Herod the Great: Wikis


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Herod I the Great
King of the Jews, Ruler of Galilee and Batanea
Fictional, undated portrayal of Herod the Great.
Reign 37 (or 36 BC[1]) - 4 BC (or 1 BC[1][2])
Born 74 BC (or 71 BC[1])
Died 4 BC (or 1 BC[1]) (aged 70)
Place of death Jericho, Samaria
Buried Herodium, Judea
Predecessor Antigonus II Mattathias
Successor Herod Archelaus
Wives Doris
Mariamne I
Mariamne II
Cleopatra of Jerusalem
Dynasty Herodian Dynasty
Father Antipater the Idumaean
Mother Cypros

Herod (Hebrew: הוֹרְדוֹס‎, Hordos, Greek: Ἡρῴδης, Hērōdēs), also known as Herod I or Herod the Great (born 74 BC, died 4 BC in Jericho, according to other data, 1 BC[1][2]), was a Jewish Roman client king of Israel.[3] He was described as "a madman who murdered his own family and a great many rabbis."[4] He is also known for his colossal building projects in Jerusalem and other parts of the ancient world, including the rebuilding of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, sometimes referred to as Herod's Temple. Some details of his biography can be gleaned from the works of the 1st century AD Roman-Jewish historian Josephus Flavius.

His son Herod Antipas, who continued the Herodian dynasty, was ruler of Galilee (4 BC - 39 AD) during the time of John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth.



Copper coin of Herod, bearing the legend "ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΗΡΩΔΟΥ" ("Basileōs Hērōdou") on the obverse

Herod was born around 74 BC.[5] He was the second son of Antipater the Idumaean, a high-ranked official under Ethnarch Hyrcanus II, and Cypros, a Nabatean.[6] A loyal supporter of Hyrcanus II, Antipater appointed Herod governor of Galilee at 25, and his elder brother, Phasael, governor of Jerusalem. He enjoyed the backing of Rome but his excessive brutality was condemned by the Sanhedrin.

In 43 BC, following the chaos caused by Antipater offering financial support to Caesar's murderers, Antipater was poisoned. Herod, backed by the Roman Army, executed his father's murderer.

After the battle of Philippi towards the end of 42 BC, he convinced Mark Antony and Octavian that his father had been forced to help Caesar's murderers. After Antony marched into Asia, Herod was named tetrarch of Galilee by the Romans. However, as Herod's family had converted to Judaism, his religious commitment had come into question by some elements of Jewish society[citation needed]. When the Maccabean John Hyrcanus conquered the region of Idumaea (the Edom of the Hebrew Bible) in 140–130 BC, he required all Idumaeans to obey Jewish law or to leave; most Idumaeans thus converted to Judaism, which meant that they had to be circumcised.[7] While King Herod publicly identified himself as a Jew and was considered as such by some,[8] this religious identification was undermined by the decadent lifestyle of the Herodians, which would have earned them the antipathy of observant Jews.[9]

Two years later Antigonus, Hyrcanus' nephew, took the throne from his uncle with the help of the Parthians. Herod fled to Rome to plead with the Romans to restore him to power. There he was elected "King of the Jews" by the Roman Senate.[10] Josephus puts this in the year of the consulship of Calvinus and Pollio (40 BC), but Appian places it in 39 BC.[5] Herod went back to Israel to win his kingdom from Antigonus and at the same time he married the teenage niece of Antigonus, Mariamne (known as Mariamne I), in an attempt to secure a claim to the throne and gain some Jewish favor. However, Herod already had a wife, Doris, and a three-year-old son, Antipater, and chose therefore to banish Doris and her child.

Three years later, Herod and the Romans finally captured Jerusalem and executed Antigonus. Herod took the role as sole ruler of Israel and the title of basileus (Gr. Βασιλευς, king) for himself, ushering in the Herodian Dynasty and ending the Hasmonean Dynasty. Josephus reports this as being in the year of the consulship of Agrippa and Gallus (37 BC), but also says that it was exactly 27 years after Jerusalem fell to Pompey, which would indicate 36 BC. (Cassius Dio also reports that in 37 "the Romans accomplished nothing worthy of note" in the area.[11]) According to Josephus, he ruled for 37 years, 34 years of them after capturing Jerusalem.

Model of Herod's Temple

Herod later executed several members of his own family, including his wife Mariamne. A summary of the rest of his life can be found in the Chronology section below.

