Historical Timeline around Herod
The Inter-Testamental Period 400 - 4 BC (Part 3)
Timeline With Notes on Judaism 64-4 BC
HISTORICAL TIME CHART (Historical with an emphasis on Judaism) 3 Part Series.
Note: The dating is approximate and follows certain events in Palestine, Rome,
Greece, Persia, Egypt, and China. The Notes in blue are a commentary on the
effect of hellenization on the Jewish people.
NOTES: Rome on the Move - End of the Hasmoneans (67 - 45 BC)
Rome - Called to Take
Rome who boasted that destiny had called it to rule the world by force was
casting its shadow Eastward
Another Civil War
The Right to Rule
- When Salome Alexandra died, her older son, Hyrcan, who was high priest,
succeeded her on the throne as Hyrcan II.
- Already his brother, Aristobulus, was leading an army against Jerusalem.
- Hyrcan could not gather an army and the one that was already there deserted
him and went over to his attractive brother Aristobulus.
- Hyrcan said he had never really wanted the throne and swore allegiance to (Aristobulus)
- At this time there was a man in Jerusalem named Antipater. (not of Jewish
birth - Jewish Tradition).
- Both his parents were Idumeans and were converted to Judaism. Antipater was
raised a Jew by religion
- Antipater sought power and persuaded Hyrcan to allow him and an army of
Nabataen Arabs to drive Aristobulus out of Jerusalem and restore Hyrcan to
- Aristobulus was not prepared for such an army and he shut himself in Jerusalem
( a long siege).
Power and Glory
- Rome was expanding. Julius Caesar was fighting his famous wars in Gaul and
making a name for himself
- His rival (former political ally) Pompey was in the East trying to equal
- Both wanted supreme authority in Rome and flattered the people of Rome with
- Pompey overcame Syria easily and sought more.
- He heard about the quarrel of the two brothers in Jerusalem and sought to
interfere. He was bothered by the Nabatean Arabs (they were strong) and so he
sent his lieutenant Scaurus to scare the Nabateans off.
- They withdrew the siege. The Jews were happy to have had earlier friendships
with Rome. They even asked for Rome's decision as to who should rule.
- Aristobulus, who was in control of the Temple, sent Pompey a vine of pure gold
as a gift.
- Pompey sent such a valuable gift back to Rome to decorate the Temple of
- Antipater, on behalf of Hyrcan, understanding the Roman's political situation,
sought to convince Pompey that if he favored Hyrcan, then he would eventually
have control of Judea (another to boast of).
- Unexpectedly a group of Pharisees asked Pompey to rid them of both brothers
and restore Judea to its original constitution where the high priest ruled with
the advise of an elected council.
The Iron Fist of Rome
- Pompey marched his army into Judea.
- Aristobulus was afraid so he fortified himself in Jerusalem
- Pompey then besieged Jerusalem and Aristobulus surrendered. But the Sadducees
refused to open the gates. The Romans came in and the Sadducees withdrew into
- The Romans attacked the Temple and broke through the outer wall.
- The priests performed the sacrifices devotedly without giving any attention to
what was happening
- As one priest fell by the sword another would take his place. (About 12,000
Jews perished that day)
- When it was over, Pompey entered the Temple, and even the Holy of Holies
(truly no image inside?)
Pompey decides in Favor of Rome
- This was the end of Jewish independence. Rome would never let go of its prey
- When Pompey was called in to decide for the Jews who should rule he chose Rome
- Aristobulus was deprived of any power in the government
- The Pharisaic Party was totally disregarded (The Jewish people were not to be
- Hyrcan was chosen and Antipater (now a friend of Rome) was to stand at his
- Hyrcan now would be called Ethnarch instead of king and Judea was now a Roman
province of Syria
- Pompey even brought Aristobulus and his two sons to the Roman forum in his
march in triumphal procession to impress the people and the Roman Senate.
Pompey captures Jerusalem; leaves the Maccabean high priest Hyrcanus in power
with Antipater as civil adviser
Rome: Julius Caesar wins his first major victories, in Spain.
The first Triumvirate (joint rule) at Rome (Caesar, Crassus, and Pompey )
Caesar is appointed governor of Gaul, part of present day France. (The Gauls are
a branch of the Celts.)
Pompey marries Julia, daughter of Caesar
Caesar conquers northern Gaul and attempts unsuccessfully to invade Britain.
Second invasion of Britain by Caesar. Cassivellaunus, a powerful British leader,
agrees to pay tribute to Rome.
