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English Bible Dictionary

Herod the Great

 

(hero-like). This family though of Idumean origin and thus alien by race, was Jewish in faith.

HEROD THE GREAT was the second son of Antipater, an Idumean, who was appointed procurator of Judea by Julius Caesar, B.C. 47. Immediately after his father's elevation when only fifteen years old, he received the government of Galilee and shortly afterward that of Coele-Syria. Though Josephus says he was 15 years old at this time, it is generally conceded that there must be some mistake, as he lived to be 69 or 70 years old, and died B.C. 4; hence he must have been 25 years old at this time: ED.) In B.C. 41 he was appointed by Antony tetrarch of Judea. Forced to abandon Judea the following year, he fled to Rome, and received the appointment of king of Judea. In the course of a few years, by the help of the Romans he took Jerusalem (B.C. 37), and completely established his authority throughout his dominions. The terrible acts of bloodshed which Herod perpetrated in his own family were accompanied by others among his subjects equally terrible, from the number who fell victims to them. According to the well-known story) he ordered the nobles whom he had called to him in his last moment to be executed immediately after his decease, that so at least his death might be attended by universal mourning, and you can find more about that here on st-takla.org on other commentaries and dictionary entries. It was at the time of his fatal illness that he must have caused the slaughter of the infants at Bethlehem. (Matthew 2:16-18) He adorned Jerusalem with many splendid monuments of his taste and magnificence. The temple, which he built with scrupulous care, was the greatest of these works. The restoration was begun B.C. 20, and the temple itself was completed in a year and a half. But fresh additions were constantly made in succeeding years, so that it was said that the temple was "built in forty and six years," (John 2:20) the work continued long after Herod's death. (Herod died of a terrible disease at Jericho, in April, B.C. 4, at the age of 69, after a long reign of 37 years: ED.)

 

* See other occurrences of the same term: Herod.

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