Herod in Smith's Bible Dictionary

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Heríod

(hero-like ). This family though of Idumean origin and thus alien by race, was Jewish in faith.

I. HEROD THE GREAT was the second son of Antipater, an Idumean, who was appointed procurator of Judea by Julius Caesar, B.C. 47. Immediately after his fatherís elevation when only fifteen years old, he received the government of Galilee and shortly afterward that of Coele-Syria. Though Josephus says he was 15 years old at this time, it is generally conceded that there must be some mistake, as he lived to be 69 or 70 years old, and died B.C. 4; hence he must have been 25 years old at this time.--ED.) In B.C. 41 he was appointed by Antony tetrarch of Judea. Forced to abandon Judea the following year, he fled to Rome, and received the appointment of king of Judea. In the course of a few years, by the help of the Romans he took Jerusalem (B.C. 37), and completely established his authority throughout his dominions. The terrible acts of bloodshed which Herod perpetrated in his own family were accompanied by others among his subjects equally terrible, from the number who fell victims to them. According to the well-known story) he ordered the nobles whom he had called to him in his last moment to be executed immediately after his decease, that so at least his death might be attended by universal mourning. It was at the time of his fatal illness that he must have caused the slaughter of the infants at Bethlehem. (Matthew 2:16-18) He adorned Jerusalem with many splendid monuments of his taste and magnificence. The temple, which he built with scrupulous care, was the greatest of these works. The restoration was begun B.C. 20, and the temple itself was completed in a year and a half. But fresh additions were constantly made in succeeding years, so that it was said that the temple was "built in forty and six years," (John 2:20) the work continued long after Herodís death. (Herod died of a terrible disease at Jericho, in April, B.C. 4, at the age of 69, after a long reign of 37 years.--ED.)

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King Herod the Great

"in the days of Herod the king" - Matthew 2:1

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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Bibliography on Herod the Great

The Many Faces of Herod the Great by Marshak, 448 Pages, Pub. 2014

The True Herod by Vermes, 192 Pages, Pub. 2014

 

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