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Herodium – The Palace Fortress of King Herod

The Herodium, also called Har Hordus (meaning “Mount Herodes”), is an archaeological site and ancient palace fortress, located at Ar-Rahniah in the Judaean Desert, on the West Bank of Israel.

Herod I, also known as Herod the Great constructed the palace/fortress, along with a small town between 23-15 BC. Herod was a Roman client king of Judea (referred to as the Herodian kingdom), where he commissioned the construction of many major colossal building projects, such as the port at Caesarea Maritima, the fortress at Masada, the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, and the renovation of the Second Temple in Jerusalem.

The Herodium was built on an extended hill at a site Herod supposedly fought against Jews loyal to his enemy Antigonus (the last Hasmonean king), emerging victorious. Contemporary accounts by the Roman Jewish historian Josephus, stated that Herod “built a town on that spot in commemoration of his victory, and enhanced it with wonderful palaces… and he called it Herodium after himself”.

The most prominent monuments in the layout of the Herodium consists of the upper palace/fortress situated on the hill, overlooking a large pool complex in the lower Herodium, a lower palace, residential buildings, a theatre, and storage areas.

Josephus notes that the upper palace/fortress was “raised to a (greater) height by the hand of man and rounded off in the shape of a breast. At intervals it has round towers, and it has a steep ascent formed of two hundred steps of hewn stone.”

The palace/fortress was divided into two equal parts by a central dividing wall. On the eastern side was a large courtyard with gardens, whilst the western side contained the residential and living areas decorated with mosaic floors and elaborate frescoes, surrounded by a cross-shaped room. To the south was the reception room – triclinium, the official reception and dining room.

The lower Herodium housed ornate gardens, storage areas, living quarters, stables, and the pool complex, named for a large pool filled by its own aqueduct that transported water from three ancient reservoirs called the Solomon’s Pools, located in the present-day south-central West Bank. At the foot of the hill Herod also constructed a lower palace, named the “Large Palace” it was more than twice the size of the palace/fortress.

In 2007, Hebrew University professor Ehud Netzer announced the discovery of a two-story structure built on a podium, that was interpreted to be the tomb of Herod. The monument’s association to Herod has been debated amongst archaeologists, but contemporary accounts by Josephus mentions that “the body (Herod) was carried for two hundred furlongs, to Herodium, where he had wanted to be buried. That is how the Herod saga came to an end.”

After Herod’s death, the Herodium, along with Machaerus and Masada were the last three fortresses held by Jewish fighters after the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 during the Great Jewish Revolt. Some sources suggest that the rebels likely destroyed Herod’s final resting place, before Herodium was conquered and destroyed by the Roman Legion X Fretensis in AD 71.


Herodion is the only site that is named after King Herod the Great. It was known by the Crusaders as the "Mountain of Franks". Palestinian locals historically called it Jabal al-Firdous or Jabal al-Fureidis (Arabic: جبل فريديس ‎, lit. "Mountain of the Little Paradise") [10] Edward Robinson in 1838 described it as "Frank Mountain", in reference to the Crusaders. [11]

The modern English name is a transliteration of the Greek spelling (Ancient Greek: Ἡρώδειον ). This is followed by the Modern Arabic (Arabic: هيروديون ‎) and the Modern Hebrew (Herodion Hebrew: הרודיון ‎). The name Herodis (Hebrew: הרודיס ‎) was found in the 1960s inscribed in one of the Bar Kokhba letters recovered from the Muraba’at Caves in the Judaean desert, [12] and is thought to represent the original Hebrew name for the site.

