Herod The Great Essay

648 words - 3 pages

In the Gospel of Matthew he is known as a slayer of infants. And indeed the reign of Herod the Great was marked by the jealous slaughter of anyone in his way to power. But this King of the Jews did much more than vicious killing to earn him the title of “Great.” Mistrusted by the Jews, viewed as a loyal ally to the Romans and opponent to the Hasmonean Dynasty in a formative period of Palestinian history, Herod’s rule was tumultuous if not impressive. Although perhaps best known as the villain of the Christmas story, Herod the Great was more than that. From his rise to power as king of Judea, to his elaborate building program and estranged family life, Herod is rightfully considered one of the most important Jewish rulers in the period leading out of the Old Testament (Canning, 1985).
Herod I was born in 73 B.C., the second son of Antipater, a nobleman of the territory of Idumea (Canning, 1985). He began his political life as a young man of twenty-five when he became the provincial governor of Galilea. This was largely due to his father, who was awarded Roman citizenship and governorship of Judea in 48 B.C. for helping Julius Caesar in the civil war against Pompey (Canning, 1985; Isbouts, 2012). From there Herod demonstrated shrewdness in his dealings with the Romans. He sided with Cassius in the Roman civil war after Caesar’s death and earned himself more dislike from the Galileans through exorbitant taxation to raise funds for the general’s army (Canning, 1985). Although Cassius was defeated by Mark Antony and Octavian in 42 B.C., Herod was viewed with favour by Antony – perhaps through bribery – and received the title of tetrarch (Canning, 1985; Isbouts, 2012). His position with the Romans would only improve.
The Parthian invasion of 40 B.C. catapulted Herod into a position of further power with the Romans. Fleeing Judea with his...

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