Herod the Great is most known for being the king of Judea. He was a man of many faces, but at his core he was a powerful leader with an intelligent mind. He ruled from 37 BCE until his death in 4 BCE and was known for building many great projects. His most famous construction project was the rebuilding of Jerusalem as a Hellenistic city, which involved the expansion of its walls and introduction of new civic buildings such as hippodromes, theaters, amphitheaters and more.

Coin Ft. Mark Antony (Herod The Greats biggest supporters) | Source: Wikipedia

Early Life

Herod had been born to an Edomite father and a Jewish mother, making him neither an Israelite nor a full Jew. Although he was not a full Israelite, he was an Idumean from the Nabataean Kingdom to the south.

Map of Kingdom of Edom | Source: Wikipedia

The Idumeans were a client state of Rome. The territory of Idumea is located in the Roman province of Arabia Petraea, which is a southern region in today’s Israel and Jordan. A client state is a political entity that maintains diplomatic relations with another more powerful state while retaining legal sovereignty over its own territory. Client states are typically controlled by larger powers but remain politically independent from them. Client states were common during the Roman Empire as well as other periods when empires had large territories administered by officials responsible only to their imperial master rather than local populations who often had little loyalty to empire itself.

Caesar Augustus (Octavian) | Source: Wikipedia

Ascension To Power

Herod’s father (Antipater) had been made ruler of Judea in 47 BCE. In the same year his father appointed Herod as governor of Galilee in 47 BCE. Then in 40 BCE when his territory was invaded by Parthians and war broke out he fled to Rome. In Rome they believed that he could be trusted with power so he was made official King of Judea and given an army to retake the land. In 37 BCE he retook Jerusalem and began his decades long reign. He maintained a relationship with Marc Antony and Octavian. As a result, Herod became associated with the Romans politically. Over the years Cleopatra VII who had been associated with Mark Antony had taken over parts of his kingdom. This caused division between the two. This division continued until 31 BCE when Octavian defeated Mark Antony at the Battle of Actium, thus gaining full control over all lands formerly ruled by Caesar—including Herod’s domain. Herod then formed an alliance with Octavian which saw him continue ruling and regaining land taken by Cleopatra.

Image of Herod the Great | Source: BibleGateway

Herod was a paranoid and ruthless ruler and would not tolerate any potential rivals for power. He killed his wife Mariamne I, and his sons Alexander and Aristobulus. This was typical behavior for the period in which Herod lived, but it also demonstrates that he was willing to use violence against those closest to him if it suited his purposes.

Image of Masada | Source: Wikipedia

Architecture Under Herod The Great

After his power was fully reconciled, Herod began construction on the new and greatly expanded Second Temple (later known as Herod’s Temple) in Jerusalem. It was one of three colossal edifices built by Herod. Other accomplishments were his palace at the Masada fortress and Caesarea. The vastness of this structure created an architectural marvel that would not be matched until centuries later. Only a few of Herod’s masterpiece have survived to this day; the rest has been lost to history or lies beneath modern Jerusalem.

Herod Archelaus I Son of Herod The Great | Source: Wikipedia

After Herod’s death, his territories were given to his 3 of his sons and they were supposed to rule. Archelaus was appointed king of Judea by the Romans; he ruled until 6 CE when he was deposed by the Romans and forced into exile, where he died a few years later.

Herod The Great Coin Album | Source: Banknote World

Coins Featuring Herod The Great

This clear box contains one bronze prutah coin. The bronze prutah coin circulated during the reign of Herod I in Judea. It portrayed both pagan Roman and Greek themes and traditional Hebrew traditions. It was also crudely struck in small quantities. The box also comes with a Certificate of Authenticity.





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