2010 was a BIG year…

13 12 2010

As I sit here looking at the Christmas tree and surrounded by folded laundry just begging to be put away, my mind wanders to the events of this year.  It has truly been a very challenging season for Sara and me, but when I think of all that has been accomplished, I realize how much God has been with us through every bit of it.

I just want to take a little time to give glory to God for some of the highlights of the year…

In the fall of 2009, I began to feel God leading me to further my education.  I began to research graduate schools online and had two schools to choose from.  After seeking counsel from my pastors, I decided to go with Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary.  I completed all of the necessary paperwork and enrolled.  Classes started on January 18.  I had signed up for full-time status (2 classes per 8-week term).  Even though I was completely overwhelmed by the amount of reading and writing assignments, I loved every minute of it.  After receiving very positive feedback from my professors, I began to see that I was going to succeed and surpass my expectations.  Although I have had to have student loans to attend graduate school, I somehow know that God is going to provide.

I began seriously running at the beginning of the year.  My goal was to complete the Gusher Half-Marathon.  In the process, I went to Tyler, TX to run the Tyler Azalea 10k with a friend of mine that I met on Twitter, Caleb Canal.  It was a really great run, and I exceeded my time goal!  I made a great friend and found out that the hills of Tyler were rough on the hamstrings!!

Gusher – I still cannot believe that I completed the Gusher Half.  13.1 miles without stopping…  I would have never dreamed that I would have completed such an insane event.  I can remember that I trained all during the winter/spring for the event with great weather conditions.  We had a cool winter with relatively no humidity.  The morning of the Gusher, we had an unbelievable amount of humidity, and it was HOT!  My body was not happy, thus my time was not great.  Hopefully, I can beat my time next year.  Even though I was a little disappointed in my result, I still can’t believe that I ran the race!!

In May, Sara and I moved one step closer to adopting our boys.  I can’t discuss any details of the case, and we’re still in the middle of a long battle; but I just know that these are our little boys forever and ever.

The summer of 2010 was a great year in our music department.  In May, I sat down to plan the entire summer’s music selections and gave all of the material to our phenomenal band leader.  Martin took all of the stuff and got to work with the band.  The vocal team worked very hard, and the end result was a power-packed summer of fantastic music and intense worship experiences.  To cap it all off, in August, we introduced a song – “You Are Worthy”.  It really was an amazing moment and one that I will not soon forget!

Also in August, Sara and I were able to participate in Israel Houghton‘s worship conference, A Deeper Level 2010.  This was my third year to attend and second time at the One Church Worship Academy.  God always meets us in a special way at this conference, but this year somehow seemed different.  The weight of the deposit from the Holy Spirit was just unbelievable.  I am still gaining strength from what we experienced this year.  Thanks, Iz!!

In September, I decided to join Triumph Church Physical Training as a part of the “Challenge”.  It is an military-based exercise program that’s just insanity defined.  We met 5 days a week at 5:20am at that Nederland track for 10 weeks.  Our instructors led us through some really intense regimens that challenged me physically, mentally and spiritually.  I got hurt at some point in the process and thought I was out for good, but the instructors made some adjustments to the program to allow me to be a part and ultimately graduate.  Speaking of graduate, the final challenge was AMAZING!!!  I don’t know how long it lasted that night, but I really felt like they were going to kill us.  As much pain as I was in, the feeling of accomplishment at the end was worth every minute.  I can’t believe that I was able to do all of that at 35 years old.  Either I’m stronger than I realized or am just plain STUPID!!

That brings me to December…

Sara and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary.  I can’t believe it has been 6 years…  I have the most amazing, talented, strong, funny, interesting, beautiful wife on the planet.  Thank you, Sassy, for being my best friend and love of my life.  You are an incredible mommy, too!!

Last Saturday night, Sara and I went to Grace Church of Humble, TX to attend their Christmas Concert directed by Pastor Hector Soto.  Pastor Hector and his wife Roxann have become dear friends and mentors of Sara and me over the past year.  God placed them in our lives, and I will be FOREVER grateful.  Anyway, the concert was BEAUTIFUL, AMAZING, WONDERFUL, SPECTACULAR, etc…  The musicianship was unbelievable.  I’m still just amazed at what we saw.  That truly was a highlight of my year.