Construction Edit

In 40 BCE, after the Parthian conquest of Syria, Herod fled to Masada. On the way, at the location of Herodion, Herod clashed with Jews loyal to his enemy Antigonus, and emerged victorious. According to the Roman Jewish historian Josephus, he "built a town on that spot in commemoration of his victory, and enhanced it with wonderful palaces. and he called it Herodion after himself". [13]

Josephus describes Herodium as follows:

This fortress, which is some sixty stadia [14] distant from Jerusalem, is naturally strong and very suitable for such a structure, for reasonably nearby is a hill, raised to a (greater) height by the hand of man and rounded off in the shape of a breast. At intervals it has round towers, and it has a steep ascent formed of two hundred steps of hewn stone. Within it are costly royal apartments made for security and for ornament at the same time. At the base of the hill there are pleasure grounds built in such a way as to be worth seeing, among other things because of the way in which water, which is lacking in that place, is brought in from a distance and at great expense. The surrounding plain was built up as a city second to none, with the hill serving as an acropolis for the other dwellings. [15]

Archaeologists believe that the palace was designed by architects and built by slaves and paid workers (contractors). Herod was considered one of the greatest builders of his time and was not daunted by geography—his palace was built on the edge of the desert and was situated atop an artificial hill. [16] The largest of the four towers was built on a stone base 18 meters in diameter. This was most likely where Herod lived he decorated his rooms with mosaic floors and elaborate frescoes. The other three towers, which consisted of living spaces and storage, were 16 meters in diameter. Outside, several cisterns were built to collect water that was channeled into the palace.

Great Revolt Edit

Herodium was conquered and destroyed by the Romans in 71 CE.

Bar Kokhba revolt Edit

At the beginning of the Bar Kokhba revolt sixty years later, Simon bar Kokhba declared Herodium as his secondary headquarters. Archaeological evidence for the revolt was found all over the site, from the outside buildings to the water system under the mountain. Inside the water system, supporting walls built by the rebels were discovered, and another system of caves was found. Inside one of the caves, burned wood was found which was dated to the time of the revolt. The fortress was commanded by Yeshua ben Galgula, who was likely Bar Kokhba's second in command.

Upper Herodium Edit

The archaeological excavation of Herodium was begun in 1962 by Virgilio Canio Corbo and Stanislao Loffreda, from the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum of Jerusalem, and it continued until 1967: they discovered the upper citadel, at the top of the hill. [17]

Pilate ring Edit

In 1968–1969, during excavations directed by archaeologist Gideon Foerster, at a section of Herod's burial tomb [ dubious – discuss ] and palace hundreds of artifacts were found, including a copper alloy ring. The ring was overlooked but in 2018 it was given a thorough laboratory cleaning and scholarly examination. At the center of the ring is an engraved krater, or amphorae similar in style to the monumental urn (handleless amphorae or acroteria) of Herodium [18] which is encircled by "partly deformed" Greek letters spelling out "of Pilates" in Greek. Although scientists were not sure about who is the "Pilates" mentioned on the ring, media published that it could possible belong to Pontius Pilate. Archaeologist Roi Porat said that all explanations are equally possible for the owner of the ring: "It was important to publish a careful scientific article, but in practice we have a ring inscribed with the name Pilate and the personal connection just cries out." [19] [20] [21] While much of the debate has focused on the Greek name inscribed on the ring, the image is of equal significance and may further support that this was the ring used by Pilate's administrative assistant for sealing documents for Pilate. The image on the ring is possibly associated with Roman religious ceremonies (i.e., suovetaurilia, bacchanalia) and the imperial cult that were characteristic of the images on the coins that Pilate had minted during his term as governor. [22]

Lower Herodium Edit

From 1972, excavations were carried out by Ehud Netzer, working on behalf of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and they were intermittent until the archaeologist's death in 2010. Netzer excavated mostly the lower palace, at the base of the hill.

Herod's hilltop palace Edit

Herod the Great built a palace within the fortress of Herodium. Herod himself commissioned a lavish palace to be built between 23 and 15 BCE atop Herodium for all to see. The palace itself consisted of four towers of seven stories, a bathhouse, courtyards, a Roman theatre, banquet rooms, a large walkway ("the course"), as well as extravagant living quarters for himself and guests. Once Herod died and the Great Revolt started, Herodium was abandoned. The Jews eventually had a base at Herodium where they built a synagogue which can still be seen today, unlike much of Herod's Palace. [23]

Bathhouse Edit

The Roman bathhouse consisted of three areas, the caldarium, the tepidarium, and the frigidarium. It also had a very impressive dome which is still in good condition today despite thousands of years of earthquakes and wars. The caldarium had vaulted ceilings, raised floors, and channels in the walls to conduct heat. The tepidarium had mosaic floors and frescoes just like the living quarters of the palace. The frigidarium, the last stop in the bathhouse, was where guests would cool off in a large pool.

