Rivalry between Hyrcanus and Antigonus, the Hasmonean contenders to the throne of Judea, led Anthony and Octavian to appoint their trusted friend Herod, the Idumean, as Roman vassal king of Judea. Loyal to Anthony and then the Emperor Augustus, though a vassal king, Herod was granted virtual autonomy and extended the areas under his control. Under his rule the Temple Mount area was enlarged and the Temple itself beautified and considered one of the most stunning in the Roman Empire.
A tyrannical ruler, he had murdered all surviving members of the Hasmonean dynasty, including his beloved wife Miriam. Fearful of being overthrown by his disgruntled Jewish subjects he built fortress/palaces throughout his kingdom, including Masada in the Judean desert.
Although Matthew relates that Herod ordered that the male children of Bethlehem be killed (Mat 2:16) Josephus Flavius makes no mention of this event. Archaeologists excavating at Herodium believe they have uncovered Herod’s burial tomb.
Text content copyrights: Bein Harim Ltd., Beryl Ratzer (www.ratzer.com)
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