Tomorrow is my boys’ 4th birthday.  I wish I could talk more about them online, but privacy laws prohibit it.  Just know that I could not be more proud of them and all that they have accomplished this year.  They are still dealing with the effects of the events of their lives before they came to live with us, but they are doing so good and growing up so fast.  They’re my BOYS!!!

I know there must be more that I am missing, but these were the moments that really stand out.  Thanks for reading about some of my all-time favorite moments of 2010.

2011 is gonna be even better!!!!


Herod the Great – Research Project for NBST 521

7 05 2010

For those that might not know, I am a seminary student at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary.  I am in my first semester pursuing a Master of Arts in Religion with a concentration in Discipleship Ministries.  My ultimate goal is to get my doctorate.  I know it’s gonna take A LOT of hard work, but I will get there!!

Here is my very first major project.  I am extremely proud of the end product, and equally proud of the grade I received!!  Feel free to comment…  Enjoy!

Herod The Great – Or Was He?

Herod the Great is quite possibly one of the most hated figures in the entire Bible.  His actions at the announcement of the birth of Jesus were nothing short of evil; however, not much is known from Scripture about this evil man.  The only references that we have concerning him are found in the birth of Christ narratives in Matthew and in Luke.  Upon hearing the claims from the Magi that they had come to worship the King of the Jews, he ordered what has become known as the “Massacre of the Innocents”[10].  How could a king order the murder of every male child ages 2 years and younger in a single city?  Did the “massacre” actually happen?  If Herod ordered this mass murder who else were victims of his deranged mental state?  Over the next 3 lessons, we will examine the course of events that occurred during Herod the Great’s reign as king of the Jews that might have led him to such a drastic measure.  We will also look at lessons that we as men can learn from Herod and answer the obvious question of why such an evil man was referred to as “great”.

LESSON 1 – Introduction and Rise to Power

Herod’s reign was wrought with incredible triumphs and horrific failures.  In order to understand who he was as a person and as a king, we must first look at his genealogy and his rise to power.  Valuable clues to his deranged mental state can be gathered from a close examination of the early years of his life and reign as king of Israel.

Herod the Great ultimately became the king of the Jews only after many military campaigns in and around the land of Israel and after alliances were formed with people of power within the Roman Empire.  Although he was referred to as the king of the “Jews”, he was actually only half-Jew.  Herod was raised as an Idumean in the geographical area of the Edomites whom the Jewish people, particularly the Pharisees, hated.  The Edomites refused Moses’ entry into their land en route to the Promised Land.  The Idumeans had formed alliances with the Arabs and even would have reunited with the Arabs had it not been for Herod’s grandfather, Anitpater I.[11]

Antipater I was ruler of Idumea, the area south of Judea, during the end of the reign of the Hasmonean rulers, Janneus and his wife Alexander Salome.  It is believed that Antipater I was not an Idumean by blood.  Many scholars believe that he was actually from the Greek city-state, Ascalon.  Antipater II inherited the region of Idumea from his father.  He married a woman of Arabic origin named Cyprus.  They had seven children of whom Herod was one.  Their children were half Jewish and half Arabic which caused Herod much trouble with the Jews once he became ruler over the land of Israel.[12]

Herod had to deal with many seasons of tensions with the Hasmoneans.  The Hasmoneans, or Maccabeans, were a group of people who had risen against the Selucid Empire of the time.  The Selucid’s sought to end traditional Judaism by encouraging the spread of Hellenism.  Hellenism was the Greek influence on the Jewish religion, which allowed for relaxation of the traditional Mosaic laws.[13] Alexander Jannaeus was one of the final rulers of the Maccabean era.   He had strained relations with the Pharisees of the day, which seemed to only worsen when they disagreed with the way he carried out some of the traditions of the Feast of Tabernacles.[14] Two of Jannaeus’ sons, Hyrcanus II and Aristobulus II, fought each other to become king of Judea.  Ultimately, Antipater II, Herod’s father, became the ruler of Judea with the assistance of the Roman Empire.  Pompey, Roman ruler of the area, never made Hyrcanus king; however, he was appointed as high priest.  With Antipater’s backing and assistance, Pompey had Aristobulus II killed.  Once Herod became king of Israel, he had Antigonus, the last of Aristobulus’ sons, executed; thus ending the Hasmonean dynasty.[15]

Antipater II was influential in seeing to it that Herod and Phasael, Herod’s brother, had a place of authority in Judea.  Herod used relationships with Rome and a considerable amount of money to gain his way to power.  Herod was given his first governorship in Galilee at the age of 25 and was named the stategos.[16] Herod captured Jerusalem with the assistance of his military that he had gained while reigning in Galilee.  He attacked the city and overthrew Antigonus from power.  At the conquest of Jerusalem, Herod became the king over all of Israel.