Architectural achievements

Herod's most famous and ambitious project was the expansion of the Second Temple in Jerusalem.

In the eighteenth year of his reign (20–19 BC), Herod rebuilt the Temple on "a more magnificent scale".[12] The new Temple was finished in a year and a half, although work on out-buildings and courts continued another eighty years.[12] To comply with religious law, Herod employed 1,000 priests as masons and carpenters in the rebuilding.[12] The finished temple, which was destroyed in 70 AD, is sometimes referred to as Herod's Temple. Today, only the four retaining walls remain standing, including the Wailing Wall or Western Wall. These walls created a flat platform (the Temple Mount) upon which the Temple was then constructed.

Some of Herod's other achievements include the development of water supplies for Jerusalem, building fortresses such as Masada and Herodium, and founding new cities such as Caesarea Maritima and the enclosures of Cave of the Patriarchs and Mamre in Hebron. He and Cleopatra owned a monopoly over the extraction of asphalt from the Dead Sea, which was used in ship building. He leased copper mines on Cyprus from the Roman emperor.


Discovery of quarry

On September 25, 2007, Yuval Baruch, archaeologist with the Israeli Antiquities Authority announced their discovery of a quarry compound which provided King Herod with the stones to renovate the Second Temple. Coins, pottery and iron stakes found proved the date of the quarrying to be about 19 BC. Archaeologist Ehud Netzer confirmed that the large outlines of the stone cuts is evidence that it was a massive public project worked on by hundreds of slaves.[13]

New Testament references

Herod the Great appears in ancient Christian scriptures, in the Gospel according to Matthew (Ch. 2), which describes an event known as the Massacre of the Innocents.

According to Matthew, shortly after the birth of Jesus, Magi from the East visited Herod to inquire the whereabouts of "the one having been born king of the Jews", because they had seen his star in the east and therefore wanted to pay him homage. Herod, who was himself King of the Jews, was alarmed at the prospect of the newborn king usurping his rule.

In the story, Herod assembled the chief priests and scribes of the people and asked them where the "Anointed One" (the Messiah, Greek: ho christos) was to be born. They answered, in Bethlehem, citing Micah 5:2. Herod therefore sent the Magi to Bethlehem, instructing them to search for the child and, after they had found him, to "report to me, so that I too may go and worship him". However, after they had found Jesus, the Magi were warned in a dream not to report back to Herod. Similarly, Joseph was warned in a dream that Herod intended to kill Jesus, so he and his family fled to Egypt. When Herod realized he had been outwitted by the Magi, he gave orders to kill all boys of the age of two and under in Bethlehem and its vicinity. Joseph and his family stayed in Egypt until Herod's death, then moved to Nazareth in Galilee in order to avoid living under Herod's son Archelaus.

Regarding the Massacre of the Innocents, although Herod was certainly guilty of many brutal acts, including the killing of his wife and two of his sons, no other known source from the period makes any reference to such a massacre.[14] Since Bethlehem was a small village, the number of male children under the age of 2, would probably not exceed 20. This may be the reason for the lack of other sources for this history,[15] although Herod's order in Matthew 2:16 includes those children in Bethlehem's vicinity making the massacre larger numerically and geographically.


Coin of Herod the Great, bearing a temple and Star of David

Since the work of Emil Schürer in 1896[16] scholars have generally concluded that Herod died at the end of March or early April in 4 BC.[5][17]

Further evidence is provided by the fact that his sons, between whom his kingdom was divided, dated their rule from 4 BC.[18], and Archilaus apparently also exercised royal authority during Herod's lifetime.[19] Josephus states that Philip the Tetrarch's death took place after a 37-year reign, in the 20th year of Tiberius (34 AD).[20]

Josephus tells us that Herod died after a lunar eclipse.[21] He gives an account of events between this eclipse and his death, and between his death and Passover. A partial eclipse[22] took place on March 13, 4 BC, about 29 days before Passover, and this eclipse is usually taken to be the one referred to by Josephus.[23] There were however three other, total, eclipses around this time, and there are proponents of both 5 BC[24]– with two total eclipses[25][26], and 1 BC[5].

Bronze coin of Herod the Great, minted at Samaria.