Synagogue Edit

A pre-year-70 synagogue at Herodium is of the Galilean-type, featuring stone benches built along the walls and aisles formed by columns that supported the roof. It is one of the oldest synagogues in the Levant. [24]

Theatre Edit

Netzer discovered the Roman Theatre just before his death in late 2010. The royal theatre was uncovered near the base of Herod's tomb (see Herodium#Tomb of Herod). The theatre contained an elaborately decorated loggia, or a theatre box, was discovered. This means that when Herod or other notable officials went to see a play, they would receive luxury treatment. The rest of the audience would be seated below on benches that could accommodate about 450-650 people. What is quite unique about this find is that frescoes of landscapes were discovered, of a kind suggesting that the painters were well travelled they depict scenes of Italy and even the Nile River in Egypt. It is also assumed that the painters were on loan to Herod from Caesar in Rome. [25] [26] [27]

Tomb of Herod Edit

Hebrew University professor Ehud Netzer reported on 8 May 2007 that he had discovered the tomb of Herod, above tunnels and water pools at a flattened site halfway up the hill to the hilltop palace-fortress of Herodium, 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) south of Jerusalem. [28] Later excavations strengthened the idea that this site is Herod's mausoleum. [29] The base of the tomb has now been uncovered and is visible to visitors to the site.

The 2009–2010 excavations uncovered near the tomb base a small 450-seat capacity theatre (see Herodium#Theatre).

Netzer died in October 2010 from injuries sustained from a fall at the site, [2] and access to the mausoleum was subsequently blocked to the public pending review of the site's safety.

In October 2013, archaeologists Joseph Patrich and Benjamin Arubas challenged the identification of the tomb as that of Herod. [30] According to Patrich and Arubas, the tomb is too modest to be Herod's and has several unlikely features. [30] [31] Roi Porat, who replaced Netzer as excavation leader after the latter's death, stood by the identification. [30]

In February 2013 an exhibit dedicated to Herod at the Israel Museum featured finds from among some 30 tons of material transferred from the Herodium site back into Israel. [32] The Palestinian National Authority protested, [33] and Rula Maayah, the Palestinian tourism and antiquities minister said that according to international law Israelis have no right to excavate Herodium, which is in the occupied West Bank, or to take any antiquities from it. Palestinian officials compared the exhibition to the historical plunder of archaeological treasures by former colonial powers. [34] Some Israeli commentators have argued that, such excavations of, and removal of material from, sites in the Palestinian territories go beyond what is permitted to an occupying power such as Israel. [35] One Israeli archaeologist, Yonathan Mizrachi, in an article co-written with Yigal Bronner, stated that, 'Since Herodion and Herod's palaces in Jericho are located in the territories that Israel occupied in 1967, they are—according to international law, the codes of ethics for the preservation of antiquities, and even the Oslo Accords—supposedly under Palestinian control and responsibility.' [32] The Israel Museum's director, James S. Snyder initially stated that the items from Herodium would be returned to the West Bank after the exhibition, "in better condition than before", [36] but later clarified that this did not mean the artifacts would be returned to the Palestinians after the exhibition. [37] The site is in Area C of the West Bank, under full Israeli control. [36] [38] The Israel Museum cited the Oslo Accords as giving Israel a right to perform archaeology in the territories and said they will return it to the West Bank when the exhibition has ended. [39] In analyzing the controversy, Morag Kersel states that the site is regulated by Israeli military orders, the Jordanian Temporary Law no. 51, 1966, and the Oslo Accords. According to the provisions of the Oslo II Accord, archaeological issues of common interest would be handled by a joint Israel-Palestinian committee. Few if any of these agreements have been implemented, and Palestinians have not been consulted or asked to collaborate in the work at the site. [40]

State of the Site

Most of the burial site is in ruins, probably deliberately damaged by Jewish rebels, who loathed the Roman-appointed Herod and holed up in Herodium during a revolt against the Roman Empire in the late 60s A.D. The team found no bones in the tomb, and it's highly unlikely Herod's remains will ever be found.