When Herod took control, he was immediately made aware of enemies all around him.  First and foremost was the religious crowd.  He remembered how the Sanhedrin had tried to have him executed some 10 years earlier when he was governor of Galilee, so he immediately rounded them up and had 45 of them arrested and killed.  He then replaced them with people of his own choosing and removed their judicial duties.[17]

The Sadducees were another religious group that were sharply opposed to Herod.  They were very angry with him for his father’s role in ending the Hasmonean dynasty.  They were also open to the Hellenistic views of the Greeks and accepting of their more liberal takes on moral issues.  Herod would have befriended them, but they could not accept an Idumean as their king.[18]

Next in the list of religious opposition for Herod were the Pharisees.  They were the poorer of the two sects.  They were much more religious in their approach to keeping the Mosaic laws and resisted Hellenism; however, they were appealing to Herod due to their opposition to the religious practices of the Hasmoneans.  It is said that Herod became a friend to the Pharisees but a terror to the Sadducees.[19]

The third religious group of the Jews was the Essenes.  The Essenes were a very small sect of Jews that lived in the area of limestone cliffs on the shore of the Dead Sea.  The Essenes were the most spiritual of the groups and the least worldly.  They lived an almost monastic lifestyle.  Herod was most impressed by the Essenes’ piety and strict adherence to Judaism.[20]

Not only were the religious groups a tremendous bother to Herod the Great, but he also found himself in a strange triangle of political games between Antony and Cleopatra in the Roman Empire.  It is well known that Cleopatra and Antony were locked in a heated affair.  Antony was so under Cleopatra’s spell that he began giving vast portions of territory around Israel to her.  Herod had to keep good relations with Antony in Rome in order to remain in power as a client-king.  To make matters worse, Herod’s mother-in-law by his first wife hated him but was in good relations with Cleopatra.  The two women tormented Herod by plotting against him and began the paranoia that would haunt Herod until the end of his days.

In 33 AD, the political landscape in the Roman Empire began to get dicey.  Octavian was the ruler in the Western region while Antony controlled the East.  The two men were ultimately caught in a battle with Herod caught in the middle.  He would ultimately align himself with whoever came out the winner.  He was shrewd and knew how to play the game.  Herod was overjoyed at the news that Antony and Cleopatra had committed suicide.  Herod visited Octavian to solidify his relationship and was officially installed as a client monarch and a “friend and ally of the Roman people.”  Ultimately, it meant that he had become the “emperor’s servant”, but he didn’t care, and Rome didn’t care as long as everyone stayed happy and behaved as they should.[21]

The introduction of the family struggles that Herod experienced with his mother-in-law were only the beginning of his troubles.  Really, Herod’s family struggles started from before he was born.  Many times, we get caught in the trap of feeling as though we must fulfill our family “destiny”.  If our father was one way, we must follow through with that and use our family as a crutch.  We say things like, “My dad was a drug addict, so I guess I don’t have a shot.” Or we might think, “My grandfather was raised in the projects, so this is where I belong.”  As men raising our sons and daughters, we must not put on them the expectation that they must follow in our footsteps.  We need to be godly examples but show them that they need to hear the voice of the Lord for themselves in regard to their ultimate calling in Christ.  Next week, we will study about the militaristic and infrastructure advancements by Herod and show his greatness in the land of Israel.

LESSON 2 – Military and Infrastructure Advancements

Last week, we studied Herod the Great’s genealogy and discussed how we as men must not place unrealistic expectations on our children.  Herod’s grandfather and father set him up for failure and didn’t even know it.  We must pass the torch of belief in Jesus Christ to the next generation and empower them to reach their full potential as Christ-followers.  As men, we are natural mentors.  The next generation is looking to us to lead them.  Herod dropped the ball with his kids just as his grandfather and father did before him.  They were so power-hungry and prideful that they missed valuable opportunities to raise him in the fear and admonition of the Lord.