Josephus wrote that Herod's final illness – sometimes named as "Herod's Evil"[27] – was excruciating.[28] From Josephus' descriptions, some medical experts propose that Herod had chronic kidney disease complicated by Fournier's gangrene.[29] Modern scholars agree he suffered throughout his lifetime from depression and paranoia.[30] More recently, others report that the visible worms and putrefaction described in his final days are likely to have been scabies. This can explain his death, but can also account for his psychiatric symptoms.[31] Similar symptoms attended the death of his grandson Herod Agrippa in AD 44.

Josephus also stated that Herod was so concerned that no one would mourn his death, that he commanded a large group of distinguished men to come to Jericho, and he gave order that they should be killed at the time of his death so that the displays of grief that he craved would take place. Fortunately for them, Herod's son Archilaus and sister Salome did not carry out this wish.

After Herod's death, his kingdom was divided among three of his sons. Archilaus became king of Judaea, Herod Antipas became tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea, and Philip became tetrarch of territories east of the Jordan.

Tomb discovery

Aerial photo of Herodium from the southwest

The location of Herod's tomb is documented by Roman historian Flavius Josephus, who writes, "And the body was carried two hundred furlongs, to Herodium, where he had given order to be buried."[32]

Flavius Josephus provides more clues about Herod's tomb which he calls Herod's monuments:

So they threw down all the hedges and walls which the inhabitants had made about their gardens and groves of trees, and cut down all the fruit trees that lay between them and the wall of the city, and filled up all the hollow places and the chasms, and demolished the rocky precipices with iron instruments; and thereby made all the place level from Scopus to Herod's monuments, which adjoined to the pool called the Serpent's Pool.[33]

Professor Ehud Netzer, an archaeologist from Hebrew University, read the writings of Josephus and focused his search on the vicinity of the pool and its surroundings at the Winter Palace of Herod in the Judean desert. An article of the New York Times states,

Lower Herodium consists of the remains of a large palace, a race track, service quarters, and a monumental building whose function is still a mystery. Perhaps, says Ehud Netzer, who excavated the site, it is Herod's mausoleum. Next to it is a pool, almost twice as large as modern Olympic-size pools.[34]

It took 35 years for Netzer to identify the exact location, but on May 7, 2007, an Israeli team of archaeologists of the Hebrew University led by Netzer, announced they had discovered the tomb.[35][36][37][38][39] The site is located at the exact location given by Flavius Josephus, atop of tunnels and water pools, at a flattened desert site, halfway up the hill to Herodium, 12 kilometers (7.5 mi) south of Jerusalem.[40] The tomb contained a broken sarcophagus but no remains of a body.


30s BC

The taking of Jerusalem by Herod the Great, 36 BC, by Jean Fouquet, late 15th century.
Judaea under Herod the Great.
  • 39–37 BC– War against Antigonus. After the conquest of Jerusalem and victory over Antigonus, Mark Antony executes Antigonus.
  • 36 BC– Herod makes his 17-year-old brother-in-law, Aristobulus III of Israel, high priest, fearing that the Jews would appoint Aristobulus III of Israel "King of the Jews" in his place.
  • 35 BC– Aristobulus III is drowned at a party, on Herod's orders.
  • 32 BC– The war against Nabatea begins, with victory one year later.
  • 31 BC– Israel suffers a devastating earthquake. Octavian defeats Mark Antony, so Herod switches allegiance to Octavian, later known as Augustus.
  • 30 BC– Herod is shown great favour by Octavian, who at Rhodes confirms him as King of Israel.

20s BC

  • 29 BC– Josephus writes that Herod had great passion and also great jealousy concerning his wife, Mariamne I. She learns of Herod's plans to murder her, and stops sleeping with him. Herod puts her on trial on a charge of adultery. His sister, Salome I, was chief witness against her. Mariamne I's mother Alexandra made an appearance and incriminated her own daughter. Historians say her mother was next on Herod's list to be executed and did this only to save her own life. Mariamne was executed, and Alexandra declared herself Queen, stating that Herod was mentally unfit to serve. Josephus wrote that this was Alexandra's strategic mistake; Herod executed her without trial.
  • 28 BC– Herod executed his brother-in-law Kostobar[41] (husband of Salome, father to Berenice) for conspiracy. Large festival in Jerusalem, as Herod had built a Theatre and an Amphitheatre.
  • 27 BC– An assassination attempt on Herod was foiled. To honor Augustus, Herod rebuilt Samaria and renamed it Sebaste.
  • 25 BC– Herod imported grain from Egypt and started an aid program to combat the widespread hunger and disease that followed a massive drought. He also waives a third of the taxes.
  • 23 BC– Herod built a palace in Jerusalem and the fortress Herodion (Herodium) in Judea. He married his third wife, Mariamne II, the daughter of high priest Simon.[42]
  • 22 BC– Herod began construction on Caesarea Maritima and its harbor. The Roman emperor Augustus grants him the regions Trachonitis, Batanaea and Auranitis to the north-east.
  • Circa 20 BC– Expansion started on the Temple Mount; Herod completely rebuilt the Second Temple of Jerusalem (see Herod's Temple).

