Tag Archives: Herod

Herod’s Fortress

The Herodium was a fortress constructed by Herod the Great who lived from 74 to 4 BC. Josephus, the 4th century Jewish historian describes the Herodium in this way:

“This fortress, which is some sixty stadia distant from Jerusalem, is naturally strong and very suitable for such a structure, for reasonably nearby is a hill, raised to a (greater) height by the hand of man and rounded off in the shape of a breast. At intervals it has round towers, and it has a steep ascent formed of two hundred steps of hewn stone. Within it are costly royal apartments made for security and for ornament at the same time. At the base of the hill there are pleasure grounds built in such a way as to be worth seeing, among other things because of the way in which water, which is lacking in that place, is brought in from a distance and at great expense. The surrounding plain was built up as a city second to none, with the hill serving as an acropolis for the other dwellings.”

From the height of the elevation there is a commanding view of the surrounding territory. It is an ideal location for a fortress.

Herod, who slaughtered the innocents of Bethlehem, was such a man of violence that the Emperor Augustus said “It is better to be Herod’s pig than son.” His escalating paranoia led him to kill his wife, and two of his sons.

The Herodium, built by King Herod the Great during the last three decades before the Birth of Christ, was a complex of palaces, entertainment and administrative structures, a fortress and a royal town. This is a view from the Herodium peering down to the lower Herodium which at one time was a magnificent area where King Herod would host distinguished guests.

Model of Upper Herodium.

Today the site is under intense archaeological excavation to identify structures of the Upper Herodium. Notice the remains of pillars in the lower left hand corner that outlines the oblong space that one can see in the reconstructed model.

One can detect the circular tower that was in front of the oblong terrace surrounded by columns.

Note the circular tower.

Remains of a bath house that featured a hot room lined in semi circle niches.

Miqveh. Jewish ritual based of purification from the time of the Great Revolt of Bar Kokhba.

A good of one of the circular towers of Herodium.

You can click to enlarge these photos of plaques showing more detail about the site.
       
  

The Holy Innocents

Today we celebrate the third companions of Christ, the Holy Innocents of Bethlehem who involuntarily shed their blood for the incarnate Lord.

Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah,
wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
s he refused to be consoled,
because they were no more.” ~Matthew 2:16-18

From the Church of the Visitation.

From the Church of the Visitation.

Today may we affirm the beauty and dignity of human life from the first moment of conception to natural death.