Herod the Great had the reputation of being an evil, hate-filled man; however, as maniacal as Herod the Great was, he was equally as shrewd of a politician and administrator of his regime.  Herod was responsible for making improvements to buildings in the land of Israel and even built entire cities and seaports to make the Jewish nation one of the most influential in the world.

Herod’s army fought for Herod and fought for Rome equally.  Samuel Rocca stated, “…it is the best-known example of an army of a client king of Rome.”[22] The army’s numbers varied throughout Herod’s regime.  The majority of Herod’s army consisted of Jews, followed by Greek citizens of the kingdom, Ituraeans and Nabataeans.  His royal bodyguard had contingencies from the Germans, Celts, and Thracians.[23] Since Herod made trips to Rome and ultimately tried to emulate their administration, his army closely resembled the Roman military.  In fact, several key positions in his army were Roman or Italian officers.  At the beginning of his reign, Herod had 3,000 – 5,000 troops.  The numbers varied depending on the military campaign, but upon his death the total number of troops was around 30,000 men.[24]

Herod’s thirst for power led him into several major military campaigns.  We’ll take a look at the most important ones.  First was the Initial Kingdom Conquest of 40-37 BC.  Herod had worked his way into the good graces of Rome with Antony and Caesar Octavian.  He was declared ruler of Judea in 40 BC; however, he had to deal with Antigonus, the last Hasmonean ruler, who had been placed in power by the Parthians.  He first marched into Galilee to secure the area with his band of mostly Jewish soldiers.  He sent his brother, Joseph, to Idumea with a small group to secure that area.  After a small counter-insurgency in Galilee, he then set his sights on securing Jerusalem; but Antigonus was not going to relinquish that city without a major fight.  After a siege against the city that lasted over 55 days, the city finally fell.  Herod played his political card during the campaign and complained to Antony about the reckless behavior of the Roman soldiers and gained some popularity with the Jews for his stand.  Antigonus was sent to Antony and was beheaded.  Herod now had control of all of Galilee, Judea, and Idumea.[25]

The next major offensive on Herod’s agenda was against the Nabataeans in what is referred to as the First Nabataean War that lasted from 32-31 BC.  This war was an all-out political game Herod played with the strained tensions between Octavian, Antony, and Cleopatra in Egypt.  Cleopatra desperately wanted this land due to the “Spice Road” that brought her and her kingdom great wealth.  Antony was locked in a battle with the Nabataeans, so Herod decided to assist.  During the heat of the offensive a massive earthquake hit Judea, and thousands were killed.  King Herod took this time to reorganize his troops and go back to battle.  Through many political maneuvers and military campaigns, Herod came out the victor and left Cleopatra to lick her wounds.  Again, Herod had played his political cards right and remained in good standing with Rome.[26]

During the period of relative peace after the First Nabataean War, Herod joined forces with Rome in the expedition into the Arabian Peninsula.  Rome wanted to occupy the land in order to take advantage of the lucrative spice trade.  Herod was there happy to assist, but things did not go so well for him at first.  Augustus (Octavian) became very angry with him due to some political maneuvers that Herod had pulled regarding the Nabataeans, but Herod was able to restore his relationship.  Rome was unable to capture the Arabian Peninsula, and Herod returned to Judea to enjoy a time of peace and prosperity; however, peace was not to last long.[27]

The Second Nabataean War began in 9 BC toward the end of Herod the Great’s reign.  This war was surrounded by the common political games that Herod had become so adept at playing with Rome.  Through a series of miscommunications – whether intentional or not – Herod come out a victor both militarily and diplomatically and remained in good graces with Rome.  He was the consummate client-king and did everything he could to remain that way.[28]

Once the First Nabataean War concluded, Herod began to voraciously build buildings and even entire cities to match the grandeur of the Greco-Roman architecture that he had witnessed during his trips to Rome and Greece.  His love for Roman and Hellenistic architecture is evident in the many buildings that he had designed and constructed.