10s BC

  • Circa 18 BC– Herod traveled for the second time to Rome.
  • 14 BC– Herod supported the Jews in Anatolia and Cyrene. Owing to the prosperity in Judaea he waived a quarter of the taxes.
  • 13 BC– Herod made his first-born son Antipater (his son by Doris) first heir in his will.
  • 12 BC– Herod suspected both his sons (from his marriage to Mariamne I) Alexander and Aristobulus of threatening his life. He took them to Aquileia to be tried. Augustus reconciled the three. Herod supported the financially strapped Olympic Games and ensured their future. Herod amended his will so that Alexander and Aristobulus rose in the royal succession, but Antipater would be higher in the succession.
  • Circa 10 BC– The newly expanded temple in Jerusalem was inaugurated. War against the Nabateans began.

First decade BC

  • 9 BC–Caesarea Maritima was inaugurated. Owing to the course of the war against the Nabateans, Herod fell into disgrace with Augustus. Herod again suspected Alexander of plotting to kill him.
  • 8 BC– Herod accused his sons by Mariamne I of high treason. Herod reconciled with Augustus, who also gave him the permission to proceed legally against his sons.
  • 7 BC– The court hearing took place in Berytos (Beirut) before a Roman court. Mariamne I's sons were found guilty and executed. The succession changed so that Antipater was the exclusive successor to the throne. In second place the succession incorporated (Herod) Philip, his son by Mariamne II.
  • 6 BC– Herod proceeded against the Pharisees.
  • 5 BC– Antipater was brought before the court charged with the intended murder of Herod. Herod, by now seriously ill, named his son (Herod) Antipas (from his fourth marriage with Malthace) as his successor.
  • 4 BC– Young disciples smashed the golden eagle over the main entrance of the Temple of Jerusalem after the Pharisee teachers claimed it was an idolatrous Roman symbol. Herod arrested them, brought them to court, and sentenced them. Augustus approved the death penalty for Antipater. Herod then executed his son, and again changed his will: Archelaus (from the marriage with Malthace) would rule as king over Herod's entire kingdom, while Antipas (by Malthace) and Philip (from the fifth marriage with Cleopatra of Jerusalem) would rule as Tetrarchs over Galilee and Peraea (Transjordan), also over Gaulanitis (Golan), Trachonitis (Hebrew: Argob), Batanaea (now Ard-el-Bathanyeh) and Panias. As Augustus did not confirm his will, no one got the title of King; however, the three sons did get the stated territories.

Marriages and children

Herod's marriages and children
Wife Children
Mariamne I, daughter of Hasmonean Alexandros
Mariamne II, daughter of High-Priest Simon
Cleopatra of Jerusalem
  • Son Phasael
  • Daughter Roxanne
A cousin (name unknown)
  • no known children
A niece (name unknown)
  • no known children

It is very probable that Herod had more children, especially with the last wives, and also that he had more daughters, as female births at that time were often not recorded.[citation needed]

Family trees

Marriages and descendants

Herod the Great + Doris
            Antipater II
             d. 4 BC?

Herod the Great + Mariamne I, d. 29 BC?, dt. of Alexandros.
      |          |          |                       |
 Aristobulus   Alexander   Salampsio + Phasael     Cypros
  d. 7 BC?     d. 7 BC?                |             m. Antipater(2)
 m. Berenice                       Cypros
    |                |              |                |               |
Mariamne III      Herod V      Herodias     Herod Agrippa    Aristobulus V
m. her uncle   King of Chalcis      +         King of Israel
   Archelaus ?              m. 1. Herod II Boethus         
                                her uncle
                                2. Herod Antipas
                                her uncle

Herod the Great + Mariamne II, dt. of Simon the High-Priest.
           Herod III      