Herodium is protected by the Israel Nature and National Parks Protection Authority, and Netzer's work at the site continued until his premature death due to an injury at the site in 2010.

"We need to find more artifacts in order to fill in the pieces of the puzzle," he said of the site.

A King with Monumental Insecurities

Tourists who come to Herodium are visiting a location that by all accounts meant more to Herod than any other place he built. What they see reveals his personal preferences in art and architecture, but it also reveals something even more important, which is the nature and depth of Herod’s insecurities.

Built at an unapproachable elevation, surrounded by a small hillside village occupied by soldiers, functionaries, and sycophants, in the middle of the desert enclosed by an empty and easily surveyed landscape, Herodium reflects its overlord’s deep-seated fears of revolt, invasion, and assassination. Whether he was willing to admit it to himself or anyone else, Herod clearly knew how the people of Judea felt about him. Herodium was constructed as a buffer, to keep Herod safe and secure from the consequences of his harsh and unyielding rule .

Ruins of Herodium (Herodion) Fortress of Herod the Great, Judaean Desert near to Jerusalem, Israel. ( svarshik /Adobe Stock)

Herodium is a testament to humanity’s capacity for remarkable artistic vision and achievement. But it’s also a monument to the impact of tyranny, and the sense of profound distrust and disconnection from the populace it creates. In reality, Herod feared his subjects just as deeply as they feared him, and with good reason.

Top image: New sections of Herodium, King Herod’s palace, are opening to visitors. Source: Kushch Dmitry /Adobe Stock

Herodium - History

The Burial Place of Herod the Great

Herod's Desert Fortification - The Herodium

King Herod the Great was one of the most powerful men, and greatest builders of all time. Yet, he was so despised that at his death he ordered the death of many prominent Jews so that there would be weeping in Jerusalem. He was buried at his desert palace, the Herodium.

"Two hundred steps of purest white marble led up to it. Its top was crowned with circular towers its courtyard contained splendid structures."

Herod the Great

For 40 years, Jewish history was dominated by HEROD THE GREAT. He was born in about 73 BC, the son of ANTIPATER, who was an Idumean. The Idumaeans were a tribe who had been forced by the Nabatean Arabs westwards into southern Judea, where they had been forcibly converted to Judaism by the Hasmonean rulers of Palestine. The Idumaeans were for this reason Jews of a recent and suspect background. At the same time they were shrewd, and had no problem with making political deals with the Romans for their own advantage.

King Herod's father, Antipater, governed them from about 47 BC. He also served as an advisor to Hyrcanus, and gained the confidence of Pompey. When Julius Caesar was besieged in Alexandria in 48 BC it was Antipater who persuaded the Jews to aid Caesar. In gratitude Caesar gave the Jews important privileges.

Antipater's son, Herod the Great, was an opportunist of the highest order. During the tumultuous years of the Roman civil wars he skillfully shifted his allegiance from Pompey to Caesar to Antony to Octavian (Augustus). Because he was such an able soldier the Romans valued his services. Rome needed a shrewd and capable agent in Palestine, and in Herod the Great they felt they had found such a man. He provided a strong buffer-state for Rome against the Nabatean Arabs to the south and the Parthians to the east.

Matthew 2:1 "Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem"

Herod Appointed King

Herod was appointed king of Judea by Marc Antony in 40 BC, and was supported by Roman soldiers in his fight to gain control of Judea in 37. From that time he relied on Gentile soldiers, including the Celtic bodyguard of Cleopatra which had been granted to him by Octavian. He transformed the ancient city of Samaria into Sebaste for his foreign mercenaries. He also built Palestine's first deep-water port of Caesarea. He built fortresses and palaces, including Masada, and a magnificent new temple. He also presided at the Olympic Games.

