Herod the Great

Herod the Great was the son of Antipater. He was the procurator of Judah, under Julius Caesar, and king, under Augustus.

He reigned as an appointed king for 33 years (37-4 BC). He was of both Jewish and Edomite ancestry. He made outstanding contributions to the architecture of his day. At Samaria and Caesarea he founded entire cities and built many others. He built temples, theaters and fortresses. His most magnificent achievement was the reconstruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, which was started in 19 BC.

Shortly after Jesus was born, Herod was visited by men from the east. The men told Herod that they had seen a sign in the sky signifying that the King of the Jews had been born and that they wanted to visit with him. This concerned Herod, perhaps because he feared that the birth of a new king would mean the end of his own reign.

Herod called for priests and teachers to explain to him where specifically he might look for this newly born king. The priests and teachers explained that the Jewish Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem. So, Herod sent men to kill all of the babies in Bethlehem. But Jesus and his family fled to Egypt before the killing had started.

After Herod died, an angel of the Lord again appeared to Joseph, and told him to take the Baby and His mother back to Israel. (Matthew, chapter 2).

After his reign, Herod's sons became rulers, including Herod Archelaus and Herod Antipas.

Next: Herodias

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