Herod the Great + Malthace (a Samaritan)
   |                                   |            |
 Herod Antipas                     Archelaus    Olympias
   b. 20 BC?
   + Phasaelis,
   dt. of Aretas IV, king of Arabia
 "divorced" to marry:
   + Herodias,
   dt. of Aristobulus (son of Herod the Great)

Herod the Great + Cleopatra of Jerusalem
       Philip the Tetrarch
             d. 34 AD

  • Herod's Family Tree[43]
  • Antipater(2) was the son of Joseph and Salome
  • Dates with ? need verifying against modern findings


Antipater the Idumaean + Cypros, Princess from Petra, Jordan in Nabatea.
   |              |            |        |        |
Phasael    Herod the Great  Joseph  Pheroras  Salome I
          (74-4 BC)

Sign & Meaning
+ = married
| = descended from
../——— = sibling
dt. = daughter
b. = born
d. = died
m. = was married to
 ? = not included here or unknown
Alexandros + Alexandra
     |                                   |
Aristobulus III of Israel            Mariamne, dt.
(d. 35 BC)                              m. Herod the Great
(last Hasmonean scion;
appointed high priest; drowned)

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Filmer, W. E. (1966). "THE CHRONOLOGY OF THE REIGN OF HEROD THE GREAT". J Theol Studies XVII: 283–298. doi:10.1093/jts/XVII.2.283. 
  2. ^ a b Josephus on Herod's Death
  3. ^ Aryeh Kasher, Eliezer Witztum, Karen Gold (transl.), King Herod: a persecuted persecutor : a case study in psychohistory and psychobiography, Walter de Gruyter, 2007
  4. ^ http://www.aish.com/literacy/JewishHistory/Crash_Course_in_Jewish_History_Part_31_-_Herod3_the_Great.asp
  5. ^ a b c d Steinmann, Andrew, "When Did Herod the Great Reign?", Novum Testamentum, Volume 51, Number 1, 2009 , pp. 1-29(29); Ormond Edwards, “Herodian Chronology,” Palestine Exploration Quarterly 114 (1982) 29-42; W.E. Filmer, “Chronology of the Reign of Herod the Great,” Journal of Theological Studies ns 17 (1966) 283-298; Paul Keresztes, Imperial Rome and the Christians: From Herod the Great to About 200 A.D. (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1989) 1-43;“The Nativity and Herod’s Death,” in Chronos, Kairos, Christos: Nativity and Chronological Studies Presented to Jack Finegan, ed. Jerry Vardaman and Edwin M. Yamauchi (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1989) 85-92.
  6. ^ "Herod I". Encyclopaedia Judaica. (CD-ROM Edition Version 1.0). Ed. Cecil Roth. Keter Publishing House. ISBN 965-07-0665-8
  7. ^ Jewish Encyclopedia: Circumcision: Circumcision Necessary or Not?: "The rigorous Shammaite view, voiced in the Book of Jubilees (l.c.), prevailed in the time of King John Hyrcanus, who forced the Abrahamic rite upon the Idumeans, and in that of King Aristobulus, who made the Itureans undergo circumcision (Josephus, "Ant." xiii. 9, § 1; 11, § 3)."
  8. ^ Flavius Josephus, The Jewish War, Book 2, Chapter 13, "There was also another disturbance at Caesarea, - those Jews who were mixed with the Syrians that lived there rising a tumult against them. The Jews pretended that the city was theirs, and said that he who built it was a Jew, meaning King Herod. The Syrians confessed also that its builder was a Jew; but they still said, however, that the city was a Grecian city; for that he who set up statues and temples in it could not design it for Jews."
  9. ^ Jewish Encyclopedia: Herod I: Opposition of the Pious: "All the worldly pomp and splendor which made Herod popular among the pagans, however, rendered him abhorrent to the Jews, who could not forgive him for insulting their religious feelings by forcing upon them heathen games and combats with wild animals …"
  10. ^ Jewish War 1.14.4: Mark Antony " …then resolved to get him made king of the Jews… told them that it was for their advantage in the Parthian war that Herod should be king; so they all gave their votes for it. And when the senate was separated, Antony and Caesar went out, with Herod between them; while the consul and the rest of the magistrates went before them, in order to offer sacrifices [to the Roman gods], and to lay the decree in the Capitol. Antony also made a feast for Herod on the first day of his reign;"
  11. ^ Dio, Roman History 49.23.1-2.
