Herod the Great and the Herodians

Since I asked just about everyone that I know about Herod the Great and the Herodians, I thought that I would post what I learned. In case you ever need this kind of information :o)

Trace the history of Herod the Great and the Herodians. What were their major contributions to the history of Judaism and the Jews? What were their main failures?
        Herod the Great was a descendant of Antipater, a known Idumaen. Idumaens during this time were known for their cunningness as well as their business practices with the Romans that were only sought to further their own agendas.[1] These ideals were not lost on Herod the Great, who during his reign from 37 B.C. to 4 B.C., became known for his cruelty and family discord. However, there were positive attributes to his rule that included helping people under his influence during times of hardship, and the building of many architectural structures.[2]
        Unlike the clear distinctions that define the era of Herod the Great, who the Herodians were is a much debated subject.  The consensus, however, is that they were a group of people that sided with the Herodian rulers in general terms of their policies and their Roman social tendencies. [3] They didn’t strictly align with any of the other political or religious parties of the day, but sided frequently with the Pharisees in their opposition of Jesus[4].
        The biggest positive contribution that I found of Herod’s to Judaism and the Jews was the rebuilding of the Jerusalem Temple. This contribution landed him the title “King of the Jews”, however, despite the acclimation; he offended the Jews by placing the symbol of Roman rule, the eagle, on the temple.[5] Could the bestowing of this title be one reason he was adamant about killing the proclaimed “King of the Jews” in the gospel of Matthew by ordering the murder of all male children under the age of two in Bethlehem?[6]
        The failure of Herod the Great and the Herodians was their patriotism to the Romans. He did not win any favoritism with the orthodox Jews, the Sadducees, or the Pharisees because of his violation of the Mosaic Laws and allegiance to the Roman Empire.[7]


[1] Bible History Online, “Herod and the Herodians”, The Bible Knowledge Accelerator, http://www.bible-history.com/jesus/jesusHerod_and_the_Herodians.htm (accessed January 17, 2005)
[2] Thomas D. Lea and David Alan Black, The New Testament, Its Background and Message (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2003), 25.
[3] M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition (Thomas Nelson, 1897).
[4] James Orr, “Herodians,” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Online, http://inernationalstandardbible.com/H/herodians.html
[5] David L. Brown, Ph. D., “Biographies of the Herods.” First Baptist Church of Wisconsin, under “Logos Resource Pages,” http://logosresourcespages.org/History/herods.htm (accessed January 2012)
[6] Matt. 2:16
[7] Jona Lendering. “King Herod the Great.” Livius Articles on Ancient History. http://www.livius.org/he-hg/herodians/herod_the_great02.html (accessed January 17, 2012)

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