Crassus is killed at battle of Carrhae against the Parthians.
Pompey appointed sole consul in Rome. Gauls rebel under their leader
Vercingetorix, but are crushed by the Romans.
Caesar completes conquest of Gaul.
Egypt: Cleopatra VII and her brother, Ptolemy XIII, become joint rulers of
Rome: Rivalry between Caesar and Pompey comes to a head.
Buddhism spreads along the Silk Road to China from India.
Senate orders Caesar to give up control of Gaul.
Caesar crosses the Rubicon into Italy to start civil war.
Pompey flees to Greece.
Caesar defeats Pompey at Pharsalus in Greece.
Pompey flees to Egypt.
Pompey is assassinated, possibly by order of Cleopatra.
Caesar conquers Cleopatra’s enemies.
Caesar makes Cleopatra queen of Egypt
Judea: Antipater becomes procurator of Judea; his son Herod becomes governor of
Rome: Caesar defeats Pompey's son, Sextus, in Africa and crushes a mutiny in the
Tenth Legion. He becomes virtual dictator of Rome.
Caesar introduces Julian calendar and adopts his nephew, Octavian, as his heir.
Caesar becomes dictator of Rome for life
Caesar is assassinated by a group of Romans led by Brutus and Cassius.
NOTES: Rome and the Idumeans
Antipater and Rome
- Antipater and Rome from this time on worked together. Both were greedy for
- Rome supported Antipater and he in turn fulfilled all of Rome's demands.
- Hyrcan II, ruler and high priest (63-40 BC) was just a puppet in their hands.
- Actually Antipater ruled, and two of his sons, Phasael and Herod, were local
- Phasael was governor over Jerusalem and Herod was governor over Galilee.
Rebels or Patriots
- The Pharisees, Sadducees, and the people wanted to drive out the Romans.
- Rome broke up the country's unity by dividing it into 5 administrative
- Many Jewish patriots hid in the mountains of Judea and Galilee to make
surprise attacks on the Romans.
- The Romans looked upon them as murderers and hunted them mercilessly as beasts
- Rome and the Idumeans were obviously not popular with the Jewish people.
The Humiliation of the Sanhedrin
- One patriot named Hezekiah and some men were captured by Herod in Galilee.
They were executed.
- Some relatives of these men appealed to the Sanhedrin. They could do nothing.
- In fact when Herod was charged to answer to this, this is what happened.
- The normal procedure was for the accused to appear before the Sanhedrin in
black clothes as a sign of penitence. Herod marched into the hall leading a body
of soldiers in uniform with swords and spears.
- Herod was so sure of Rome's support that he had no respect for the Sanhedrin's
- The 70 elders were humiliated and afraid. Only one man, Shemaiah spoke up. "If
you will not judge this man now...the time will come when he will judge you and
show you no mercy."
- The Sanhedrin was awakened and the trial began.
- Hyrcan, as high priest was president of the Sanhedrin. He knew that if he
condemned Antipater's son then he would be opposing Rome and Rome would hold him
personally responsible. He postponed the meeting till the next day.
- Herod, feeling insulted and in a rage, was ready to order a massacre on the
Sanhedrin as well as all of the inhabitants of Jerusalem who would not show
respect for Rome. His father and brother stopped him.
How Antipater Backed the Wrong Politician
- Julius Caesar being the rival of Pompey in Rome for power even tried to stir
up a rebellion in Judea by releasing Aristobulus to return. When Antipater heard
he sent men to poison Aristobulus in Greece before he reached Judea. He even had
Aristobulus' son executed.
- Antipater and his sons were backing Pompey to the very end up till Pompey was
defeated by Julius Caesar. Hyrcan and Antipater quickly changed sides.
- Caesar accepted them and allowed them to remain in power.
Again the Wrong Politician
- There was another civil war in Rome just after this. Brutus and Cassius were
now in power in the eastern part of the Roman Empire.
- Cassius, in dire need of money, heavily taxed the Jews in Judea.
- In order to be collected, the huge sum had to be collected ruthlessly.
- Antipater and his sons were given the responsibility and therefore they became
- Herod was even the first to turn in the part he had collected.
- But Brutus and Cassius lost in the end. Would Antony and Octavian ever forgive
- The Jews pleaded to Rome for the removal of the Idumeans but Rome was in favor
of Herod. He was brave and daring, qualities the Romans could appreciate.
- Herod and Phasael came out victors again, and the members of the Jewish
delegation were executed on Antony's order.