Herod had two main palaces, one in Jerusalem and the other in Masada near his ancestral home of Idumea.  His palace in Jerusalem was quite grand, to say the least.  It had gardens, pavilions, spacious rooms and suites.  It was decorated in a lavish style with gold, marble, and other adornments.  It was in the western end of the city.  Herod also gave a nod to the Roman and Greek empires in that he named certain sections of the palace after their rulers.[29]

Herod set his sites on the ancient city of Samaria.  He rebuilt it to make it the showplace of the kingdom.  Once work began on the city reconstruction, he named it Sebaste after Augustus.  At the center of the city was the Temple of Augustus with elaborate décor and design.  To this day, parts of what is believed to be the gymnasium of the city remains.  Herod installed hydraulic systems for the movement of water in the city.  He broke many barriers with the city of Sebaste.  The Temple of Augustus was the first temple built in his honor, and it was the first temple built in the same manner as the temples of Italy in the west.[30]

Caesarea was another city that was built upon the remains of a previously destroyed city.  Caesarea was at the north end of Herod’s kingdom and was the only major port in Israel.  It was built on the site of the Hellenistic town of Straton’s Tower.  There was no port there before construction began.  By the time Herod was finished, he had constructed 2 major breakwaters to create a formidable man-made port.  It became the largest port in the eastern portion of the Roman Empire.  The city of Caesarea included city walls, a palace for Herod, bronze statues, and ornate buildings.  Herod even had installed a self-flushing sewer system in the city.[31]

Herodium, or Herodeion, was a massive fortress built to commemorate the victory Herod achieved over the Hasmoneans at the beginning of his reign in 40 BC.  He basically leveled a hilltop to the south and east of Jerusalem and built a fortress there with a marble staircase to the summit of the hill.  Not much is known about Herodium during Herod’s reign, but it is believed to be the site of the final resting place of King Herod the Great.[32]

Arguably, the Temple in Jerusalem was the grandest and most controversial building project undertaken by Herod.  He enraged the Jews by tearing down the old Temple that Zerubbabel built some 500 years earlier because they did not believe him when he said that he would rebuild it.  The religious crowd did not trust his word at all.  When the Temple was complete a year and half after construction started, it rivaled the Temple that Solomon had built.  It was much larger and much more complicated in its design and décor. It took 10,000 laborers working non-stop to complete the sanctuary.  The Temple was dedicated in 18 BC.  Ninety years after construction began, the 30 –acre Temple Mount complex was completed.[33]

As we have seen today, Herod really was a brilliant man with a great vision for Israel and himself.  His vision was just clouded by self-promotion and pride.  Proverbs 11:2 gives us a very clear warning concerning pride.  Herod should have heeded the voice of this writing and been humble before the Lord.  How many times have we as men had a vision for our business or our place of work only to see it be fulfilled before our eyes?  If we have done it for self-promotion, it will leave an empty feeling in our guts and cause us to realize that it is not what brings happiness.  Only accomplishments that have been breathed upon by the Holy Spirit will bring ultimate peace and contentment.  Next week, we will discuss the end of Herod the Great, and his ultimate destruction.  There is a lot to be learned from Herod that we can use in our daily lives.

LESSON 3 – Family Struggles and the End of Herod the Great

In the last two lessons, we have discussed Herod the Great in depth to see if we can figure out why he reacted to the news of the birth of Christ in such an irrational way.  We have looked at his family history and where he came from to see if there were clues there.  We also examined his political regime to see if that could have been a factor in his deranged state of mind.  All of these areas of examination brought things to light that made us understand a little bit more about this man of mystery from the Bible.

Herod the Great was every bit as power-hungry and murderous as his father.  From the very beginning of his life, he was thrust down a path that destroyed everything in his way – either real or perceived.  Herod the Great had ten wives, some of whom were banished, some murdered, and others he simply divorced.  From those wives, he sired some 15 children.  These wives and children proved to be the internal dismantling of his reign as king of Israel.  Through deception and plots of murder, the turmoil proved too much for Herod.  He died a deranged old man that drifted in and out of lucidity until his death in 4 BC.

The most information about his wives comes from the first five.  These wives were responsible for giving birth to the possible heirs to the throne.  Each wife believed that her child deserved the throne and plotted against each other in every way possible to see that their child ruled.

