Herod the Great

Concise Bible Dictionary:

He was the son of Antipater an Idumaean, who was a proselyte to Judaism. His father having aided Caesar in his war with Egypt was rewarded by being made procurator of all Judaea, and he made his son Herod, then only fifteen years of age, governor of Galilee. On the death of Julius Caesar the country was in anarchy; but eventually Herod contrived to ingratiate himself with Antony and Octavian, and was appointed KING OF JUDAEA. He began his reign (B.C. 37) with blood: there were a few left of the Asmonaean house, descendants of the Maccabees; these were put to death and their adherents, and the whole of the Sanhedrim except two.
Herod had married Mariamne, daughter of Alexandra, who had a son named Aristobulus, a descendant of the Maccabees. Herod, being afraid of Rome to which Alexandra had appealed, made Aristobulus high priest; but when he witnessed the joy of the people his jealousy was aroused, and he caused the young man to be drowned, while bathing with his comrades, through their pretended rough play. Herod honored his funeral, but none were deceived, and on Alexandra appealing to Cleopatra and Antony, he was summoned to appear. He left orders with his uncle Joseph that if he were put to death, Mariamne was to be killed. Herod succeeded in satisfying Antony; and indeed he had Coele-syria added to his dominions. On his return, his sister Salome poisoned his mind with suspicions of his wife’s infidelity with Joseph, who had unwisely betrayed the orders of Herod. He was however reconciled with his wife, but Joseph was put to death and Alexandra imprisoned.
On Octavian becoming emperor, Herod contrived to secure his favor. Herod’s domestic life was however greatly embittered by his renewed suspicions against his wife (who had again discovered that during his absence orders had been given to put her to death if he lost his life). He seemed to think her guilty and she was sacrificed to his jealousy; but as soon as his beautiful wife was slain he was filled with the deepest remorse. Her mother also was put to death. [For Herod’s other wives, see HEROD, FAMILY OF.]
Though Herod was nominally attached to Judaism he tried to introduce into Jerusalem Grecian and Roman games. These things were great eye-sores to the strict Jews, but a great many were won over to these follies.
The year B.C. 25 was one of famine in Judaea, and Herod sacrificed his gold and silver plate to purchase corn from Egypt to feed the people, and he gave them seed for the next year, by which he gained popularity.
Herod also ingratiated himself with the Jews by his costly enterprise of rebuilding the temple. To allay their suspicions, he procured the material before he demolished any part. The new edifice was a stately one of white marble.
New fears destroyed the peace of Herod. On the return of his two sons by Mariamne, now grown to manhood, they were hailed with enthusiasm by the people. He feared they would avenge their mother’s death, therefore after trivial charges they were both strangled. This was followed by Antipater, another son, being put to death, who was proved to be guilty of plotting to have his father poisoned.
Herod’s body was greatly diseased: the increasing torments had even caused him to attempt suicide. He ordered that the heads of the chief families in Judaea should be shut up in the Hippodrome at Jericho, to be put to death as soon as he expired, that there might be mourning at his death! This cruel order was not carried out.
His anxieties were heightened by the visit of the Magi to Jerusalem, inquiring for the child who had been born KING OF THE JEWS. Herod cunningly sought to find out what child was to have this honor, that he might at once cut him off. Being thwarted by the Magi he ordered the massacre of all the infants in the district; but God had sent away His Son from his power (Matt. 2:1-221Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 2Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. 3When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. 5And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judea: for thus it is written by the prophet, 6And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. 7Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. 8And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. 9When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. 10When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. 11And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. 12And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way. 13And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. 14When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: 15And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son. 16Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. 17Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, 18In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not. 19But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life. 21And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. 22But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: (Matthew 2:1‑22)). Herod died B.C. 4. This was the first earthly “power” that had anything to do with the Lord Jesus. We know from Revelation 12:1-51And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: 2And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. 3And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. 4And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. 5And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. (Revelation 12:1‑5) that Satan was really the actor through Herod; but he was defeated then and will be again and again until his final doom.