Second Triumvirate is formed by Octavian, Mark Antony, and Marcus Lepidus.
Birth of Ovid, the poet who wrote Metamorphoses (dies 17 AD).
Cicero, the orator, is put to death for denouncing Mark Antony.
Triumvirate defeats Brutus and Cassius at the battle of Philippi.
Herod the Great appointed king of Judea till 4 BC
Herod the Great captures Jerusalem
Rome: Triumvirate is renewed for five years.
Mark Antony, already married to Octavia (the sister of Octavian), also marries
Queen Cleopatra of Egypt.
Octavian's fleet defeats that of Pompey's son, Sextus.
Octavian declares war on Antony and Cleopatra.
Battle of Actium, at which Octavian defeats Antony and Cleopatra.
Octavian becomes master of the Roman world, the final triumph of Empire
Antony and Cleopatra commit suicide.
Octavian declares Egypt a Roman province.
Philo of Alexandria
Rome: Octavian given supreme power by the Roman Senate, thus effectively ending
the Roman Republic. He takes the title Augustus and becomes the first emperor of
Rome (to 14 AD).
Herod the Great begins to rebuild the Jerusalem Temple
Roman empire extended to the upper Danube.
Revolt in Pannonia (part of present-day Slovenia) quelled by Augustus' stepson,
Death of Herod the Great his kingdom is split between his three sons.
Birth of Jesus
The Last of the Hasmoneans
- The feelings of the Jews at this time were expressed in a collection of poems
written about this time called "Psalms of Solomon." Their author was undoubtedly
a Pharisee whose chief interest lay not in war and power, but in piety and right
conduct. He justified the misfortunes which befell the Hasmoneans, for they had
sinned and deserved punishment. Nevertheless, he could not help speaking with
great bitterness of Pompey and the Romans. They had been invited as friends; the
gates of the city were opened to them. But they desecrated the Temple and
enslaved the people. No wonder that when the author heard of Pompey's end, he
exclaimed: "Praised be the Lord who judges the whole earth with His justice."
Moreover, the author feared lest the pagan neighbors in league with the Romans
make life unbearable for the Jews. He prayed: "Punish us in accordance with Thy
will, but deliver us not into the hands of the Gentiles."
How Antigonus Made Himself King
- The Idumean brothers needed the strength of Rome but there were problems with
the eastern part of the empire. Antony ruled over the East while Octavius took
the West for himself.
- At that time Cleopatra, famed for her beauty and her seductive trickery, was
trying to make herself mistress of Rome by becoming the mistress of Antony.
- For her Antony neglected the government and let his brilliant future go to
- Soon the eastern Roman army became disorganized and the officials more than
- Antigonus, Aristobulus II's youngest son, watched all this from the other side
of the Euphrates, where he had found refuge with the Parthians.
- With their aid he invaded Judea' meeting only halfhearted Roman opposition,
and arrived before the gates of Jerusalem.
- Antigonus lured Hyrcan and Phasael into the Parthian camp. How bitterly he
hated them! He held them responsible for years of personal suffering, for the
murder of his father and brother, for the loss of Jewish independence.
- Phasael, knowing that he had nothing to hope for, committed suicide.
- As to Hyrcan, Antigonus did not have his uncle killed. He did want to
disqualify him permanently for the high priesthood so he cut off the lobe of one
of Hyrcan's ears, for according to Jewish law no man who was physically
mutilated could serve as high priest.
- Antigonus entered Jerusalem and assumed the royal title and the high
priesthood under the name of Mattathias (40 BC).
Antigonus as King
- He was not like his father, Aristobulus, nor like his grandmother Salome, he
possessed neither attractiveness nor charm, neither soldierliness nor
- He was the wrong man at a time when the right one might have changed the
future of the entire East.
Herod, King by the Grace of Rome
- When Herod new what was happening with Antigonus entering Jerusalem he
gathered his family, including Alexandra the daughter of Hyrcan, her daughter,
Miriam or Mariamne, to whom he was betrothed, and Miriam's younger brother
Aristobulus, and had fled in the direction of the Nabatean Arabs to the south.
- He left his family in a fortress in southern Palestine and continued on his
way to Egypt where he hoped to tell his sad story to Antony. But he found that
Antony had temporarily escaped Cleopatra's clutches and was gone making peace
- Although Cleopatra tried her seduction on Herod, he paid no attention to her
and went on to Rome despite the danger of crossing the Mediterranean at that
- As usual, luck was with him. He arrived safely in Rome and was greeted warmly
by Antony and Octavius.