Herod's Pathological Character

Though successful in politics, Herod was bitterly unhappy in his private life. He married ten wives, including the beautiful Hasmonean princess, Mariamme, the granddaughter of both Hyrcan and Aristobulus. Though he loved her passionately, he suspected her of infidelity and had her executed along with her mother. Later, in 7 BC, he had her two sons killed. Herod kept an uneasy peace by dealing ruthlessly with suspected rivals and troublemakers. He systematically killed off all living claimants to the Hasmonean kingship, including his young brother-in-law, the high priest Aristobulus. When he found that his favorite son, Antipater, had been plotting against him, he had him executed along with two of their brothers - just five days before his own death in 4 BC.

The Roman Emperor Augustus said about Herod: "I would rather be Herod's pig than Herod's son." It is easy to imagine such a man ordering the massacre of all male infants in Bethlehem for no better reason than a vague rumor that one had been born "King of the Jews." This event vividly reflects the pathological character of the king. He murdered members of his own family, yet scrupulously observed Mosaic dietary laws and would eat no pork.

His court was Hellenized and cultured. He ruled as an autocrat, supported by police, and, despite his rebuilding of the Temple, to the Jews he remained a detested foreigner and a usurper. Most Jews openly hoped for his death calling him "the wicked."

Herod's Buildings

Herod was a prodigious builder, as recent archaeological excavations have shown His rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem, begun in 19 BC, was an architectural marvel. Final work on the temple was completed just six years before it was destroyed by the Romans in AD 70. All that remains today is the great platform whose western side is the Wailing Wall, where Jews today still lament the destruction of the temple. You can see the size of the Wailing Wall compared to its original size by clicking here and be sure to notice the reddish rectangular box which is the area known today as the Western Wall.

The Jews prided in Herod's accomplishment until Herod placed a huge Roman eagle over the most important gate of the new Temple. Before long there was a conspiracy to pull the eagle down. When rumor circulated that Herod was dying, a group of young men gathered before the gate on which the golden eagle was set and began to pull it down.
The soldiers interfered and arrested about forty of them. Herod was so enraged at this sign of insubordination and insult to Rome, that he had the "rebels" burned alive.

Spectacular remains have also been uncovered at the fortress of Masada on the western shore and of Machaerus on the eastern shore of the Dead Sea. Machaerus was the fortress where John the Baptist was imprisoned. Other splendid structures from Herod's time have been found at Jericho, where Herod died, and at Herodium, where he was buried. If you want to see some of the marvelous buildings of Herod's Jerusalem then go to the category "Jesus" and to the sub-category "Images and Art" and check out the various buildings photos. They are between 50-100k in filesize but should be fast loading.

The Death of Herod
Herod died in 4 BC at the age of 69. Remember in the Bible where it talks about how Joseph stayed in Egypt until the death of Herod to fulfill what the Lord has said through the prophet: "Out of Egypt l have called my son." Matt 2:15.

Matthew 2:19 - But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,

The historian, Josephus, describes the death of Herod at great length. I will summarize the event:

When Herod's health began to fail him rapidly, he was moved to his winter capital in Jericho. From there he was carried by stretcher to the hot springs on the shores of the Dead Sea. The springs did no good Herod returned home. Racked by despondency, Herod attempted suicide. Rumors of the attempt caused loud wailing throughout the palace. Herod's son, imprisoned by his paranoid father, mistook the cries to mean his father was dead. Immediately, he tried to bribe his jailers, who reported the bribery attempt to Herod. The sick king ordered his son executed on the spot. Now Herod plunged deeper into depression. He was only days away from his own death- and he knew it. What pained him most was the knowledge that his death would be met with joy in Judea. To forestall this, he devised an incredible plan.

"Having assembled the most distinguished men from every village from one end of Judea to the other, he ordered them to be locked in the hippodrome at Jericho."


Herod then gave the order to execute them at the very moment he, himself, died. His sick mind reasoned that their death would dispel any joy in Judea over his own death. The order was never carried out. After Herod's death, his body was carried in procession from Jericho to the Herodium outside Bethlehem for burial. Herod's body was adorned in purple, a crown of gold rested on his head, and a scepter of gold was placed in his hand. The bier bearing his body was made of gold and studded with jewels that sparkled as it was carried along under the desert sun. Following the bier was Herod's household and hundreds of slaves, swinging censers. Slowly, the procession inched its way up the mountainside to the Herodium, where it was laid to rest.