  12. ^ a b c Temple of Herod, Jewish Encyclopedia
  13. ^ Yahoo.com, Report: Herod's Temple quarry found
  14. ^ E. P. Sanders, The Historical Figure of Jesus, pp. 87-88.
  15. ^ World Biblical Commentary: Matthew 1-13 page 35, Word INC, 1993
  16. ^ Emil Schürer, A History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ, 5 vols. New York, Scribner’s, 1896.
  17. ^ Timothy David Barnes, “The Date of Herod’s Death,” Journal of Theological Studies ns 19 (1968), 204-19; P. M. Bernegger, “Affirmation of Herod’s Death in 4 B.C.,” Journal of Theological Studies ns 34 (1983), 526-31.
  18. ^ Josephus, War, 1.631-632.
  19. ^ Josephus, War, 2.26.
  20. ^ Harold W. Hoehner, Herod Antipas, (Zondervan, 1980) page 251.
  21. ^ (Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, 17.167)
  22. ^ NASA catalog, only 37 % of the moon was in shadow
  23. ^ P. M. Bernegger, “Affirmation of Herod’s Death in 4 B.C.,” Journal of Theological Studies ns 34 (1983), 526-31.
  24. ^ Timothy David Barnes, “The Date of Herod’s Death,” Journal of Theological Studies ns 19 (1968), 204-19
  25. ^ NASA lunar eclipse catalog Lunar Eclipses: -0099 to 0000 (100 BCE to 1 BCE)
  26. ^ W. E. Filmer, “Chronology of the Reign of Herod the Great,” Journal of Theological Studies ns 17 (1966), 283-98
  27. ^ What loathsome disease did King Herod die of?, The Straight Dope, November 23, 1979
  28. ^ Ant. 17.6.5
  29. ^ CNN Archives, 2002
  30. ^ http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/876330.htm
  31. ^ Ashrafian H. Herod the Great and his worms. J Infect. 2005 Jul;51(1):82-3.
  32. ^ Flavius Josephus. The Wars of the Jews or History of the Destruction of Jerusalem. Book V. Chapter 33.1
  33. ^ Flavius Josephus. The War of the Jews or History of the Destruction of Jerusalem. Book V. Chapter 3.2
  34. ^ Nitza Rosovsky. Discovering Herod's Israel. The New York Times. April 24, 1983
  35. ^ Hebrew University: Herod's tomb and grave found at Herodium http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/856784.html
  36. ^ "Israeli Archaeologist Finds Tomb of King Herod", FOX News, 7 May 2007
  37. ^ "King Herod's tomb unearthed, Israeli university claims", CNN, 7 May 2007
  38. ^ Herod's Tomb Discovered IsraCast, May 8, 2007.
  39. ^ "Herod's tomb reportedly found inside his desert palace" The Boston Globe, May 8, 2007.
  40. ^ Associated Press. Archaeologists Find Tomb of King Herod. The New York Times, May 9, 2007, http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/world/AP-Israel-Herods-Tomb.html
  41. ^ Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book XV, Chapter 7.8
  42. ^ Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book XV, Chapter 9.3
  43. ^ Family Tree of Herod

Further reading

  • Zeitlin, Solomon (1967). The Rise and Fall of the Judean State. Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society. Library of Congress Catalog Number 61-11708. 
  • Duane W. Roller, The Building Program of Herod the Great(Berkeley, 1998).
  • Robert Gree, Herod the Great
  • Michael Grant, Herod the Great
  • Adam Kolman Marshak, "The Dated Coins of Herod the Great: Towards a New Chronology." Journal for the Study of Judaism 37.2 (2006) 212-240.

External links

Herod the Great
House of Herod
Died: 4 BC
Preceded by
King of the Jews
37 BC– 4 BC
Succeeded by
Herod Archelaus
Ruler of Galilee
37 BC– 4 BC
Succeeded by
Herod Antipas
Ruler of Batanea
37 BC– 4 BC
Succeeded by
Herod Philip II

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

HEROD (surnamed THE Great), the son of Antipater, who supported Hyrcanus II. against Aristobulus II. with the aid first of the Nabataean Arabs and then of Rome. The family seems to have been of Idumaean origin, so that its members were liable to the reproach of being half-Jews or even foreigners. Justin Martyr has a tradition that they were originally Philistines of Ascalon (Dial. c. 52), and on the other hand Nicolaus of Damascus (apud Jos. Ant. xiv. 1.3) asserted that Herod, his royal patron, was descended from the Jews who first returned from the Babylonian Captivity. The tradition and the assertion are in all probability equally fictitious and proceed respectively from the foes and the friends of the Herodian dynasty.

