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).

Herodes» kongelosje?

Arkeologar har funne kongelosjen i Herodes den store sitt private teater på Herodion. Teateret ligg halvvegs oppe i bakken på det kunstige fjellet, i nærleiken av mausoleet som blei funne i 2007 (her).

Det er The Hebrew Univerity of Jerusalem som denne veka fortel dette i ei pressemelding. Det ser ut til å vera eit interessant funn og det skal bli spennande å følgja arbeidet på Herodion i åra framover.

Universitetet skriv royal box i hermeteikn. Det er fornuftig. Inntil vidare er det nok best å plassera uttrykket i avdelinga for foreløpige tolkingar av interessante arkeologiske funn.

Oppdatering: Sjå bilde frå teateret på Smithsonian.com.

Her er eit utdrag frå pressemeldinga:

Royal box uncovered at Herodium reveals further evidence of luxurious lifestyle of famed King of Judea

A “royal box” built at the upper level of King Herod’s private theater at Herodium (Herodion in Greek) has been fully exposed in recent excavations at the site, providing a further indication of the luxurious lifestyle favored by the famed Judean monarch.

The excavations, in the frame of Herodium’s National Park at the eastern edge of Gush Etzion, were conducted by Prof. Ehud Netzer under the auspices of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Institute of Archaeology.

The theater, first revealed during the years 2008-2009, is located halfway up the hill close to Herod’s mausoleum, whose exposure in 2007 aroused worldwide attention. The highly decorated, relatively small theater was built in approximately 15 B.C.E., which was the year of the visit to Judea of Marcus Agrippa, second in the hierarchy of the Roman Empire, said Prof. Netzer, who has been assisted in the excavations by Yakov Kalman, Roi Porath and Rachel Chachy.


On the upper parts of the walls are the room’s highlights: a series of unique “windows” painted with outfolded shutters on either side and various naturalistic landscapes within. They include scenes of the countryside, the Nile River and a nautical scene featuring a large boat with sails. One can identify features of trees, animals and human beings. Some of these windows have survived intact on the walls, whereas others were found in fragments on the floor and are undergoing restoration in the Israel Museum’s laboratory.

Painted windows with shutters appear in the late Second Pompeian Style in Italy, and mainly depict unrealistic views like theater settings and still-life. The closest parallels for the windows at Herodium are known from the »Villa Imperiale» at Pompeii, dated to the early Third Style, 15 to 10 B.C.E.


Opening the royal box site to the public will only take place after a special protective structure will be built around the room, while the theater itself will undergo partial restoration.

(les meir og sjå bilde)

Meir om Herodes» grav

Denne veka har Herodes» grav på Herodion dukka opp i media igjen. Professor Ehud Netzer, som fann grava i mai 2007 (her), har uttalt seg om funnet. Her er eit utdrag av Vårt Land si melding, som også har eit bilete av Netzer saman med to sarkofagar:

Han mener funnene passer som hånd i hanske med opplysningene etter den jødiske historikeren Josefus.

Etter halvannet års studium av de arkeologiske funnene, mener professoren de nå er i stand til «akademisk å rekonstruere» det 25 meter høye monumentet som ble reist over graven.

Han tror det fortsatt skal være mulig å finne deler av selve sarkofagen, som kongen ble gravlagt i. Han opplyser at fragmenter er funnet fra to andre sarkofager, som han tror har tilhørt medlemmer i den kongelige familien. (les meir)

Herodes» grav på NGC

National Geographic Channel annonserer nå ei spesialsending om funnet av Herodes den store si grav. NGC si nettside inneheld mykje stoff om Herodes og grava, blant anna foto, video, artiklar og spel.

Sendinga skal gå på lufta søndag 23. november.

Herodes den store si grav blei funnen på Herodion ved Betlehem i 2007. Sjå tidlegare stoff om funnet av grava her på bloggen.