SOPHIA OF WISDOM III - HEROD'S DEATH
Herod the Great
Copper coin of Herod, bearing the legend "Basileus Herodon" on the obverse and a Macedonian sun-symbol on the reverse.
Herod the Great was born around 73 BC. He was the second son of Antipater the Idumaean, a high-ranked official under Ethnarch Hyrcanus II, and Cypros, a Nabatean. A loyal supporter of Hyrcanus II, Antipater appointed Herod governor of Galilee at 25, and his older brother, Phasael, governor of Jerusalem. He enjoyed the backing of Rome but his excessive brutality was condemned by the
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. Afterwards, Antigonus, Hyrcanus' nephew, tried to take the throne from his uncle. Herod defeated him and then married his teenage
niece, Mariamne (known as Mariamne I), which helped to secure him a claim to the throne and gain some Jewish favor. However,
Herod already had a wife, Doris, and a three-year-old son, Antipater III, and chose to banish Doris and her child.
In 42 BC, he convinced Mark Antony and Octavian that his father had been forced to help Caesar's murderers. Herod was then named tetrarch of Galilee by the Romans. However, many of the Jews were very upset by this since most Jews did not consider
Herod to be a true Jew. The Idumaean family, successors to the Edomites of the Hebrew Bible, settled in Idumea, formerly known as Edom, in southern Judea. When the Maccabean John Hyrcanus conquered Idumea in 140–130 BC, he required all Idumaeans to obey Jewish law or to leave; most
Idumaeans thus converted to Judaism. While King Herod publicly identified himself as a Jew and was considered as such by some, this religious identification notwithstanding was undermined by the Hellenistic cultural affinity of the Herodians, which would have earned them the antipathy of observant Jews.
In 40 BC Antigonus tried to take the throne again with the help of the Parthians, this time succeeding. 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. In 37 BC the Romans fully secured Judea and executed Antigonus. Herod took the role as sole ruler of Judea and took
the title of basileus (Gr. Βασιλευς) for himself, ushering in the Herodian Dynasty and ending the Hasmonean Dynasty. He ruled for 34 years.
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". The new Temple was finished in a year and a half, although work on out-buildings and courts continued another eighty
years. To comply with religious law, Herod employed 1,000 priests as masons and carpenters in the rebuilding. The finished temple, which was destroyed in 70 AD, is sometimes referred to as Herod's Temple. The Wailing Wall or Western Wall which now stands in Jerusalem is the wall which Herod built
around the west side of the courtyard surrounding the Temple.
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. 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. It houses the Temple Mount. Coins, pottery and iron stake 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.
New Testament references
Herod the Great appears in The Gospel according to Matthew (Ch. 2), which describes an event known as the Massacre of the Innocents.
According to Matthew's gospel, 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 Judea,
was alarmed at the prospect of the newborn king usurping his rule.
In the story, Herod was advised by the assembled chief priests and scribes of the people that
the Prophet had written that the "Anointed One" (Greek: ho christos) was to be born in Bethlehem of Judea. 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.
The historical accuracy of this event has been questioned, since although Herod was certainly guilty of many brutal acts,
including the killing of his wife and two of his sons, no other source from the period makes any reference to such a massacre.
Coin of Herod the Great, bearing a temple and star of david
The scholarly consensus, based on Josephus' Antiquities of the Jews is that Herod died at the end of March or early April in 4 BC. Josephus wrote that Herod died 37 years after being named
as King by the Romans, and 34 years after the death of Antigonus. This would imply that he died in 4 BC. This is confirmed by the fact that his three sons, between whom his kingdom
was divided, dated their rule from 4 BC. For instance, he states that Herod Philip II's death took place after a 37-year reign in the 20th year of Tiberius, which would imply that he took over on Herod's death in 4 BC. In addition, Josephus wrote that Herod died after a lunar eclipse, and a partial eclipse took place in 4 BC. It has been suggested that 5 BC might be a more likely date — there were two total eclipses in that year. However, the 4 B.C. date is almost universally accepted.
Josephus wrote that Herod's final illness was excruciating (Ant. 17.6.5). From Josephus' descriptions, some medical experts propose that Herod had chronic kidney disease complicated by Fournier's gangrene. Modern scholars agree he suffered throughout his lifetime from depression and paranoia.
After Herod's death, his kingdom was divided among three of his sons, namely Herod Archelaus, Herod Antipas, and Herod Philip II, who ruled as tetrarchs rather than kings.
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."
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.
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.
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. 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.
The taking of Jerusalem by Herod the Great, 36 BC, by Jean Fouquet, late 15th century.
- 35 BC — Aristobulus III of Judea is drowned at a party, on Herod's orders.
- 32 BC — The war against Nabatea begins, with victory one year later.
- 30 BC — Herod is shown great favour by Octavian, who at Rhodes confirms him as King of Judaea.
- 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 (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.
- 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 of Judea.
- 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
- 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
- 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, which also gave him the permission to proceed legally against
- 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.
SOPHIA OF WISDOM III - HEROD'S DEATH
SOPHIA OF WISDOM III - HEROD'S 9
SOPHIA OF WISDOM III - HEROD'S 7
SOPHIA OF WISDOM III - HEROD'S 10
Marriages and 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.
SOPHIA OF WISDOM III - HEROD'S 8
SOPHIA OF WISDOM III - HEROD'S 11
SOPHIA OF WISDOM III - HEROD'S 5
SOPHIA OF WISDOM III - HEROD'S 6
HEROD THE GREAT
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