Tag Archives: Herod the Great

Joan Taylor’s Thoughts on Geza Vermes’ Last Book

“In this final book of his career, published posthumously, Geza Vermes’ insightful eye remains as sharp as ever. Rejecting the traditional villainous presentation of Herod the Great, and drawing on both literary and archaeological evidence, Vermes argues that Herod was a complex figure, capable of terrible acts but also of loyalty and diplomatic brilliance. Beautifully illustrated, and written with a real relish for presenting a personality almost larger than life, this book vividly explores the history of the Jews, Herod’s stunning rise to power, the convolutions of Herod’s personal and political life, his maniacal murders, monumental architecture, death and legacy. Herod has both horrified and fascinated us throughout the centuries, and this book superbly captures why.”

Joan E. Taylor
Professor of Christian Origins and Second Temple Judaism
King’s College London

Via.  This is going to be a great read.

Restore Herod’s Tomb? Nope

Says Ha’aretz

A plan to restore the original structure that held King Herod’s tomb at Herodion in the West Bank – which would have set a precedent as the world’s first archaeological structure to be fully restored – has been scrapped after it came under fire from archaeologists, tour guides and other experts – who claim it would be populist and ostentatious. http://htz.li/YYNTVF.

It was, it has to be said, a perfectly silly idea.  Much better is the preservation of the archaeological site as it presently stands.  And more interesting too.

A Video Introduction to the ‘Herod the Great’ Exhibition in Jerusalem

Via Lawrence Schiffman on the twitter.

They’re Rebuilding Herod’s Palace at Herodium

herodium2The glory of King Herod, the Judean king famous for renovating the Temple Mount and building Masada, will rise again — or at least his tomb will — Israel announced Monday. As part of a new plan, a replica of his tomb at Herodium, situated outside the West Bank city of Bethlehem, will tower to 83 feet and will be visible from Jerusalem.

Herodium, an impressive feat of ancient engineering, is a conical artificial mound built between 23 and 15 BCE that housed a fortified royal palace and tomb. Its walls rose over 200 feet high and it contained elegant courtyards and baths. It was the only one of Herod’s many famed construction projects that bore his name, and was destroyed in 70 CE during the Great Revolt against Rome.

Reconstruction of Herod’s Tomb, a plan three years in the making, is part of a larger government plan to refurbish biblical and national heritage sites. Cabinet Secretary Zvi Hauser announced the $50,000 plan to reconstruct Herodium on Monday.

Fun.  Should be a great thing to see when it’s done.

Herod Didn’t Finish That Wall After All- Again

I’m not sure why the IMF is just coming up with this today.  It was reported three months ago (see the links below).  Evidently it’s tourist season so this is a tourism ploy.

The IMF reports

New archeological excavations show conclusively that the Roman client king’s massive construction project continued after his death.

So there’s something else ‘tradition’ holds which archaeology disproves.

Textbooks for archeologists –– and tour guides in Israel –– long held to the notion that King Herod, a Roman client king who lived from 74 BCE to 4 CE in the Holy Land, saw his colossal building project in and around the Temple Mount in Jerusalem through to the end.  Coins, pottery and oil lamps discovered in a Jewish ritual bath underneath the Western Wall recently, report archeologists from Israel, date the completion of the Western Wall surrounding the Second Temple to a later time, maybe even 50 CE. They are sure that the coins found under the wall were struck after Herod had already died. Archeologists Professor Ronny Reich of the University of Haifa and Eli Shukron of the Israel Antiquities Authority led the work.

Poor Herod.  He probably didn’t do much of anything at all.

Geza Vermes on Herod

Herod the Great

Herod the Wonderful...

It must be the year for defending the justly maligned (like Judas Iscariot and Constantine and now Herod). Geza Vermes has set about to reclaim Herod as an actual member of human society. With thanks to Joseph Lauer for the tip.

In short, both Jewish and Christian traditions treat him as Herod the Terrible. The historian, however, is fully aware, despite Herod’s grave shortcomings, of his unparalleled political and cultural accomplishments. In particular, his long friendship with Augustus was highly beneficial to the inhabitants of Judea and the Jewish religion. Moreover, while Herod enjoyed the enviable status of a “client king, friend of the Roman people”, none of his descendants, if the short reign of Agrippa I (41-44 CE) is discarded, was sufficiently esteemed by Augustus and his successors to receive the title “king of the Jews”. All in all, in view of these unquestionable achievements Herod deserves to be known as the one and only Herod the Great.

All hail the mass murderer and cruel tyrant.

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