Herod the Great

Posted: February 23, 2012 in Religious-Based Posts

King Herod the great was born around 73-74BC(E). He was born to an Idumean man called Antipater, and his mother was an Arabian-born woman called Cyprus. Antipater, Herod’s father was a supporter of Hyrcanus, a prince that was struggling to take control of Judaea. The great Roman general, Pompey, intervened in this conflict in Hyrcanus’ and Antipater’s favour, and because of his co-operation with the Romans, Herod was appointed governor of Galilee.

In 44BC(E), Julius Caesar was murdered. His successors, Mark Antony and Octavian, promised to punish his murderers. Each Roman state had to pay a tax towards Caesar’s murderers. In order to get the money to pay the tax, Antipater had to take harsh measures, and in the ensuing trouble he was killed. With Roman help, Herod avenged his father by killing his father’s murderers. Hyrcanus’ nephew tried to take the throne, but Herod defeated him. In order to keep Hyrcanus’ line on the throne going, Herod married his daughter. This greatly enhanced Herod’s claim to the throne.

After some conversation, Herod managed to convince Mark Antony that he should be heir of the throne. Mark Antony appointed him ‘basileus’ of Galilee, a title that the Jews were not happy with, because Herod was born to an Idumean father and an Arab mother.

Because of his fight for power, rather than being remembered for providing Galilee with some of the greatest architecture in the world, Herod was remembered as a madman, corrupted in his search for power. He even went as far as to slaughter every first-born Jewish boy during a census so that Jesus, the Messiah, couldn’t take over his rule as king of Israel.  Because of this, Herod the Great is the most prominent Herod in Jesus’ life.

Herod had three sons, Herod Philip, Herod Archelaus and Herod Antipas. Each of them ruled over a certain part of the land.


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