King Herod the Great had a prominent role in the early stage of Jesus’ life. Herod had endangered Jesus’ life when he was an infant. Roman Emperor Augustus Caesar first appointed him as governor in 47 B.C. and in 40 B.C. gave him the title of king. He ruled Jews for a lengthy period until his death in 4 B.C. However, the Jews questioned his legitimacy because he was not of King David’s lineage.
The Jews could not accept Herod as their king because he was of a mixed race and not a genealogical descendant of King David. Jews, based on the Holy Scripture, believed that their king should always be from the line of King David. Herod was half Jew and half Idumean. His mother was Jew and father, an Idumean Antipater.
His title is Herod the Great because he was an able ruler, brought peace and order amid chaos, constructed prominent structures including the reconstruction of the Temple of Jerusalem. He was generous to his people when they had economic difficulty and starvation. King Herod was at Jerusalem when the Magi arrived from the East, though he had other residences.
Herod was aware of the rejective mentality of Jews toward him, and he was always careful to protect his kingship. He had even killed his wife Maraimne, her mother Alexandra, his son Antipater, Alexander and Aristobulus. Such an insane king would try to eliminate an infant to be born as king to replace him.
Herod was afraid when he heard from the Magi that a licit king was born for the Jews. Since he could not identify the infant King, he gave orders to kill all children below two years of age in and around Bethlehem, prompting the Holy Family to flee to Egypt and live there as refugees. The whole of Jerusalem was troubled because the Jews in Jerusalem knew that the power- hungry Herod would get rid of any king that would be born to save them.
Though King Herod the Great was generous to the Jews by reconstructing the Temple as magnificent as Solomon’s Temple, he did that for his own glory and not for God. When Jesus, the proper King of the Jews, was born, the power-hungry Herod killed many infants to get rid of Jesus. Craze for worldly ambitions is an obstacle for our heavenly glory.