Herod the Great

Herod the Great ruled Israel and Judah from 37 to 4 b.c. He was an Idumean (or Edomite), and was appointed king of the Jews under the authority of Rome. Herod ruled firmly and often ruthlessly, murdering any who might challenge his place on the throne. This included his own wife, several sons, and other relatives. It is no surprise, then, that he tried to kill the baby Jesus. Despite his cruelty, Herod was known as “the Great” because Israel and Judah experienced prosperity during his reign. He was a master builder who restored the temple in Jerusalem and built many theaters, cities, palaces, and fortresses. Herod also financed structures—including pagan temples—throughout the Roman Empire. Ravaged by disease, Herod died in his palace at Jericho and was buried at Herodium. (Matthew 2:16–18)