AD.  He (James) purchased the tomb.  His own bone box disappeared and turned up in 2003 and has since been proven by patina analysis that it came out of this same tomb.  I have no doubt whatsoever that the James Ossuary is authentic and have no problem with this tomb being authentic either.


Did you know that Simon bar Cleopas, James’s cousin, also had an assembly in Jerusalem?  Simon was crucified after the turn of the first century, some 40 years after James’s bones was laid in the box.  As we mentioned before, Jude bar Joseph, James’s twin, was executed by the Romans after making confirmed missionary trips to Kurdistan.  Provinces and towns retain his name and title to this day.  His descendants – also the descendants of his son Jude Jr. (adopted by Jesus) – were hunted down by two Roman Emperors and finally all crucified in the second century


The Inscriptions

So that leaves us with the following bone boxes that have names on them. (Please recognize that these identities and spellings are arbitrarily chosen by those who transcribed them from the granite):




Yeshua-bar-Yehosef-Jesus-son-of-JosephX  Yahshua bar Yehosef (vowels are implied) – Jesus son of Joseph
Read right to left, beginning with a tau (sign of the Passover) or a cross



Yaakov-bar-Yehosef-akhui-di-Yeshua-James-son-of-Joseph-brother-of-JesusYa’akov bar Yehosef brother of Jesus – James son of Joseph brother of Jesus



Matthew – Matityah?




Yoseh – Joses – “Little Joseph”





Mary – Mary – second wife of Joseph ha Zaddik, mother of Jesus and Joses.  The film makers said this name was scratched in Latin.  As you can clearly see, this is round Hebrew and spells Mary, which the filmmakers Latinized to Maria.  They said it was written in Latin because of Roman devotees of Mary.  That was simply a lie.


Mariamene e Mara – This is in Greek letters and fairly easy to read.  Mariamene (or Marion known as Mara): This is the sister-in-law of Mary (Mary) and wife of Cleopas (John 19:25) – also known as “the other Mary” in the gospels – not Mary Magdalene.  The filmmakers said because this inscription was in Greek that it had to be Mary Magdalene.  Also, because the DNA found in this box showed no relation to the DNA found in the “Jesus” box, this proved that Mary Magdalene and Jesus were married.  What ridiculous conclusions!  And this film host is a famous archaeologist – the “Naked Archaeologist.”



Where Are the Rest of the Kin

The Family of Yahshua described in Scripture consists of Mary, Joseph, James, Jude, Jesus, Joses, Joanna, Salome, Cleopas, Simon bar Cleopas (Simon the Canaanaean), maybe more.  Reliable sources tell us that relatives of Yahshua were found in the Nazareth / Cana region from 60 years after the Resurrection to 300 years later.  There were several other ossuaries in the tombs with no names (although there are certain symbols alike on all of them): we may account for them all the family if we want.  In addition, there was in an adjoining tomb an ossuary with the name Simon Kefa (Simon Peter) on itThis name is very unusual Didn’t they find his bones in Rome?


Is Jackson Snyder a Believer in the Jesus Family Tomb?

I have been thinking about “Jesus Family Tomb” since LONG before the television special.  I have studied and imagined many scenarios.  The very tale you have just read, The Shocking True Story Behind the “Jesus Family Tomb, I wrote earlier in pieces in several essays going back as long as six years.  It just so happens that my story fits the tomb inscriptions like O. J. Simpson fits his glove (not the bloody one).  To me, the program was very inspirational, factual and believable . . . ;


yet the way the story trailed off into the DaVinci Code showed the extreme ignorance of the “Naked Archaeologist” in regard to first century history in Palestine, the Essene / Nazorean Movement and Yahshua’s history as we know it.  (For crying out loud, the guy admitted he didn’t even know Yahshua had a brother – even after the James Ossuary came out 4 years ago!)


I believe the tomb was purchased by someone in the second to fourth century – someone who had these names scratched into the bone boxes and charged admission.  The whole thing is just too pat, especially finding Simon Peter in the next cave!  The next thing they will find in there is a first century copy of the Acts of Mary Magdalene, which Frank Moore Cross will be happy to authenticate!


--Jackson Snyder   P. S.  If you read this entire article, let me know and I’ll send you a free audio CD with the reading of an ancient text that NOBODY HAS EVER BEFORE HEARD.  Just put your name and address in the mail body and write in the header “I Read the Whole Thing.”  You will love the CD.

Yahweh bless you as you do everything in your ability to honor him.

Jackson Snyder (801) 850-6901  Vero Beach, FL