“Herodium: Judean Palace where Herod Lived and Died”



Shalom Pollack has written an article for Arutz Sheva on Herodium (see here).

“The location of Herod’s tomb remained a mystery until an innovative archaeologist set his sites on an overlooked side of the Judean fortress palace of Herodium. After a 35 year search, Professor Ehud Netzer felt he was able to announce to the world that he finally found what he was looking for – the royal tomb of King Herod the Great (73 BCE – 4 CE). The tyrannical leader who murdered Jewish sages and even his own family members was secretly referred by them as Herod the Wicked.”

As Jim Davila notes here (PaleoJudaica), the article is not without its problems. Prof. Ehud Netzer’s monumental find of Herod’s tomb was announced almost a year ago. Since that time, National Geographic has given us Herod’s Lost Tomb, which survey’s Netzer’s work at Herodium as well as his discussion of Herod’s architectural splendor, and The Architecture of Herod, the Great Builder, published by Eerdmans (Chapter 8 discussed Herodium).

J. Lauer has also noted some problems with the article:

“1. The article states that Queen Helena was “from what is south Russia today” and “converted to Judaism in the time of the Maccabees and moved to Jerusalem”. However, Queen Helena (Hilni haMalka) “and her son Izates became converts to Judaism in about 30 C.E.” some time after it is thought that she “began her rule” around “30 CE”. This is long after the Maccabean revolt. See  Encyclopedia Judaica (1st ed.) 288; Jonah Gabriel Lissner, “Adiabene, Jewish Kingdom of Mesopotamia”. …

2. Speaking of Herod’s personality, the article says that “the Roman Emperor said it was safer to be his pig than his friend.”

However, Augustus said of Herod, who avoided eating pork but not the killing of his sons and other family members, “It is safer to be his pig (hus) than his son (huios)!”

3. It also states that Herod “was not accepted by the rabbis as an authentic Jew because his father, Antipater the Edomite, converted under the duress of the Maccabbean king Yochanan Horkonos.”

While it is true that the Edomites were forcibly converted, if I remember correctly, it was Antipas, Herod’s grandfather, and his generation who were converted. It is possible, of course, that Antipater was already alive at the time and among them. However, another, greater problem was that Herod’s mother was not a Jew. She was Cypros, described by some as a princess from Petra in Nabatea. It has also been reported that “Herod’s mother Cypros was either a Nabatean or — less likely — from some unnamed Arab tribe contiguous to the Nabateans”. Peter Richardson, Herod: King of the Jews and Friend of the Romans, p. 62. For a detailed discussion of Herod’s origin and different stories concerning it, see Michael Grant, Herod the Great, pp. 18-27.”

Thanks to J. Lauer for this one.



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