- What could Herod have wanted with the rulers of the Roman empire? He certainly
wanted revenge on Antigonus, and no doubt asked that Antony order the Roman
armies in Syria to drive Antigonus out of Judea.
- Whatever the discussion was they and the Senate proclaimed Herod king of
- The family of Antipater, whose shrewdness had dispossessed the Hasmoneans,
thus attained more than they had hoped for.
The Conquest of a Kingdom
- Herod, for the time being, was a king without a country.
- His first task was to win Judea by driving out Antigonus. But this was not an
easy task in view of the bribes which the Roman generals in Syria were receiving
from Antigonus, and the opposition of the Jews all over the country.
- Antigonus received letters and threats from Antony. Jerusalem was besieged for
three months, and Antigonus could hold it no longer.
- The Romans army slaughtered so many within the city that Herod had to take
drastic measures and promise the Romans large rewards to stop it or, as he
complained to the Roman officers, he might be left a king of a country without a
- Antigonus was captured but he pleaded for mercy. It was not customary for the
Romans to execute a captured king, but at Herod's request to avenge his brother,
it was done in this case.
- The Hasmonean dynasty came to a horrible end and so did the independence which
it had so gloriously won for Judea.
Herod as King
The Road to Misfortune
- The next period of Jewish history saw the beginnings of the national calamity
which overtook the Jews a century later. It is hard to refrain from wondering
how different modern Jewish life would be if Herod had been a different sort of
man, or if Rome and the Jews had understood each other. Until Herod's reign it
was still possible to hope that the Jews and the Romans would arrive at some
compromise whereby the Jews would be permitted to look upon their nation as
almost independent. The Jews were a proud people. The more they felt themselves
under the heel of Rome, the more they were determined to reassert their freedom.
Herod was in excellent position to bring Rome and Judea to a better
understanding. But he understood and sympathized with the Jews too little; he
was interested in his own power too much. The result was infamy for himself and
catastrophe for the people over whom he ruled.
Herod the Great, Servant of Rome
It would have been interesting to see how different the modern Jew would be if
Herod the Great had been a different sort of man. Herod didn't understand the
Jews enough nor did he feel for them. He was in a position to help the Jews and
the Romans to understand each other a little better but he was only interested
in his own power and the result was catastrophe for the Jews.
For 40 years, Jewish history was dominated by Herod the Great. He was born in
about 73 BC, the son of the Idumean Antipater, and became a Roman citizen in 47.
His father appointed him military governor of Galilee, with the task of clearing
the region of terrorists. In 41, Antony made Herod and his brother tetrarchs,
but Herod was not secure and in 40 fled to Rome. There Antony bestowed on him
the kingship of Judea, which he secured with a Roman army in 37. Octavian (the
future emperor Augustus) defeated Antony and Cleopatra at the naval battle of
Actium in 3I, but confirmed Herod in power.
Herod worked devotedly for Rome and kept Augustus's favor. His court was
Hellenized and cultured. He founded the Greek cities of Sebaste (Samaria) and
Caesarea, with its fine port. He built fortresses and palaces, including Masada,
and a magnificent new temple. He also presided at the Olympic Games.
His family life, however, was unhappy. He ruled as an autocrat, supported by
police, and, despite his rebuilding of the Temple, to the Jews he remained a
detested foreigner. He died in 4 BC at the age of 69.
The Marriage to Mariamne
- Herod knew he was unliked by the Jews and having displaced the Hasmoneans he
- He therefore married Mariamne, the granddaughter of both Hyrcan and
Aristobulus. (Legitimate throne)
- But Herod was known to have really loved her but he did not mind hurting her
when his personal welfare was at stake.
How Herod Made Himself Safe
- One of Herod's first acts was the execution of 40 prominent Sadducees. 2
reasons (enemies, money)
- He constantly had to pay off the Romans and anyone else who had helped him.
- He hired Jews from other lands as his army. Herod did not trust Jews from his
- He was jealous of other members of his family.
- Aristobulus, Herod's own brother-in-law, was found drowned in a pool of one of
the royal palaces.
- Hyrcan, returned from Parthia at Herod's invitation, was accused of plotting
treason and executed.
- Herod's favorite wife, Mariamne, gave way to the intrigues of Herod's sister
and was executed despite Herod's undoubted love for her.
- Later he killed his own two sons by Mariamne on suspicion that they were
plotting against him.
- At his dying breath he ordered the execution of still another son.