Today, the excavated ruins of the Herodium stand out grandly against the clear blue sky- reminding Bethlehem-bound tourists of the king who sought to kill the child whom they have come so far to honor.

The Herodium
Herod the great built this fortification in the desert in 37 BCE. Looking like a volcano, the Herodium is one of several fortress-palaces built by Herod the Great. It was artificially shaped, with everything placed inside its protected craterlike top.

Josephus wrote of this astounding complex, the Herodium:

"Herod built round towers all about the top, and filled the remaining space with costly palaces. he brought a mighty quantity of water from a great distance, and raised an ascent of two hundred steps of purest white marble that led up to it. Its top was crowned with circular towers its courtyard contained splendid structures."


To see a larger image click here (90k)

Testifying to this description, beginning in the 1960s archaeologists have unearthed remains of the fortification towers, palace, and the courtyard with colonnaded halls, the walls painted with frescoes, can still be seen. A classical Roman bath house, one of the earliest synagogues ever found, and huge underground cisterns all helped to create one of the largest and most sumptuous palaces of the Roman Empire.

Interesting note: Our system of dating BC/AD was devised by a monk in the sixth century AD. However, he miscalculated the reign of the Emperor Augustus by four years. Jesus must have been born before Herod's death in 4 BC.

Herod the Great in Smith's Bible Dictionary

I. HEROD THE GREAT was the second son of Antipater, an Idumean, who was appointed procurator of Judea by Julius Caesar, B.C. 47. Immediately after his father's elevation when only fifteen years old, he received the government of Galilee and shortly afterward that of Coele-Syria. Though Josephus says he was 15 years old at this time, it is generally conceded that there must be some mistake, as he lived to be 69 or 70 years old, and died B.C. 4 hence he must have been 25 years old at this time.--ED.) In B.C. 41 he was appointed by Antony tetrarch of Judea. Forced to abandon Judea the following year, he fled to Rome, and received the appointment of king of Judea. In the course of a few years, by the help of the Romans he took Jerusalem (B.C. 37), and completely established his authority throughout his dominions. The terrible acts of bloodshed which Herod perpetrated in his own family were accompanied by others among his subjects equally terrible, from the number who fell victims to them. According to the well-known story) he ordered the nobles whom he had called to him in his last moment to be executed immediately after his decease, that so at least his death might be attended by universal mourning. It was at the time of his fatal illness that he must have caused the slaughter of the infants at Bethlehem. Mt 2:16-18 He adorned Jerusalem with many splendid monuments of his taste and magnificence. The temple, which he built with scrupulous care, was the greatest of these works. The restoration was begun B.C. 20, and the temple itself was completed in a year and a half. But fresh additions were constantly made in succeeding years, so that it was said that the temple was "built in forty and six years," Joh 2:20 the work continued long after Herod's death. (Herod died of a terrible disease at Jericho, in April, B.C. 4, at the age of 69, after a long reign of 37 years. Full Article

