Ancient Near East
Images & Art
Maps & Geography
Mythology & Beliefs
People in History
Timelines & Charts
(40 - 4 BC) King Herod - Death of Herod
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.
- 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.
- 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. (Bribes)
- He hired Jews from other lands as his army. Herod did not trust Jews from his own land.
- 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.
- He deprived the Sanhedrin of every vestige of political power.
- Neither the Pharisees nor the Sadducees any longer exercised political influence.
- Only their names continued for the purpose of describing two groups which differed on religious matters.
- Herod ruled, and through him Rome.
- 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
- 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
- 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 flattery.
- 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.
- 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
- 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 admired.
- 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 ordinary Jews.
- 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 several parts.
- Closest to the Temple was the portion set aside for the altar and the officiating priests.
- 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, that he had the "rebels"
- 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."
- 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.
Herod's Successors - (See section on Herod )
"I marvel that whereas the ambitious dreams of myself, Caesar, and Alexander should have vanished into thin air, a Judean peasant - Jesus should be able to stretch his hands across the centuries and control the destinies of men and nations." - Napoleon I Bonaparte (1809)
The Birth of John the Baptist
The History of the Birth of Jesus
NazarethGabriel Announces to Mary (Lk 1:26-38).
BethlehemThe Decree of Augustus Caesar and the Birth of Christ (Lk 2:1-7). The Second Visitors - Magi (Mat 2:1-12).
JerusalemJesus is Circumcised and Presented in the Temple (Lk 2:21-38).
EgyptOut of Egypt (Mat 2:13-23).
Jesus' Early YearsJerusalem
The JordanJesus is Baptized in the Jordan (Mat 3:13-17; Mk 1:9-11; Lk 3:21-23).
The WildernessThe Temptation in the Wilderness (Mat 4:1-11; Mk 1:12, 13; Lk 4:1-13). The Testimony of John (Jn 1:19-34).
The First PassoverJerusalem A House of Merchandise (Jn 2:13-25). Jesus Baptizes (Jn 3:22, with 4:2).
GalileeHe Departed Again to Galilee (Mat 4:12; Mk 1:14; Lk 4:14; Jn 4:1-3).
SamariaThe Woman at the Well (Jn 4:4-42). Physician, Heal Yourself! (Mat 4:13-16; Lk 4:16-31).
Sea of GalileePeter, Andrew, James, and John (Mat 4:18-22; Mk 1:16-20; Lk 5:1-11).
GalileeAnd Jesus Went About All Galilee . . Teaching (Mat 4:23-25; Mk 1:35-39, Lk 4:42-44). Then a Leper Came to Him (Mat 8:2-4; Mk 1:40-45; Lk 5:12- 16).
JerusalemHealing at the Pool of Bethesda on the Sabbath Day (Jn 5:1-47). And in His Name Gentiles Will Trust (Mat 12:15-21; Mk 3:7-12) The Sermon on the Mount (Mat 5-7; Lk 6:20-49). My Yoke is Easy and My Burden is Light (Mat 11:20-30).
CapernaumThe Woman With the Alabaster Flask (Lk 7:36-50). The Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit (Mat 12:22-37; Mk 3: 19-30; Lk 11:14-20). Woe to You, Scribes and Pharisees, Hypocrites (Lk 11:37-54). Parable of the Fig Tree (Lk 13:6-9). Many Such Parables (Mat 13:24-53; Mk 4:26-34).
Sea of GalileeJesus Rebukes the Storm (Mat 8:18-27; Mk 4:35-41; Lk 8:22-25). The Herd of Many Swine (Mat 8:28-33; Mk 5:1-21; Lk 8:26-40).
NazarethHe Came Again to His Own City (Mat 9:1; Mk 5:21 Lk 8:40). Jairus' Daughter and the Woman With the Flow of Blood (Mat 9:18-26; Mk 5:22-43; Lk 8:41-56). A Prophet is Not Without Honor Except in His Own Country (Mat 13:53-58; Mk 6:1-6). Sent His Disciples Out With Power and Authority (Mat 10; Mk 6:6-13, Lk 9:1-6).
MachaerusJohn the Baptist is Beheaded (Mat 14:1, 2, 6-12, Mk 6:14-16, 21-29; Lk 9:7-9).
