Thursday 1st October 2020 Devotion
Scripture:- Matthew 2:1-23
Topic:- Herod The Great
Text:- Matthew 2:16
Few men in history have had the title of ‘Great’ added to their names. From Alexander to Dairus of Persia and then Herod.
But what do we really know about this man, Herod? The most famous act Herod is known for was when he ordered the death of infants in his quest to kill baby Jesus.
Certainly, this is not all a man referred to as The Great should be known for. What was his background and where was he really from?
Herod was the son of Antipater, a wealthy Idumean or Edomite. His mother was Arabian. Herod’s father, Antipater had close ties with the ruling class of Rome. And when Roman Consul, Pompey invaded Judea and brought it under Roman rule he gave Antipater a prominent position.
After the death of Pompey, Julius Caesar made Antipater the Chief Minister of Judea. This influential position gave Antipater power to collect taxes on behalf of Rome. He, in turn made his son, Herod, Governor of Galilee.
After the death of Antipater, Herod consolidated his relationship with Julius Caesar. Then Julius Caesar was assassinated and Herod pledged allegiance to Marc Antony, Julius Caesar’s trusted friend.
In 40 BC, Herod was officially crowned King of Judea by the Roman Senate. As a vassal king, Herod was loyal to the Romans and often invited them to his kingdom, where he organized games in their honour and threw lavish parties.
However, trouble was brewing in Rome. Mark Antony and Octavian, Julius Caesar’s adopted son and heir were in conflict. Marc Antony, seduced by the charming Cleopatra was at loggerheads with both Octavian and the people of Rome.
He was regarded as an enemy for giving up his Roman ways and taking on the lifestyle of an Egyptian because of a woman. And so when war broke out between Octavian and Marc Antony, Herod stood with his friend and ally, Antony.
Unfortunately, Antony was defeated and he went on to commit suicide. Octavian was now the sole ruler of Rome. He then ordered Herod to Rome.
Herod, ever so shrewd, openly acknowledged he indeed supported Marc Antony during the war. However, he was now pledging his unshakable loyalty to Octavian.
Octavian accepted Herod’s pledge of allegiance and gave him more power over Judea. Octavian would go on to be known as Augustus Caesar, the first Emperor of Rome. He is regarded as one of the most influential people in history.
It was Emperor Augustus who ordered the census when Jesus was born. Herod was regarded as one of the greatest builders of his time. He built cities out of nothing. He built the city of Caesarea in honour of Augustus Caesar.
He set up numerous sources of income and the financial situation of Judea was great at the time due to Herod’s numerous initiatives.
However, one of Herod’s greatest achievement’s was in rebuilding the Temple built by King Solomon that was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar.
Yet, he was at loggerheads with the Jewish leaders. Even though he practiced Judaism they still saw him as an outsider, who was imposed on them by the Romans.
In his personal life, Herod was said to have been married more than seven times to different women at different times. His favorite wife was Mariamne, who he would later kill because he suspected she was planning to kill him, even though his suspicions were unfounded.
Herod was said to be wary of everyone. He suspected his sons; Alexander and Aristobulus, sons of his late wife, Mariamne of plotting to avenge their mother’s death.
A trial was held and they were both found guilty and killed. Herod had other sons and the Bible mentioned three of them. Archelaus, mentioned in Matthew 2 and Herod Antipas, who ordered the death of John the Baptist. There was also Philip, whose wife, Herodias, his half brother, Antipas had snatched.
The Book of Matthew narrated how Herod ordered the death of the children in Bethlehem and around that were under two years, because he wanted to eliminate Jesus.
As Herod became old, historians said he suffered from numerous diseases. He was also prone to mental and emotional breakdown, which made him do crazy things.
When Herod knew he was going to die, he suspected no one would mourn his death. So he arrested the leaders of most of the noble families.
He then told his men that after his death all the arrested men should be executed. The reason being that even if no one mourned his death, the families of the dead would mourn because of what he had done. Herod The Great died around 4 BC. The arrested nobles were set free.
Prayer Point: Oh Lord God, make me great in this world and to be greater in heaven to come henceforth by fire, in the name of Jesus Christ.
Happy New Month!