Antiquities History of King Herod the Great
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Jericho is in Area A — the section of the West Bank that the Oslo Accords in put fully under the control of the Palestinian Authority and closed to Israeli citizens. My guide, Shmuel, a naturalized Israeli, assured me that he had clearance to guide there, but it took some tense dickering to persuade the armed Palestinian soldiers at the checkpoint to wave us through. The archaeological site is situated at that forlorn fringe between impoverished city and desiccated farmland.
It could have been the outskirts of Las Vegas or Albuquerque. But I was learning to see the ancient splendor beneath the modern degradation. Walls of beautifully preserved opus reticulatum — a Roman building technique in which pyramidal bricks are set like diamonds to form a rippling mosaic-like pattern — crisscrossed the desert floor.
Stone circles traced the outlines of long-drained pools and fountains. Wadi Qelt, the streambed that cuts through the site, was bone dry — but in winter, when Herod held court here, it would have brought the music of flowing water into the courtyards and sunken gardens. I thought we were alone with the mourning doves and hoopoes, but in a few minutes a local taxi driver showed up, attached himself to us, insisted on airing his version of Jericho history in broken English and asked for money.
The unshakable cabby was a reminder of how divided the experiences of Israelis and Palestinians are on the West Bank. Archaeology is not exempt from the conflict. The year before last, the Palestinian Authority criticized the Israel Museum for displaying artifacts from this site in its Herod exhibition.
Herod died at his Jericho winter palace over 2, years ago — but in the Holy Land the past has a vivid, often violent, afterlife.
A bit of historical background is useful, if not essential, to appreciate Herodium and the Jericho winter palace. The Herodian city of Caesarea is something different. Not so much an archaeological site as an antique theme park, Caesarea combines glorious ruins and tasteful modern amenities.
You can, if you choose, leave the guidebook behind and just soak it up.
Ancient Caesarea was a feat of Roman-era engineering and construction — a deep water port between modern-day Tel Aviv and Haifa surrounded by a bustling, cultured, polyglot city that Herod willed into existence in 12 years from 25 to 13 B. Modern Caesarea is a miracle of Israeli verve, nerve and ingenuity. On the bright, breezy Saturday afternoon I visited, Israeli families were out in droves to stroll by the sea, scuba-dive in the ancient harbor, and eat and drink in the harborside restaurants and bars.
According to Josephus, Caesarea was the site of one of the three temples that Herod dedicated to his friend and boss, the Roman Emperor Augustus Caesar. The second was in the city of Sebaste north of Jerusalem and just south of the Galilee on the West Bank. The location of the third is still being disputed.
Not content with waterfront, he suspended his palace over the sea on a semi-submerged reef. A few of the columns have been partly reconstructed, and to my mind all the luxury and beauty of the classical Mediterranean shimmers around those tawny limestone shafts rising against a perfect turquoise sea. I got my wish and then some at Omrit, a possible site for the elusive third Herodian temple to Augustus hidden away in the Golan foothills near the Syrian border the other leading candidate for the third temple is Banias, a small Roman-era ruin about two and a half miles from Omrit inside the popular Hermon Stream Nature Reserve Banias.
It took about four hours to drive to Omrit from Jerusalem, and even Shmuel had trouble finding the site on the web of dirt roads that lead into the back country near the Kfar Szold kibbutz.
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But Omrit was worth the effort. Once Shmuel killed the engine of his well-worn Toyota, no filtering out of the modern was required.
Herod’s death rewritten by Eusebius
Omrit reminded me of the rugged, chromatically muted uplands where the Anasazi built their stone cities in the American Southwest. An archaeological team from a consortium of four American colleges was scheduled to arrive later in the season to continue the excavations, but we had the temple steps, wall-painting fragments and carved plinths and pediments completely to ourselves. Omrit, to me, felt like a coded message from the ancient world — a place where beings at once so like us and so wildly different hid their secrets in the rock. Archaeology will undoubtedly uncover some of them; but I was grateful that silence and slow time had left so much to the imagination here.
