A Threatened King

King Herod’s Temple was one of Herod’s crowning achievements.

In Matthew Chapter 2, the scenes center around King Herod. This King Herod, the first of several King Herods mentioned int the New Testament was  the pro-Roman king of the small Jewish state in the last decades before the common era. He started his career as a general, but the Roman statesman Mark Antony recognized him as the Jewish national leader.To secure is throne and the throne for his posterity, he married Hyrcanus’ nephew Antigonus’ daughter.  Although Herod had a  father who worshiped the Jewish God, Herod did not have a Jewish father so most Jews of the region did not consider Herod a true Jew and despised the man.

During a major overthrow attempt Herod escaped to Rome and persuaded Octavian and the Senate to order Mark Antony to restore him. He then became sole ruler of Judea. As long as he pleased Rome, he could do anything he wanted. Herod rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem.. Coins were minted in his own name.

During the unrest between Mark Antony and Octavian, Herod manipulated his position so that he backed Octavian. When Octavian became the sole Roman leader and changed his name to Augustus, Herod was rewarded with the addition of Jericho and Gaza as his territories to rule.

Though Herod had the blessings of the new Emperor, his subjects did not share in this love of this Roman puppet king. As an attempt to receive the Jews’ approval, when an earthquake destroyed many homes and killed thousands of people, Herod built a new market, an amphitheater, a theater, a new building where the Sanhedrin could convene, a new royal palace, and he rebuilt the Temple He had new buildings built in Jericho and Samaria. He built new fortresses Herodion, Machaereus and Masada. He also built the new port city Caesarea in honor of the emperor.

Many of his building projects were Greek in design and the orthodox Jews as well as the Sadducees hated the king. He terminated the rule of the old royal house to which many of them were related; their own influence in the Sanhedrin was curtailed. The Pharisees despised any ruler who despised the Law. In addition, these building projects and Herod’s lavish lifestyle required required extreme taxation of the Jews. It was not unusual for Herod to revert to violence, employing mercenaries and a secret police to enforce order.

Jewish scholars discovered that seventy-six generations had passed since the Creation, and a well-known prophecy said the Messiah was to deliver Israel from its foreign rulers in the seventy-seventh generation. The slaughter of male infants of Bethlehem in the second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew is not known from other sources, but it would have been totally in character for the later Herod to commit such treachery.

The Journey of the Magi by Bernardo Gozzoli, 1459

I could imagine that when the wise men came to Herod and asked about the “one born king of the Jews”, and Herod discovered that the king they described was not him nor his posterity, he would have done whatever was necessary to make sure that anyone fitting that description no longer existed. Fortunately for us, God knew of Herod’s plans and thwarted them. God told Joseph in a dream to take his family to Egypt and out from under Herod’s rule.

This year I will be focusing this blog on the four gospels. Today we have covered Matthew chapter 2. Also under my pseudonym Author Cygnet Brown I have written two Christian Historical Novels in The Locket Saga–When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry. I am currently working on the third book in the series: A Coward’s Solace.

  1. howmyspiritsings said:

    Thank you for your comment! I very much appreciate it.

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