Antipas (or Antipater), the father of Antipater, had been governor of Idumaea under Alexander Jannaeus. His son allied himself by marriage with the Arabian nobility and became the real ruler of Palestine under Hyrcanus II. When Rome intervened in Asia in the person of Pompey, the younger Antipater realized her inevitable predominance and secured the friendship of her representative. After the capture of Jerusalem in 63 B.C. Pompey installed Hyrcanus, who was little better than a figurehead, in the high-priesthood; and when in 55 B.C. the son of Aristobulus renewed the civil war in Palestine, the Roman governor of Syria in the exercise of his jurisdiction arranged a settlement "in accordance with the wishes of Antipater" (Jos. Ant. xiv. 6.4). To this policy of dependence upon Rome Antipater adhered, and he succeeded in commending himself to Mark Antony and Caesar in turn. After the battle of Pharsalia Caesar made him procurator and a Roman citizen.

At this point Herod appears on the scene as ruler of Galilee (Jos. Ant. xiv. 9.2) appointed by his father at the age of fifteen or, since he died at seventy, twenty-five. In spite of his youth he soon found an opportunity of displaying his mettle; for he arrested Hezekiah the arch-brigand, who had overrun the Syrian border, and put him to death. The Jewish nobility at Jerusalem seized upon this high-handed action as a pretext for satisfying their jealousy of their Idumaean rulers. Herod was cited in the name of Hyrcanus to appear before the Sanhedrin, whose prerogative he had usurped in executing Hezekiah. He appeared with a bodyguard, and the Sanhedrin was overawed. Only Sameas, a Pharisee, dared to insist upon the legal verdict of condemnation. But the governor of Syria had sent a demand for Herod's acquittal, and so Hyrcanus adjourned the trial and persuaded the accused to abscond. Herod returned with an army, but his father prevailed upon him to depart to Galilee without wreaking his vengeance upon his enemies. About this time (47-46 B.C.) he was created strategics of Coelesyria by the provincial governor. The episode is important for the light which it throws upon Herod's relations with Rome and with the Jews.

In 44 B.C. Cassius arrived in Syria for the purpose of filling his war-chest: Antipater and Herod collected the sum of money at which the Jews of Palestine had been assessed. In 43 B.C. Antipater was poisoned at the instigation of one Malichus, who was perhaps a Jewish patriot animated by hatred of the Herods and their Roman patrons.

With the connivance of Cassius Herod had Malichus assassinated; but the country was in a state of anarchy, thanks to the extortions of Cassius and the encroachments of neighbouring powers. Antony, who became master of the East after Philippi, was ready to support the sons of his friend Antipater; but he was absent in Egypt when the Parthians invaded Palestine to restore Antigonus to the throne of his father Aristobulus (40 B.C.). Herod escaped to Rome: the Arabians, his mother's people, had repudiated him. Antony had made him tetrarch, and now with the assent of Octavian persuaded the Senate to declare him king of Judaea.

In 39 B.C. Herod returned to Palestine and, when the presence of Antony put the reluctant Roman troops entirely at his disposal, he was able to lay siege to Jerusalem two years later. Secure of the support of Rome he was concerned also to legitimize his position in the eyes of the Jews by taking, for love as well as policy, the Hasmonaean princess Mariamne to be his second wife. Jerusalem was taken by storm; the Roman troops withdrew to behead Antigonus the usurper at Antioch. In 37 B.C. Herod was king of Judaea, being the client of Antony and the husband of Mariamne.

The Pharisees, who dominated the bulk of the Jews, 'were content to accept Herod's rule as a judgment of God. Hyrcanus returned from his prison: mutilated, he could no longer hold office as high-priest; but his mutilation probably gave him the prestige of a martyr, and his influence - whatever it was worth seems to have been favourable to the new dynasty. On the other hand Herod's marriage with Mariamne brought some of his enemies into his own household. He had scotched the faction of Hasmonaean sympathizers by killing forty-five members of the Sanhedrin and confiscating their possessions. But so long as there were representatives of the family alive, there was always a possible pretender to the throne which he occupied; and the people had not lost their affection for their former deliverers. Mariamne's mother used her position to further her plots for the overthrow of her son-in-law; and she found an ally in Cleopatra of Egypt, who was unwilling to be spurned by him, even if she was not weary of his'patron, Antony.

