The Berean Expositor
Volume 29 - Page 135 of 208
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The powers that be.
(Being a series of studies of Roman history,
and Roman laws and customs,
in so far as they throw light upon the N.T. narrative).
Herod the Great.
pp. 1 - 5
When Herod received the governorship of Galilee from his father, He exhibited great
skill and daring in putting down the brigands that infested the land, and succeeded in
capturing and executing their leader Hezekiah, together with most of his followers. Now
at this time Herod was a lieutenant to the High Priest, and the Sanhedrin, realizing that, if
they let this usurpation by Herod of the Council's right in the matter of capital
punishment go unquestioned, all semblance of their authority would vanish, summoned
him to appear before them. Acting on the advice of Antipater he appeared, not as a
humble suppliant, but surrounded with a life guard, haughty, self-confident, and with a
purple robe partly concealing his bright armour. He made no apology, but produced an
order from Sextius Cęsar to the Sanhedrin, telling them to acquit him. The Sanhedrin
were overawed, and no word of condemnation was uttered, until the Nasi rebuked the
assembly, prophesying that Herod in the day of his power would not pardon their action
in calling him in question. Herod gathered together an army for his intended vengeance,
but was dissuaded from further action by his father and his brother Phasael. Ten years
later, however, he massacred the Sanhedrists, sparing only Shammai and Avtalion.
Mark Anthony was now a power in the East (B.C.42) and Herod, by bribes, by his own
fascinating personality, and by his reminders of his father's services to Cęsar, established
himself in Anthony's friendship, throughout the remainder of his (Anthony's) life.
About this time Herod was made Tetrarch by Mark Anthony. During the same period,
Antigonus, the younger son of Aristobolus II, was endeavouring to get his father's
kingdom back again, and, aided by the Parthians, he entered and occupied Jerusalem. By
a base plot, Phasael, Herod's brother, and the High Priest Hyrcanus were decoyed to
Galilee, where they were thrown into prison. As the aged High Priest knelt at his feet for
mercy, so the story runs, Antigonus himself actually "bit off the old man's ears" (Hautos
ta hota labatai tois hodousin, Josephus B. J. 1: 13, 9)--in order to incapacitate him for
ever from acting as High Priest again. Phasael, realizing that the end had come, dashed
his head against the prison wall, and so violent death claimed the next member of the
Herod family.
Herod himself escaped from Jerusalem with his mother, his sister Salome, and the
Asmonęan Princess Mariamne, his affianced bride. Arriving at Masada, a fortress on the
Dead Sea, he at one time determined to follow his brother's example and commit suicide.
After many perils, however, he succeeded in reaching Rome, where he was welcomed by
both Octavian and Anthony. By what secret intrigues and bribes he succeeded will never
be known, but he managed to gain such an ascendancy over the minds of both Octavian