Tragically, all that remains standing is a single prayer-encrusted retaining wall — the so-called Western or Wailing Wall that holds up one flank of the Temple Mount. After the Senate made him king and Herod pacified his new kingdom, Antony had Antigonus executed in 37 B. But Herod still had a Parthian problem. He must have feared another Parthian invasion of the Roman Near East. When the Parthians invaded Palestine in 40 B. The Parthians then carried him back to their empire in retreat from Roman troops.
Despite the disfigurement, which disqualified him from holding the high priesthood, Hyrcanus remained the ranking member of the royal Hasmonean family.
Might the Parthians not try to make Hyrcanus their own vassal king in Judaea? Herod hedged his bets. He wanted to have Hyrcanus in his own possession and to have the Parthians as friends. To achieve these ends, after Orodes perished in 37 B. He sent the new king presents and pledges and requested permission for the return of Hyrcanus, which was granted. Though not explicitly mentioned in the sources, this exchange must have resulted in some level of official amicability between Herod and the Parthians.
In short, it was to the advantage of Herod to be friend of the Romans and the Parthians. King Herod is carried off by servants in a 17th-century German engraving. To come to a full appreciation of Herod the Great, we must understand him as more than a one-dimensional Roman front man. He actively and aggressively manipulated the complex imperial circumstances of his day to secure a position of authority for himself. After more than a century of intense scholarly scrutiny, there remains much more to learn about Herod the Great.
He is an Associate Director of the archaeological excavations at Omrit in northern Israel. Herod the Great and the Herodian Family Tree.
Ehud Netzer Publications Available to Public. Machaerus: Beyond the Beheading of John the Baptist. Very good summary. They are mentioned as being part of a congregation of Christian emperors along with those of Rome, Spain, Hungary, Bavaria, England, etc. Please see internet. I first mistook it for Portugal. Your article has shown that by the time the HRE was at its peak, Parthia might have joined it, especially Armenia.
If you go by the actual date of the birth of Jesus, we would be living in about. After all, both hinge on the once-calculated albeit slightly wrongly date for the birth of HaMashiach — the Messiah! The episode circa BCE during which Herod defeated the Parthians and brought Hyrcanus II back to Jerusalem as head of his council was the fulfillment of the first part of the prophecy recorded in the Book of Daniel, chapter 9, verse Thank you Jason for this interesting hindsight of international politics of the Empires of the past.
Herod’s death rewritten by Eusebius | JosHérode
Hyrcanus was not the last surviving Hasmonean heir. To appease the Jews for his political manipulations and his military campaigns in the service of Rome against Jewish insurgents, Herod married Mariamne I, daughter of Hasmonean Alexandros, whom he executed on 29 BCE. The record indicates that the Parthians took Herod for their implacable foe. They wanted him dead in the year 40 Before the Common Era that is why they tried to kill him in Jerusalem before he escaped their siege and fled to Masada, Petra, Egypt, and then on to Rome.
Index to the Parallels
Herod was the master of political manipulation with the Romans. That is so true. If it is speculation, then let us call it that. Herod lined up with Rome and that is why he was the enemy of Parthia. The Declaration of Arbroath, A. Since this is a Biblical post, I feel free to comment. None of these figures are worth further study. As I was reading I got a sense of poor Rome….. I disagree. Science and technology has been used as a cover for great violations of Humanity.
Rome on its own was not better than any other Nation. It was their ownership of collective knowledge and the withholding of it to the rest of Humanity. As is being done to this very day. They are credited with achievements built on what they took by force. I believe if we truly followed the Bible instead of dissecting it, we would find our selves so advanced that we would drop the fantasy of Aliens. In Roman times grain ships could not traverse a straight line from Alexandria to Italy. Grain ships hugged the Levantine coast on their Rome-ward journey. Roman ships defeated Carthage, but were burned after victory was assured.
Roman fleets with Roman naviarchs and Roman sailors policing the Mediterranean would come later in the first and second centuries CE. In this regard Herod was the alpha dog among client kings. Herod did a great job. As the above says he concluded some clever diplomacy. He also had a highly skilled and forceful Lawyer friend, Nicholas of Damascus who undertook diplomatic missions for him.
It was only in late life that his control began to bread down because of his terrible disease causing his body to corrupt and to stink.