The Fourth Gospel says very clearly that the woman who anointed Jesus at Bethany was Mary, the sister of Lazarus. Mary Magdalen's name is not mentioned in connection with the anointing scene, but it is she who accompanies Jesus to Calvary in the Gospels, standing near the cross; and it is she who goes at dawn on Easter morning to finish the anointing for burial that she began several days before. Why was Mary of Bethany called "the Magdalen"? Why was she forced to flee Jerusalem? And what became of the sacred bloodline she carried with her?
I have come to suspect that Jesus had a secret dynastic marriage with Mary of Bethany and that she was a daughter of the tribe of Benjamin, whose ancestral heritage was the land surrounding the Holy City of David, the city Jerusalem. A dynastic marriage between Jesus and a royal daughter of the Benjamites would have been perceived as a source of healing to the people of Israel during their time of misery as an occupied nation.
Israel's first anointed King Saul was of the tribe of Benjamin, and his daughter Michol was the wife of King David. Throughout the history of the tribes of Israel, the tribes of Judah and Benjamin were the closest and most loyal of allies. Their destinies were intertwined. A dynastic marriage between a Benjamite heiress to the lands surrounding the Holy City and the messianic Son of David would have appealed to the fundamentalist Zealot faction of the Jewish nation. It would have been seen as a sign of hope and blessing during Israel's darkest hour.
In the novel King Jesus (1946), Robert Graves, the twentieth-century mythographer, suggests that Jesus' lineage and marriage were concealed from all but a select circle of royalist leaders. To protect the royal bloodline, this marriage would have been kept secret from the Romans and the Herodian tetrarchs, and after the crucifixion of Jesus, the protection of his wife and family would have been a sacred trust for those few who knew their identity. All reference to the marriage of Jesus would have been deliberately obscured, edited, or eradicated. Yet the pregnant wife of the anointed Son of David would have been the bearer of the hope of Israel--the bearer of the Sangraal, the royal bloodline.
It is probable that the original references to Mary Magdalen in the oral tradition, the "pericopes" of the New Testament, were misunderstood before they were ever committed to writing. I suspect that the epithet "Magdaleri" was meant to be an allusion to the "Magdaleder" found in Micah, the promise of the restoration of Sion following her exile. Perhaps the earliest verbal references attaching the epithet "Magdala" to Mary of Bethany's name had nothing to do with an obscure town in Galilee, as is suggested, but were deliberate references to these lines in Micah, to the "watchtower" or "stronghold" of the Daughter of Sion who was forced into political exile.
The place name Magdal-eder literally means "tower of the flock," in the sense of a high place used by a shepherd as a vantage point from which to watch over his sheep. In Hebrew, the epithet Magdala literally means "tower" or "elevated, great, magnificent.."2 This meaning has particular relevance if the Mary so named was in fact the wife of the Messiah. It would have been the Hebrew equivalent of calling her "Mary the Great," while at the same time referring to the prophesied return of dominion to "the daughter of Jerusalem" (Mic. 4:8).
In Old French legend, the exiled "Magdal-eder," the refugee Mary who seeks asylum on the southern coast of France, is Mary of Bethany, the Magdalen. The early French legend records that Mary "Magdalen," traveling with Martha and Lazarus of Bethany, landed in a boat on the coast of Provence in France.
Other legends credit Joseph of Arimathea as being the custodian of the Sangraal, which I have suggested may be the royal bloodline of Israel rather than a literal chalice. The vessel that contained this bloodline, the archetypal chalice of medieval myth, must have been the wife of the anointed King Jesus.