The first wife that Herod married was Doris.  She was probably of Idumean decent.  The Jews disapproved of divorce, so Herod banished her and her son, Antipater III, from the kingdom, and only allowed them to return on festival days.[34]

Mariamne I was the most loved by Herod.  He was captured by her beauty and loved her dearly.  Mariamne was the granddaughter of Hyrcanus, the once high priest of the Hasmonean dynasty.  Herod believed that his marriage to Mariamne I would make the Jews more accepting of him and heal the rift between him and the remaining Hasmoneans, but he was badly mistaken.[35] Through conspiracies against her from Herod’s sister, Salome, Mariamne I was executed.  Herod suffered greatly from the execution of his beloved Mariamne.  He was so distraught from her death that he suffered a lengthy nervous breakdown, breaking out in boils all over his upper body.  He also experienced hallucinations thinking that Mariamne was beckoning him from the hallway.  Herod went on a killing rampage when he recovered by killing Mariamne I’s mother, Alexander, and his sister Salome’s husband.[36] Before her execution, Mariamne I gave Herod two possible heirs, Alexander and Aristobulus.

Not much is known about Herod’s third wife, Malthace the Samaritan, except that Malthace gave birth to another two possible heirs, Archelaus and Herod Antipas.

Mariamne II, Herod’s fourth wife, gave birth to Herod’s sixth son, Herod II.  Herod chose her father, Simon, to be the new high priest, which proved to be a cunning political maneuver by Herod.  Simon was from the lineage that established the Sadduccean sect.  The once loyal Pharisees now did not appreciate him so much, but Herod was only interested in the more sophisticated aristocracy of the Sadducees. Cleopatra of Jerusalem, no relation to Cleopatra of Egypt, gave Herod his best possible heir, Herod Philip. [37]

All seven of Herod’s heirs were sent to Rome at some point to live with Caesar Augustus to be educated and possibly selected as the heir to Herod’s throne.  The first four sons fell victim to the internal battle for the throne and suffered under Herod’s paranoia-induced stupors.

Just before Herod’s death, Herod had Antipater III killed upon suspicion that he plotted to poison Herod to gain the throne.  Salome who had the king’s ear and in whom the king trusted completely supplied this false information.  She hated Antipater’s mother, Doris.  The death of Antipater III caused Caesar Augustus to state the infamous, “It is better to be Herod’s pig than his son.”[38] Alexander was executed in 7 BC along with his brother, Aristobolus, upon suspicion of trying to kill the king in order to obtain his throne.

Aristobolus and his brother, Alexander, were sons of the beloved Mariamne I who Herod regretted having executed.  Herod would have given them the throne had it not been for the meddling ways of Salome.  Herod II, son of Mariamne II proved to be inept and was banished from the kingdom.

Herod wrote four wills to determine who would rule his kingdom upon his death.  Due to the endless fighting amongst his family members, he had to change his will after the execution of banishment of his sons.  The wills all had to be approved by Rome.  Herod’s fourth and final will bequeathed to Archelaus, son of Malthace the Samaritan, areas of Judea, Samaria, and Idumea.  He was ultimately banished from the kingdom in 6 AD after Herod’s death.  Antipas II, or Herod Antipas, was made the tetrarch of Galilee and Perea, an area of Israel to the east of the River Jordan.  Herod Antipas was responsible for beheading John the Baptist in Matthew 14 and Mark 6.  He was also the King Herod mentioned in the Passion narrative of Luke 23, because Jesus was from the land of Galilee.  Pontius Pilate sent Jesus to Herod Antipas, but Antipas was only interested in seeing Jesus perform an outward miracle and sent him back to Pilate after he had him tortured.  Antipas was ultimately banished from the kingdom in 39 AD.

Philip was the most effective ruler of the Herod’s sons.  He was declared the tetrarch of Gaulanitis, Batanea, Trachonitis, and Auranitis.  Philip was married to Herodias who danced for the head of John the Baptist as told in Matthew 14 and Mark 6.  Philip was known for “his desire for justice and as a builder”.[39] He was also responsible for building Caesarea Philippi, which is the location of Peter’s confession that Jesus was the “Christ, the Son of the living God” in Matthew 16.  Philip died in 34 AD thus ending the Herodian dynasty.

