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Herod-Raising Adventure

There’s no resting place for the wicked. It seems that archeologists have found the tomb of King Herod “the Great.” Here’s the initial report from Reuters via ABC News:

An Israeli university has announced the discovery of the grave and tomb of Herod the Great, the Roman empire’s “king of the Jews”, in ancient Judea.

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem said in a brief statement the discovery was made at Herodium, where Herod’s hilltop fortress palace once stood, some 12 kilometres from the holy city where he had rebuilt and expanded the Jewish Temple.

The university said it would give further details at a news conference later today.

The Gospel of Matthew says Herod ordered the ‘Massacre of the Innocents’, the killing of all young male children in Jesus’s birthplace of Bethlehem, out of fear he would lose his throne to a new “king of the Jews”, whose birth had been related to him by the Magi.

According to Matthew, Joseph and Mary fled with baby Jesus to Egypt to escape the slaughter.

The Roman Senate appointed Herod “king of the Jews” in approximately 40 BC.

According to the ancient Jewish historian Falavius Josephus, Herod died in 4 BC.

Israel’s Haaretz newspaper says on its website that Herod’s tomb was discovered by Hebrew University professor Ehud Netzer, who has conducted archaeological digs at Herodium since 1972.

Don’t be scandalized by the claim that Herod may have died four years B.C. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t really around to harrass the Holy Family. The calculation of years B.C. and A.D. comes to us as the best guess of a fifth-century monk, Dennis the Little.

It will be interesting to see if, in a few years, Herod’s decorations can make the grand tour, as did those of Caiphas and Pilate last year. I wonder if he ever dreamed he could spend 2011 in Cleveland.

When the Fathers pondered Herod, they pondered the mystery of iniquity. Consider St. Peter Chrysologus:

What does this mean, that it was in the time of a very malevolent king that God descended to earth, divinity entered into flesh, a heavenly union occurred with an earthly body? What does this mean? How could it happen that a tyrant could then be driven out by one who was not a king, who would free his people, renew the face of the earth and restore freedom? Herod, an apostate, had wrongly invaded the kingdom of the Jews, taken away their liberty, profaned their holy places, disrupted the established order, abolished whatever there was of discipline and religious worship. It was fitting therefore that God’s own aid would come to succor that holy race without any human help. Rightly did God emancipate the race that no human hand could free. In just this way will Christ come again, to undo the antichrist, free the world, restore the original land of paradise.

I’ll try to keep up on news of the tomb. This one’s more interesting to me than the tomb of the alleged Christ family. As I find more news, I’ll find more Herodian moments from the Fathers.

2 thoughts on “Herod-Raising Adventure

  1. I spent about two minutes trying to come up with a punny post title–and then I gave up. You rock Mike!

  2. […] ARCHAEOLOGIST CLAIMS find of tomb of King Herod. Ancient builder of Jerusalem was in office when Jesus was born. What it means …. (Aquilina, Prayersthatmatter) […]

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