On December 28, the Church commemorates the slaughter of the holy innocents.
These are the baby boys in Bethlehem that Herod the Great had slaughtered in an attempt to kill the Baby Jesus.
But many people today challenge the idea that this ever took place.
“We have no record of it!” they say.
Actually, we do . . .
Who Was Herod the Great?
Herod the Great was the king of Judea at the time Jesus was born.
He had the title “king,” but he was not an independent ruler. Instead, he was a client king of the Roman empire who had been named “King of the Jews” by the Roman Senate.
This meant that he was a local ruler who ultimately answered to Rome and who owed his throne to the Roman Senate.
Religiously, Herod was a Jew, but ethnically, he was descended from a neighboring people, the Idumeans. They had been forcibly converted to Judaism in the time of the Maccabees (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 13:9:1).
As a ruler, he built a lot of things–fortresses, aqueducts, theaters, etc. Undertaking major public works projects was one of the ways that rulers in the ancient world built a legacy for themselves.
His most famous building projects was the Temple in Jerusalem, which he began dramatically expanding.
He also had another side . . .