"in the days of Herod the king" -
Herod the Great - A Brief Overview
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Herod I (the Great) was son of Antipater and made king by the Romans in 40
B.C. He managed to keep hold of his throne in the face of the many changes in
the government at Rome.
His kingdom comprised Judea, Samaria, Galilee, Idumea, Batanea, and Peraea,
which was approximately the same size as the kingdom of David and Solomon.
Although Herod had exceptional leadership skills, he was extremely disliked by
the Jews. His attitude toward the Maccabean dynasty, to which he was related by
marriage, along with his insolence and cruelty, angered them all the more. He
even had his brother-in-law and several of his wives and sons executed.
He forced heavy taxes and brutally repressed any rebellions. But it was by his
policy of Hellenistic culture that he greatly wounded the Jews. The construction
of a race-course, a theater, and an amphitheater in Jerusalem, his wide support
of the emperor cult in the East, and the construction of pagan temples in
foreign cities at his own expense could not be forgiven, even though he restored
and reconstructed the Temple of Jerusalem and continually pleaded the cause of
the Jews of the Diaspora to the emperor to his own gains.
There was no close tie between the king and his people; he remained an Edomite
and a friend of Rome, only holding on to his power by the use of a merciless
military force. This is the same Herod the Great who massacred the children of
Bethlehem (Matt. 2).
Herod suddenly died in 4 B.C.
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