Depriving the Sanhedrin
- Herod had not the slightest intention of letting the Jews rule themselves.
- He deprived the Sanhedrin of every vestige of political power.
- Neither the Pharisees nor the Sadducees any longer exercised political
- Only their names continued for the purpose of describing two groups which
differed on religious matters.
- Herod ruled, and through him Rome.
The Secret Opposition
- Politics became an underground affair.
- Dissatisfaction expressed itself in secret criticism.
- The young people became restless and joined secret organizations for the cause
of Jewish independence.
- These organizations, years later, united to form the dreaded revolutionary
party, the Zealots.
- Herod was an efficient ruler and knew how to maintain peace by ruthlessness.
- Numberless spies & torture. Everyone was under suspicion, and everyone lived
Herod and the Non-Jews
Fortifying His External Position
- Herod was clever in his relations with the pagans and particularly in his
dealings with the Romans.
- The death of Antony confronted Herod with a serious danger. He realized that
Augustus would now look upon him as an enemy.
- Herod, like his father under similar circumstances, hurried to meet the new
ruler of the world.
- Removing his royal insignia, he appeared before Augustus and, without denying
his friendship for Antony and his regret at Antony's defeat, frankly offered
Augustus the same friendship and loyalty which he had given the defeated Antony.
- This attitude appealed to Augustus. He probably saw in Herod, a realist in
politics, one who could be relied upon to serve Rome and Rome's master.
- Not only did Augustus accept Herod's offer of friendship, but, leaving him as
king of Judea, Idumea, Samaria, and Galilee, he even increased Herod's territory
by adding to his kingdom some lands across the Jordan and some of the pagan
cities along the Mediterranean coast.
- The friendship between Augustus and Herod remained firm for the rest of their
Herod and His Pagan Subjects
- The Greeks cities protested to Augustus. But they soon favored him for his
character was more Greek than Jewish and his desire was to gain the reputation
of being a great Hellenistic monarch.
- He filled his court with Greek hangers-on, mostly parasites who lived by their
- His most trusted adviser was an able Greek by the name of Nicolas of Damascus
- Herod's ideas about government were the same as the Roman empire.
- It was government for the sake of the wealthy and powerful. The common people
had only one duty-to obey their masters.
Herod - The Builder
- According to the Greek standards of that day, a good king encouraged games and
theaters and was active in building.
- He constructed pagan temples and amphitheaters in various Greek cities within
and outside his domain.
- Athens, Sparta and Rhodes benefited from his liberality.
- He made large contributions of money to the Olympic games.
- Samaria again rose from its ruins and was renamed Sebaste (Royal City) in
honor of Augustus.
- The same was done to an old, well-situated town on the coast, which now
received the name Caesarea, again in honor of the Caesar. (Some after Herod)
never after a Hasmonean or a former Jewish king.
- Augustus Caesar and Herod's friend Agrippa "Herod's realm was far too small
for his liberality."
- Herod's Gentile subjects were happy that he liked to please them. To them
Herod was "Herod the Great."
Herod and His Jewish Subjects
Hopes for Hellenization
- Of course, Herod considered himself a Jew.
- Herod knew better than to force Hellenization upon his Jewish subjects.
- Gradually introducing them to those Greek habits of life which he himself
- Jerusalem also benefited from his building activity. He erected a theater and
a hippodrome within the city.
- Foreign visitors to his capital would feel more at home and would not look
down upon him as an insignificant king of a "barbarian" people.
- From Augustus, Herod obtained the right to intervene on behalf of the Jews
wherever in the Roman empire they might be annoyed.
- But, above all, he tried to prove that Greek temples were not his only concern
by undertaking to rebuild and beautify the Temple in Jerusalem.
- Almost five hundred years had elapsed since the Second Temple had been built
by those who returned from the Babylonian Exile.
-After that the Temple had no doubt been repaired and enlarged, but it remained
essentially the old building, inferior in beauty and grandeur to some of the
pagan temples which were around.
- Not only was it contrary to Herod's love of architecture to permit the Temple
of his own God to remain so modest, but he thought to show his piety to the Jews
by making their Temple grander than the rest.
- the leading scribes at first opposed his plan (suspicious). They actually
believed that once he pulled the old building down he would never replace it.
- Herod had to promise that he would not touch the old building until he had
built the new one around it.
- Under no circumstances were the services to be interrupted.
- Herod hired workmen by the thousands.
- Among them were many priests to build those portions not accessible to
- The work was started by leveling larger portions of the Temple Mount, so that
the new building might be erected on a broader base.