Herod the Great in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE

(3) Characteristics and Domestic Life.
The personality of Herod was impressive, and he was possessed of great physical strength. His intellectual powers were far beyond the ordinary his will was indomitable he was possessed of great tact, when he saw fit to employ it in the great crises of his life he was never at a loss what to do and no one has ever accused Herod the Great of cowardice. There were in him two distinct individualities, as was the case with Nero. Two powers struggled in him for the mastery, and the lower one at last gained complete control. During the first part of his reign there were evidences of large-heartedness, of great possibilities in the man. But the bitter experiences of his life, the endless whisperings and warnings of his court, the irreconcilable spirit of the Jews, as well as the consciousness of his own wrongdoing, changed him into a Jewish Nero: a tyrant, who bathed his own house and his own people in blood. The demons of Herod's life were jealousy of power, and suspicion, its necessary companion.
He was the incarnation of brute lust, which in turn became the burden of the lives of his children. History tells of few more immoral families than the house of Herod, which by intermarriage of its members so entangled the genealogical tree as to make it a veritable puzzle. As these marriages were nearly all within the line of forbidden consanguinity, under the Jewish law, they still further embittered the people of Israel against the Herodian family. When Herod came to the throne of Judea, Phasael was dead. Joseph his younger brother had fallen in battle (Ant., XIV, xv, 10), and only Pheroras and Salome survived. The first, as we have seen, nominally shared the government with Herod, but was of little consequence and only proved a thorn in the king's flesh by his endless interference and plotting. To him were allotted the revenues of the East Jordanic territory. Salome, his sister, was ever neck-deep in the intrigues of the Herodian family, but had the cunning of a fox and succeeded in making Herod believe in her unchangeable loyalty, although the king had killed her own son-in-law and her nephew, Aristobulus, his own son. The will of Herod, made shortly before his death, is a convincing proof of his regard for his sister (Ant., XVII, viii, 1).
His domestic relations were very unhappy. Of his marriage with Doris and of her son, Antipater, he reaped only misery, the son, as stated above, ultimately falling a victim to his father's wrath, when the crown, for which he plotted, was practically within his grasp. Herod appears to have been deeply in love with Mariamne, the grandchild of Hyrcanus, in so far as he was capable of such a feeling, but his attitude toward the entire Asmonean family and his fixed determination to make an end of it changed whatever love Mariamne had for him into hatred. Ultimately she, as well as her two sons, fell victims to Herod's insane jealousy of power. Like Nero, however, in a similar situation, Herod felt the keenest remorse after her death. As his sons grew up, the family tragedy thickened, and the court of Herod became a veritable hotbed of mutual recriminations, intrigues and catastrophes. The trials and executions of his own conspiring sons were conducted with the acquiescence of the Roman power, for Herod was shrewd enough not to make a move without it. Yet so thoroughly was the condition of the Jewish court understood at Rome, that Augustus, after the death of Mariamne's sons (7 BC), is said to have exclaimed: "I would rather be Herod's hog hus than his son huios." At the time of his death, the remaining sons were these: Herod, son of Mariamne, Simon's daughter Archelaus and Antipas, sons of Malthace, and Herod Philip, son of Cleopatra of Jerusalem. Alexander and Aristobulus were killed, through the persistent intrigues of Antipater, the oldest son and heir presumptive to the crown, and he himself fell into the grave he had dug for his brothers. Full Article

The Bible Mentions a lot Concerning "Herod"

Matthew 2:1 - Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,

Matthew 2:13 - And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.

Matthew 2:16 - Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding 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, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men.

Matthew 2:22 - But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee:

Luke 1:5 - There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife [was] of the daughters of Aaron, and her name [was] Elisabeth.

Matthew 2:7 - Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.

Matthew 2:19 - But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,

Matthew 2:15 - And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.

Bibliography on Ancient Baal Worship

Elijah, Yahweh, and Baal by Gunkel and Hanson, 106 Pages, Pub. 2014

Mount Herod, the human-made mountain – the steep slopes surround the “crater” in which Herod built the Herodium complex. Herod turned the hill into a prominent cone, a kind of giant monument. In the outer wall of the hill, a passageway was found, serving as an entry to the hill, with a great flight of stairs leading to it. The mountain was built of layers of earth and small stones. The observation point at the top of the conical mountain offers a view into the crater within, and the two fortification walls that surround the crater in two circles. The crater was originally a building rising five stories above the level of the courtyard (25 m). The circumference of the outer wall is 150 m.

Here are several images of Herod’s Palace and its surroundings:

Herodium (Herodion) National Park

Earth was heaped up around the walls, which created a cone-shaped artificial mountain. At its foot, Herod built a kind of royal ‘country club,’ including a large pool, a bathhouse, and a roofed pool.
Despite its desert location, the complex was surrounded by magnificent gardens watered by the pool. A unique aqueduct from the area of Solomon’s Pools near Bethlehem brought water to the palace.

Herod’s Palace palace was the starting point of our tour. The guide started with explanations about Herod the builder and Herod’s Palace.

Herodium was one of the many fortresses King Herod of Judea built. He constructed it at the spot where he had routed his pursuers during his flight from Jerusalem to Masada in 40 BCE. At the foot of the mountain a settlement was established, the water supply for which was brought from Solomon's Pools. A grand staircase with about 200 marble steps, led to the fortress wall which appeared as a circular structure defended by round towers. Within the walls are a few palaces.

