Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Herod's tomb found in Israel

The podium, or base of Herod's Tomb

The fortress of Herodium

It was announced today that the Tomb of King Herod in the hilltop fortress and palace called Herodium has been has been excavated on the slopes of the Judean Hills just south of Bethlehem.

Israeli archaeologist Professor Ehud Netzer of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem announced that after 35 years of searching. he had found the final resting place of the Biblical King Herod the Great, and an elaborate sarcophagus which had been smashed to 'hundreds of pieces.'

'We have located the burial site of Herod, at the Herodium,' Netzer told a packed news conference in Jerusalem, describing the find as a 'high point' for research on Herod.

Herod was buried over 2011 years ago in the sarcophagus, which was made of a Jerusalemite reddish limestone and extensively decorated.

Herod was a despised and hated King who collaborated actively with the Romans and murdered many of his own country men,including one of his wives and three of his sons.

He also is remembered, according to the Gospel of Matthew for the Slaughter of the Innocents, when he 'slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men' in an attempt to murder the infant Jesus.

Herod is also known for his extensive building, including the hilltop fortress of Masada, the old Roman port of Caesaria on the Mediterranean coast south of Haifa, the Herodium, and the expansion of the Jews' Second Temple in Jerusalem.

Netzer said he believes that the elaborate, ornate sarcophagus was 'intentionally destroyed, in anger' some 70 years after his death in 4 BC by Jews rebelling against the Romans who still had a burning hatred for the former Roman collaborator.

All in all, a fitting event to celebrate Lag B'Omer, I suppose...

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