Herodes, den store?

Er det rett å kalla Herodes for den store? Skulle han heller vore kalla Herodes den grufulle?

Geza Vermes har skrive ein lengre biografisk artikkel om Herodes i Standpoint Magazine januar/februar 2011. Han skriv om blant anna om politikk, familiefeidar og byggjeprosjekt som blir knytt til Herodes.

(Oppdatering: Merk at eg til slutt her i notatet siterer ein kommentator som meiner at Vermes forsøkjer å omskriva historia og gjera Herodes mindre grufull enn han var).

Her er nokre avsnitt frå Geza Vermes» artikkel:

Herod the Terrible or Herod the Great?

The Christian world has inherited a wholly negative image of king Herod (74/72-4 BCE), during whose reign Jesus was born (Matthew 2:1, Luke, 1:5). Matthew’s legendary account, Nativity plays and Christian imagination have turned Herod into the Ivan the Terrible of antiquity. When the three wise kings, or rather oriental magicians (magoi in the Greek Gospel), arrived at the royal palace in Jerusalem and asked about the recently born king of the Jews, Herod pretended to be helpful and directed them to Bethlehem, the traditional birthplace of the Messiah, on condition that they promised to let him know the whereabouts of the babe. He, too, wished to greet him, he lied, when in fact he planned to murder the potential rival. So when the magi failed to return, he let loose his soldiers on the infants of Bethlehem.

The extensive secular chronicles provide a more nuanced biography, one that is almost as detailed as those of Roman emperors. Our chief informant is the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (37-c.100CE), who devoted most of Book I of his Jewish War and Books XIV to XVII of Jewish Antiquities to the life and times of Herod. Josephus uses as his main source the universal history of Nicolaus of Damascus, the well-informed teacher, adviser and ambassador of Herod. The fact that Josephus often criticises the king suggests that beside the court historian’s pro-Herod chronicle, he had also at his disposal another account sympathetic to the Hasmoneans, the Jewish priest-kings, who from 152 BCE ruled the Holy Land, first independently and after 63 BCE under the aegis of Rome, until Herod took their throne in 37 BCE.


Her er nokre avsnitt som handlar om tempelet i Jerusalem:

The jewel in the crown of his exclusively Jewish creative activity was the construction of the Second Temple. It started in 19 BCE and was financed by him. The Western Wall of Herod’s Temple still stands and is the holiest site in Judaism. The size of the building was substantially larger and higher than the Temple erected at the end of the sixth century BCE. To reassure the inhabitants of the city, Herod assembled in advance all the building materials, and hired and trained the stonemasons and carpenters.

To allay religious worries, he associated the Jewish clergy with the project, and to please them he ordered sumptuous robes for 1,000 priests. The main sanctuary, completed in 18 months, was inaugurated in a grandiose ceremony entailing the sacrifice of 300 oxen. The Temple was one of the marvels of the ancient world. According to a Jewish saying, «He who has not seen the Temple of Herod, has not seen a beautiful building in his life.» Work continued long after Herod’s death and did not end until the procuratorship of Albinus in 62-64 CE, a few years before its destruction in the first rebellion against Rome in 70 CE.

As far as the Jewish religion was concerned, the enlarged and embellished Temple added extra attractiveness to cultic worship and thus increased the number of pilgrims who came from the four corners of the ancient world to worship in Jerusalem. Just over three decades after Herod’s death, Jewish pilgrims present in Jerusalem for the feast of Shavuot or Pentecost included, according to the Acts of the Apostles (2:9-11), people from Parthia, Media, Elam, Mesopotamia, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, Pamphilia, Egypt, Cyrene, Rome, Crete and Arabia. Moreover, Herod’s liking for the learned Pharisees, who endorsed him when he was most in need of support, and his fondness of the Essenes, whose prophet Menachem predicted that one day Herod would become king, further contributed to the active promotion of the intellectual and spiritual life of Judaism.


Her er det konkluderande avsnittet hans, der han kjem tilbake til omtalen av Herodes den store:

In short, both Jewish and Christian traditions treat him as Herod the Terrible. The historian, however, is fully aware, despite Herod’s grave shortcomings, of his unparalleled political and cultural accomplishments. In particular, his long friendship with Augustus was highly beneficial to the inhabitants of Judea and the Jewish religion. Moreover, while Herod enjoyed the enviable status of a «client king, friend of the Roman people», none of his descendants, if the short reign of Agrippa I (41-44 CE) is discarded, was sufficiently esteemed by Augustus and his successors to receive the title «king of the Jews». All in all, in view of these unquestionable achievements Herod deserves to be known as the one and only Herod the Great.

Les heile artikkelen her.

(via PaleoJudaica)

Oppdatering 30.12.2010:

Todd Bolen på BiblePlaces Blog kommenterer artikkelen her og hevdar at Vermes prøver å omskriva historia for å gjera Herodes mindre grufull enn han var!

Geza Vermes tries to rewrite history in a lengthy article on Herod the Great, arguing in part that Herod was the victim of nasty old St. Matthew who “transformed him into a monster.”  I thought it was interesting how the author preferred the passive voice when describing the deaths of the people that Herod murdered.  For instance, “Augustus with a heavy heart allowed Herod to try his two sons, who were found guilty and executed by strangulation in Sebaste/Samaria.”  Josephus provides the only surviving account of the episode. He writes of Herod, “He also sent his sons to Sebaste, a city not far from Cesarea, and ordered them to be there strangled” (Wars 1.551; 1.27.6).

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