King Herod: Ten Things You Didn't Know

  1. Herod the Great was the only one known as “King Herod.” And he was never known as “Herod the Great.” His grandson tried to apply the title to himself, unsuccessfully.
  2. We have more information about Herod than about all other figures of antiquity, largely owing to Josephus’ detailed accounts. Josephus includes more negative material about Herod in Jewish Antiquities, written 10-15 years after The Jewish War.
  3. Herod married a Samaritan woman (Malthace), and two of her offspring inherited parts of the empire (Archelaus ruled Judea and Antipas was over Galilee and Perea).
  4. Herod had ten wives; he executed only one of them.
  5. Herod’s mother was a Nabatean or from an Arab tribe near the Nabateans. (More well known is the fact that his father was an Idumean.)
  6. Herod was initially ruler of four provinces: Judea, Galilee, Peraea, and Idumaea. In the course of his rule, Samaritis, Hulitis, Gaulanitis, Batanea, Auranitis, and Trachonitis were added to his kingdom.
  7. Though Herod built monumental works throughout the eastern Roman world (as far west as Greece), he apparently did not do significant construction in Idumea, where his father was from, or Galilee, where he initially ruled.
  8. The Tomb of the Patriarchs (Machpelah) in Hebron is believed to have been built by Herod, but no ancient source credits him with this building. The same is true for the structure at Mamre to the north of the tomb.
  9. Though no statues of Herod have been found in modern Israel, one has been discovered in modern Syria (in Sia).
  10. Herod built one temple for the Jews in Jerusalem.  He built three pagan temples elsewhere in his kingdom (Caesarea, Sebaste, Panias)

Inscription reading “of Herod,” from Eretz Israel museum, Tel Aviv

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