Herod the Great

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Related to Herod the Great: John the Baptist, Herod Antipas, Pontius Pilate
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Like the founder of their dynasty, Herod the Great, their general historical reputations provided the framework for Christian tradition to compose and maintain evil portraiture of them.
The building of public entertainment complexes in Roman Palestine and Arabia began with Herod the Great. As a keen follower of the wealthy Roman lifestyle, he was eager to introduce Roman forms of entertainment to the public and ready to finance these projects with his own money.
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More than 2,000 years ago they fled Herod the Great, "King of Jews", to save their baby.
Herod Antipas (20 BC-AD 39), the son of Herod the Great (74-4 BC) by the Samaritan Malthace, was the tetrarch of Galilee.
From the palaces of Herod the Great to the Sea of Galilee and the Old City of Jerusalem, the places we visit and the stories behind them are inextricably linked to the very basis of our Western civilisation, but it is only by actually going to see them that everything falls into place.
Just over half the wall, including its 17 courses located below street level, dates from the end of the Second Temple period, being constructed around 19 BCE by Herod the Great. The remaining layers were added from the 7th century onwards.
Samuel Rocca's THE ARMY OF HEROD THE GREAT (9781846032066, $17.95) surveys the military skills of one of Rome's most important client kings; Ronald Pawly's MOUNTED GRENADIERS OF THE IMPERIAL GUARD (9781846034497, $17.95) surveys the troops of Napoleon's Old Guard, and Rafaele D'Amato's IMPERIAL ROMAN NAVAL FORCES 31 BC-AD 500 (9781846033179, $17.95) follows the history of the Roman navy from the battle of Actium to the fall of the Western Empire.
Between 1971 and 1995, the Joint Expedition to Caesarea Maritima conducted an excavation of the remains of the port and city of Caesarea built by Herod the Great some 2000 years ago (located in modern-day Israel).
There were the complexities of the extravagant goings-on of Herod the Great and his following, the Roman occupying forces and their following, and the Temple cult and their following.
The healing benefits of the hot springs has lured visitors for centuries, with legend having it that Herod the Great bathed in the medicinal waters.
Christianity was neither Roman nor Catholic at that time and, as for the birth of our Lord, it has long been known that AD 1 could not be the year of his birth as Herod the Great had been dead for eight years.