The gospel writer, Matthew, tells us a story in chapter 2 of his gospel of wise men or Magi from the East coming to worship the king of the Jews.  This infuriated Herod as he was convinced that he was the messiah that would ultimately free the Jewish people from Roman rule.  When the Magi left his presence, he ordered all male children aged 2 and under in the town of Bethlehem be killed.  There are no other historical documents that make reference to this decree by Herod.  There could be several reasons for this omission by the historians of the time.  One of which, and possibly the most popular reason, would be the small number of children that it involved.  Bethlehem was a very small town, and the number of male children aged 2 and under would have probably only numbered 20.[40] In light of Herod’s failing mental state brought on by years of murderous rampages and illnesses that racked his body, this event may have paled in comparison to his horrific and outlandish attacks on the people closest to him.

There is no accurate data to pinpoint the exact date of Herod’s death; however, based on the information that historians do have, it is safe to estimate that Herod died in 4 BC at the age of 69 or 70.  Right before his death, he attempted suicide after a failed attempt by the Palestinians to overthrow is kingdom.  Herod was a very sick man and suffered from a number of horrific and painful illnesses during the last years of his life.  Eusebius quoted Josephus’ account of Herod’s physical state just before his death.  He stated,

“…the disease spread throughout his body with fever, an unbearable itching everywhere, continual pain in the colon, edema in the feet, inflammation of the abdomen, and gangrene in the wormy genitals.  His breathing was difficult, especially if he lay down, and spasms shook each limb-a punishment, according to the diviners.  Still he clung to life and planned his own treatment in hope of recovery.  He crossed the Jordan and took the hot baths at Callirhoe that flow into the Dead Sea but are sweet and potable.  The doctors there decided to warm his body by lowering him into a tub of hot oil, but he fainted, turning up his eyes as if dying.  Noise from his attendants beating their breasts revived him, but he now gave up hope of recovery and ordered that fifty drachmas be given each of his soldiers and large sums to his officers and friends.

“Returning to Jericho in extreme depression, he planned a final, monstrous crime.  He assembled the most eminent men from every village in all Judea and had them locked inside the hippodrome.  Then he told his sister Salome and her husband, Alexas:  ‘I know the Jews will celebrate my death with rejoicing, but I can be mourned for the sake of others and have a splendid funeral if you do as I direct.  Surround the men (in the hippodrome) with soldiers, and the moment I die, kill them all quickly, so that all Judea and every house will weep over me…’

“Later, tortured by hunger and a convulsive cough, he tried to anticipate his fate.  He took an apple and asked for a knife-he cut up apples when he ate them-and then raised his right hand to stab himself (but was prevented).”[41]

King Herod the Great was buried after a very grand funeral procession in a tomb of his choosing in his prized fortress, Herodium.

The old adage, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer”, proved not to be effective for Herod the Great.  His enemies were too close, and he didn’t even know it.  His own family fought against each other through rumors and lies.  They schemed to get to either inherit his throne or see to it that the person they wanted did inherit it.  His many wives plotted against him.  His sister Salome plotted against his wives and descendants.  There were banishments, murders, lies, and rumors that surrounded the decision of succession.  It was a bloodbath rivaled only in comparison to the most horrific soap opera storylines.

Many times, those closest to us tend to be the ones that can plot and scheme our downfall if we are not wise to the ways of the enemy.  We must have a discerning heart when it comes to who we allow to counsel us and help us make life-changing decisions.  Our own family and closest friends can give us advice that could send us down paths of destruction that were never intended for us to travel.  Herod’s pride kept him from listening to the right voices.

Perowne gives us some wise advice at the end of his book.  He states that Herod was so bent on advancement of his kingdom and so wrapped up in who was going to inherit his throne that he completely missed the times that he was in.[42] Being convinced that he was the messiah caused him to react in rage when someone dared to say that he was not.  If we cannot discern our season, we will miss the opportunity in the season.  The opportunity of a lifetime only lasts for the lifetime of that opportunity.  He had the opportunity to usher in the new dispensation when Christ came.  He could have bowed his knee in worship.  Instead, he reacted in rage and completely missed it.  We must get past our pride and arrogance and humble ourselves before the King of kings and welcome Him into our lives.  Those who are humbled will be exalted (James 4:10).