When the Jewish people rebelled against the Romans in 66 CE, Herodium like Massada was used as a stronghold. During the Jewish rebellion, a synagogue was built on Heroduim for worship. Following 70 CE after the Jewish rebellion has been crushed and the Jewish people were exiled from Israel Herodium was used by the Romans and a Roman garrison was built on the hill.

In the late 1960s following Israel's victory in the Six-Day War excavations were conducted on Herodium. The remains of pools and churches were among the findings. On May 8, 2007 two archaeologist's found a coffin which is believed to be where Herod was put after his death.


In the days of Herod, king of Judea…(Luke 1:5)

Herod’s father, Antipater, was favored by Caesar Augustus, and appointed procurator of Judea in 47 BC. One of his first acts was to make his son, Herod, governor of Galilee. 1 Herod was then promoted to Tetrarch of Galilee by Marc Antony, and in 40 BC, was named the King of Judea by the Roman senate. 2 Unfortunately, Judea already had a king, Antigonus, who was from the royal Hasmonean family. Antigonus sided with the Parthians who conquered Jerusalem. After three years of bloody fighting, Herod and his army reconquered Jerusalem and, in 37 BC, secured his hold on Jerusalem as the unrivaled King of Judea. 3

This coin depicts Herod’s helmet on one side and a tripod, surrounded by the Greek inscription, BAΣIΛEΩΣ HPΩΔOY, meaning “of King Herod” on the other. It is dated Year 3 (37 BC) and have been minted to commemorate his victory in Jerusalem. Photo: wildwinds.com, ex Freeman & Sear, Sale 12, Oct. 2002.

While Herod was officially the “King of the Jews,” his lineage proved problematic his father was Idumean, and he was considered a “half-Jew.” 4 To help overcome this, he divorced his first wife, Doris, and married Mariamne, a Hasmonean princess. He also appealed to Jewish sensitivities by ensuring that no graven image appeared on the coins that he minted. But perhaps the greatest way that Herod secured the good-will of the people he governed was through his glorious expansion to the Temple complex. Even Jesus’ disciples were impressed by the magnificent buildings.


If we have learned anything from the Herodian’s, perhaps it is that we cannot take the kingdom by force. We cannot try to establish a worldly kingdom when all the kingdoms of this world will fall under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. It’s futile trying to make this world a kingdom of men when the kingdom of God is coming and will subjugate all other kingdoms of this world. There is no chance the Herodian’s, or any other sect or group, can do what God has already planned to do and that is to rule the nations and rule the kingdoms of this world by a rod of iron. Someday (soon?) the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our God and our Lord Jesus Christ and it will be so for all time.

Take a look at some more history from the Bible: The Herods in the Bible

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible : English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is a father and grandfather and a Christian author and pastor of Heritage Evangelical Free Church in Udall, KS & also a Prison Minister. He did his graduate work at Moody Theological Seminary. His books are include: “Teaching Children The Gospel/How to Raise Godly Children,“ “Do Babies Go To Heaven?/Why Does God Allow Suffering?,“ "The Great Omission Reaching the Lost for Christ," and “Blind Chance or Intelligent Design?, Empirical Methodologies & the Bible."

Jack has written 1133 articles on What Christians Want To Know! Read them in the archive below.

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Very interesting, Pastor Jack. I never knew who the Herodians were. This reminds me of a feeling I had while serving in the Army. There were many Soldiers who conflated the idea of the United States with “God’s country.” There was always something about that that made me uneasy. It was like God and America were the same thing. Sorry, but I don’t see it that way. I seem to remember something to the effect of, “My kingdom is not of this world…” I also remember reading about our citizenship in another nation, an eternal nation. We are foreigners here, and the more I read the bible, the more I see how alien we are to the world because the world hates the Lord and is the opposite of all that he is. Thank you for this article.

Amen Jason. Good analogy with soldiers being “God’s Country.” I am glad I’m not destined for this world but the next.

Watch the video: The Watchman Episode 139: Inside Herodium, Ancient Palace of Herod the Great (January 2022).