Herod the Great  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Herod, also known as Herod I or Herod the Great (born 74 BC, died 4 BC in Jericho, was a Roman client king of Judea.

New Testament references

Herod the Great appears in the Gospel according to Matthew, which describes an event known as the Massacre of the Innocents. According to this account, after the birth of Jesus, "wise men from the East" visited Herod to inquire the whereabouts of "the one having been born king of the Jews", because they had seen his star in the east and therefore wanted to pay him homage (apocryphal books of the New Testament interpret "wise men from the east" to mean Magi. Herod, as King of the Jews, was alarmed at the prospect of a usurper. Herod assembled the chief priests and scribes of the people and asked them where the "Anointed One" (the Messiah, Greek: Ο Χριστός (ho christos)) was to be born. They answered, in Bethlehem, citing Micah 5:2. Herod therefore sent the "wise men" to Bethlehem, instructing them to search for the child and, after they had found him, to "report to me, so that I too may go and worship him". However, after they had found Jesus, the Magi were warned in a dream not to report back to Herod. Similarly, Joseph was warned in a dream that Herod intended to kill Jesus, so he and his family fled to Egypt. When Herod realized he had been outwitted by the Magi, he gave orders to kill all boys of the age of two and under in Bethlehem and its vicinity. Joseph and his family stayed in Egypt until Herod's death, then moved to Nazareth in Galilee in order to avoid living under Herod's son Archelaus.

Regarding the Massacre of the Innocents, although Herod was guilty of many brutal acts including the killing of his wife and two of his sons, no other source from the period refers to the massacre. Since Bethlehem was a small village, the number of male children under the age of two might not exceed 20, and this may be the reason for the lack of other sources for this history. Modern biographers of Herod tend to doubt the event took place.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Herod the Great" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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