Thursday, May 10, 2007

King Herod

On Tuesday the AP reported that archaeologists had fairly certainly found King Herod's tomb in Herodium in the West Bank. Cool find. Matches biblical accounts (no shock factor there). Here is what annoyed the tar out of me reading the article...

"The Herod of the Bible and of Christian tradition was a bloodthirsty megalomaniac, who flew into a paranoid frenzy when he encountered the three wise men on their way to Bethlehem with gifts for the baby Jesus, and telling of the birth of a new king of Israel.

"Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceedingly wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under..." (Matthew 2:16).

The biblical massacre figures in paintings such as Peter Paul Rubens' 17th-century "Massacre of the Innocents."

The account, however does not appear in other Gospels, and experts are not convinced of its accuracy, especially the implications of mass infanticide. Some believe the decree applied only to Bethlehem, a small town at the time, where there may have been as few as 15 toddlers.

Okay, bear with me as I interrupt your reading. Some believe that it may have been only in Bethlehem and only affected "as few as" 15 toddlers? So if that is true and Herod only had 15 toddlers wiped out, no big deal, right? Must make the Bible wrong about this King who only massacred 15 toddlers. Bet he was a great humanitarian! Yet as you keep reading the article, it says...

"Historians do agree that toward the end of his reign Herod slaughtered many political rivals and perceived plotters against him, among them one of his 10 wives and three of his sons. Josephus (First Century historian Josephus Flavius) says that as the elderly Herod lay riddled with disease, he ordered the cream of the local Jewish aristocracy to be executed on his demise, so that his passing would bring widespread and genuine mourning.

After Herod's death, Herodium became a stronghold for Jewish rebels fighting Roman occupation, and the site suffered significant battle damage before it was conquered and finally destroyed by Roman forces in A.D. 71, a year after they destroyed the Jewish temple in Jerusalem.

Kalmar said the sarcophagus could have been destroyed during Roman attacks or smashed by the rebels, who reviled the memory of Herod as a Roman puppet.

"We know that Herod had a lot of enemies," he said."

What a guy! Give me a break.

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