The events of Herod's reign indicate the temporary triumphs of his different adversaries. His high-priest, a Babylonian, was deposed in order that Aristobulus III., Mariamne's brother, might hold the place to which he had some ancestral right. But the enthusiasm with which the people received him at the Feast of Tabernacles convinced Herod of the danger; and the youth was drowned by order of the king at Jericho. Cleopatra had obtained from Antony a grant of territory adjacent to Herod's domain and even part of it. She required Herod to collect arrears of tribute. So it fell out that, when Octavian and the Senate declared war against Antony and Cleopatra, Herod was preoccupied in obedience to her commands and was thus prevented from fighting against the future emperor of Rome.

After the battle of Actium (31 B.C.) Herod executed Hyrcanus and proceeded to wait upon the victorious Octavian at Rhodes. His position was confirmed and his territories were restored. On his return he took in hand to heal with the Hasmonaeans, and in 25 B.C. the old intriguers, their victims like Mariamne, and all pretenders were dead. From this time onwards Herod was free to govern Palestine, as a client-prince of the Roman Empire should govern his kingdom. In order to put down the brigands who still infested the country and to check the raids of the Arabs on the frontier, he built or rebuilt fortresses, which were of material assistance to the Jews in the great revolt against Rome. Within and without Judaea he erected magnificent buildings and founded cities. He established games in honour of the emperor after the ancient Greek model in Caesarea and Jerusalem and revived the splendour of the Olympic games. At Athens and elsewhere he was commemorated as a benefactor; and as Jew and king of the Jews he restored the temple at Jerusalem. The emperor recognized his successful government by putting the districts of Ulatha and Panias under him in 20 B.C.

But Herod found new enemies among the members of his household. His brother Pheroras and sister Salome plotted for their own advantage and against the two sons of Mariamne. The people still cherished a loyalty to the Hasmonaean lineage, although the young princes were also the sons of Herod. The enthusiasm with which they were received fed the suspicion, which their uncle instilled into their father's mind, and they were strangled at Sebaste. On his deathbed Herod discovered that his eldest son, Antipater, whom Josephus calls a "monster of iniquity," had been plotting against him. He proceeded to accuse him before the governor of Syria and obtained leave from Augustus to put him to death. The father died five days after his son in 4 B.C. He had done much for the Jews, thanks to the favour he had won and kept in spite of all from the successive heads of the Roman state; he had observed the Law publicly - in fact, as the traditional epigram of Augustus says, "it was better to be Herod's swine than a son of Herod." Josephus, Ant. xv., xvi., xvii. 1 -8, B.J. i. 18-33; Schiirer, Gesch. d. jiid. Volk., 4th ed., i. pp. 360-418.

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(Mt 2:1ff; Lk 1:5; Acts 23:35), the son of Antipater, an Idumaean, and Cypros, an Arabian of noble descent. In the year B.C. 47 Julius Caesar made Antipater, a "wily Idumaean," procurator of Judea, who divided his territories between his four sons, Galilee falling to the lot of Herod, who was afterwards appointed tetrarch of Judea by Mark Antony (B.C. 40), and also king of Judea by the Roman senate.

He was of a stern and cruel disposition. "He was brutish and a stranger to all humanity." Alarmed by the tidings of one "born King of the Jews," he sent forth and "slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under" (Mt 2:16). He was fond of splendour, and lavished great sums in rebuilding and adorning the cities of his empire. He rebuilt the city of Caesarea on the coast, and also the city of Samaria, which he called Sebaste, in honour of Augustus. He restored the ruined temple of Jerusalem, a work which was begun B.C. 20, but was not finished till after Herod's death, probably not till about A.D. 50 (Jn 2:20). After a troubled reign of thirty-seven years, he died at Jericho amid great agonies both of body and mind, B.C. 4, i.e., according to the common chronology, in the year in which Jesus was born.

After his death his kingdom was divided among three of his sons. Of these, Philip had the land east of Jordan, between Caesarea Philippi and Bethabara, Antipas had Galilee and Peraea, while Archelaus had Judea and Samaria.

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This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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