Herod The Great

, so called rather from his power and talents than his goodness, was a native of Ascalon in Judea, and thence sometimes called the Ascalonite. He was born seventy years before the Christian osra, the son of Antipater an Idumean, who appointed him to the government of Galilee. He at first embraced the party of Brutus and Cassius, but, after their death, that of Antony. By him he was named tetrarch, and afterwards, by his interest, king of Judea in the year 40 A. C. After the battle of Actium, he so successfully paid his court to Augustus, that he was by him confirmed in his kingdom. On all occasions he proved himself an able politician and a good soldier. But he was far from being master of his passions, and his rage very frequently was. directed against his own family. Aristobiilus, brother to his beloved wife Mariamne, her venerable grandfather Hyrcanus, and finally she herself, fell victims to his jealousy and fury. His keen remorse fojp her death rendered him afterwards yet more cruel. He put to death her mother Alexandra, and many others of his family. His own sons Alexander and Aristobulus having excited his suspicions, he destroyed them also, which made Augustus say, that it was better to be Herod’s hog than his son. Among his good actions svas *he rebuilding qf the temple at Jernsalenj, which be performed in nine | years, with great magnificence; and in the time of a famine he sold many valuable and curious articles he had collected, to relieve the sufferers. To Augustus he paid the utmost adulation, and even divine honours. At the birth of our Saviour, his jealousy was so much excited by the prophetic intimations of his greatness, that he slaughtered all the infants in Bethlehem, in hopes of destroying him among the number. But his tyranny was now nearly at an end, and two or three years after the birth of Christ he died of a miserable disease at the age of more than seventy. He had nine or ten wives, of which number Mariamiie was the second. A little before his death, soured yet more by his acute sufferings, he attempted a greater act of cruelty than any he had performed in his former life. He sent for all the most considerable persons in Judea, and ordered that as soon as he was dead, they should all be massacred, that every great family in the country might weep for him. But this savage order was not executed. Some have supposed that he assumed the character of the Messiah, and that the persons who admitted that claim were those called in the gospel Herodians. But this is by no means certain. Herod was the first who shook the foundations of the Jewish government. He appointed the high-priests, and removed them at his pleasure, without regard to the laws of succession; and he destroyed the authority of the national council. But by his credit with Augustus, by his power, and the very magnificent buildings he erected, he gave a temporary splendour to that nation. His son, Herod Antipas, (by his fifth wife Cleopatra) was tetrarch of Galilee after his death. 1

1 Universal History.