From Babylon to Bethlehem – Herod

December 21, 2009

After the death of Antipater, Antigonus became high priest after mutilating the high priest Hyrcanus. Herod had been quickly rising to prominence, marrying into the house of Hasmon, sending his wife into exile, and Herod sought to have the Romans proclaim him leader of the Jews. Rome did declare him King of the Jews, a title never before declared for someone who was not of nobility. To ensure that the Hasmonean dynasty never returned to challenge his position, the remaining heirs to the Hasmonean dynasty suspiciously died.

Alexandra, the mother of one of these heirs, sent to Rome to request an inquiry, and Marc Antony requested that Herod defend himself. Herod went to Rome, but left instructions that if Antony killed him, his wife must die as well. His wife discovered this plan and this caused much intrigue and eventually his wife’s death when Herod returned alive.

Herod built a new temple in Jerusalem and also several temples to Roman gods. It is against this backdrop that the magi arrived in Jerusalem and ask Herod ”where is the king born of the Jews?” Herod, who was not born king, was outraged at this and sought to eliminate this threat. After he died, Herod was buried near the cave where Jesus was born.

The closing theme is Gerard Satamian’s Chansons Sans Paroles Op. 2 Pastorale, from the album Dry Fig Trees. www.magnatune.com

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