Blomberg, Craig L.  Jesus and the Gospels. Nashville:  Broadman & Holman Publishing, 1997.

Butler, Trent C.  Holman New Testament Commentary – Luke. Nashville:  Broadman & Holman

Publishers, 2000.

Hearn, Chester G.  Herod the Great – The Years Before Christ. Baltimore:  PublishAmerica,


Maier, Paul L.  Eusebius – The Church History. Grand Rapids:  Kregel Publications, 2007.

Perowne, Stewart.  The Life and Times of Herod the Great. Great Britain:  JH Haynes & Co.

Ltd, 2003.

Rocca, Samuel.  The Army of Herod the Great. Great Britain:  Osprey Publishing, 2009.

Roller, Duane W.  The Building Program of Herod the Great. Los Angeles:  University of            California Press, 1998.

Scott Jr., J. Julius.  Jewish Backgrounds of the New Testament. Grand Rapids:  Baker Academic,


[1] Craig L. Blomberg, Jesus and the Gospels (Nashville:  Broadman & Holman Publishing, 1997), 201.  Also named “Slaughter of the Innocents.”

[2] Chester G. Hearn, Herod the Great – The Years Before Christ (Baltimore:  PublishAmerica,

2004), 6.

[3] Ibid., 6.

[4] Ibid., 6.

[5] Samuel Rocca, The Army of Herod the Great (Great Britain:  Osprey Publishing, 2009), 3.

[6] Hearn, Herod the Great – The Years Before Christ, 76.

[7] Blomberg, Jesus and the Gospels, 201.

[8] Paul L. Maier, Eusebius – The Church History (Grand Rapids:  Kregel Publications, 2007), 39.

[9] Stewart Perowne, The Life and Times of Herod the Great (Great Britain:  JH Haynes & Co.

Ltd, 2003), 179-180.

[10] Craig L. Blomberg, Jesus and the Gospels (Nashville:  Broadman & Holman Publishing, 1997), 201.  Also named “Slaughter of the Innocents.”

[11] Chester G. Hearn, Herod the Great – The Years Before Christ (Baltimore:  PublishAmerica, 2004), 6.

[12] Ibid.

[13] J. Julius Scott, Jr., Jewish Backgrounds of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI:  Baker Academic, 1995), 82.

[14] Scott, Jr., Jewish Backgrounds of the New Testament, 87.

[15] Ibid., 89.

[16] Duane W. Roller, The Building Program of Herod the Great (Los Angeles:  University of California Press, 1998), I.

[17] Hearn, Herod the Great – The Years Before Christ, 20.

[18] Hearn, Herod the Great – The Years Before Christ, 20.

[19] Ibid., 21-22.

[20] Stewart Perowne, The Life and Times of Herod the Great (Great Britain:  JH Haynes & Co.

Ltd, 2003), 105.

[21] Hearn, Herod the Great – The Years Before Christ, 34.

[22] Samuel Rocca, The Army of Herod the Great (Great Britain:  Osprey Publishing, 2009), 3.

[23] Perowne, The Life and Times of Herod the Great, 105.

[24] Rocca, The Army of Herod the Great, 13.

[25] Ibid., 24-35.

[26] Rocca, The Army of Herod the Great, 35-38.

[27] Ibid., 38-39.

[28] Ibid., 39-41.

[29] Roller, The Building Program of Herod the Great, 176.

[30] Ibid., 209-212.

[31] Ibid., 133-144.

[32] Roller, The Building Program of Herod the Great, 164-165.

[33] Hearn, Herod the Great – The Years Before Christ, 42-43.

[34] Hearn, Herod the Great – The Years Before Christ, 11.

[35] Perowne, The Life and Times of Herod the Great, 52.

[36] Hearn, Herod the Great – The Years Before Christ, 35-36.

[37] Ibid., 49-50.

[38] Hearn, Herod the Great – The Years Before Christ, 76.

[39] Trent C. Butler, Holman New Testament Commentary – Luke (Nashville:  Broadman & Holman

Publishers, 2000), 46.

[40] Blomberg, Jesus and the Gospels, 201.

[41] Paul L. Maier, Eusebius – The Church History (Grand Rapids:  Kregel Publications, 2007), 39-40.

[42] Perowne, The Life and Times of Herod the Great, 179-180.