- It was also made much taller, so that the white stone gleamed in the bright
Palestinian sun and could be seen from miles away.
- On the northern and southern sides of the building were the enclosed halls or
rooms where the priests prepared for the service, and where the Sanhedrin met.
- The large open court on the east, facing the Temple proper, was divided into
- Closest to the Temple was the portion set aside for the altar and the
- Next to it was the court for the Israelites who came to watch the service.
- By the side of that was the gallery for the women, and behind it was the court
of the Gentiles.
- The whole area was surrounded by a wall. This is the wall, part of which
remains to this day, known as "The Wailing Wall," to which Jews have gone on
pilgrimage during the recent centuries of exile.
- The Temple took many years to build. Begun in 19 BC, it was not finished till
long after Herod's death
- The Jews prided in Herod's accomplishment until Herod placed a huge Roman
eagle over the most important gate of the new Temple.
- Before long there was a conspiracy to pull the eagle down.
- When rumor circulated that Herod was dying, a group of young men gathered
before the gate on which the golden eagle was set and began to pull it down.
- The soldiers interfered and arrested about forty of them. Herod was so enraged
at this sign of insubordination and insult to Rome, thathe had the "rebels"
Herod in History
- Herod was an excellent king in certain respects.
- He maintained external peace in his land.
- He beautified his own and neighboring countries.
- He admired not on1y by the Roman empire, but also of the Jews outside Judea
whose standards of value had changed through contact with Greek civilization. It
is not difficult to understand why many people called Herod "the Great."
- Yet the majority of Jews of his own kingdom disliked him, and Jews of later
generations called him "the Wicked."
- He pleased the pagans in the land and the cities prospered but the common Jew
sank into poverty.
- When Herod died, the pagans among them mourned while the Jews rejoiced.
- Herod's slaughter of the infant boys . . . vividly reflects the pathological
character of the king.
- He murdered members of his own family- yet scrupulously observed Mosaic
dietary laws and would eat no pork.
- This provoked his Roman master Augustus into jesting: "I would rather be
Herod's pig than Herod's son."
Death of Herod
- Joseph stayed in Egypt until the death of Herod to fulfill what the Lord has
said through the prophet: "Out of Egypt l have called my son." Matt 2:15
- The historian, Josephus, describes the death of Herod at great length. When
Herod's health began to fail him rapidly, he was moved to his winter capital in
Jericho. From there he was carried by stretcher to the hot springs on the shores
of the Dead Sea. The springs did no good; Herod returned home. Racked by
despondency, Herod attempted suicide. Rumors of the attempt caused loud wailing
throughout the palace. Herod's son, imprisoned by his paranoid father, mistook
the cries to mean his father was dead. Immediately, he tried to bribe his
jailers, who reported the bribery attempt to Herod. The sick king ordered his
son executed on the spot. Now Herod plunged deeper into depression. He was only
days away from his own death- and he knew it. What pained him most was the
knowledge that his death would be met with joy in Judea. To forestall this, he
devised an incredible plan.
Having assembled the most distinguished men from every village from one end of
Judea to the other, he ordered them to be locked in the hippodrome at Jericho.
Jewish Wars FLAVIUS JOSEPHUS
Herod then gave the order to execute them at the very moment he, himself, died.
His sick mind reasoned that their death would dispel any joy in Judea over his
own death. The order was never carried out.
After Herod's death, his body was carried in procession from Jericho to the
Herodium outside Bethlehem for burial. Herod's body was adorned in purple, a
crown of gold rested on his head, and a scepter of gold was placed in his hand.
The bier bearing his body was made of gold and studded with jewels that sparkled
as it was carried along under the desert sun. Following the bier was Herod's
household and hundreds of slaves, swinging censers. Slowly, the procession
inched its way up the mountainside to the Herodium, where it was laid to rest.
Today, the excavated ruins of the Herodium stand out grandly against the clear
blue sky- reminding Bethlehem-bound tourists of the king who sought to kill the
child whom they have come so far to honor.
Looking like a volcano, the Herodium is one of several fortress-palaces built by
Herod the Great. It was artificially shaped, with everything placed inside its
protected craterlike top.
Josephus wrote of the Herodium:
"Two hundred steps of purest white marble led up to it. Its top was crowned with
circular towers; its courtyard contained splendid structures."
In the 1960s archaeologists unearthed the courtyard, fortification towers, and
palace. No trace of Herod's remains were found.