Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Herod the Ambiguous - From Israelite To Jew

The podcast From Israelite to Jew in its historic series about the Jewish culture and ethnic identity, has reached the figure of Herod the Great.

Host Michael Satlow tells how Herod comes to the throne of Judea and comes to replace the last Hasmonean king. It is a story of war, intrigue, court politics and both bold and careful diplomacy towards the hegemony of the time Rome. This is no pleasant story and even as far as the sources are not supporting one single version, Herod's rise to power is no different of that from any ruler elsewhere or in different times. His greatness lie in the astuteness in war, diplomacy and politics.

Once in office, the ugliness continues and Herod, like so many other rulers, develops a paranoia. Greatness lies in his building projects. Most of these are controversial, as they are of Roman character. One of the problems with this is that the adornments contain, frequently, figurative art, which is taboo among the strict Jews. He makes good for this by restoring and extending the second Temple, the supporting wall of which still stands today and is known as the Western Wall, or Wailing Wall. Herod put Judea on the map, like the First Temple builder Solomon and his father David.

More FITJ:
Jewish varieties,
Jews in the Hasmonean era,
The Maccabee Uprising,
Jews of the Persian Empire.

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