Herod the Great

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.
Related to Herod the Great: John the Baptist, Herod Antipas, Pontius Pilate

Herod the Great


Born circa 73 B.C.; died 4 B.C. King of Judea from 40 (actually 37) B.C.

In 47 B.C., Herod became ruler of Galilee, where he made himself notorious by cruel suppression of popular movements. Proclaimed king of Judea and “friend of Rome” by the Roman Senate in 40 B.C., he took Jerusalem in 37 with the help of Roman troops after a five-month siege and overthrew the last ruler of the Hasmonean dynasty. By the year 23, as a result of Herod’s successful military campaigns and diplomatic activity, the territory of that part of Judea subservient to Rome had been enlarged almost to the boundaries of the ancient kingdom of David. Voicing obedience to Rome and backing it in his foreign policy, Herod skillfully averted direct Roman intervention in the internal affairs of Judea. Under his rule plenary power was concentrated in the hands of the king and his private council, on which an important place was held by Greeks. The hereditary high priesthood was abolished and the role of high priest relegated to a formality; the Sanhedrin performed merely religious functions. Any discontent in the country was cruelly suppressed by an army of mercenaries.

Herod won renown for his extensive building efforts. Mistrustful and power-loving, he mercilessly annihilated all in whom he saw rivals, including members of his own family. Christian mythology ascribes to him the command, when he learned of the birth of Christ, to destroy all infants (“slaughter of the innocents”). This has made the name of Herod a common expression for a villain.


Livshits, G. M. Klassovaia bor’ba v ludee i vosstaniia protiv Rima. Chapter 7. Minsk, 1957.
Jones, A. H. M. The Herods of Judaea. Oxford, 1967.
References in periodicals archive ?
Herodias seems to have inherited the cruelty of her grandfather Herod the Great.
The Mary of the Towneley Flight and Passion sequences is more defiant than her counterpart in the York, and the mothers of the Towneley Herod The Great are correspondingly more fierce in their denunciations of Herod's mercenaries.
Finally chapter 5 recounts the political decline of the Sadducees from preeminence under the Hasmonean kings to political eclipse under Herod the Great.
To Jews, the Temple Mount is sacred as the site of the temple of Herod the Great, of which only a supporting wall, the Western Wall, remains.
Although no script has survived, records of payments by the Smiths' company make clear that its pageant of the Passion was as dominated by Herod Antipas as the Shearmen and Taylors' pageant was by Herod the Great.
In the recorded history of that time we run into many familiar names: Alexander the Great, Aristotle, Plato, Ptolemy, Josephus Flavius, Philo, Seleucus, Antiochus, the Maccabees, Pompey, Julius Caesar, Mark Antony, Herod the Great, Jesus, and many others.
Associated Press - King Herod the Great, who built the ancient Jewish Temple, was a famous party animal who plied his guests with wine imported from vineyards in Italy.
The son of Herod the Great ruled the region associated with the trachon, a rugged stony tract of land comprising two volcanic districts south and east of Damascus.
After his birth, Herod the Great, "King of the Jews", ordered the killing of all children younger than two years old.
From the palaces of Herod the Great to the Sea of Galilee, the places you'll visit and the stories behind them are inextricably linked to the very basis of our Western civilisation.
Having at last discovered his quarry''s tomb, Netzer re-evaluated the information at hand and decided that Herod the Great was not so much a monster as a man of "outstanding talent".
Herod the Great was the father of Herod Antipas, the ruler from the New Testament's account of the lives of Jesus and John the Baptist.