Near BethsaidaThe Disciples Return, Feeding Five Thousand (Mat 14:13-21; Mk 6:30-44; Lk 9:10-17, Jn 6:1-14).
Sea of GalileeThey Saw Him Walking on the Sea (Mat 14:22-36; Mk 6:45-56; Jn 6:15-21).
Do you also want to go away? (Jn 6:66-71). A Woman of Canaan (Mat 15:21-28; Mk 7:24-30). Feeding Four Thousand (Mat 15:32-39; Mk 8:1-9). And He Was Transfigured (Mat 17:1-13; Mk 9:2-13; Lk 9:28-36). Speaks Again of His Death (Mat 17:22, 23; Mk 9:30-32; Lk 9:43-45).
CapernaumMiracle of the Coin in the Fish's Mouth (Mat 17:24-27). He Who is Not Against Us is On Our Side (Mk 9:38, 39; Lk 9:49, 50).
The Feast of TabernaclesJerusalem The Lord Appointed Seventy Others (Lk 10:1-16). Teaches in the Temple at the Feast of Tabernacles (Jn 7:14-53; 8:1-59). The Report of the Seventy (Lk 10:17-24).
BethanyThe House of Mary and Martha (Lk 10:38-42).
JerusalemI Was Blind, Now I See (Jn 9:1-41). They Picked Up Stones To Stone Him (Jn 10:22-39).
BethabaraBeyond the Jordan (Jn 10:40-42; 11:3-16).
BethanyJesus Raises Lazarus from the Dead (Jn 11:1-46).
EphraimThe Declaration of Caiaphas (Jn 11:47-54).
JudeaThe Woman Who Was Bent Over (Mat 19:1, 2; Mk 10:1; Lk 13:10-35). Count the Cost (Lk 14:25-35). Exposes the Hypocrisy of the Pharisees (Lk 16:14-18). Increase Our Faith (Lk 17:1-10). Marriage and Divorce (Mat 19:3-12; Mk 10:2-12). Rich Young Ruler (Mat 19:16-22; Mk 10:17-22; Lk 18:18-24). Again Foretelling His Death (Mat 20:17-19; Mk 10:32-34; Lk 18:31-34). Zacchaeus who was a Chief Tax Collector (Lk 19:1-10). Jesus Enters the Temple (Mat 21:12, Mk 11:11; Lk 19:45). The Blind and Lame Came to Him (Mat 21:14). The Withered Fig Tree (Mat 21:17-22; Mk 11:12-14, 20-22). The Parable of the Vinedressers (Mat 21:33-46; Mk 12:1-12; Lk 20:9-19); The Parable of the Great Supper (Mat 22:1-14; Lk 14:16-24). Tested By the Sadducees (Mat 22:23-33; Mk 12:18-27; Lk 20:27-40); Beware of the Scribes and the Pharisees (Mat 23; Mk 12:38-40; Lk 20:45-47). The Prophecy of Isaiah About their Blindness (Jn 12:37-50). He Saw the City and Wept Over It (Mat 23:37; Lk 19:41-44). The Sheep and the Goats (Mat 25:31-46).
JerusalemThe Last Passover (Mat 26:17-30; Mk 14:12-25; Lk 22:7-20). The Hand of My Betrayer is With Me (Mat 26:23; Mk 14:18-21; Lk 22:21; Jn 13:18). What You Do . . Do Quickly (Mat 26:21-25; Mk 14:18-21; Lk 22:21-23; Jn 13:21-30). Jesus' Intercession (Jn 17). Betrayed and Taken (Mat 26:47-56; Mk 14:43-54, 66-72; Lk 22:47-53; Jn 18:2-12). He Sent Him to Herod (Lk 23:6-12).
CrucifixionJoseph of Arimathea (Mat 27:57-66; Mk 15:42-47; Lk 23:50-56; Jn 19:31-42).
The ResurrectionHas Appeared to Simon (Lk 24:34; 1Cor 15:5).
Road to EmmausAppears to Two Disciples on the Road to Emmaus (Mk 16:12, 13: Lk 24:13-35).
© 1995-1996 The Bible Knowledge Accelerator ( Registered )