King Herod, sometimes called “Herod the Great” (circa 74 to 4 B.C.) was a king of Judea who ruled the territory with Roman approval. While Judea was an independent kingdom it was under heavy Roman influence and Herod came to power with Roman support. The Bible depicts Herod as a monster who tried to kill baby Jesus and, when he couldn’t find him, killed every infant in Bethlehem. Historians today generally believe the story is fictional. While Herod did execute one of his wives, and three of his children, he was also a prolific builder who renovated and expanded the Temple in Jerusalem, the most holy site in Judaism. He also helped save the ancient Olympic Games during a financial crisis. [ In Photos: Experience Ancient Jerusalem’s Spendor with Virtual-Reality App ] Rise to power While it’s uncertain precisely where Herod was born, it’s known that his father, Antipater (died 43 B.C.), came from Idumea (also called Edom), a region by the southern coast of the Dead Sea. His mother, Cypros, was from Nabataea, a wealthy kingdom in Jordan that included the city of Petra . A Roman force led by a general named Pompey waged a military campaign in… Read full this story
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